Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MG Road: Paradise Lost

MG Road: Paradise Lost

Kavitha Srinivasa Express News ServiceFirst Published : 16 Aug 2010 12:05:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 17 Aug 2010 10:48:38 AM IST
BANGALORE: Every city has a special landmark, Rome is known for St Peter’s Basilica, Moscow its Kremlin, London its Houses of Parliament and New Delhi, its North and South Block, built by Lutyens in the heyday of the British Raj. Each landmark has made its own place in the city, besides attracting tourists.
As far as Achala is concerned, Mahatma Gandhi Road became the symbol of Bangalore for her. “Mahatma Gandhi Road is the symbol of the Bangalore we loved and lost,” said Achala.
Her early reflections of the city was when she came here as a 23-year-old IAS Probationer during Bharat Darshan in 1966. The city had made an impression on her. The memories are vivid. “As a custom, we paid our respects to seniors at Vidhana Soudha and marvelled at the grandeur of the then shining granite edifice of Vidhana Soudha where we hoped we would work one day. Then we were free to roam around,” she recalled. Once the formalities were over, she headed to MG Road.
During her growing years, she was educated in Washington, New York, Rome and London and was accustomed to impressive edifices, broad roads, heavy traffic and crowds. MG Road was a contrast and appealed to her. Its colonial charm and the leisurely pace of life made an impact on her.
“The quiet clean road with its row of old, low roofed buildings belonged to the era of unhurried routines, courtesy and modesty,” she explained. Even commercial buildings had an understated elegance.
The neo classical style of St Mark’s Church stood out as much as GK Vale photography shop. Sari lovers frequented Vijayalakshmi Silks, while even at that time Jamals managed to attract attention with its glassware. People stopped by in the evening for frothy ice cream at the Lakeview Restaurant. Higginbothams Bookstore scored for its heritage charm as well as its exhaustive collection of books. People dropped by in the evenings at the Three Aces Restaurant.
“I was posted to Bangalore shortly before my marriage. It was a lovely city to set up home, raise children and still manage home and career. My husband Mohandas Moses was a voracious reader and on Saturday evenings he loved going to bookshops on MG Road while I looked around Jamal’s and then we took our sons to have ice cream at Lakeview,” she explained.
The second Saturday afternoons were reserved for seeing films at Plaza Cinema, which usually screened James Bond films. “The road like its denizens had its moods; clear and cool in the winter, misty and grey during the monsoon, and wrapped in a golden haze in summer,” said Achala, while describing MG Road. Bougainvilleas cascaded down the stone embankments on the side of the road, at all seasons.
While the city has progressed, MG Road has undergone a sea change and according to the novelist, the ongoing construction of flyovers have constricted the sense of space and harmony. And when she gets caught in traffic snarls on MG Road, she closes her eyes and tries to visualise the road as it were in the Sixties.


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