The sun shined brightly as a cool breeze blew through the trees on either side of the road. Huge trees converged to form a boulevard over the sparsely populated road where he could see a few people walking and hear the rare honk of an automobile. He had escaped out of the window of his small abode, to play danda with his friends on this wonderful evening in his favourite garden which was adorned with butterfly and flowers as usual, and breathe in the pleasant climate which was always a darling to his city, Bangalore.
Rajashekhar was abruptly awakened from his wonderful reminiscence, thanks to the Metro construction that had initiated unending torture for his ears since a week it began in front of their residence. He rubbed his eyes to see his grandson Shyam jumping beside him with a writing pad.
“Why is my boy so excited today?”
“Well grandpa, we have to write an essay on Bangalore. I decided to talk about progress,” his eyes widened as he continued his narrative, “The amazing buildings we see on roads, the IT Sector, the World Trade Center, so many malls to choose from and of course – Namma Metro!”
Rajashekhar couldn’t help smiling at his grandson’s excitement but he realized that he had a lesson to teach. He looked at the huge crane digging out the road, the heavy traffic that was now moving at the pace of a snail and looked at Shyam.
“Did you know that Bangalore was nicknamed as the Garden City?”
“You mean ‘Electronic City ?,” Shyam asked, looking a bit flabbergasted.
Grandpa laughed and took out some pictures from his purse, “This was and should be Bangalore.”
Shyam couldn’t help himself from smiling at his grandfather’s younger self and noticing the humongous trees that filled the background.
Rajashekhar smiled, eyes growing a bit distant as he got lost in his memories. ” When I was in my twenties, I remember riding my bike in the afternoon during summer through a lot of places like BEL road, Cunningham Road, Sankey Road, Pottery Road, Cooke town, Koramangala, but never feeling the heat. The green treetops were like a big umbrella that covered you from the harsh summer sun. Standing under those trees during the rain and watching the street was almost a magical experience. I used to meet your grandmother under those trees and try to woo her.”
He sighed and his expression changed to one of sadness. “Child, do you know that between 1999 and 2014, Bangalore lost 65% of its trees and greens because of the IT Sector, the so-called premises that makes Bangalore known as the Electronic City? “
Shyam seemed pensive. He felt his grandpa was like the others of his generation, always looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, though his stories were interesting. Rajashekhar continued, “Most of the trees that once flourished on the streets have been cut down for widening roads and constructing more buildings. In fact, urbanization and immigration have been a boon to the economy but a curse for the environment as such.”
Shyam could understand what his Grandpa was trying to tell. Yet, he believed that infrastructure was significant for development and progress. He also felt that Bangalore might have lost its old parks, but it still had a handful of good ones, and it was quite a lot when compared to what the other cities of India had. Rajashekhar could read his mind.
“I know you’re thinking about Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh. But you don’t realize the intensity. You must know the utility of these trees. Apart from the beauty of it, they also clean the air we breathe, and in view of the number of vehicles and traffic, we need them. There are many activists working to reduce the cutting down of trees. However, your generation has to spread the awareness and ensure that the city is rooted with more saplings.”
“Let’s nurture and grow green instead of concrete.”
Later, when Shyam went to Cubbon Park that day, he was enthralled by the sounds of the birds and the insects, as the sun went behind the clouds. He wondered if it was shy of the buildings, afraid that they might hide it and scale higher than it someday. He then tried to talk to people around him.
Here’s a short interview that was done on joggers in a morning at Cubbon Park.
Shyam knew the time for spreading awareness was due. He had understood his follies and walked out of the illusion of urban space. He imbibed his grandfather’s words into his principles and decided to work towards making Bangalore green again and even ask his friends to do the same.