The Australian visitors’ minds oscillated between adoration and abhorrence.
In the recent past, I spent some quality time with a couple of Australian youngsters and their professor. They were on their first visit to India and had landed in ‘Namma Bengaluru.’ It was easy to see the surge of mixed feelings in them.
They seemed to be awestruck, appalled and antagonised all at once. They were stocked with their knowledge of our beloved land, based on what they had heard from expatriates and googled for themselves.
If the wall murals of our city had them squealing with delight and keeping their cameras busy, the heat had them gasping for breath, the civic sense of the locals who merrily violated decorum sickened them.
The traffic jam evinced the poets in them as they steadily rhymed every T jam with a ‘damn’ at every signal. It was easy to see that their minds oscillated between adoration and abhorrence from their steady exclamations.
They were eager to make the most of their visit and simply could not wait to backpack and set off to our heritage spots. A week passed by and they were back in the ‘painted city’ as they called it.
The tour had its magical effect on them. They were gushing over the beauty of the temples, sand dunes, beaches and the sculptures. They had picked up bags full of souvenirs to take back home and were all set to leave our ‘jammed city’ (another expression coined by them) to another part of India.
Due to unforeseen circumstances they were stranded here for the next four days. They decided to make the best of a bad bargain by driving around the place and taking in some of the many aspects missed by them hitherto.
This time around I was surprised to see a sea change in their attitude about the ‘jam.’ The professor’s take on the subject was truly enlightening. He said that the traffic situation out here did disgust him initially but over a period of time he found it to be ‘organic’ in nature.
He marvelled at the fact that so many vehicles jostled with one another to get ahead, whereas back home in Australia people would persistently stick to their respective lanes even in the middle of the night though other lanes could practically be empty.
He was also struck by the ‘organic’ (read as eco-friendly) nature of Bangaloreans, because most of the four wheelers on the road seemed to be second hand cars.
He was thoroughly impressed by the various banks and used car dealers who not only offered loans to buy cars but also helped them, re-paint, repair, revivify and register the roadsters and save our planet earth from becoming the dump yard of more than its fair share of inorganic waste.
At first, I wondered whether he was being sarcastic, but his earnest tone and demeanour made me look at my dear old Bangalore and its people in a new perspective!