Modern comforts in the midst of a rural setting… Nothing beats it.
Our search for a home in one such setting ended in Yelahanka in a complex that has plonked itself amidst three villages. There are some aged green giants like peepal, banyan and neem settled on roadsides and also small strips of vineyards and coconut plantations. Two tiny lakes on either side of the building sparkle in sunlight but lose out to the heat during summer.
Thanks to the rains these days, I often find the strip where the famed air show happens soaked and the runway glistening and the jets going silent. Less pollution (thank you!). Two rail lines cut through the vast landscape. The slender monsters stick to the schedule as usual. I wonder how many dreams, joys, fatigue, worries (and horror sometimes) they have ferried so far!
The best time to enjoy the rural view is when it plunges in darkness during power cuts. For a few seconds, you can see absolute darkness which is such a rarity these days. A few lights begin to flicker here and there and life limps back into these houses in no time.
There is one seemingly well-run government school. You can still hear that typical no-holds-barred scream and laughter of the children when the last bell of the day rings—their spontaneous protest against a man-made institution. And that happens every day. Bang at 3 pm.
Behind the facade…
For over three years, I have been in constant touch with the people here through waste management sessions where we end up discussing a lot more. I have heard many of them saying, “Life was relatively peaceful before your apartment came.” Fewer ambitions, fewer worries. Now it’s not the same. There is another layer of class building up among drivers and domestic helps depending on how many houses, (and which skin type, also!), they work for and how much paid. Such tussles are ripping the social fabric apart. Still, this seems to be the better side of the villages’ existential issues.
Some people have sold their ancestral land-holdings to white-collared real estate thugs and got duped for life by selling land at dirt-cheap rates. Other landlords got smarter and made crores. Now there is money in the bank. No worries about tomorrow. So steeped in lassitude these people are that they have forgotten how essential an ingredient work is for a healthy mind and body. When I ask them why not go back to a more respectable farmer’s routine than do a humiliating driver’s job, some have laughed off my suggestion: “Nimgenu gotthu ‘medam’? Thumba kelsa, laabha illa.” (What do you know, madame? A lot of work and no profit.”)
With real estate projects swallowing farmland crumb by crumb, I don’t know if there will be enough land left for agriculture anymore. Not only here, I have seen it happening even in North Karnataka where people from Bangalore buy acres of land—not just rain-fed but also irrigated one—at throwaway prices and create gated communities.
Anyway, so long as my bowl of hot and over-peppered rice pongal sits pretty on my table, why would I care where the next one will come from. Right?