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A Victorian Walk down MG Road

– I have gone down MG Road several times and never once noticed that one solitary bungalow just after the Yahoo! office.

– I have driven past Nalli showroom time again and never noticed the empty space beside it.

– The bungalow apparently belongs to the only person who is not selling out to commercial developers. I mean, how many people can boast of having a residence on MG Road? The empty space is apparently the plot of the bungalow where Winston Churchill had lived in, when he was in Bangalore.

– Churchill wrote 2 books when he was stationed in Bangalore as an army officer. He also fell in love for the first time in Bangalore and the lady was from Hyderabad. She went on to marry someone else.

– Did you know that the term ‘Bangalored’ began before the whole outsourcing controversy started and has military origins.

These and other really interesting facts formed a part of the ‘Victorian’ flavoured walk that Shibs and I went on early Saturday morning. A group of about 15 of us started at Trinity Church (I had never noticed this church closely before either). The concept of Bangalore Walks was started by Arun Pai and he has been running this for a few months now. Many cities have these kind of walks so it is quite encouraging to see that Bangalore now boasts of its own walk. In fact, Arun is also trying to come up with a bike tour, a pub crawl tour etc. to spice things up a little and introduce some more variety. For those of you who are interested, watch this space.

The group in front of the impressive pillars of the East Parade Church on MG Road

You might wonder what’s the big deal in taking a walk down MG Road. To begin with, we discovered a lot of things that we were never aware of earlier. Arun has done his research well and he took special efforts in sharing with us interesting historical tidbits that we would have never known otherwise.

A group of about 15 of us walked down MG Road and Arun literally made us feel like we were transported back to Victorian times. When MG Road was one huge avenue with trees and bungalows on both sides. And there were no cars. Just horse carriages. The trees are still there (most of them anyway) but the bungalows have all been replaced by commercial high rise buildings. Another bungalow on MG Road continues to stand : the occupant is a school principal. We even sighted ducks, geese and even a turkey in his backyard! Right there on MG Road. Who on earth would have imagined?! Halfway through the walk, we sat down before the office of the Horticulture department (there is a lovely garden in front of it) and had coffee, buttermilk and biscuits that Arun had gotten along.

Interestingly, I had emailed quite a few friends for the walk, but gotten a mostly negative (or a cynical one) response. Why would we pay someone to take us for a walk down MG Road, one responded.

Well, I have been in Bangalore for about a year now and never have I walked down the road with anyone. Nor has anyone ever pointed out the interesting heritage monuments and houses in this part of town. In fact, Ms Shibs who accompanied me, was brought up in the city and said she didn’t know so many things about Bangalore’s history and heritage.

A collage of some of Bangalore’s monuments and famous places

Bangalore Walk Album

I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Bangalore, wants to do something interesting instead of sleeping on a holiday morning and wants to taste the culture of the city he/she currently resides in or is just passing through. I will desist from talking too much about the walk itself, because it’s best experienced!

After the walk, retail therapy ensued and I went home happy with 3 pairs of shoes. I am not too much of a shopper. So when I do go shopping I pick up enough at one go of whatever I want, so I don’t have to go shopping for a while. In the evening, we watched a play called When there’s a Will at Rangashankara. It packed in some laughs, but did get a little repetitive at times. I think what saved it was the performances. Especially the one by the lead actor who plays the father. He’s only 25, Miztek, tells me. I couldn’t believe it! Quite an admirable performance for someone so young.

On Sunday, after French class, went to Crosswords for a book shopping binge and picked up a few:
Long Way Round: Chasing the Shadows : Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman: I’ve been wanting to read this for a while. I love Ewan McGregor and my estimation of him only went up when I found out that he had taken time off to travel around the world on his bike! Along with his friend Charles, Ewan recounts their adventures over 20,000 miles in 4 months.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle who writes about some interesting experiences and humourous tales of life in the French countryside.

– A book on cat care

– A book on French grammar (if only I’d actually read this stuff!)

This to add to my growing pile including the latest Hari puttar, The Romantics (Pankaj Mishra), and the Penguin Book of Indian Journeys. Ah, I think I will need to devote way more couch time now to complete all the books I now have on my “to read” list!

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21 Comments

  1. Glad to read that you & Shibani had a good time. These are lovely pictures, and a nice description of the morning (without giving too much away). Hopefully your (cynical) friends may read this and decide to try a walk in Victorian Bangalore some morning. If not, there’s always the Historic Pub Crawl that we are starting soon.

  2. Sabir says

    Nice post Anita. nice to know you had a great time on ‘the’ road…

    …Arun a small correction please. that was only one cynical friend…rest seemed ok.

  3. My first time here and I like your blogs which is different from the usual blogs that I came across. Never paid attention to MG road that way ever.. will take a closer look at all the.. *monumnets* you have mentioned in my next trip there..

  4. Hi Anita!

    Thank you so much for your update. It helped me rediscover my home city, which may well become my home again soon. I have some exciting plans for Bangalore, and Arun Pai proves that Bangalore is ready for it! I’d like to get in touch with him. Do you have his email id?

  5. thanks arun! we did enjoy ourselves. and we’re definitely looking forward to the pub crawl too 🙂

    sabir: thanks. there was actually more than one. and i guess justifiably so. it’s doesn’t seem like there’s much to see/do on mg road till you actually go on a trip like this one.

    king kong: do that! you might be surprised 😉

    mahesh: so you’re coming back to good old bangalore? here’s arun’s ID: arunpai at gmail dot com. you can get in touch with him…

    twilight: really? must do it next time i’m there and hopefully, you’ll come too? 🙂

  6. Yeah sure, provided I am there :p.. am in Helsinki right now. Those heritage walks are great! Most of Delhi doesnt even know what it is missing! With that fast paced life, no one has time to ‘stand and stare’..

  7. By the way I also have been to one of these walks and felt great!
    One can also book tickets of these walks online on events section of Ghoomo.com

    Look forward to also attend Arun’s Pub Crawl and Cycle Walks 🙂

    Subodh

  8. swapna says

    hi,

    i have been to bangalore twice and lived there for almost 8 months. I loved the city when i visited it the first time that was in 2004 but later when i went back after a year it wasnt the same. it seemed even more crowded and polluted. The interiors of bangalore are really nice like Indiranagar, jayanagar areas. But i feel bangalore has a very poor infrastructure, i wish it was less populated and had clean air. anyways i miss bangalore and will always love it as it has something special abt. it.

  9. pragya says

    Hi,
    can you please provide me with some more information about these walks? For instance, I’d like to know when it’s happening again and how often it happens.

  10. dear fiend,
    i came across this writing as i was searching for arun pai after i read an article in last issue of Sunday Times about him.

    one of my friends in flickr community has a lot of interst in history of calcutta. he would carry a copy of ‘ten walks of calcutta’ ,his camera and walk along the roads tracking the old buildings of calcutta with his young son along with him.

    I have joined him on two sundays … and i must say , these walks are very intersting.

    i am intersted in terracotta temples of west bengal.done a bit reading , but have wait for the autumn/winter for going out there and take photos .i find heritage buildings very intersting …. had i not read yr article, i would not have known aboutwinston churchill’s connection with bangalore.

    rgds

    PS : what is arun’s contact no and e-mail? pl send it to :

    shyamalchatterji@hotmail.com

  11. shreyas says

    hello,…

    i would like to have the contact no. and e-mail id of Mr.Arun Pai asap.

    rgds

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