No booze, drama and relief: B'luru’s nataka climax

No booze, drama and relief: B'luru’s nataka climax

There was relief on Wednesday as the alcohol ban was lifted in the afternoon

As the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress ‘maitri sarkara’ was battling for survival in the lead-up to the trust vote, there was excitement and a buzz on the streets of Bengaluru.

Tuesday evening was one hell of a cliffhanger, much better than any Hollywood thriller. Bengalureans waited for the climax of the melodrama that was happening at the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru. After all, Karnataka wanted an end to the ‘nataka’ in the corridors of power.

As the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress ‘maitri sarkara’ was battling for survival in the lead-up to the trust vote, there was excitement and a buzz on the streets of Bengaluru.

The tired office-goer would be plugged into relaxing music or funny clips on YouTube. But on Tuesday, it was mostly Kannada news channels live on YouTube on the screens of concerned and fed-up citizens. Some, who did not know Kannada but still interested in the drama, had tuned into some prominent English news channels.

The crowd at the MG Road Metro Station usually begins to swell only past 6.30 to 7 p.m. But on Tuesday, unusually long queues were seen at the security checkpoint. Obviously, people did not want to get stuck without cabs or autorickshaws with Section 144 being imposed for two days from 6 p.m. on Tuesday. By about 8 p.m., several stations saw relatively less crowds as most people had gone home.

Cut to the jam-packed roads.

This author, equally curious about the goings-on, got into a cab in which the driver was very anxious. On seeing me also tuned into a Kannada channel, he asked, ‘IT na, saar? (Are you an IT professional, sir?)’. I was proud to tell him that I was a member of the fourth estate. ‘Ivaga yen agutte, saar? (What will happen now, sir?)’ was his next question, hoping to get a better analysis of what could happen. My guess was probably as good as anybody else’s and it was that this coalition will most likely collapse.

The chat with him veered on to more interesting things about how today’s politicians have ruined Karnataka’s progressive and cosmopolitan image. ‘Why don’t we have chief ministers and politicians like S Nijalingappa, D Devaraj Urs, Ramakrishna Hegde or SM Krishna? Whatever happened to the older brand of Karnataka politics that cared about people?’ the driver wondered. And I had to agree.

Meanwhile, there was another disaster – watering holes and liquor shops were ordered shut by the authorities for two days from Tuesday evening. The general sentiment was that of utter disappointment and disgust. How could they do this in a place that appears to have a better supply of booze than water?

Peg-loving Bengalureans tried real hard to go around localities to check if there was any possibility of quenching their thirst on an exciting Tuesday evening. Frantic calls were being made to employees of liquor shops to see if booze could be procured for a bit of extra cash. But alas, fruit juice and lemon soda it was to sign off the evening.

The dust had settled and it was back to business on Wednesday morning.

This author was driven to work in an autorickshaw with the driver singing away in Kannada. On being quizzed if he is happy that the 'nataka' had ended, the reply was, “Illa, saar. Haadtha kelsa madidre kashta gottagalla (No, sir. If I sing, work is not so cumbersome).

Ee rajakiya bejaar agide, saar (I am fed up with this kind of politics, sir),” he added.

Clearly, the mood among the people is that they are fed up. Moreover, there is no booze to help them tolerate it.

But the cheers were back on Wednesday afternoon as the booze ban was lifted. The tippler could perhaps have a bit extra to make up for Tuesday. After all, being tipsy in the evenings is the 'spirit' of Bengaluru.