Forgotten glory

As I walked along the pathways of Bhashyam Park in Malleshwaram last week, my mind travelled back to Bangalore in the 1960s

. Those days Malleshwaram was such a peaceful, quiet place. My father used to be contented with small pleasures like attending the free music concerts in Malleshwaram Ram Mandira or Seshadripuram School campus during the Ram Navami celebrations, watching Shivaji Ganesan’s films once a month and relaxing in the Bhashyam Park, munching on roasted groundnuts. 

I was around six or seven years old, but memories of the quiet moments that my parents and I spent at the park are still green in my mind. The park oversaw the dark stone wall of a mill and that locality was called the Mill Corner. The traffic was less save for a few buses that would pass by once every 20 minutes or half an hour. Cars were very rare and I don’t remember any motored two-wheelers. Quite a few cycles would go by though.  The park was a serene place devoid of noise or air pollution. All we could hear were the voices of children playing around and those of elders chattering in low volume. Bangalore’s English weather was soothing to the body and the soul. Cool breeze was aplenty. In fact, my mother had to prod my father to leave the place as the sun set, because the weather would get chilly and I was a weak child. 

On Sundays, there used to be performances by local orchestras. My parents loved music and it was heavenly to listen to the orchestra playing the melodies of Kannada and Tamil movies of those times. For a brief stint we left Bangalore and when we returned in 1972, things had not changed so drastically. The mill was still there. New Krishna Bhavan had come up and a couple of new theatres like Natraj, Swastik and Kino had come up in the nearby Seshadripuram locality. My father was thrilled to get back to Bangalore after living in the hot Hyderabad. 

Our first outing after the return was to Bhashyam park and this time, we had the luxury of tasting the masala dosas of New Krishna Bhavan. The traffic had increased slightly but was definitely not unbearable. Orchestras had dwindled. Yet, we enjoyed our frequent visits punctuated by those moments of tranquility, banter and hot, roasted groundnuts. Last week, though, I could feel Bhashyam Park crying of old age.

Very few people were there, and not a single child! The mill has now given way to Mantri Mall and the traffic is terrible! The pollution is extreme with hundreds of vehicles driving up and down, accompanied by continuous honking. We had to walk nearly a kilometre after parking our car, as there was no parking space anywhere in Malleshwaram. New Krishna Bhavan, too, is always crowded.

The stage in the park is occupied by the family of the caretaker. Everything has changed so much that I could hear every blade of grass and every plant and tree in the park moaning with the memories of the golden past!

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