Treat for those who defied superstition

Eclipse day diary
Last Updated : 15 January 2010, 16:50 IST
Last Updated : 15 January 2010, 16:50 IST

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Deccan Herald roamed the streets through the day to bring you an account of what was possibly Bangalore’s most leisurely day in a hundred years.

A Chinese citizen said she wasn’t used to restrictions during eclipses, and Muslims said they had no religious stipulations to stay indoors. Rationalists distributed ‘kadle puri’ near National College, Basavangudi, in an effort to carry forward the legacy of well-known scientist and educationist Dr H Narasimhaiah, who had campaigned against what he considered superstitious practices.

Here’s what happened across the City:

11 am on route No 8 (JP Nagar 15th Cross to Shivajinagar): Save the driver and this reporter, there isn’t anyone else on the BMTC bus up to Wilson Garden 10th Cross. Driver Shivanand, who also doubles up as conductor on the route, is clearly enjoying the absence of irate, honking fellow drivers. “Thanks to the eclipse, I can see the road today,” he guffaws.

The only cause for worry is the collections for the day. He collects about Rs 2,500 on a regular basis when he drives from 8 am to 7.15 pm. Today, his collections won’t cross Rs 700.

At 11.20 am, Sivagami boards the bus at Wilson Garden 10th Cross: Smiling in relief at the sea of empty seats, she sinks into the nearest one by the door. A cook with a Christian family on Airport Road, she has been given the day off. So, what brings her outside? “A niece who has spilt boiling water on herself,” she says, adding that her love for her young niece is greater than her fear of the eclipse. “I will not eat till the eclipse is over, but how can I not go when my niece is in trouble?”  She says once back home she will bathe “several times” and “give away the clothes she’s wearing – just in case.”

11.45 am: Corporation Bank, M G Road. Manager K B Shivakumar is relaxed enough to offer visitors a cup of coffee and plenty of conversation! “There is a 75 per cent drop in customer footfalls. In the first half an hour of opening, we didn’t have a single customer.” he says, adding that sudden absenteeism among his staff has peaked today. Staff strength, he said, was down by 25 per cent. After a public holiday for Sankranti, Friday should have been a busy day at banks, but clearly, belief eclipsed commerce. Not a single customer had operated the bank locker till noon.

12 noon: Deccan Herald photographer B Janardhan was as amazed as car driver Vasanth by the absence of milling crowds and cars on MG Road, Brigade Road and Commercial Street. “Parking is so easy,” beamed Vasanth as he slid his car into the parking lot in front of Spencers without having to manoeuvre his way or watch out for the policemen and their shrill whistles.

12.30 pm: KFC, Brigade Road. Jitty Chacko, restaurant general manager, couldn’t believe it’s a Friday afternoon. “Fridays are our Sundays. Crowds spill out on the steps between 12 noon and 3.30 pm. Today is sad, man,” he says.

12.45 pm: McDonald, Brigade Road: I can actually waltz up to the counter without elbowing a gaggle of 20-somethings, place my order, pick a table and hear the lyrics of Macarena. The buzz of Friday afternoon conversation is conspicuously absent.

The only other customers are two Chinese girls, who are happy to have the entire floor to themselves and their shopping bags. Wang Yali, a BBM student of Dayananda Sagar College, says she’s “thrilled” that college is closed for the day and the shops are empty, allowing her to indulge in her favourite hobby— shopping. “Back home in Hubei Province in China, there’s no taboo on going out or eating during a solar eclipse, so such restrictions are new to me,” she says.

12.50 pm: Rex Theatre, Brigade Road: The current booking counter for the Aamir Khan blockbuster, 3 Idiots, wears a deserted look. Counter clerks reveal that they’ve sold just 10-15 per cent of tickets for the 10 am and 12.55 pm shows today. Incidentally, the movie has been running to full house at the same theatre for the last 3 days.

1.30 pm: Bowring Hospital, Shivajinagar: The Out-Patient Department has a handful of people, and they amuse themselves by using old X-ray films to catch the eclipse. Duty doctors and nurses are relaxed, and there are no serpentine queues anywhere. Computer records reveal that just 300 patients have come to the OPD department since 9 am this morning as against 1,050 patients on other days.

 2 pm: Cauvery Junction: Head constable B Nagaraj is enjoying a leisurely walk. Life is just perfect for him today – fewer cars, fewer bikes and fewer pedestrians mean that he can actually grab 40 winks after lunch! “On an average, I book 50 cases of traffic offences in a day. Today, I haven’t booked even one,” he says.

Published 15 January 2010, 16:50 IST

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