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Bells to bulldozers

One morning, I woke up and got the shock of my life! The gulmohar had been chopped off.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 01:27 IST

Crash! Boom! My afternoon siesta was rudely interrupted. I rushed to the window and found, to my dismay, that a bulldozer was in full swing in the compound next to our apartments. Another old construction had bitten the dust!

The story goes back a few months. The compound just adjacent to our building housed an old godown, which was more or less non-operational in the four years we had been here. But the operative part for me was the rest of the compound, which had a gulmohar tree whose beautiful red gold flowers greeted me as I woke up every morning.

The rest of the compound had grassy lawns, which attracted cows and sheep. An old cowherd or shepherd brought his flock of cows and sheep for grazing. So, my afternoon siesta was disturbed by nothing more noisy than the mooing or bleating of cows and sheep and the ringing of their bells as they grazed peacefully. So, it was a lovely pastoral scene in the heart of Bengaluru’s high rises. 

Then one morning, I woke up and got the shock of my life! The gulmohar had been chopped off.  I should have anticipated events that happened subsequently. But I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. Naturally, I was totally upset when the bulldozers razed the old structure to dust. 

My maid, who came to wash the vessels, was equally shocked. “This was a cotton factory, Amma,” she said. “I used to come to work here as a girl.”  The whole area had been a forest, she reminisced.  It seems there were lots of fruit trees all over, and as kids, she and her friends used to collect the fruits and hide them away on the way to school, which they would collect on the way back home. “It was very scary,” she said. “But that didn’t deter us from coming over for the fruits,” she said.

There is no vestige of either the forest she mentioned or the fruit trees. It’s all small cottages, shops, and a few medium-sized apartments. And the lake, which still attracts water birds. But the cottages, like the warehouse, are turning into small apartments—one has actually almost blocked my view of the lake. A high rise has come up on the banks of the lake, and soon, no doubt, some influential builder will get the lake filled and build a high rise there also. 

Anyway, in all this noise over development and reconstruction, my afternoon siesta is no longer the same. Instead of the cow’s bells, I hear the bulldozer, and in place of the lovely gulmohar, all I can see is the dust from the demolition site. A sad exchange indeed!

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(Published 26 February 2024, 01:27 IST)

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