Bengaluru of yore

Bengaluru of yore

To many old-timers, the Bengaluru of yore brings back fond memories of the ‘Garden City’ and the ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’. There was a garden in every house and trees on every lane. Life moved on the slow lane in this one-horse town before it made way for the IT boom and the concrete jungle.

I count myself lucky to be born in an era when the city was densely wooded. Our ancestral home in Fraser Town was not short of trees either. But the real stars were the two huge guava trees that rose from either side of the small monkey-top bungalow.

They guarded us against the elements, provided shade and their sturdy branches became our favourite haunt to have some jolly good time. Vacations were spent frolicking on the branches, devouring the fruits or just having a bird’s eye view from our lofty perch above. It was on these trees that we learnt to climb ropes and honed our skills.

My father, M N Jayaraman was a champion climber himself and would scamper up to the far reaches of the trees in no time. Such was his skill and dexterity that he would swing through the trees with the ease of a gymnast and could have possibly given even the comic hero Tarzan a good run for his money. My four siblings and I did try our best to steal a march over him but failed miserably in all our attempts.

Harvesting the fruits was a family affair and it required a good team effort. My father would scamper up first with a cloth bag in tow. My younger brother and I would follow. We would take up vantage positions on the tree and after the bag was full it would be relayed downward to the waiting arms of my other younger siblings - three, four and five. The bag emptied of its contents would travel up again and the exercise would resume.

A bamboo pole fitted with a metal hook would come in handy to knock down the luscious, ripe fruits that were out of reach. A bedspread would be held underneath to ensure that the guavas have a soft landing. A loud cheer would go up every time the fruits were pouched. My mother, Padma would watch from the sidelines ready to collect the bounty and deposit them inside the kitchen. The harvest would then be distributed to all near and dear. A few street urchins who would gather to watch the show would also be rewarded with fruits. The red pulp would also be made into delicious jams and jellies for the breakfast table.

The guava trees in which we learnt our first climbing lessons have made us sturdy and energetic. They have instilled in us a sense of fearlessness to take on the world. But all good things must come to an end.

The guava trees which were our companions for close to five decades and have overseen many festivities and family get-togethers and given us unalloyed joy are alas no more. Father time caught up with them and they withered away leaving us disconsolate and sad. It was excruciating to see our beloved trees go after years of togetherness but it soon dawned on us that nothing in life is permanent.