this foggy clear December

This December, as in every December, I approach Electronics City seeing the sun through the fog, and mistake it for a morning moon—I see it so absently. I wonder that the moon is so large, and after a while I realize there is no rabbit on it, and so it is the sun in its correct size. The fog is no more apparent when I enter my campus. The sun is out, and the leaves and the flowers and the lawn are all in a flutter, and the chill pinches just a little, a lover’s gentle pinch. How I love December.



Something has changed this time, though. On the way to Hassan the sky is blue but not so clear. There is haze before the hills, whereas last December I could check off the rocks even in distant hills. But the drive is still good, in that disorienting golden light, and the mild chill.

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A bright idea is being given shape shape from October, when from wall after public wall cinema posters were removed and slogans of various busybodies were scraped out. A base paint covered the walls and on them paintings began to appear, of ruins of ancient monuments from across the state. The spaces among the ruins are the lounge of the tiger and the elephant and the peacock; and the stage for girls dancing Indian classical; and on the wide edges are the Om Beach with a man in bermudas, and three men crouched in a boat on water. They are painting thus every wall and rampart and underpass in a rush even as I write this, and this morning I was afraid the men may soon bring their ladder and brush and can of paint to the walls of my own home. Indeed, the entire city is being transformed into a travel brochure for Karnataka.

There is a good part to this business, that it is awarded to poster artists, an absolutely splendid thing. I ask that they please offer some walls also to the Chitrakala Parishat so that we may see some imaginative art. I saw a wall on the way from Hudson Circle to Mission Road which bore simple floral murals on a terra cotta base which are designs of today, and are a reminder that the glorious culture of the past that our city-fathers are so besotted with has a shining young rival in the culture of the present, and it begs for some room.

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December is when the non-resident Indians come back to the extended family and hand down plentiful advise to the locals they encounter, whether the arrivals are minions from the foreign cubicle, or key executives, or brilliant professionals, or those from among the fired and the unemployed. I had my time yesterday with a big-corporation type who sought out financial ills that I might be afflicted with since we last met. He was frank and happy when he extracted an admission of a potential woe and today I am drained from having been on guard every moment I spent with him, from having to fend off his relentless dagger-sharp inquisition.

Also, he was dunking my head into old questions which are a dead bore: regarding our inept politicians, our terrible infrastructure, our damn corruption—as though I’ve had some role in growing these Indian warts, and as though I have insight into them, and as though I should go out and excise them forthwith. But, of course, those questions aren’t so much for answers as for reassurance that the decision to migrate was life’s best decision. In that colorless conversation he told me his most serious news, that a certain famous American golfer who maintained fourteen illicit amorous liaisons is facing a California divorce. We drank good French wine: it kept us light and saved this friendship that we have, for until next December.
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previous post, on the urban experience in Bangalore.

Want to see the pictures of the urban art mentioned above?