Just out of Bangalore…

At seven on Ugadi eve we were packing to go home when colleagues already on the road called and alerted us of a jam starting right after Electronics City. We went backwards on Hosur Road and took a deviation at Chandapura into a bumpy track that leads to Ring Road. Something went wrong and we lost our way.

The track had changed into an asphalted stretch. We drove fast, crossing a farmhouse: its high walls were lit by lamps on higher poles that revealed also the foliage of trees behind the walls, the mix of light and darkness all round lending mystery to the concealed farm, suggesting much wealth while hiding it. After some distance there was no road anymore and so the road that ended was only for that farm. Now a village came up like Hotel California: we went in, but could find no way out.

All exits that night led us back into the village. One exit took us some distance, we thought we were on our way, when we stopped to check with some rustic gents, just to be sure. In this dark starlit moonless night, they were walking out and away into wilderness. The air was still, the trees were still, nothing stirred, just these men stood and swayed, as palms do. No, they said, this road doesn’t go anywhere, it stops over there. Fine, how do we go to ring road? Five eager faces, all talking at once, fresh from strong spirits, came in through the two left windows. The general message was, go left, left, left and then left, spoken middle of Tamil and Telugu with plenty of the English word left, and sing-song from the alcohol. Back we came into the village. A couple of souls appeared from somewhere and walked the path for us and out we went hopping, stretching the car in five directions. Now the path went through thick old trees that had old creepers and above-ground roots snaking round the trunk and also hanging round them, looking like Jungle Book. A strange excitement suffused us. More villages came up, all slept, but we saw more than once, young men, ten or twenty, squatting below street lamps, hunched and huddled over a card game. We craned and saw they were gambling.

We hit town eventually, coming by a huge IT campus, and were soon engulfed by tall new apartment buildings and an ocean of people. The unfinished metaled roads of Bangalore didn’t feel so bad now.


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