Unboxed Writers App for Phone and Tablet

Here are more ways to stay at forefront of Unboxed Writers and stay informed and inspired! Download our app for Android Phones and Tablets. Click on the image to Download Now!


Like Us on Facebook

Follow Us on Twitter



Cattitude: Cause We Support


The Cattitude Trust is a Public Charitable Trust started to reach out to cats in distress, particularly in Chennai (India).

To know more about Cattitude, 'Like' them on Facebook.


Creative Commons License
All content displayed here by Unboxed Writers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://unboxedwriters.com.

Excerpt, Don't Copy: You may not publish an entire post. You may republish an excerpt of not increasing 250 words.

Give Credit: You may not use any material from our site without giving due credit to the individual author and Unboxed Writers. You must hyperlink directly to the post.

Author: Author of the post retains all copyright, and reserves all rights not explicitly granted here.

Askew: A Short Biography Of Bangalore By TJS George

It is neither compulsory nor mandatory but I feel the need to make this admission: I am not an outsider. Though not of Kannada origin, I have been a resident of Bangalore/Bengaluru since the start of the 80s. That’s been over three decades, during which I have lived, worked, married, learned the language, savoured the local cuisine and crafted a most satisfying life for myself in the city formerly known as the Garden City. And most importantly, as the author of this monograph states in another context: I may not be a mannina magalu but my identification with Bangalore is unconditional.

That disclosure over, let us move on to veteran political journalist, author, biographer TJS George’s contribution to Aleph’s city monographs, Askew a short biography of Bangalore . After the monographs on Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, New Delhi and Patna comes the Bangalore one. Actually, the title gives much of it away; George places the image of a city that’s gone off the rails under a dome, trains a microscope on it and proceeds to tell us just why it has gone off the rails.

He arrives at Bangalore  taking a rather digressive route via  NYC, Hong Kong, Bombay and Patna. But  when he does arrive in Bangalore, he wastes no time in telling us that this used to be a city at peace with itself, now it is askew, knocked off balance by the weight of its own growth. The buck for a lot of what ails the town-turned-city is laid at IT`s doorstep, the remaining portion shared equally by the politician and the bureaucrat.  He`s right, of course. Wittingly or otherwise, the influx, the growth has been an uncontrolled one and of course, infrastructure falling woefully short, the result is there for all of us to see and some of us to sadly, experience. An almost complete lack of coherent city planning adds to the confusion. The citizens who previously  largely adopted a chalta hai attitude, now have honed their activism but the powers-that-be have become brazen, shameless and really couldn’t care less.

In my Bangalore, says George with a faint touch of wistfulness, the traffic was civilized, the parks were green and the trees full of birds. This then is a look at old Bangalore. Grouses familiar to most of us are brought up for fresh if frustrated examination: the noise, the traffic holdups, the power outages. The haphazard numbering of buildings on our roads, so much so that 166A sits next door to No 171 and no one does a thing about it. The fine dust of continuous building that forever hovers over what was once a fine city.

The narration is imbued with the author’s acerbic style. We read of many things that were and are intrinsic to the city like its patriarchal trees, its cultured living and the Dhritarashtrian hold  by the real estate mafia, we rediscover a charming old fact, that RK Narayan joined the names of two large precincts of Bangalore, Basavangudi and Malleswaram, to form Malgudi, the place he set his stories in.

All the usual suspects are  in here: the founder of Bangalore, Kempe Gowda; Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, his author wife Sudha Murty, their son Rohan Murty; the absconding tycoon Vijay and his son Siddhartha Mallya; Ranga Shankara’s Arundathi Nag; the late great writer UR Ananthamurthy; Janaagraha’s Ramesh Ramanathan; civic evangelist  V Ravichandar; entrepreneur turned politician Nandan Nilekani; Suryanarayana Hedge of Veena Stores; the Maiyas of MTR; Radhakrishna Adiga of Brahmins’ Coffee Bar; Prem Koshy of the fabled Koshy’s, and suchlike.

A city, says the author, is a living, throbbing organism with a soul of its own, and…. a thinking mind. One is hard put to define the values of a city which went from pensioner’s paradise to concrete maze without ceremony.  George writes of the firm grip the underworld has on Bangalore but we the citizens are not exempt; he rues the fact that the racist element that lies submerged in all peoples waiting for opportunities to surface, has found and continues to find many opportunities to surface in our city.

The author assures us that every generation looks back over its shoulder and laments the passing of a better time. He also winds up the account praising citizen activists who, he says, are canny enough to avoid confrontational ways; accepting that the plundering class needed no reasons for plundering, only pretexts, the activists are looking to reduce those pretexts. Therein lies hope for a course correction of the city, according to him. But by and large, it is a requiem for Bangalore that George writes, one that adopts a  matter-of-fact style, is  not imbued with any undue sentimentality and is backed by statistic after dismaying statistic.
I loved the story of what Kempe Gowda’s mother told him when he set out to set up a new city. But you’ll need to read the book to find out that pertinent piece of advice for yourself. Suffice it to say, we the people of Bangalore have overturned that advice on its head. And we are paying for it.

Sheila Kumar is an independent writer and manuscript editor, as well as author of a collection of short stories titled Kith and Kin Chronicles of a Clan (Rupa Publications). She writes at http://www.sheilakumar.in/

Similar posts
  • Book Review — Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay I see you. I have been there. Me too. Is it fair to air stories about my battle when Gay’s memoir is utterly raw and intimate? I don’t know. But Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body has exhumed some painful memories and writing about those here will be a comforting exercise in catharsis. I was a few [...]
  • 365 Days Of Thirst   A prospect with promise. A gleam of hope for a better future. And then the shattering reality. This is not the story of just one man, but many like him who left their homelands to find hidden treasures in golden desert fill of mirages.  Nikhil Ramteke’s debut novel ‘The 365 Days’ recounts a year of [...]
  • Book review- The Shock Doctrine Certain books outlive their prime years not only due to their authors’ brilliance (which in this case was never in doubt), but also due to the core issues they analyze and address. The Shock Doctrine, currently in its 10th year of publication since its release in September 2007, falls in that category. Although yet to [...]
  • Book Review: The Golden Legend The master story-teller is back, weaving the usual magic with his words, writing a familiar yet brand-new tale of love in the times of bigotry and xenophobia.“ I wake up every day approaching life’s problems through fiction,“ says Nadeem Aslam.  Which explains the prose that soars even as it touches upon, examines, parses all the conflict life [...]
  • Feminine Grace Under Fire     Lakshmi Kannan’s debut novel in English charts the life of two remarkable women, Kalyani, a child bride, and Vishalakshi, a young widow in pre-Independence Madras. Both the women display admirable grace under pressure and at some point, the story becomes a celebration of woman power. Kannan deftly highlights the various issues women had to face [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Authors

Be the first to read the latest on Unboxed Writers!

Subscribe for FREE and get the latest in your Inbox! You can unsubscribe at any time.
Email *


Editor & Founder:
Reema Moudgil
Design Director & Founder:
Vani Bahl
Media Consultant:
Poonam Goel

Mission Statement

Who are we? We are writers. And here, in this space, we put pride and passion back into writing. We give ourselves and each other creative freedom and respect.

* We create an environment where content generation does not entail degeneration of inspiration and spirit.
* We create content that we believe in and identify with.
* We recognise that to create is always of more value than to berate.
*We critique without malice and arrogance.

This site is about us writers, what we stand for but more importantly, about creating something valuable, inclusive, thought-provoking. In this space, we do not just stand for ourselves but for all those who listen to a compelling inner voice that tells them, "Create!"

Unboxed Writers Share

Join the other awesome people who get the new posts right away by email!
Be the first to read the latest on Unboxed Writers.
Enter your email and stay on top of things!