Bengaluru has changed inexorably since I first went there in the 1970s. From a sleepy quiet town with empty wide roads canopied by arrays of evergreen trees, it has become a metropolis with monstrously huge buildings, fly-overs, under-passes, and perpetually choked roads on which flashy cars crawl like caterpillars. And of course, eateries and shopping malls. Bengaluru is also the public persona of modern India, it’s main IT hub, a city where millions of young Indians make a living. But for my wife and me, the chief attractions of the city are our two grandkids: five-year old Haroun, and Toto, who packs quite a punch in his two-foot frame.
We were about to leave Bengaluru for Kolkata after two weeks of holiday. The children and their parents had come down to say goodbye. By the time we put the bags in the boot, the brothers had been right in the middle of the rear seat of the cab. They had decided to accompany us to Kolkata! We tried to reason, ‘You are going to visit us in just two months’ time. You ARE coming to Kolkata with your parents.’
‘We’ll come back with then. Till then, we’ll be with you.’
More reasoning: ‘But we don’t have tickets for you.’
Very graciously, Haroun said, ‘We’ll wait; you go upstairs and get the tickets.’ For him, tickets are always bought from a laptop.
No amount of cajoling would make them change their mind. We were getting late for the flight, but the boys refused to budge. Ultimately, their parents had to resort to what newspapers would describe as a “mild lathi charge” to clear the way.
Haroun loves to be with lots of people. And his younger brother loves whatever he loves. Once earlier, when we were leaving them with their parents, Haroun asked, ‘How can I live with so few people?’
He finds it strange that all the people he loves do not live together. He doesn’t believe any offspring should be separated from their parents, like his parents are now. On another occasion, he asked me seriously, ‘Tell me why it is like this? Why do children live in Bangalore but their parents in Kolkata?’
I didn’t have an answer to his question. But I certainly know this: He has just started going to school and in a few years, he will have been trained not to ask such questions.
Why do we grow up?
Kolkata / November 27, 2013