let me join in the protests

Hearsay says that a number of bloggers are blogging about the demolition of the M G Road boulevard for purposes of construction of the Metro. The entire front page of the Deccan Herald’s “Metro Life” is dedicated to the topic. In the midst of all this I was also feeling left out, so I thought I should join in.

For a long time, the boulevard was the forgotten part of M G Road, the “other side”. I remember going for walks there with my parents on the odd Sunday evening but that was about it. It remained the “other side”. It was there because you needed to have something between the road and the Parade Grounds, that were slightly elevated. Then came the Bangalore Habba, and I remember browsing through the stalls set up on the boulevard (then named “Artist’s Walkway”) with my parents, who proceeded to buy some plants for our garden from one of them. It was still the “other side”.

All that changed on one fateful monsoon afternoon in 2004. I hadn’t spoken to her much till then. Maybe just a couple of lines. And here we were, arms round each other, posing for the camera. The cameraman was from the Times of India. I remember her saying that it was a good occasion for us to scandalize IIMB. Though I had laughed it off, I had secretly hoped for the same. If not anything else, a photo with an arm around a pretty girl on the M G Road boulevard in the Times of India would be a bragging point with respect to my IIT friends. With respect to everyone, actually.

I then remember telling her that my dad’s office was down the road and that he would get scandalized looking at the photoshoot. “Don’t worry”, she said, “I think I’m quite pretty, so he won’t mind”. I sat down, she stood up. She leaned on me, I stood straight. And we were laughing most of the time as the photographer clicked away. Soon it was over.

I had then taken her to the Bowring Stall for kulfi, and told her my parents had been visiting the place for ages. She seemed to like the kulfi, and laughed hard when i spilt some of it on my shirt. And proceeded to say that I didn’t look good. But I liked her arrogance. Reminded me of what I was four years back, when a certain two-digit number had been plastered on my forehead.

The photos never got published. There was some miscommunication it seems, and I appeared alone, along with a stack of books. Things soon took a wrong turn, and didn’t go exactly as planned. I went to M G Road frequently, but never walked across to the boulevard side. I’d go there only if she were there, I had vowed. However, each time I went there, I would look wistfully at it. And wonder what might have been.

I don’t go to M G Road too often nowadays. When I do, however, I wistfully look at the boulevard. And wonder what might have been.

However, the next time I go there, there will be no boulevard. There won’t be the full boulevard. It is being demolished, and along with it a few memories will also be demolished. In its place will come the metro, which will stoke a different set of memories. However, life on M G Road will never be the same again.

Perhaps, thinking about it, the demolition of the boulevard is a late indicator that what I thought might have been would never have been.

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