Wet in Bangalore
We land on a slick tarmac in a bedraggled airport. The NE monsoons have combined with a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal to deliver record rains to South India. Bangalore averages 900mm of rain a year; so far this year it has received 1500mm or so, with 600+mm coming in Oct alone … in the Oracle elevator the young programmers are excitedly talking about the frights they got having to drive their new cars back through a foot of standing water on Hosur road -- “My clutch was smelling – you know dhobi-iron smell? Like that only.”
A 9th-century inscription found near Bangalore reveals the district was part of the kingdom of Gangavadi until 1004 and was known as Benga-val-oru or The City of Guards in Telugu; this disputes the popular anecdote that the Hoysala king Vira Ballala, while on a hunting expedition, tired and hungry having lost his way in the forest, came across a poor old woman who served him boiled beans. The grateful monarch remembered the location as benda kaluru (town of boiled beans), which eventually got corrupted into Bengaluru. Pottery dating back 6000 years, as well as coins of the Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius have been excavated around present-day Bangalore, suggesting it was commercially active long before it got its present name or shape.
Bangalore’s big annual IT showcase named IT.In apparently threatens to become GET.Out because of the havoc caused by the rain. Used to Calcutta inundations, I am struck by how smoothly everything around us has been working despite the downpours over the last ten days. But let there be a wee bit of dampness and the Bangalore noisepapers bemoan how the City’s infrastruture is collapsing. You know a soggy dosa? Like that only.