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S. Ganguli for Prometheus_Media

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25 Years in Bangalore
by S. Ganguli for Prometheus_Media   
Rated "R" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, September 14, 2009
Posted: Friday, March 17, 2006

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Though VTU and Bangalore University treated me like a 'piece of shit', everybody could be somebody....
I had known Bangalore over twenty five years.. So much had changed....
Some memories and naked truth....

Over 25 Years...

Ever since I came to Bangalore for the first time about twenty five years ago, I wondered about the uniqueness in Bangalore; Bangalore traditionally had been the hub of Indian scientific activities, as Bombay had traditinally been the heart of Indian financial markets.

If India were to do tomorrow what Subhas Bose had done today, if Bengalis were to be considered the vanguard of Indian politics and revolutionary enthusiasm, definitely Tamil would claim to be the vanguard of Indian science and the bureaucracy associated with it. But why did the Tamils, despite their fight over Kaveri water flowing from Karnataka, migrated to Bangalore to make it their home? Why did Sir CV Raman, the patriarch of Indian (and of course Tamil) science choose Bangalore as his centre of activities, but neither Bombay or Tamil Chennai? Are Kannadigas better in providing and maintaining the infra-structure  and financing the activities required for advanced scientific research?

The first time I came to Bangalore, from my lower middle class Bengali Brahminic parentage, I would not of course had known Ugadi or Pongal!  On my way to Bangalore, I ate on a roadside small food-shop (dhaba-type diner) in Chennai, but I did not know the vegetable that the Tamil served me. I asked him in Hindi what kind of vegetable it was, and he explained to  me in Tamil everything about the vegetable and perhaps the way to cook. I did not understand one word of him! Much later in my life (almost 20 years thereafter) I visited the place again, but could not find the shop. I still don't know what I had eaten that time! When I re-visited Anna square during a stage in my life full with battered ego and shattered dreams, I really enjoyed the calm cool atmosphere in the Anna Square --- perhaps Anna empathized with my bruise, pain, agony and unvented anger. I found the Square a real cool place to relax for comfort and solace.

One of the earlier times in Bangalore,  I had lived near Majestic and shopped around the nearby malls. One of the malls I visited then had caught fire recently, and the lodge I stayed then  is no longer there; the building was being demolished. I also remembered the Bangalore Traffic Police controlling traffic near Majestic with the help of a long rope . I found that funny --- but even the Traffic Police would not do such funny things any more.

When I lived in Bangalore for the first time, I learned to eat Idli. I found Idli an amazing preparation -- it's made of rice-powder only; but I could Idli just like that (without curry or spices) whereas I could not eat rice without curry or spices! Bengalis relish one type of delicacy prepared during Makara-sankranti (Beng. Aske-pithe: kind of pan-cake eaten with molasses) that would be similar to Idli; but Idli is meant to be eaten with chutney and/or sambar.

The weather was pleasant that time, no one scared us about global warming. The light lunch that cost me Rs 4.00 then cost more than Rs 12 now! In addition to food, rent, transportation (bus pass), the energy bills are really rising over the past one decade.  Another addition to the expenditure side for the educated class, as rising since 2000, had been the life-style change incorporating mobiles and internet. In 2000 I could have managed with only Rs. 3500; but now (2006) I need a minimum of Rs. 5500-6000! The lifestyle of Rs 1000-to-1500 in 1980 would definitely cost on the higher sides of Rs 6000 in 2006, depending on the budget for clothings. But some people still earn, in Bangalore, Rs 1000 per month! And people are still being born as poor as I was at the time of my birth. {By the way American Diplomats would get $299 plus $92 as daily allowance for room and board (tax free?) in Bangalore (see TOI, April 6, 2006)}. What is the bottomline? The successful immigrants to Bangalore could no longer be from the same parentage as it used to be in the 1960's -- around the time I was born.

How much money (minimum) do you did to get started in Bangalore as a white collar professional, assuming that you can supplement your income by part-time e-broking business? I would guess Rs 300,000 (3 lakhs) if you need an independent apartment and internet facilities at home (most of the cheaper housing don't have 'land-line telephone priviledges). That is too much (apears very very rich) to my biological father, because he does not know any rich man from Bombay, Delhi or Bangalore. Now even crore-patis (individuals claiming one crore of rupees in the bank) are so numerous in Bombay and Delhi, that many banks are raising minimum balances required for an investor's account to Rs 5 crore  ( in this connection, please read one of the news items that appeared in TOI earlier during the past week).  How does one make so much money? Another news item in the TOI reported that had you bought one share of Infosys since the time it was available, and had you hold onto it during the bonus and split strategy of the company, you would have saved over 1000 shares (I had not checked the calculations) in your DMAT account. How much money is that (assume about Rs. 3000 per share as current market price)!

That's the story of the rich Indians and the NRI's. But how much cash did I have in the year 2000? I would not tell you the answer. But I landed at the O'hare Airport (Chicago) in 1988 with less than $300 on me (that too by the grace of the Indian customs officers). I got a Citibank credit card with a credit limit of $500 only in the following year, and my credit limit eventually reached $30,000 by 1994!  
What did I accomplish during the 25 years (the active period in my life) of association in Bangalore? Why do Bangalore University and the VTU treated me like a 'piece of shit'? How about the Chinese ball game? What would the Police and IB's write on me?

First thing first What did I accomplish?

When I came to Bangalore for the first time, I assumed that Bangalore would change my CV. I dreamt of publishing dozens of original scientific research papers. You must me laughing at me now. My biological family wished that my health would improve in Bangalore, but you must not be looking at me now because of my sickly appearance! After all dreams shattered and promises broken, I must have grown into a catholic  Southie from a choleric Bengali.  

Second thing next. Why am I "piece of shit"?

Principal of PESIT would argue that PESIT sounds like "piece of shit", but Mr. Ganguli is a real "piece of shit".  Let me be frank. To be a professor in Bangalore, I have to have connections with established families, who are very knowledgable about Kannada and Tamil culture.Then, it is expected that my contacts in Biocon, Infosys, Wipro etc. should be suave executives who would listen. Then of course I need better connections in Chicago, London and Singapore.  And you know my family history! In addition, I need sponsors --- rich individuals or corporate bodies -- who would pay my bills at the fair market rate. As my finances stood today, I could only earn the minimal rent (similar to the public housing in Chicago) by e-broking! Then my connections in Bangalore, could at best be 'basti-basi', 'haturey', 'auto-wala' etc. As regards academic qualification, you know the history of my peer-reviewed publications. You also might be aware how many professors from Ramaih  (MSRIT) and RV (RVCE) compete with MIT professors for fair pay. You also might know how many professors from BMS (BMSCE) and MVJ (MVJ College of Engineering) would qualify for a professor's pay from the Cambridge University. And you know how many books of international reputation your Vice-Chancellors of Bangalore University and the VT University had written before me. These are some of the reasons why I had remained a "piece of shit" !

Third thing third. What would Police write on me?

They would write nothing! {By the way, in the USA US citizens could get reports from FBI under the Information Act. I somehow managed to sneak through the Regenstein Library in Chicago. That library had a huge collection on South Asian History/Culture. I read a book, based on declassified documents, on the type of reports Lalbazar Special Branch (Kolkata) used to write about megalomaniac cranky people like me. Please read that book when you get a chance --- it describes the report on specific individuals! } What would the FBI write on me -- nothing except that some might informally say that Mr. Asshole was a nice guy but ruined his career at his own fault, because he was too-dumb, and hard-to-get-along- pain-in- the- butt ego-maniac.

Last thing last. How about the Chinese ball game?

Did you remember the poisonous weeds (see "Naxalism as an ideological dead end" )? If I were as powerful as Lord Shiva, I would consume the poison to become nilkantha amar; if I were as powerless as a " piece of shit", the poison would consume me. In either case, I would know what was poison and what was nectar in my life.


"nilkantha amar": blue-necked immortal. According to Hindu mythology, Lord shiva swallowed the poison that came out of churning the ocean. As a result he became 'blue-necked'.

"basti-basi": slum-dwellers. "haturey ": small petty vendors and hawkers (the homonym also means ameteur unskilled 'professionals').
"auto-wala" :three wheeler drivers.

PESIT: one of the best colleges in Bangalore. Other names (eg BMS etc.) are names of good colleges in Bangalore.

March 30, 2006 (Ugadi day)

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