This is the second in my series of Bangalore Memories. While the first dealt with culinary conveniences offered by Darshinis, the second deals with a place that has been ubiquitous in my life, Malleswaram 8th Cross.
Anybody who lives in Bangalore North, which in my opinion starts from around Windsor Manor Hotel on one side and extends upto Yelahanka, and from Cantonment Railway Station and extends upton Rajajinagar on the other side, for more than a year now and has not made a visit (at least a fleeting one) to Malleswaram 8th Cross, is not worthy of being called a resident of Bangalore.
To give a small historical perspective to things, my parents used to stay in a rented house in Malleswaram until 1987 (till I was 7 yrs old). Therefore, it goes without saying that Malleswaram is an area which still remains the first place where most of the memorable things in my life have happened for the first time.
Some examples being, my first real fall on an asphalted road, my first few friends, my first playschool, my first real school, my first cricket match, my first visit to a vegetable market, my first visit to a barber, my first visit to a dentist, my first surgery (am assuming a procedure to remove tonsilitis would qualify), all of these have been very closely associated with the Malleswaram area.
To give you a better idea about the stretch of real estate called 8th cross, it is basically one of 18 odd crosses which criss-cross the Malleswaram area and mainly connect Sampige Road to Margosa Road. I know that the geographically inclined and politically correct citizens of Malleswaram would point out the fact that the crosses connect more roads such as the various Mains, viz, 4th Main, 8th Main, etc. But to me, these crosses are brieges between Sampige Road and Margosa Road which remain the bustling shopping areas of Malleswaram.
Now, what makes 8th cross so different from the rest of them, and therefore so special as to linger in my memory is the fact that this is probably the only one of them which has almost every variety of shops in it. From watches to window-shades, from Vicks to vegetables, from temples to tank tops, from condiments to condoms, from handkerchiefs to Hamam soaps, you get it all at 8th cross.
Corollary to the above paragraph is the sheer variety of people that are attracted to 8th cross. A middle class shoppers’ paradise, the number and the kind of people that visit this stretch of real estate cannot quite be described in words. You simply have to visit to experience the sea of humanity that 8th cross is.
And during festivals such as Sankranti, Pongal, Diwali, Ganesha Habba, Ugadi, New Year, etc, the sheer sight of the crowds swelling here is no less than a Kumbh or a Pushkar mela, although on a smaller scale.
Have reproduced a funny read on Malleswaram 8th cross written by Rashmi Shenoy from a site called ourkarnataka.com. Read on to get a small perspective on why this place will remain in my memory.
For people living in Malleshwaram, it is more of a need to go to the 8th cross than anything else. But those of you who have never been there, I don’t know if I can say you have missed much. Not that this is an invitation or an encouragement either. During festivals, it can get as bad as ever but otherwise, Malleshwaram 8th cross is a very eye-catching place, which plays host to a lot of activities happening there. Malleshwaram 8th cross depicts how overpopulated India is, with more than a sizeable share of the humans race.
I’ve observed a few guyz standing in the corners of the cross streets, just enjoying each sight they see. This road can be entered from Margosa Road or the other end, which is Sampige Road. To begin with, the corner plot of this not so very broad road has a bank. Then there area a couple of complexes where u can buy watches, foot wares, spectacles or lenses, blouse pieces & saris, any sort of garment to Baskin Robins Ice cream. For those religious minded people this area also has a lot of temples around with Kanika Parameshwari Temples entrance on the 8th cross itself. There is Raghavendra Swamy temple, which is popularly known, as “Raayar Mutt” then there is our dear Ganesha’s temple too. If you are inclined, you can go into the other few temples too but I included just these three temples in my regular rounds.
During the festive season, this is the place where a lot of vendors gather to sell their goods. During such times, most of the businesses are carried out professionally. The rich come in and do not even bother to bargain, as they know they get their money’s worth. I’ve seen a couple of men (middle-aged), riding on their scooters with little boys hanging on to dear life as pillion riders, stopping their scooters every third minute, buy flowers or vegetables even without getting off the scooter. They don’t even bother asking the price and just say “6 aagalkai, 4 kg bendekai mathe nakaidu seeme badne kai kodamma” The lady diligently packs it up in plastic cover, which might tear anytime and hands it over to the scooterist. He shoves it in his huge market bag (or so we call it), which is kept in the center of his scooter, the handle of which is plugged into one of those holders that are generally found in most scooters.
Then there are also a couple of others who start arguing and fighting and not buying things coz the vendor is over charging them. In a similar row, I found a woman authoritatively asking a flower lady to pack up “5 strands of jaaji, mallige and samanthige hoova” I assumed that she might be one of those big shots who asked people to pack “that, that and that” without finding out the price. I was next in the row to buy the flowers so I patiently waited there. As she packed and gave the flowers out to the lady, she said “ipathentu rupaiyamma”
Then it all started. “enu? Yaar hathra maathadthidiya antha gamna idiya?” And the lady went on and on and on, not giving a chance for the poor vendor to justify as well. As much as I did not want to stand there, I could not help it as there weren’t anyone else in the whole of 8th cross selling such fresh flowers. Some how probably the vendor lady got a chance to justify but the buyer never agreed to pay a single paisa. She somehow walked out from the place holding those flowers in her hand. The vendor lady ran out of her assumed stall area and requested me “swalpa nodkolamma”.
She was a short lady whose mouth was full of “Paan” I waited on. She managed to have another prolonged fight and came back with the packed flowers. And then she sat back in her place and started cursing the rich who cheat the poor. I felt bad for all the unpleasantness that was shown out towards the poor. It was only during the festival time that they could actually make good money, and they were such people depriving that. I decided to buy the already packed flowers from her. I was almost getting late. I handed her thirty rupees and told her I will take the packet. She returned five rupees and thanked me!!
– Rashmi Shenoy
More Bangalore memories to follow in subsequent posts.