Old Bangalore lives on in the middle of the IT boom

Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:14am EDT
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By Ajay Kamalakaran and Sakthi Prasad

BANGALORE (Reuters Life!) - Anyone wondering what the world's outsourcing hub and India's information technology center looked like before all the multinationals came rushing in only has to visit Bangalore's Basavanagudi neighborhood.

With its temples, leafy lanes, bungalows and markets, the area, right in the heart of the skyscrapers and choked roads of downtown, is the last bastion of a traditional way of life that seems to be disappearing in a booming city quickly turning into India's answer to Silicon Valley.

Basavanagudi derives its name from its Bull Temple, famous for the giant statue of Nandi, the mount of Hindu god Shiva.

Many residents of the neighborhood are determined to maintain their lifestyle and guard their heritage against what some like Anand Iyer call the "American-ization" of Bangalore.

Iyer, who has worked at a government-owned bank in Basavanagudi for the last 20 years, claims he's never been to a McDonald's outlet.

Munching on a masala dosa dripping with ghee at a popular neighborhood restaurant, he reminisces about the days when Bangalore was known as a pensioner's paradise.

"This locality is free of the character-less malls and the night clubs for now," Iyer says. "You can still get a decent lunch for 40 rupees ($0.80) here."

Bangalore's rapid development has brought with it many of the ills of modern city life: snarled traffic, polluted air and apparently endless construction.   Continued...