The cool climes in the Red Couch at 10:30am adds to the authenticity of the topic of discussions. What else do we really know about Bengaluru apart from its pleasant climates that has been an abiding attraction for years? Meera Iyer, through her book “Discovering Bengaluru”, wishes to convey the idea that a city cannot merely be understood by words printed on pages, but by experiencing the city itself.
When Harini asked Meera why she chose to write a book on Bangalore, considering there’s an ocean covering this topic, her response was to make her book not too academic yet authentic and accessible. ‘Visual thinking’ is a trait she acquired from her work with architects for nearly twelve years. Meera said that she embodies this trait through her work by enthralling the readers with the scenic pictures of lakes and gardens that imbue the beauty of the city to the native parts like Frazer Town and Lalbagh.
“What is there in Bangalore?” is a question we often ask ourselves. The misconception that heritage pertains to just the buildings, but not in the natural components drifts us further away from understanding the land we live in. Meera spoke fondly of how she has rooted herself to the city by recognizing the affiliation between history, ecology, and heritage. She said that in the grand scheme of things, one notices the essentiality of all these components; the connectedness and how the tangible and intangible heritage shape one another.
Heritage walks held by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) make an individual cognizant about the land they live in. Heritage does not just add to the character of the city but also the quality of living in the city.
“Post these walks, we’ve had people call back and tell us about a heritage building being damaged or demolished. Because now they know something and understand it. When you understand it you learn to appreciate it.”, were Meera’s words.
Meera then touched upon the factors that keeps the heritage of a city alive. Firstly, the memories and familiarity of the old buildings is what retains the uniqueness of a city. She said that unfortunately not many recognise this fact. Secondly, the indifference by government officials contributes to losing the identity of the city. She pointed out the importance of the government’s involvement in raising funds for heritage owners in order to indigenously preserve them.
The session concluded with Meera leaving us with a question to ponder upon “Why do the government-supported heritage spots close down when there is already a dire need for public spaces in this city? When would we be able to lend these places for people to congregate?”
About the Author: Deepti Anbarasu is a final year college student who’s always looking out for new opportunities which enrich her experiences. When she isn’t reading or painting, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and is overwhelmed by the physics of the cosmos. She currently writes for TheSeer.