BLF2020 | Eleven Stops to the Present: Stories of Bangalore – Meera Iyer, Menaka Raman and Shweta Taneja with Karthik Venkatesh

Bangalore! To a local, the city is one that carefully caresses the history it comes with, and throws the demanding, fast paced world of start-ups, and tech parks, and a growing population to the mix. Eleven Stops to the Present: Stories of Bangalore is a book curated with short stories that revolve around this beautiful city.

The panel consists of Meera Iyer, a writer who deals with history, heritage, science, food, and environment among other things, Menaka Raman, a children’s book author, columnist and a communications professional, and Shweta Taneja, an award-winning speculative fiction author. Bringing them altogether is Karthik Venkatesh, the moderator today who is also a writer who dabbles in history, language, literature, and education.

The book is a collection of 11 stories, that touch upon the history of the city through different periods of time. All stories come with a fun side to them and is aimed to bring in awe around the history of the city, Meera says. Often consumed with dates and wars, history today is viewed only within the pages of a textbook, seldom looking at what happened in the streets of the city. Growing up, Meera says, she has grown with books from the west that very clearly talk about the streets of London and has come across only a few of them that illustrate her own city which is why this book came about.

Through the multiple little stories, all set at different times and places in Bangalore, such as those of Whitefield or Shivajinagar or Begur, the book aims to drive home a bit of pride from each of these episodes. Even though Menaka is in Bangalore for just about a few years, she was able to capture the essence of the area she lives in. While newer areas today boast of glitzy malls, and busy tech-parks, each of them has their own history with the same, even some less popular stories of Winston Churchill’s romance!

Similarly, Shweta has been in the city for only about a decade now and brings in the perspective of migrant population moving into Bangalore for hundreds of years today. This culmination of cultures and bringing spaces alive is where Shweta’s story lies. Another story on Begur combines the history of the inscription where the city’s name is first used, and has been brought into a story, Meera says.

The book boasts of a myriad of writers, all charged with the same brief, bringing a host of stories that pan through timelines and situations, and even protagonists. They aim to bring history of the ordinary lives of citizens just as known as the others.

“How do we keep up with understanding history”, Karthik asks. The ladies in the panel offer a great perspective. From talking to children about grandparents and great-grandparents, to exploring the city, tapping the natural curiosity of children, and even trying to redefine the timelines around what history could be, could just be the key to bringing in the tiniest of details from the past relevant today.

About the Author: A believer in the subtlety of magic in everyday living, and Shobhana seeks the same from the books she reads, and the poetry she writes. Immerses herself in music, literature, art, and looking out the window with some coffee. She curates her poetry, and occasional verses in her blog Thinking; inking. She currently writes for TheSeer.

Discovering Bengaluru

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.