I usually stand here, waiting for bus No.223 to take me to Shivajinagar, which is where I work. The bus system is a bit of a miracle – of all the things that fall apart in Bangalore, its public bus system often doesn’t. Except when we Bangaloreans don’t take kindly to film stars dying and take our anger and distress out on one of these helpless carriers of human filth. I am a bit of a relic here myself – my knees, which my kind doctor tells me, are the knees of a 60-year old (I am 31), make little creaking noises even as I stand. I fidget and walk around – avoiding the glances of shy men scratching their balls, and women already sweaty from the muggy air. Today, as I wait, I want to enter the Fort. I might miss the bus, if I do so. Do I go? Should I go? The Fort looks forbiddingly closed. I am not even sure from where I should enter. I am not sure why I should. Isn’t it funny that I have spent two years at this very spot, and all my life in Bangalore, yet I have never entered Tipu’s old Fort? Why should it be funny? I am not sure. But surely today I should. Do something different. I can do this much, can’t I? I take two steps towards, and then I hear it. Bus No.223 has drawn up. I look at the bus. I look at the Fort. And I get on the bus. And get to Shivajinagar, and forget about the Fort, because I am in one. Always.
It’s always like this. I take two buses to office. I get down at this old part of Bangalore, called KR Market, or Krishnarajendra Market. My bus drops me outside Tipu Sultan’s decaying and crumbling fort. The Market is much like the Fort. It’s an abysmal representation of the ‘real’ India. I had once sent my Lincoln Park-dwelling, Chicago-high town boss here so that her daughter could take photos. Of the ‘real’ India. And it is real. It has rained last night. I try to evade the slush that only yesterday’s tomatoes can create. Mixed with the stench of perhaps a 100 cows.