Whenever I meet non Bangaloreans, I am always asked a bunch of questions: “Sweater? Is it that cold outside? “, or here’s another favorite: ” can you explain why you wear socks while wearing sandals “. The answer lies hidden in socio-cultural trends that have emerged from the colleges and homes of Bangaloreans. This post will hopefully try and demystify all that.
Let me start by describing the typical Bangalorean (B- for short). A typical Bangalorean is rare yet mystical combination of traditionalism and post modern fundamentalism. Both these traits, the typical Bangalorean will adopt given the appropriate social setting. Most B-Girls can pull off a very traditional Silk Saree and an evening dress with the same level of comfort and confidence. The same with B-guys pulling off a Kurta, Dhoti and Suit with the same elegance. Most B’s, especially those raised in Brahmin households, have dabbled a bit in Classical music, Indian classical dance or art in their younger days. Most have then deserted their cultural skills citing reasons as diverse as lack to time to just, “it was not cool in college”.
As kids, specifically the generation that was in school in the late 90′s, B-girls and boys were treated to a mix of cultures. The onset of cable television did bring a powerful dose of globalization to urban India; parents made sure that amidst all the cultural chopsuey, their kids held on to their traditionalist values. Which is why most B’s grow up with a multicutural influences and practices. Most B-kids can relate to watching the Mahabharath/Ramayan on TV as well as watching Remington Steele, Knight Rider and Wonder Years. The result of this cultural mishmash was the multitude of cultural fads (read popular culture) that influenced the youth during the late 90′s. These cultural fads were purely a result of the amount of infusion of global culture in the households of the kids. Take for example the places I studied during the late 90′s. Different groups of Individuals had different heroes and role models, and each group followed a different cultural norm. Its not hard to figure out that kids from different cultural tastes didn’t mix much but, there really wasn’t too much tension amonst them either. Each one was happy knowing the other was, in some way, not their type. Here are some of the cultural groups that I can readily think of:
- There were the Americanized kids who lived like the kids from Wonder Years or SweetValley High; these were probably the ones with access to cable, imported paraphernalia and whose parents shared multi cultural tastes themselves.
- The traditionalist kids were the ones that watched regional movies, didn’t realize the importance of branded clothing and tended to abhor the Americanized kids. Their parents probably didnt allow them to access Euro-American television or magazines and worse yet, portrayed the same as a form of evil.
- There were the liberals who believed in both schools of popular culture,and who experienced a mix of both these cultures. Most of these kids didnt need to rely on popular culture as a mark of identity.
- Then there were kids like me, who didn’t know what the f* they were doing.
One thing I have to unanimously agree on is that B-kids are very well read. You will find kids in high school influenced by the works of Wodehouse, Forsyth, Alistar Mac Lean,Crichton, Agatha Christie, Dickens and Sheldon to name a few. Enid Blyton doesn’t help with the clarity on popular culture either, if anything, the famous fives and secret sevens have just ruined it for most of us. They would do unthinkable things and we would be left wondering about our miserable and non adventurous lives.
Certain things don’t excite B’s. Bollywood for example, just doesn’t excite us. Yes, there are the occasional Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik fans, but why settle for these when you can watch Kevin Spacey or Brad Pitt. We are also not very into sports. Cricket still is the most popular but you wont find the same level of fanaticism as the rest of India. Exhibitionism, of wealth and prosperity, is also not a very strong characteristic of B’s. B’s dont like over paying for South Indian food. Nothing more than Rs 30 for a dosa, but yes, Dal Fry can go as high as Rs 150. Technologically we are very sound and learned. Most have interacted with computers from the early 90′s. Enough said, let me answer those questions I asked.
Why do I wear a sweater? Most B’s do. Take a look around. Given the general chill in the air, most B’s have a wide variety of warm clothing. This includes sweat shirts, sleeveless sweaters, cardigans, jackets etc. All we need is the weather to be remotely close to “not hot”.
Why do I wear socks when I wear sandals? most B’s start riding a two wheeler once they are out of school. Bangalore is also a very windy city, so there is usually a lot of sand and mud on the roads. We wear socks for ergonomic reasons. Not because its cool, but because it keeps our feet clean, esp when we ride. It also saves our legs from looking like a zebra’s hide due to the exposure of the open parts of our feet to the sun.
More to come …. But do reply with other traits that you think are uniquely Bangalorean.