A trip down bomb-planted pavements

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By SHANTANU DATTA
  • Published 26.07.08
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South of the Vindhyas, Bangalore is closer than you think. Long before IT had managed to distance itself from the taxman’s lexicon and morphed into information technology and the Garden City had acquired the Silicon Valley tag, KC Das had set up shop (in 1972) on St Mark’s Road opposite Koshy’s just across the bend from Anil Kumble Circle.

Today, even as crude bombs spread panic across town, MG Road paused in silence. Yes, that MG Road known fondly as Bangalore’s heartline which kicks off from the square christened after the leg-spinner’s record haul of 10 wickets in the Kotla Test against Pakistan in 1999.

If a lunchtime bite at Barista or Food World was interrupted, it could have been because Richmond Circle would be about six to seven kilometers away. Initial reports said there was a blast there, office complexes line the street hiding rows of three-to-four-storey buildings that are home to those who have been around for ages. If you were heading a mid-sized IT firm or call centre, chances are you could be living there in a cute two-bed terrace apartment.

Better still, the plush cantonment area on whose tip is Langford Town. Orderly, quiet and serene, the usual calm was shattered today by the crude blast in the afternoon. Beyond Langford Town and further south are Koramangala and Hosur Road. One a township of the rich and famous, and the other that most likely takes them to their workplaces. Actually, Langford Town, Adugodi, Madiwala Checkpost and Hosur form a line.

Richmond Circle is beyond Brigade Road or Brigades — much like Calcutta’s shopping district spanning Lindsay Street and New Market — where techies stroll about aimlessly on their off-days. Years ago, when people still went to single screens, maybe they’d catch a movie at Rex.

Towards the other end of Richmond Circle is Vittal Mallya Road, named after Vijay Mallya’s father, where Mallya Hospital stands — the injured in today’s blasts are being treated there. One of the blasts is said to have occurred nearby, opposite the hospital in the garden.

On the south side of the town is Madiwala checkpost — a crowded junction that opens out to various key locations of new economy outfits. It’s opposite one of the city’s best-known medical colleges and hospital, St John’s.

Madiwala is also on the edge of Sarjapur Road, where some of the top IT companies of the world, including Intel, Oracle and entertainment major AOL, have their offices. It also works as a connecting road to Electronics City — an IT hub where Infosys has its headquarters — and MG Road that was near-empty soon after news of the blast spread. Wipro, too, has its headquarters nearby.

Not just big business, Madiwala has a hand in the nation’s crime-busting efforts too: it houses the Forensic Sciences Laboratory where narco-analysis tests were conducted on Abdul Karim Telgi, and Aarushi murder case suspects Krishna and Rajkumar.

The second blast near Madiwala was at Adugodi, which is two minutes from one of the hottest shopping centres of Bangalore, the Forum Mall and film plex on Hosur Road.

Both Madiwala and Adugodi are near Koramangala, home of the IT revolution. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Bangalore — if you were living there, you could have the likes of Ashok Soota (Mindtree chairman), athlete Ashwini Nachappa, artist S.G. Vasudev or, years ago, Nandan Nilekani of Infosys as neighbours. It’s also where a grand Durga puja is celebrated every year.

Before IT, there was manufacturing. There still is, and some of the blasts were on Mysore Road where a lot of industrial and manufacturing units have facilities.

A horrible start to the weekend indeed. But before that Bangalore will have to return home. The roads will be blocked. The usual Friday night haunts at Brigades, MG Road and Forum will be shut. And the good, hardworking people of the city will ask again: IISc again? No, we don’t deserve this.