The BI(C Hubba 2023 was an amazing event- being able to connect up with so much of Bangalore over three floors of interaction, history, policy and art was a rich smorgasbord of experiences.
We were delighted that B.I.C. reached out to us to be the heritage partner for the Uru stories of Bangalore to be located in the first floor. With all the six hours of programming in half hour slots across these two days it suddenly put us on our mettle to decide what to showcase, what to share and even more difficult, what to leave out! We realised the number of different campaigns initiatives policy measures and events that we had put out in the last four years and are continuing to do. So it is a good feeling to realise the variety and type of ReachOuts that Heritage Beku had taken on.
After much discussion we narrowed down on the seven programs and also evaluated two installations that were informative and interactive and could be accessible by both children and adults who want to reach out to understand the history or heritage of Bangalore. Thinking through these topics citing speakers flow was a tough task and it took us a few days to put us put it together. There were two very different initiatives we tried this time to make the heritage issue more relatable dramatic and more current.
The first one was looking a Krumbiegel Hall and the Genesis in some way of Heritage Beku from a more intense, dramatic, first person perspective. We reached out to noted theatre director Ashish Sen who has been a founding member of #HeritageBeku , as well as his wife Munira Sen, a brilliant actor with strong ties to Bangalore environment and its preservation. After a couple of intense conversations and back-and-forth discussions it was felt that looking at the session in the first person, interspersed with discussion music and clips would make the right impact. We even wrote in another Heritage Beku pillar Alyia Krumbiegel to go script the special piece about love loss and regeneration.
The second was the attempt to go deeper local into Bangalore and use cinema as a means of tracing Bangalore's history over the last 80-100 year. Naresh Narasimhan, one of the cofounders of Heritage Beku, was able to delve some of the research and experiments with his organisation mod foundation and came up with a piece initially titled Bangalore as protagonist with mini clips on Bangalore in Canada Tamil English and Hindi show the city from varied and different perspectives. Over a period the name was changed to Bangalore Dreams and so it remains.
Sat 25 Feb
It was important to communicate the strong substance yet like to touch that heritage vehicle has demonstrated over the years. The very first talk on mystery of the locomotive was flagged off by TR Raghunandan who slipped into the intricacies of steam locomotives, massive research libraries in the UK the charm of discovery and the battles of a lost rusting engine in the gardens of the public park. But all is not lost with all the efforts that the team had pudding with demonstrations conversations walks as well as to reach out to both Department of horticulture as well as the south-western railways, it looks like they may be very slow movements towards preservation and restoration of this beautiful Japanese engine occupying a lonely place for the last few decades. Of course we are at initial days and we are hopeful that the right budget will be allotted and that Raghu will have the free hand to be able to restore it in the detailed meticulous and correct way as it should be and Bangalore may be richer by a beautiful restored locomotive and who knows maybe one that can actually chug its way down some little meter gauge line in the state. Dreamy sometimes takes you places
The next talk was by Mr Rajendra Kumar, Karnataka's Chief postmaster general of India posts. a Slight man with twiinking eyes and tremendous energy, Rajendra agenda launched into the incredible partnership that India post developed with heritage Beku in literally discovering a lost heritage building in its environs, setting right back to front building, opening up transgender art in its newly launched evening post office located at its Heritage Museum Road. This and many others like co creating and lauching India'[s first Postal Heritage Trail and interactive postcard dedicated to its heritage buildings.. It's certainly a tribute to what bureaucratic open-mindedness, citizens spirit and good partnership can do in working together with the government to create lasting value. What was particularly interesting was to see the energy and enthusiasm about the Heritage perspective in his busy day job and also the communication of that energy to his wonderful postal team who have taken on the mantle of Heritage warriors and great pride in the many Heritage spaces that they so proudly occupy. He also gave us glimpses of the phenomenal heritage buildings in both Valluri and Mysore that have been so proudly restored. Interestingly he mentioned that was taking pride and heritage buildings his department wants to also ensure that they are restored to its full working glory and regular working use. Listening to him certainly made the heritage beku team beam with joy.
Maybe you came in a little late into the next talk with Aliyeh Rizvi and Kiran Natarajan would've been a little surprised at hearing very clearly what sounded like a battle complete with torpedoes guns and cries of wounded soldiers. Yes indeed, and what a fascinating chat that was ! Titled small city big dreams this freewheeling conversation covered many parts of Bangalore's history from small corners to big discoveries. You need to look at the PowerPoint what connect up with the dog to figure out what the grasshoppers mosquitoes malaria hadn't come in and buy a Nobel laureate originally from Bangalore no less wash and my mini considering is distinctly Dracula focus on something blood. Never a dull moment and in those few minutes with audience interaction it was actually charming to hear some of the stories from the audiences one minute. As we shared with 'Aliaah some of the little bits she left enticingly on the table will definitely need another complete talk. Not just the Dracula tidbit, but let's find out why British collector FR Richards was so keen on teaching the quadrille to ladies at the Bangalore Club. Hmm, we are agog.
Harini Nagendra with her talk Detection unlimited effortlessly steered the conversation around the environment, the detection that led to a great engagement linking up academia with activism, the books that she wrote which made environment so much more relatable to citizens of Bangalore. Her transition into the beloved genre of detective fiction with Ladies Detective agency was an amazing conversation and the ability to travel through the streets and histories of Bangalore, social & economic milieu, the many incidences of valour, City snippets and many golden parts of oks Bangalore were absolutely enchanting She now tells us that the next genre she's experimenting with is the fantasy genre so she has something else to look forward to - as do we . Her effortless conversation and easy exploration on her journey as an environmentalist chronicler an author show that's why Bangalore will always have stalwarts, experts and Bravehearts to protect it. The interactive session that she did with the audience was also great fun where she strongly urged people to follow the heritage Beku way and look at things as stories, or expressions or mysteries to be solved in order to truly understand it better. A fun interactive exercise on writing a detective story by simply figuring out a place, the people, the time they kill the weather and the twist - and then linking it all together , was very well received. Although she was going to be off to Ro0me as visiting Professor, we are determined to take this initiative forward on and create a bunch of fun detective stories featuring any form of heritage in the months going forward - so stand by folks! And thanks Harini for a wonderful session, some great ideas and a growing collaboration.
at 4 pm Naresh V Narasimhan came in just in time to present the brilliant Bangalore Dreams and it was definitely an eye-opener with his setting the stage and why he chose to use this precious film clips to piece together an informal yet felt history of Bangalore. And as he revealed. a follow up to this is also planned. The thematic structure where film clips cascaded across various times, values, ethos and generations.
After a few movie clips of B:Lore it was time for Kirtana Kumar's discussion with Indira Chandrashekar on her recent book Bangalore Blues. A true blue Bangalorean uses her freshly launched book on Bangalore as a journey to discover quintessential places and characters, unique to the city. While she fiercely opposes that it is a nostalgic exploration, it remains at its core a memory project and a strong aggregation of the spirit and freewheeling small town Urbania - of what a truly cosmopolitan and secular city. As Indira untangled some of the more poignant touches, with covered the essential humour and loving tongue in cheek chronicle it remains of the city past. Did you know that this book was self published so that it was able to maintain its own true purpose and core of its storytelling? Or is that this book was written a little after her beloved father had passed, and in a flat three-month artist residency with 33 stories seem to have come tumbling out from Kirtana''s mind - an aggregation of perhaps all the love and soliloquy of the city she's so loves. Bangalore seem to be in full Force to support and celebrate one of its own.
Sunday 26 Feb
Sunday opened with a typical Blr 12 noon show with I, Krumbiegel Hall. It was delightful to watch Munira Sen, musicians Tushar Das and Suresh Jayram in the wings waiting to ascend the stage. And what an intense performance that was. The movement from the singular and first person account of the lost pillar of Krumbiegel hall with Munira;s intense voice drawing out stories of the building, it's milieu of Lalbagh, its creator Gustav Krumbiegel, the voices of his wife and family - and finally its destruction - was so poignant. As the spotlight shone on the image of an old but majestic Krumbiegel hall and finally its ruins after its destruction by a bull dozer, Krumbiegel is great-granddaughter Alyia's voice all the way from London drawing out her memories her heartbreak when the building died was incredible. They really took us back to a time of hope of heartbreak and have a symbol of a historic city come back. But what can we do asked Munira and from the shadows Tushar Das's imagine by John Lennon reminded us of what is possible ...When Munira asked the world for answers, a little later his rendition of Dylan's blowing in the wind in response to the answers we seek to solve city issues and retention of our heritage was utterly apt and beautiful. And then discussion swung to a more here & now realistic recall of Krumbiegel Hall by someone with research and passion - artist Suresh Jayram. The mystery of the first person choosing the Krumbiegel Hall pillar became apparent when 'Suresh revealed that from the wreck of the bulldozed Hall , a part of the of the pillar with chips n crumble and yet actually beautiful was picked up instead of rotting at the garbage heap. Reached Suresh's home - And there it remained -a relic of a time and heritage bust, a crumbling reminder of memory of hope, of holding on and the future. In that discovery the session came around to something more positive and upbeat on how tragedy can still release a democracy ,concerned citizenry to try their bit to help - the power of one, Here North Blr citizen Shubha Priya stepped up to share her own amazement at how single Facebook post of a crumbling railway station at Devanahalli (facing possible destruction) spurred so many citizens as well as heritage Beku, Intach , and experts like Raghunandan to get involved in saving these from destruction and in fact moving forward to work with the railways and concerned authorities to preserve and maintain them. These stations represented not only critical part of our economic and social history but also what a strong reminder of the power of our state the self-sufficiency and historical framework that helped us get around through some such a beautiful old almost doll house like stations. It was an uplifting interlude and a reminder that all is not lost and with love imagination and some passion we can still save we are not future generations can appreciate and treasure them,. Shubha Priya, Munira and her sisters made us sit up - when they moved into her ringing rendition of this song called 'bring back Ole Bangalore to me' - a song sung to the tune of the old ditty 'bring back my bonny to me'. It had the whole crowd cheering, clapping and singing along while the words that all made us chuckle but with a little catch in our throats for City that has changed too fast too soon. What an amazing breadth for a performance on Krumbiegel Hall - to move from drama to music, discussion into hope. To end with the community coming together with laughter, joy and maybe some hope was a fitting culmination.
Another wonderful session was the one on Hoover harbour for the launch of Bangalore serial blossoming festival Priya Chetty-Rajagopal took a group through a different elements covering the concept and impact the stakeholders and implementation so that this could be quickly taken forward as a part of cocreated cultural heritage of the city. Suresh Jayram and came in with a deep request to put aside our preoccupations our mobiles and to truly touch feel and experience nature because that is the only way we can pay respect to nature and be blessed ny her there are many questions from the audience on implementation issues as well as harder environmental focus to protect the depleting recovery of the city.
Prasad Bidappa old his final discussion of the weekend with hisWeaves of Karnataka . The quintessential style guru and Bangalore Huduga Prasad swept his way to the stage with a collection of exquisite Karnataka woven saris as well as a few others to get a sense of the extensive work weavers across the country put in - and support they need to continue their craft. He talked about the Mysore Silks Murakuk Muru sarees, is it was dazzling to see him try them is on the two young volunteers while sharing details on the quality, mechanics and processes of this intricate craft. His droll anecdotes about how some of the sarees had enhanted the finance minister at the 'G 20 summit just the previous day drew you a few smiles. Many of the audience were absolutely delighted to see something as simple as a saree we take for granted explained in such detail with such verve and with such a sense of respect, preservation and continuity. As a young model swirled a beautiful sari draped on a simple T-shirt and Prasad watched approvingly from the sidelines, we got an upbeat sense of a colourful bright and hopeful time ahead.