Journey to the East (4)

What Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley of India,” was like fifty years ago — absolutely nothing like today!

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The old British-built bungalow, in a giant garden plot. Of course it has long since been torn down and multiple high-rise office buildings have replaced it.
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This is how the Friedel front garden had changed when we visited in the 1980s
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And this is what it looks like today — 27 companies occupying one of the high-rise buildings.
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The house was located near the beautiful Ulsoor Lake, where you could go boating.
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Compare that to a picture of Bangalore I took from a friend’s flat in January 2020.
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Back to 1969, in front of the old house, where a “snake charmer” gives us a young cobra to play with.
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I found an even smaller cobra in the garden. It had to be less than a week old.
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A professional snake charmer in our garden. I have written about these encounters in a separate article.
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I am a snake person — grew up with these reptiles, which my father kept and studied. How he became a snake expert is described in this article, and my early and later snake encounters in this one.
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At the time of our first visit Bangalore was being transformed from the “garden city” into a modern industrial metropolis. Above is the main road under construction, in the background the first city skyscraper.
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The heavy road building machinery in the early 1970s.
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A view from the top of the skyscraper overlooking the High Road of Bangalore, Mahatma Gandhi Road.
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This is the famous “MG Road” being improved, in 1969…
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… and this is what MG Road looks like today, fifty years later. There is even a metro train overhead.
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The outskirts of Bangalore were (and still are, of course) quite rural
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Bullocks raising buckets of water out of wells
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Agriculture with bullocks— child labour was normal and natural
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And bullocks threshing the grain
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The granite hills surrounding the city provide it with the most abundant building material
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It was completely normal to see cows on the street
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They would come to the cars to beg
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On one of the main streets we saw an elephant, which I photographed out of the car
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What you could also see, especially in residential areas of Bangalore, were horse-drawn carriages you could hail like taxies. This one is passing our house in the Ulsoor Road.
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This is how I preferred to move around — and young Martin would bravely join me.
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Sometimes the water supply in the city failed. Then a water truck came around…
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… you filled your buckets, and poured them into the house water container.
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After that a nice cold bath! Then your dad takes you to the roof to dry off in the hot sun.
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Here’s something for you to guess: what is Ingrid doing with the pendulum she is holding?
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Frederic Alois Friedel, born in 1945, science journalist, co-founder of ChessBase, studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford.

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