Capturing Bangalore to Bengaluru 

A primer to Bengaluru, author Shoba Narayan’s latest book Namma Bangalore captures the essence of a city that embraces diversity

Published: 31st October 2023 09:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2023 09:15 AM


Bangalore is a place that is hard to get away from. Most people come here and rarely leave,” writes Shoba Narayan in the introduction to her sixth book, Namma Bangalore: The Soul of a Metropolis, which was recently launched among a niche crowd in Bengaluru. With all-things old Bangalore, the setting at a city hotel saw the attendance of the likes of entrepreneur Nandan and Rohini Nilekani; historian-writer Ramachandra Guha; and Consul-General of Italy in Bengaluru Alfonso Tagliaferri.

Narayan, who moved from Chennai decades ago calls Bengaluru her home today. “I moved here 18 years ago. But I only started writing this after 15 years of living here, so I would say it took me that long to understand the city. It takes a while to get a sense of the space and what makes a city tick. One has to figure out how to distil the essence of a city into a book because every city is so complex. Bengaluru, specifically, is a city of many layers,” she says.

The idea of the book began about two years ago when Narayan started writing a column about Bengaluru, as a way to understand the city. “The book is divided into sections so that the reader can navigate the city with ease. The sections include the metropolis, food, drinks, art and culture, gender, neighbourhoods, and so on,” she says, adding, “The hard part was converting my columns, writings of which were time-bound, into a book with a much longer view.”

The book tries to capture the essence of Bengaluru, which is so welcoming and warm to new people. “Bengaluru is a softer city and that is what makes us feel like we belong here. I feel it’s so because it is at the crossroads of many states. There are families where the father speaks Telugu and at the same time will speak to the children in Kannada.”

Recounting things that surprised her, she said that while people think Bengaluru is a very new city, there are parts that are very old. “Just because we are a young city, doesn’t mean we are a new city. It was surprising to me that in Indiranagar, there is an inscription which is 1,000 years old,” says Narayan.

She believes that this book would have helped her if she had it when she first came to the city. “This is a primer to Bengaluru. It’s like having a friend who holds your hand and says, ‘Hey, this is my city, this is what is so great about it and let me show you my city’.”

A few weeks ago, my friend, Aslam Gafoor, and I ran into each other. Spontaneously he offered to hold a book launch for my new book, Namma Bangalore. I agreed, and Aslam took care of the rest. He created the event with The Park, Bengaluru. My friends, Rohini Nilekani and Madhu Natraj spoke beautifully about old and new Bangalore. The Park went out of its way to make it special. There was delicious food, terrific wine, and Bangalore themed cocktails. The decor too had fragrant jasmine and marigold. There was live music – a jazz DJ at first, followed by live flute and tabla. Thank you Aslam and The Park Bengaluru. Thank you to the speakers, and thanks to everyone who attended. Photos of the launch are in this post as well.

Photos of the book launch here

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