Yesterday Uday posted a close-up shot of a dish and the internet broke with replies, from correctly guessing that it was Tomato Omlette to wondering where he had it considering he never ventures out except Tuesdays. Then again since the world -famous -in -Belagavi New Grand operates from somewhere close by the original place, he had to clarify it was from Ajanta. All this banter got me thinking.
So many of us are Born-Educated-Worked-Lived (BEWL) in Belagavi that we can guess what is what with just a hint. People like me who have parents who are BEWLs and are married to BEWLs , are in for double fun since the whole family knows the city inside out. With a labyrinth of tiny streets, we can easily navigate to Bhoj galli and spot the house of the person who sold amazing yellow butter. Or to Tambat Galli that makes brass and copperware, which I guess few would know.
We could trace our maid’s house in a deep pocket inside Navi galli by just asking around once. Places had unique names too- like the tail end of Acharya galli is called Jiddi while a small ghetto where the people hailing from Ratnagiri lived in Bicchu galli would be called Vathaar.
So when we all gather together and we speak of films we viewed, we start with where we did. Like our parents did, now we also tell that I saw Hero at Radio, Namak Halal at Prakash, Sharabi at Nartaki, Honey I shrunk the Kids at Arun, Bal Shivaji at Azad and Roja at Kapeel. My school also took us to the screening of Nadia at Globe and Tenali Ram at Shrikrishna.
Today’s kids won’t even know these places for they don’t exist anymore. Like Chaya Café at Khade Bazar. I am sure many kids today would gawk at the thought of having sugarcane juice extracted by walking bullocks in circles, served in brass ‘Tambya’ with Alepak amidst flies and mosquitoes at the “Gurhaal”- one opposite Shivaji garden and one before Prakash theatre. It was joy sitting in the hay, watching the spare pair of bullocks resting. We would also take some Poha/Chivda/papad/bhadang or such to go along with the ‘Ras’. Guess no one would allow that today!
The Belagavi my parents grew up in the fifties and sixties was almost the same for me in the eighties, but it changed awkwardly in the nineties. Like a reluctant teenager forced to apply makeup.
However, a major change has been in the last decade, with more high rises and changed neighborhoods. People owning cars cannot shop in the city center anymore because they can’t park. So they prefer going to the large format stores and pay more for stuff. Youngsters drive long distances because they aren’t aware of shortcuts.
There is a treasure trove of finds in the deep pockets of the city where you find the best of fruit and vegetables, rare herbs, tubers from Konkan, décor items, masalas, shevaya and more. You need to know the city’s nerval pathways to navigate and find them.
In the new residential layouts with rows and rows of houses, there are no recognizable landmarks to spot a house, just some odd number boards. It doesn’t help asking around either, no one knows. Except Google.