by Swatee Jog
A week is such a wonderful experience in Belagavi with commuting time less than 30 minutes from one end to the other and hardly 3-4 traffic signals on any given route of business district. Belagavi workplaces also boast of that old-worldly charm with simple people who care for each other. Have a stroll along Belagavi’s quadrangular streets any evening and you are sure to bump into some colleague or friend. However, not all’s so rosy on weekends. The biggest worry for families and the youth is the lack of options to spend weekends. Since the city functions on a 6 day week, the weekend begins late on Saturday and spills over to Sunday night. Normally, a city boasts of leisure places like restaurants, cafeterias, malls, multiplexes, exhibition centers, art galleries, amusement parks, zoos, gardens, fine dining standalone restaurants or eateries at bigger hotels, book shops, etc. How many of the above options are available to us?
Let us put it succinctly… when was the last time you heard Ajanta Café / Uday Bhavan / Saffron / Sanman , etc. changed their menu or introduced some new dish with a major announcement?
When was the last time you heard of some chef of repute from a Star grade hotel being invited to cook and present his signature fare for Belagavi foodies? Exceptions exist may be only for the Fish Festival/Oriental Food fest organized by some hotels.
Don’t you think we are tired of the same old fare dished out year after year? By change, I mean not variations in portion sizes/ change in dish designs / change in presentation. McDonald’s, KFC, Subway and a host of other places have opened up and new trend is small eateries, which are known to people in a specific area.
The Art scene in Belagavi is lackluster at its best and dismal at its worst. Subhash Studio has a gallery, albeit a small cramped one and they hold some showings. Mahaveer Bhavan recently introduced another and Vangmay Charcha mandal presents some stuff every year. The city prides itself on artists like Kamkar Datta, Shirish Deshpande, Bharat Jagtap, etc. Why don’t we get to see art in its varied and vibrant forms here? With incomes surging and décor tastes getting subtle, any artist worth his talent should get a thumping response in Belagavi. Murals, glass, installation art, mixed medium, stone work have never been shown by any artist in the city.
The exhibition scene is so pathetic that we rebound and flock to any board that spells it, irrespective of whether the ware on sale is relevant to our tastes and needs. No wonder we found hundreds of women at the auto expo, not out of curiosity about the vintages or the Beetle, bet many may not even be aware of the uniqueness of some of the vehicles, but more for the vegetable peelers and the furniture and food stalls. Show me one woman who can tell which stable Santa Fe belongs and I will show you ten who have noted that Emu was available at the expo! While you wait at the traffic signal at the old NCC office, one never misses the crowds seen jostling at the exhibit inside, poring through sarees, imitation jewelry, shirts, bags and mugs and cups.
We now do have the KLE convention centre, KalaMandir is now more of a Store house than any mandir.
Belagavi has no zoo, ( now come on, the animals we’ve been seeing at Military Mahadev qualify to be guests at the most), no amusement park, no water park ( yes, I know the Fort Lake has boating facility), no book store that organizes book readings, no cafes that belt old classic English numbers or present live bands, our gardens are stamp size and overcrowded. Hindalga Ganesh Mandir is a good option to the devout and now provides some games for the kids but is ruled out in the monsoons for obvious reasons. The lone mall is insufficient- has been repeatedly visited and the shopping streets provide no real pleasure anymore. All these places are frequented by everyone – the youth, the families with kids in tow, the elderly and the womenfolk out for some serious shopping sprees and time pass.
Let’s not despair for there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Belagavi has always been an eternally optimistic city. But another week comes to an end. So where are you going?