Bangalore in 1980 was a medium sized city with cool weather and an affordable standard of living. It was a completely different city from what is seen by us now. Back then, traffic was non-existent and there were far fewer localities. Thirty minutes was all it took to reach any corner of the city using a two-wheeler. Bangalore was a pensioner’s paradise with many making a beeline to live in one of the most affordable urban areas in India.
Back then, BTS or the Bangalore Transport Service used to operate in the city. The blue BMTC buses we are used to were non-existent. The buses were all a shade of bright red. The double-deckers were a favorite, especially amongst children.
The streets saw very few cars and a decade earlier, it had horse-drawn chariots to ferry passengers around! Ola and Uber in those days were Jatakas which were prominent in the City Market and Malleswaram. The few cars which did run were Ambassadors and Fiats. Two wheelers were everyone’s preferred means of getting about in the city with the Kinetic Honda being a favorite in the late 1980s. When it comes to the topic of traffic, we have but one thing to say – What traffic?
The cool weather of the city was such that one didn’t need any fan even during the summers. The cold weather was also reflected in the fashion choices and dressing of the people. Sweaters and monkey caps were common and were very much needed in case one decided to step out in the mornings. The foggy mornings were perfect for walks. A bit of rain or hail wouldn’t make news as it does now.
Back then, multi-storeyed buildings were rare. Apartments were not very common and the BDA did a good job in developing localities. Real estate, though booming was not as expensive. Water shortage was unheard of with BWSSB supply of Kaveri water. The city itself had just a few localities which were prominent such as Malleswaram, Jayanagar, Chikpet, Kalasipalya, and the Cantonment areas – MG Road and Cox town. The population of the city was just around thirty lakhs. The empty roads, parks, and grounds were ideal for gully cricket with friends.
Entertainment in the city
Malls were unheard of and multiplexes didn’t exist. Movies were watched in theatres like Lido, Galaxy, and Santosh. Big names from the era include the Nag brothers and the legendary Dr. Rajkumar. Television back then had just one black and white channel. Most got their fill of shopping from Commercial Street and local stores. Eating out was a different experience altogether. The few prominent eateries such as MTR were always crowded. Koshy’s and KC Das were other prominent names.
Fashion in the City
With the minimum temperature reaching single digits during winter nights, fashion in the city was largely dominated by comfort and necessity. Half sweaters were a part of the daily attire while stepping out. There was an influx of western styles of clothing which resulted in a unique fusion of Indian and Western fashions. With kurta suits, the lines between Indian and Western clothing became blurred. During festivities, people wore colorful Indian style clothes stitched in western fashion. Among the youth, bell bottom pants and long-sleeved printed shirts were seen as trendy.
The city had two faces – a sleepy pensioner’s paradise as well as a slowly growing cosmopolitan city. The IT boom hadn’t made its presence yet and most people worked in the public sector undertakings. HAL, NAL, BEML among others were some of the biggest employers in the city. The people were always friendly and helpful. The impatience and tension that is the norm nowadays were non-existent back then. The garden city had truly earned the moniker. The skyline was a sea of greens amid buildings. Though we have gained a lot through development, much has been lost.
What are your thoughts on old Bangalore? Have any memories that you would like to share? Do let us know in the comments below.