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The earlier tryst: My first visit to Cubbon Park was in April this year when we (me and my parents) took a tour operator’s bus to tour within Bangalore and it took a scheduled break at the place. Half an hour at the Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum, a brief stint at the park itself (it was just after the spring), a passerby look at the Museum and the board that said there’s an Art Gallery in the premises led me conclude that the place demands spending a quality time and is a full day visit. So, went there yesterday to complete this must-see in Bangalore.
The Plan: Power cut in the morning ensured I couldn’t look for online tips before for the visit – how to reach, timings, must-see, must-do, avoid etc. A bengali travel book – ‘Bhromon Songi’ indicated Kasturba Gandhi Road is where I should be headed to. Based on the earlier tryst and the anticipation thereof, I budgeted for seven hours for the visit, including two for commuting – I was taking BMTC bus after all.
Bus journey: No conductor in the bus inevitably meant queuing up before the driver to get your tickets. Now, this spelled trouble. Twenty minutes after the bus started, it was only a kilometer from where it started. Left the bus and took an auto to the place.
Government Museum: I knew that on public holidays and Wednesday, the Museum is closed. On a Saturday noon, there was hardly anyone around. Took a round of the red building and found a guard who said that ‘its second Saturday, it is closed’. Now, consider this: In all of 15 months in Bangalore, I happened to visit this place for the first time and that too on a day it was closed. Bad luck, eh. The guard suggested to visit the Art Gallery – ‘first floor’.
Venkatappa Art Gallery: I’ve been to some Art Galleries in Kolkata, and in Delhi. Loved most of them, Academy of Fine Arts (Kolkata) in particular. The ambiance, buzz of people, overhearing intellectual remarks (‘how you should see this piece’ or ‘why is this painting the best thing to hit the art circuit in last one year’), the canteen all make a mesmerizing combo. Venkatappa Art Gallery looked a little different, rather strikingly different. There were only two souls at the entrance – both of them guards. This really dampened my spirit. ‘First floor’, one of them said.
The First Floor: What struck me, again, was the total absence of visitors. Paintings by 6 artists were exhibited – around 30 odd pieces. Paintings of Buddha (6 I counted), village life (8), horses were abound. There were around 8 abstract paintings – and as usual, couldn’t understand even an iota of it. Back in Nandan, you would find people around and if you seek help, they would help you understand the art, irrespective of your dumb quotient. I consider myself unqualified to comment on something I couldn’t understand. However, the paintings of Ravichandran seemed appealing, even to me. The village market scene, the dancer, the fruit seller all seemed life like. Predictably, all such paintings had one common thread (except the same painter) – they all featured women. I wonder what is it between painters and women? I found solace here – at least I found something in common between art galleries of Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore. I was done viewing the paintings in twenty minutes – what I expected to take more than an hour.
The Park: The entrance raises your expectation – a little stadium to the left, a bamboo groove to the right and a walk towards the bandstand (LalBagh) like structure in front. However, I was disappointed when I came closer – plastic littered all around, the absence of flowers and only a few people around – the place didn’t seem like the Cubbon Park I expected. A little walk around was all the more disappointing – there were places to sit – but all dirty, there were plants around – but not flowers.
The Saving Grace: Amidst all these, a group of ducks(or swans?) and turkeys lifted my spirits. The sight of these folks moving in group – like an army troop marching and whistling away to glory – was amazing. Took a couple of photographs and videos of the march. Suddenly, most of the things around seemed interesting – the bamboo groove (its tall and clustered existence), birds and love birds. Hungry and tired, I bid Cubbon Park adieu.
Summary: Power cut, conductor-less bus, second saturday, visitor-less art gallery and flower-less park rendered my much anticipated Cubbon Park visit utterly futile. Thanks you birds for being the silver lining in an otherwise wasteful exercise. Probably, a visit next spring would change my perception. But till that happens, I wouldn’t go to Cubbon Park for Park-like experience. I would rather visit LalBagh for this.
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