They closed it down last week; the old HAL airport in Bangalore, that is. I was there on its last day to say farewell. And in spite of all its inadequacies (there were too many), I felt not a little sadness. It is small, impersonal events such as this that sometimes tell me how much the world we are all so familiar with is now coming to a close.
In a decade, I am sure India will have spanking infrastructure in most of its cities and the misery of trying to lead a highly productive life in the midst of such crumbling old world infrastructure would be a thing of the past. Indeed, it is our generation that has borne the brunt of it, since most of us would have lived a good part of our life in the cusp between ‘third-world’ and ‘advanced’. What that also means is that we will be the last generation to remember India ‘the way it was’.
As I watch my sons grow up, I am relieved that the India we are moving into will probably give them everything they need to ‘succeed’ without the daily struggle we are all so familiar with. But, I am definitely left with a niggling thought that there were a few things that we had good in ‘the old times’. Such as not needing to choose too much (for example in my childhood, Indians cars came in 2 models – Fiat and Ambassador and in about 4 colours!). Or walking across to the cranky, neighborhood kirana guy for a toothpaste (you will now probably go to a Reliance outlet where the salesman will paste on a plastic smile & wish you ‘a good day’ – God forbid!)
Anyway, to come back to the old HAL airport. Over the last 10 years (almost 8 of which I have lived in Bangalore), I have probably used the airport about 500 times. And I still cannot get over my first experience (circa 1997) of returning from a hot & dusty Delhi to a wonderful cool breeze late in the evening in Bangalore and walking across the tarmac to a little terminal in which my 50 odd co-passengers were the only souls about.
Sorry baby, I loved you in my own way, but I gotta let you go now. That is the way of the world.