Shoba Narayan’s book ‘Namma Bangalore’ is a handy guidebook if you have just moved into Bengaluru

The book 'Namma Bangalore' acts as a guide map in many ways with chapters categorised as listicles in a literary manner.

ByDeeksha Devadiga

Published Sep 20, 2023 | 2:23 PM Updated Sep 20, 2023 | 2:23 PM

Shoba Narayan’s book ‘Namma Bangalore’ is a handy guidebook if you have just moved into Bengaluru

What makes Bengaluru special? Author Shoba Narayan answers the question in her book ‘Namma Bangalore – The Soul Of Metropolis’.

The book was unveiled at Bookworm in Bengaluru on Sunday, 18 September. The rain was hardly a damper to the event that saw a reasonable size of crowd attending in tow.

“The way I made sense of this city was through writing. I processed my likes and dislikes through my writing. The rage of traffic, the joy of Bengaluru, and the good and bad of the city, I process with my writing. I got to know this city in a very intimate way. And now, this is my love letter to the city,” she said.

At the event on Sunday, Narayan shared how her heart beats for Bengaluru. (Anand Kumar Yadav/South First)

In an exclusive chat with South First, Narayan shared her insights on the Kannadiga obsession with the local delicacy Khara Bhaath, wonders of the fermented foods of Karnataka, and how her heart beats for the city.

Sights, sounds and columns

Every city carries a certain aroma that defines its enlivening principle. Shobha simply followed her nose and found her own interpretations of the unique scents of Bengaluru.

A snippet from the book reads —
“Bangalore is the smell of red earth and falling rain; of open drains and clogged leaves; of start-ups and swalpa adjust maadi (please adjust).”

It was her time and experience at a daily newspaper while writing her column ‘Bangalore Talkies’ that inspired her to write the book.

“I have to give credit to my then editor R Sukumar, who started me on this journey. Over a period of time, it expanded and became more than just a column or a job. It became much more personal,” she shared.

Besides encouragement from her editor, it was the feedback she received for the column that coaxed her to work towards it.

Bangalore Days

The book acts as a guide map, with chapters categorised as listicles in a literary manner. It is born from her initial days in the city in 2005 when she struggled to navigate through the city.

“This was the kind of book I would have wanted as a newcomer to this city. I won’t call it a comprehensive guide because it is a personal account. It has a guide to the neighbourhoods and to the heritage buildings, but it is personal. It’s like having a friend who will hold your hand and say this is namma Bangalore,” she explained.

From describing the infighting in Bengaluru’s high-rises to condoning the moral policing on the streets, the
book offers a balanced view of what the city can provide, she assured.

“I remain hopeful. I believe that India is too vast, heterogeneous and multi-layered a country to fit into a Twitter troll’s suffocating label,” reads a snippet from the chapter titled ‘Is there Moral Policing in Bangalore?’

But Narayan’s friends call her out for her optimism and for wearing rose-clad glasses while viewing the city, she told South First.

“It is the need of the hour and important for many to know of the good in the world. We must highlight the multicultural and multireligious harmony that still exists,” she said emphatically.

Academic connection

The event also had members from academia who showcased their interest in including the book as a part of various syllabi.

It was a personal moment for Narayan who recalled her father, who was an English professor.

“He would be proud of me. To have my book included in academia is a happy surprise and an unexpected one. I am thrilled and thankful,” she added.

Narayan urged that her book is an insight into a truly South Indian city, which at the same time manages to be more cosmopolitan than other South Indian cities.

“Read ‘Namma Bangalore’ if you want namma Bangalore. If you want an impression of a truly southern city, then come to Bengaluru. It has a lot of migrants from all parts of India. And yet, it has retained its core of South Indian humility. Bengaluru and I have an arranged marriage relationship,” she signed off.

Book: Namma Bangalore

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Where to buy: Available on Amazon and local bookstores

Price: ₹395/-