Suddenly, the sun is out in full force and humidity levels are on the rise. Sunday mornings are lazy, our garden is filled with the warm, heavy scent of Champa flowers and the parrots arrive for a wild brunch party on our gooseberry tree.The supremely confident Bird Quartet ( pigeons, parrots, koels and an unidentified dude in yellow, black and white ) line up for their gig and the ancient avocado tree cannot help but respond to the season by sending out flowers and unripe avocados nestling amongst its dark green leaves. The Bougainvilla arrives flamboyantly. It is summer in Bangalore.
Therefore, I have decided to take a break from writing about buildings and am heading off to surreptitiously watch the city discard her winter wardrobe.
Bangalore is awash with colour wherever the government has left trees standing. I give a quiet prayer of thanks to that far sighted gentleman, Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel as I walk. Thanks to him, turmeric yellow and ice pink Tabebuias compete with lilac Jacaranda, Beech and Rain trees for attention and Cubbon Park is resplendent with shiny pea green leaves emerging shyly on a summer morning. But my favourite tree, the pale pink, Cassia has not yet made an entry.
Cubbon Park was established in 1870 by Sir John Meade, the acting Commissioner of Mysore and the landscape still bears the aesthetic touch of Major General Richard Sankey, the Chief Engineer of the Mysore State who also built Sankey Tank and the Attara Kacheri. The park was initially called “Meade’s Park” and subsequently called Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon.
For me, the best part of summer is when it conspires with the city to curate the most spectacular sunsets. Every evening, the sky puts on a display of riveting palettes – pinks, purples, amber, orange and red… all on one canvas. Summer evenings in Bangalore are never weary. Instead, they are full of anticipation because the air seems pregnant with secrets the night has yet to uncover.
There was a time when evenings also meant the Queen of the Night opening herself out to the moon, but now we must be grateful for whatever is left. And has been left alone. Talking of Queens and alone, I suddenly see Victoria. All she has for company are the Bangalore Police in the little Cubbon Park Police Station built in 1906 expressly to watch over her. Edward VII is too far away to talk to, too far away to even make eye contact, tucked next to the Frangipani tree on the other side.
What can she be thinking, I wonder, this Queen of Propriety and Conventionality, as she stares haughtily down her nose at the orange JNNURM buses standing at the signal. What can she possibly think of this new Bangalore she still watches over ? Queen of straitlaced Victorian England for over 63 years, she was also crowned Empress of India in 1876 by Benjamin Disraeli at a Golden Jubilee to mark her 50th year as Queen.
Stuck in this shadowy Jacaranda filled corner of her lost Empire, a monarch with nine children and forty-two grandchildren, does she yearn for her beloved Albert ( 1819 -1861) when the sun sets ? Does she wish for a little company in this dark park so far away from England ? It must be quiet out here when everyone leaves. It is always quiet when everyone leaves. Loneliness is terrible when you once had the world at your feet.