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The phenomenon – part two

Sunday, June 20, 2010

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

I noticed this article from the times of india, which captured the essence of Koramangala through the mind of Balbir Singh, the owner of Koramangala.com.

Around 17 years ago, Koramangala was nothing short of a pocket of villages. For every small purchase, we had to drive down to Brigade Road. Instances where a Koramangalite would go outdoors after 7 pm were sparse. It was unsafe and autorickshaw drivers always refused to come to Koramangala. This place was dead," says Balbir Singh, who quit his job in the printing & packaging industry to launch the portal koramangala.com along with his wife Amrit Sethi.

Way back in 1984, if someone went out after 7pm, there was no guarantee of him returning home be it a kid or an adult. The biggest set of marshy land regions included what is now the National Games Village, and ST Bed (behind the Maharaja hotel).  Everything beyond that were just groves and groves of cocount trees which could trap an unassuming individual if he trespassed into an unending maze of no-return. From our home, we could see the Mantons crane factory (today otherwise called Raheja Arcade), and St.John’s hospital. While the first five years of my stay did not see anyone owning a television set in Koramangala, after that stage the first few black and white sets started arriving on the scene. Chitrahaar, Chitramanjari, Vartegalu, Blockbuster movies, and the famous moon mission by Rakesh Sharma – were some of the things that raked in crowds. Hordes of children descended on the only house(s) that had TVs and settled down like we were one family, with one goal – watch TV.

Open spaces, tall grasses, St John's Hospital, service roads and, yes, cows. Nobody thought this quiet suburb would be transformed so much. It was more like a brick & mortar village with the typical ration shops around it," recollects Santhosh Kumar, an HR professional, who has been residing in Koramangala since 1984

The Koramangala club membership was a near miss for my father. To keep up the socializing habit, the membership was offered at a mere 500 bucks which those days amounted to a monthly salary of people living there. The founder members had to pitch in about 2000 bucks each with which they would build what is otherwise today called the Koramangala Club with a mind boggling membership amount running into lakhs of rupees.

The entire set of people living in Koramangala 6th Block used to play badminton, shuttle, ring, kho-kho and what not and this included all the adults in each family. Boy, it was such a pleasure to be living here. After my dad, I was the next undisputed badminton champ out here. The next ten years was sheer bliss upto 1995. The locality slowly gained ground in terms of development, and infrastructure to support the growing population was slowly being put in place. Post offices, schools, bus stops, banks, water tanks, electricity board offices, small shops to meet the grocery needs.

Some of the famous names to do business with were Krishna medicals, Vaishnavi stores for stationery (and those new famous pens and pencils), fashion center (for your clothing needs), modern stores and balaji stores (for groceries). The only good hotels years down the line were Sukh sagar, and Utsav Veg. Bethany and Neena schools were the only schools that have withstood the test of time for over 25 years now. So much so was the nostalgia that I can say I could reach my school as the crow flies (diagonally) from my home.

1995 was ushering in the software era, into india, into bangalore, into koramangala in full swing. This was the turning point for the poshness of the locality to start exposing itself. In full glory. for the next ten years. Few of the earliest names to move into Koramangala were Wipro and Infosys.

The phenomenon was now being created.

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