Changing Cultures, Changing Neighbourhoods
In every city, the changing cultures of how we choose to be are transforming our neighbourhoods quite rapidly. With every book shop that closes, with every coffee shop that moves from a street, with every move a family makes to another affluent locality, the neighbourhood is changing.
A few years ago, we talked to the owners of Durga bookstore in the Shivajinagar neighbourhood of Bangalore. It is a bookstore where residents of Frazer town and Benson town had shopped in the 50s, as had others from the city. The store had originally opened as Durga Sound Studio. For some years, it was a library and later became a bookstore. The owner had shared with us that he had changed little inside his shop. His parents would have liked it to remain as it is. His father had told him that even if the business did not do well, he must never sell the shop. The discussion had moved to how things were back then on this street. There was a bakery in the lane opposite the bookstore that extended up to the street. Foreigners came here to buy. There was an Indian Coffee bar at the junction of Noronha Road and Chandni Chowk. In the old days, the street was extremely clean because there was regular inspection. Today, there was this perpetual smell of garbage that they had to live with.
When India Coffee house moved from M.G. Road to Church street, it was as the blog Which Main? What Cross? said: “…a short hop from the old location but still miles away from what it originally was.” It was a different street but the same neighbourhood. And yet, it wasn’t the same thing. The India Coffee house was a simple, traditional place now transplanted onto a gentrified street. Church street was not M.G.road. But in these times, M.G. Road was not “M.G. Road” either. Now, there was the metro and the Rangoli art centre and all the traffic that gave M.G. Road it’s new identity, just as it was Matteo, Krispy Kreme, Star Bucks, Third Wave and the ‘Church Street Social’ that gave Church street its identity. Church street was about the new coffee culture. India Coffee house chose to not close down but to move to this street with its new coffee culture. What is good about that is that you can still go there whenever you want to.
In Shivajinagar, the Durga bookstore has not yet closed down. And, it has not moved from where it always was. This means that anyone who remembers going there before can still go back there. If only to see that a changing book culture has not taken a collective memory away from us and our neighbourhoods. At least, not yet.
The contributions reflect on how the change in the book culture, coffee culture, street culture or something else has impacted their neighbourhood.
Prize: The two best entries under this theme received a BOOK gift voucher of Rs.1500.
Each entry received a participation certificate and a few selected entries have been shared here on the Decoding Everyday portal.
Changing Cultures, Changing Neighbourhoods Competition @ Decoding Everyday
In this film, we interview one of our prize-winners, Abhiri Khisty, who shares with us her nostalgic memories of their house with verandah and courtyard in Thane and how it created a vibrant community at one time. It was later brought down to make way for redevelopment and today, an apartment building stands in its place.
We've collated below a few newspaper articles and popular blog posts that reflect upon changing cultures and how they transform our neighbourhoods.