Yesterday, I attended a heritage walk, a military heritage walk to be specific. But I’m not allowed to tell you about it. What I can do, is tell you about it.
Organised by a group called Bangalore Walks, the walk took place at 7 am inside the premises of the Madras Engineering Group (MEG) in Ulsoor. It is hosted by Vijay Thiruvady, who is not a Bangalorean in the typical sense, meaning he hasn’t lived here all his life.
Like my friend says, you can be from anywhere and still be a Bangalorean.
I did not get to talk to Vijay (if I may call him that) as much as I would have liked to. But now that I know where and how to find him, I hope to learn more about him and his love for sharing Bangalore’s history and culture.
Again, I cannot tell you what he spoke about on our walk. But I can tell you that Vijay Thiruvady is a highly-knowledgeable man, who speaks with good diction and command over a subject – he is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Thanks to the unlikely presence of little children (aka bane of my existence) on our walk, I can also tell you that Vijay is composed, patient and welcoming in his demeanor. What it takes to be a good guide 101.
As for the walk, I’m so glad I went on it. I have passed MEG on an everyday basis for four months, when I worked in the area. Sadly, it took a planned project and a paid walk for me to get even remotely curious about it. Now, here I am with more than a view of the inside and a head full of information I cannot write about but am thoroughly happy to know.
To be honest, I wish I read up on the Madras Sappers before I took the walk. Just so that I wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed as I did with all that history on an early Sunday morning. Nevertheless, it did the job – my curiosity has been piqued, my mission to explore Bangalore has taken off and most importantly, I met some wonderful people.
One of them was Maya Jayapal. From the little that my friend and I spoke to her before the walk, I learnt that Maya lived in Singapore for many years on account of her husband’s job, and worked as an English teacher.
Later, during the walk, I overheard Vijay joking with her about not being able to write about the walk. Within seconds I caught up with her to confirm my suspicions.
Are you a writer? I asked her softly. Yes, I am, she whispered in reply.
Maya writes for a few (if I’m not mistaken) national newspapers and has authored two books on Bangalore as well as a book on Jakarta and Singapore. Was I in awe! Maya said she’s intrigued by how cities come to be and what makes them the way they are. A woman after my own heart.
A little Googling tells me Maya is also a counsellor. Her books on Bangalore are called Bangalore: The Story of a City, which I believe is out of print, and Bangalore: Roots and Beyond, which was written 10 years after the former.
Before breakfast, I asked Maya if I could get in touch with her and talk to her about Bangalore. The warmhearted woman that she is and the fortunate girl that I am, she agreed and we exchanged contact details. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am.
For me, the walk was even more special because of Maya. I know I technically wasn’t travelling but isn’t meeting new people one of the best things about it?
The Military Heritage Walk is fairly new. Vijay Thiruvady has been conducting it for a year now. Only Indian citizens are allowed to attend it. To register you need to show proof of citizenship – a passport or voter’s ID. You will also need to carry this proof with you when you go for the walk, in order to register at the premises. Photographs are not allowed and as you already know, neither is writing about it. The walk costs INR 800 (at the time of writing this) and includes breakfast at the MEG canteen. Complimentary coffee and water is offered at the beginning of the walk.
I would recommend the walk whether it’s your cup of tea or not. I’m no military buff or history major but I am ever curious, and if you’re the same, then I believe that’s enough. Just remember to get there early, respect the rules and keep an open mind.
P.S. This is not a post promoting Maya Jaypal and her books or even Bangalore Walks for that matter. Nothing but an eager blogger here.