Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 12/15/22 6:00 AM

Book review: Cubbon Park by Roopa Pai

Cubbon Park The Green Heart of Bengaluru by Roopa Pai, Speaking Tiger Books.

A neat, potted history of the 152-year-old park that is both geographically central to Bangalore and emotionally central to Bangaloreans. Pai eschews frills and furbelows to take up certain sections of the park`s history and lived-in present, the people and situations that have impacted and continue to impact the park, and proceeds to tell readers the Cubbon Park story.

The flow is neatly sectioned off in easy bytes,  the text is interspersed with b/w photographs of much historical interest,  and before the casual reader knows it, they are fully immersed in reading about the people who birthed the park, which straddles the line between Cantonment and City, those (statues) who watch over it, those who enrich it, the lovers, the guardians and the warriors. The text is studded with  capsules of information on many things related to the Park, which includes the Mysore royals; the men of the Raj who were deeply involved in the growth of the park; a Nepali queen who became an unwitting  benefactor on behalf of her pet parrot; the musical performances on the Strip; some Shakespeare in the Park, and the radiant appearance  of a mega-influencer: the tabebuia trees in the Park.

Basically,  this is one helluva feelgood story, in that it lets the old Bangalorean (this writer amongst them) revel in a wash of green memories, even as it lets the newly arrived learn just why the park, which began life as Meade`s Park, is officially named Sri Chamarajendra Park  but popularly known to us as Cubbon Park is so important to the city they have moved to.

Consider this: In the 80s, the Park sprawled across 300 acres. Today it stands at just 197  acres. Which is my cue to say that the book has one major takeaway: there are people forever waiting in the wings to encroach, divvy up, destroy this people`s park, this public commons. To thwart that lot, us Bangaloreans need to be extra vigilant.

This is emotional ownership, as the author says. If you know Cubbon Park, settle in the trenches and stay alert for continuous pushback. If you are new to Bangalore and the Park, sign up for a walk and learn all about this wondrous space. Altogether a delightful book.

BangaloreBengaluruBengaluru`s lung spaceCubbon ParkRoopa PaiSpeaking Tiger Booksthe creation of Cubbon Park

Sheila Kumar • December 15, 2022

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