Saturday, October 31, 2015

Meeting with Professor Chandan Gowda

Today I had an excellent meeting with Professor Chandan Gowda. He is a professor at Azim Premji University. He is also a prolific writer and is widely read. The main purpose of this meeting with him, was on how to verify the crowd-sourced content.

We met Prof. Gowda at the "Cafe Coffee Day Square'' on Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore. On meeting me, he gifted me a book called-- "G.H. Krumbiegel 'Whatever he touched, he adorned'" which contains a section authored by him. This book is about a German who settles in Bangalore and the contributions he makes to the erstwhile state of Mysore.

Soon, we had ordered the beverages and were set to commence the meeting!

In a couple minutes after our initial meeting, we were soon very deeply engrossed in a conversation!! Prof. Gowda also recalled several anecdotes about interesting things that used to occur in Bangalore.

Prof. Gowda had also brought along with him three books about Bangalore history, which he suggested were very relevant to the idea and could be used to develop content as well as verify it. These books he had brought, are:

1. Bangalore: A Century Of Tales From City & Cantonment - Peter  
2. Bengalurina Itihasa - B.N. Sundara Rao
3. Bangalore Through the Centuries - Fazlul Hasan

Prof. Gowda also suggested some new ideas. I have mentioned these below: 

  • The Department of Information (Govt. of Karnataka) provides small grants to film makers to produce short documentaries. Some of these might be about prominent individuals in Bangalore.
  • Reach out BBMP and see if there is any naming policy for roads or rather, on what criteria roads are named.
  • Reach out to BBMP and see if there is a list of all roads/parks in Bangalore, and filter it out to only those named after people.
  • Reach out to the "Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage" (INTACH) and see if they will be willing to partner, or contribute information.
I was struck by the fact that despite the fact that Prof. Gowda was meeting a high-school student when he came to meet me, he was fully prepared. He carried three relevant books from his personal library, and a very appropriate book to gift to me.

This was a major learning for me: No matter what the meeting is, one should be thoughtful and go prepared. 

Thank you, Prof. Gowda!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Meeting with I Change My City

Today, I got the opportunity to meet with I Change My City ( As you might know I Change My City (ICMC) is an initiative that closely works with the people of Bangalore to help report civic issues.

I made a presentation of this idea to a senior team of five members which included Ms. Sylvia Veeraraghavan, the head of this initiative. We also had Mr. Vivekananda (Marketing Manager), Mr. Venkatesh (Content Head), Ms. Gayatri Nair (Editor content). It was a privilege to have the opportunity to present this idea to them!!

Initially as I entered the building, I was very nervous despite a lot of preparation and practice. But the moment I entered the room the entire ICMC team was so welcoming and courteous, that I felt very comfortable. 

I had a 10 slide presentation. I started by explaining how I came up with this idea. We had a funny moment when I said that I want to start with a "pop quiz" about some road names in Bangalore:-) 

By this time I was at ease in the room. I then made the presentation for around 15 minutes. After I ended, the ICMC team asked very good questions about content creation and verification. They also came up with some ideas about how this initiative can go forward.

Here are some highlights of that conversation:
  1. We discussed the challenges of doing research on people who may not be very well known.
  2. One of the important questions that came up in the discussion was verifying the content that is crowd-sourced. An advisory group comprising people such as Mr. Suresh Moona might be able to address this issue.
  3. There were several good ideas that were made by the ICMC team. I am listing them below as I understand them. 
  • We should reach out to schools and crowd-source information through a Heritage competition/quiz.
  • Each week ICMC could post a couple of road/park names on their website, and ask their users to write in information about these personalities.
If this partnership makes sense for ICMC, it would be wonderful to work with this team to take the idea forward!!

I am planning to reach out to my school Principal, Ms. Deepa Sridhar, and seek her guidance for this project. It would be great if more Kumaranites will be able to participate in this process. 

I am also hoping to meet another historian of repute. Keeping fingers crossed, I will let you know if I am able to get the meeting.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Talk on the Origin of Bengaluru's name!!

In one of the earlier blogs I had mentioned about meeting with Mr. Suresh Moona who is a popular Bangalore historian. In the talk he has given at Takshashila Institution, he discusses the various legends and stories that suggest the origin of Bengaluru's name. I paste below, an excerpt from the blog for your reading pleasure:

The story behind the name stretches across several centuries and civilizations.
The earliest reference to the name ‘Bengaluru’ appears in the ninth century Ganga inscription on a ‘hero-stone’ (vira kallu) found in Begur. The inscription makes a reference to the battle fought at ‘Bengaluru’. The name is believed to owe its origins to the Ganga rulers. Bengavalu was the name of the hamlet that the rulers built for their security guards. Bengavaluru, the name of the guards’ residences is believed to have morphed into Bengaluru. The city has had other names-Devarayapattna in the 16th century and Kalyanpura. During the British rule, the city came to be known as Bangalore. At the 2005 golden jubilee celebration of Suvarna Karnataka, UR Anantha Murthy proposed that the city’s name be changed to Bengaluru. In 2006, BBMP passed the resolution to implement the change of name. On November 12, 2006, the then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy declared ‘Bengaluru’ to be the city’s official name.

Several legends actively compete with facts in the narration of the history of Bangalore. Among the most popular ones is the story, set in the 12th century, of the tired Hoysala King Veera Ballala who was offered boiled beans (benda kallu in Kannada) by an old woman. In praise of the boiled beans, he named the town Bendakaluru (town of boiled beans). Such stories add a highly interesting dimension to a city’s history, but are not backed by any evidence.

Here is a link to the original post:

Despite Bengaluru being such a prominent city of the world and having a long history, there are still only legends and myths to trace the origin of its name. This is indeed quite unfortunate. That is why I have started this blog with the intention of making sure that places such as roads, parks, circles etc. that are named after prominent people who have contributed to society, do not have legends or myths about the origin of their names. Instead, the memories of such eminent individuals must be honored appropriately by making sure that their contributions to society are chronicled and spread for generations to come.