I spent countless summers as a child in Bangalore, India ,the city of my parents’ pre-immigration past. Bangalore is a breezy, tree-laden city, formerly used by colonial-era civil servants to indulge in retirement. After Indian independence, the city retained a small-town feel, becoming a quiet refuge for an array of religious, ethnic, and linguistic cultures. This diversely localized aura lasted until the 1990s, when an information technology boom spawned rapid, poorly-managed urbanization. Today, Bangalore is bursting with its own teeming sprawl. Yet, the city still echoes with evocative memories of a former intimacy.
One aging local legend is Bread Mama (Uncle). “I remember him cycling around to deliver bread when I was 10,” my father would say reverently. My grandfather would recall him “delivering bread when I was a college student, when we were both younger men.” And my grandmother would add that she could remember him doling out bread during her first days in Bangalore as a young bride. Cheeky younger cousins would point to the Energizer Bunny on television and shout, “Bread Mama also goes and goes!”