Brigade Road, Bangalore

Are Bangalore Days Over?

In February this year, I sent out a mail to my team in office which was somewhat on these lines:

We are all allowed to work from home once in a while but it is getting out of hands. I suggest that we get disciplined and work from home, at max, for 2 days in a Month and not more than once a week. That too, only if it is really necessary.

me, trying to act bossy

Heh, where are the days gone when you could actually feel embarrassed in public?

Most of the people whom I call as Friends or Colleagues or Relatives who used to live (in rented houses) in Bangalore have now left the city and have returned to their home towns. They all plan to stay there and work remotely till the pandemic gets over and their employers allow work from home. Some say that this would be allowed at least till December 2020. Some say it would go on till July 2021. Some even say that Bangalore Days are over as now the Internet is good enough all over the country that it is not really important to stay and work in the same city. The traffic and the hustle bustle in the city is not the same anymore. Office spaces on everyday are as vacant as the office spaces on Weekends. Most Restaurants have shut down. Food Delivery guys, who used to drive as fast as the F1 Cars, now just stroll their way to deliver food to a lone introvert stranger who is oblivious to the pandemic or may be understands that food is not the primary source of infection. The number of cases are breaking records every day and the overall morale of the place is duller than mood on pre-covid Monday mornings.

James Altucher, a famous blogger and entrepreneur, wrote something similar about New York City. He gave detailed stats of rent coming down, people actually moving permanently to other cities, and remote working is going to be the norm.

There won’t be business opportunities for years. Businesses move on. People move on. It will be cheaper for businesses to function more remotely and bandwidth is only getting faster. 

Wait for events and conferences and even meetings and maybe even office spaces to start happening in virtual realities once everyone is spread out from midtown Manhattan to all over the country. 

NYC IS DEAD FOREVER. HERE’S WHY

His views have some weight and it is not all wrong. However, he got a strong rebuttal from someone who is a New Yorker and takes pride in it. In fact, he is someone who usually won’t really speak out on each and every public related issue. But, this NYC Dead thingy hit him hard.

World Famous Comedian Jerry Seinfeld wrote,

Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines. That’s the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

Jerry Seinfeld: So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’
(It’s not.)

I had myself left the city on 14th July and went to my home town. I thought may be I would also stay there for a long time. Return to the city where my friends and colleagues aren’t there is not really fruitful, in fact, dangerous if you know what I mean.

But I returned back on August 16th, 2020 for several reasons, including my wife working in Bangalore at a place where work from home isn’t really allowed. Here is my opinion on whether the Silicon Valley of India is now a thing of the past:

No, Bangalore days are not over. Working from Home is not same as Working in Office. In fact, working from home, even from your hometown is not the same as working from your home in Bangalore. The feel is not there. Like Jerry Seinfeld said, some places stand out because of the Energy. I am not in a die-hard fan of Bangalore the city as such because it can certainly do better in a lot of aspects but I absolutely love working here. I really miss working in office, meeting people, discussing ideas, talking about weather and traffic even when there is always a love-hate relationship, having tea road-side, and in generally sitting at my desk in office. I have no qualms in saying that whoever, I know, has moved out of Bangalore has always complained about how the Bangalore work culture is perhaps the best there is and other cities are not the same. Since I have not really worked elsewhere in last decade (except small stints in Hyderabad and Jaipur), I don’t know that. But there is certainly something which makes a place worth living. Of course, without people, the soul is not there. Even if some politicians and their stooges do drama by Hindi-Hate-Mongering every few months, but there are still many sane people around care about better things and solve problems and not create them. There might be 1000 wrong things here but which place doesn’t? I have spent 10 years here and it has shaped my personality, I think, in a positive way. It has made me more accepting, more open and more optimistic. I want to stay an optimist, even if I am missing out on spending a long time with my family unlike many other folks. I’ve just stated about Bangalore but every city in the world is special for its own reason and you might have some reasons about it yourself.

I feel that once this is over, and this will be over soon, it would take just a week or so for normalcy to return. And not just Bangalore, every city around the world will rise up again. There might still be some people who will have FOGO (Fear of Going Out, h/t: Mark Manson) and might not return to office. May be, masks wearing will stay for another year. But I am sure, most people who really want to work and are ambitious, will return to the cities, and the offices will be swarming with people again. Humans are stubborn. These viruses and all might scare us for sometime. But, we will return to work and crib about how bad the traffic is and why can’t the government do something about it. We will return to work and go to the cafeteria and eat the tasteless food. Your favorite restaurants will be back serving your favorite overpriced meal. We will still use Zoom and all, but we will also meet people in person. The dullness in the air will transform back to the energetic vibe which makes us believe that tomorrow is going to be better.


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