A Calling Story

As one wakes up to a dreamy morning of Bangalore, wonders what color it has in its small kitty to offer.

As one walks through its man-size potholes, wonders at the giant-size blocks of concrete.

With a mundane feel and grey skies, one treads along the buzzing traffic of this city; only to realize that will be late for work today.On one such morning, when I drove past Yeshwantpur circle, my gaze fell on two yellow pillars and a phone booth colored red! It is only natural to overlook these magnanimous structures (flyovers) hence a red colored phone booth standing in the middle of the two pillars was unusually appealing.

While the pillars said that it’s “Malleshwaram Calling: Memories Across Time”, a sudden nostalgia hit me as soon as I saw a black colored rotary dial phone inside the phone booth. With my generation coming in at a time when STD booths were just fading and a phone which only has a value of an antique piece as far as my memory goes, it’s hard to understand why a wave of nostalgia would hit me.

Nevertheless I stopped by and walked into the booth. It started ringing. While I was still putting sense into the whole thing, I took the call.

It was an installation art, with the name “Malleshwaram Calling: Memories Across Time” and with a story on every number the phone had. As soon as you take the call, it takes you through stories of what Malleshwaram was in 1950s in voices of residents of Malleshwaram.

Archana Prasad, its creator, who has grown up in this neighborhood has lived through many such stories herself or through her family. While she intents to connect people with the spaces they inhabit with a vision for a richer tomorrow, she fabricated this project using what we all connect with. Technology, Symbols and Stories.

In everyday busyness of life, it is impossible to touch the fragments which tweak with our surroundings every other moment. While we live the process, we leave the stories behind. Malleshwaram Calling brings stories in voices who were once a part of the similar process. To me, they spoke of an unknown land which once used to be there and now here. The sounds of memories might have failed to charm me under a maddening rush of Yeshwantpur Flyover but the booth talked to me. And to my amazement, it spoke many voices.

Just the way Bangalore jitters to the coming of every immigrant in the city, the same way phone’s tiny sensor rang the phone every time one entered the booth. It gave an elderly person who was walking by ‘glittery eyes’ when he thought that it is a public booth and can be used but his understanding failed him when the phone started speaking to him.

The technology became an effective medium in this artwork and its visual impact does full justice to what Archana envisioned with the project.What a participant absorbed goes beyond the moment of interaction. The installation may have stayed only for 3 days but the pillars are still in a melancholy that the booth left behind.To participate in an installation in a public space and evaluating its presence and purpose might get jargoned with many fleeting thoughts.

Because, tomorrow is another dreamy morning and i am late for work yet again.  

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