Looking out from the top floor of KR market, I felt like I could see the entire world. Hundreds of people were packed into the enormous ground floor room full of stacks of vibrantly colored marigolds and roses. On the first floor (yes, please note my switch to British floor-level terminology), I saw glimpses stalls selling spices, home decor, plastic cups and plates, and everything in between. The floor I stood on—the second floor, was scattered with assorted shops selling power tools. An odd dichotomy? I thought so too. From neon back lit posters of Hindu deities to pomegranates to cast iron skillets to everything in between, KR market had it all.
Also from that top floor, I saw humanity all at once and in some of its purest forms. People sitting cross legged, eyes focused, working diligently to weave flowers into a chain. Vendors laughing and teasing each other from the next flower pile over. People in a heated dispute over God, Allah, or Shiva/Vishnu/Brahma knows what. Children running around with various tasks, dutifully helping their mothers and fathers do what they can to make a livelihood. Several older men sleeping on the concrete floor, the rest of the world bustling by them.
One thing I have taken great note of since arriving in Bangalore has been the constant juxtaposition of this place-- not just threading through one particular theme, but across almost everything I see, hear and witness. I can’t stop thinking about it. A glamorous glass-windowed high-rise apartment building across the lake from a trash covered slum. Gorgeous temples rising out of clusters of seemingly run-down roof tops. Statues of Gandhi at an art market sold right next to amateur sketches of the Joker. Flat screen TVs inside one or two room temporary housing structures. Mosques, temples, and cathedrals all within a three-minute walk from each other. Shrieking stray dogs just outside my window as I clink away on my laptop using a Wi-Fi hotspot from my iPhone in a “Deluxe” style hotel room.
Refocusing my lens: Old men sleeping on the concrete floor and the world continuing to move around them. Selling onions and chain saws in the same building. People laughing with each other, people yelling at each other.
When I first arrived, all of this juxtaposition was overwhelming. I didn’t like it. But juxtaposition is whats real. It’s the raw, unshaven realities of Bangalore, of humanity, and of the world. It’s truth. It’s who we are. It’s beautiful.