The idea of arrivals
When the results of the Fifteenth Indian Census were declared, in March 2011, it became evident that the urban sections of Bangalore were the most populated in Karnataka, growing at a decadal rate of 46.68 per cent. In their analysis of the data conducted soon after the numbers were revealed, social scientists KNM Raju and Madheswaran S of the city’s Institute for Social and Economic Change suggested that migrants to Bangalore constituted a significant portion of this burgeoning population. In the two years since the consummation of that official enumeration, the city has continued to draw a gush of migrants: deposited on its shores by every manner of mechanised transport.
In attempting to create a fragmentary record of this daily arrival for Time Out’s photography special, Selvaprakash L clambered onto trains, boarded buses and journeyed to the airport in Devanahalli, asking each intended subject* to pause for a picture and a breviloquent summary of their journey, a soupçon of a life.
In doing so, he discovered that the air-conditioned coaches in trains, much like the airport bus shuttles, foster exclusion, where people plug into their iPods and shut out fellow-passengers. Buses, he was told, don’t engender neighbourly feelings either: if the onboard movie doesn’t silence conversations, the hermetic confines of curtained sleeping berths force strangers to remain strangers. In contrast, the general compartment of a train, he ascertained, is like a commune: cards are dealt, food distributed, cover drives analysed, and, at the journey’s end, phone numbers exchanged, and lives invented.
*Barring two, the travellers we encountered refused to provide us full names.
Documenting the city’s immigrants