It took Shikha Nambiar five years before she was really able to see the city she lives in. And the revelation came because of an Instagram hashtag.
In 2015, Nambiar, the founder of a stationery brand, had drawn a hundred unusual doors from around the world, as part of the #100DayProject, a popular Instagram hashtag that invites users to make anything they love for a period of 100 days. This year, she wanted to contribute again, but on something closer to home.
So, on April 19, she announced her project on Instagram: #100DaysOfBangaloreByChica (a play on the city’s older, popular name, as well as her pet name) would explore the iconic, the arcane, the undiscovered parts of Bengaluru one post at a time.
She started small, with a plate of her favourite dosas from Sukh Sagar. Soon, Nambiar’s posts began to include Bengaluru landmarks like Atta Galatta, Blossoms bookstore, and the Ranga Shankara theatre.
"I had to take a break in the middle because I was travelling and did not have access to my tools,” she said. Nambiar takes forty five minutes to an hour for a typical post. Her art supplies include colour pencils, water colours and a pen tablet. She also uses a scanner to share the work online.
Once she ran out of favourite spots in the city, Nambiar began asking her friends for suggestions, and found new loves. One such recommendation was the Sidappa Hotel. “I first ate there, and then decided to draw the place. Another great find was 99 dosas, suggested by a junior from college. I realised that generations of college students had been frequenting many of the same spots”.
Given Bengaluru’s great selection of restaurants, it is no surprise that a lot of Nambiar’s posts include food havens like Koshy’s (with a side of the legendary smiley fries), or Cafe Thulp, or the more recent additions like the microbrewery Toit, or the live performance venue The Humming Tree.
But some of the best finds on the hashtag include lesser-known Bengaluru hangouts – a produce or flower market, or occasionally, a particularly beautiful tree, like the Pink Tabebuia, which blooms between December and March and was first imported from continental America to beautify the city's streets with their pale pink blossoms.
Noticeably, traffic snarls, and abusive auto rickshaws drivers are missing from the series.
"Bangalore has a lot of issues, like any other metropolitan city,” Nambiar said. "I wanted to focus on the positives and the brighter side because I feel that's what is important. That is what keeps me happy and going on a rough day."
Now that her project is complete, Nambiar hopes to exhibit the series somewhere in the city, but she is far from done with her muse, Namma Bengaluru.