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233. Rooting a City (with Roopa Pai and Harini Nagendra)
The Cubbon Park Story
Over 150 years ago, in 1870, a public park was inaugurated in Bangalore. Designed by British engineer Richard Sankey, it spread over 100 acres and encompassed features typical to the city—granite outcrops, lush greenery, wide avenues and government buildings. Originally named Meade’s Park, it has been known to generations of Bangaloreans as Cubbon Park—sanctuary, lung space, thoroughfare, battlefield, picnic spot, repository of urban biodiversity, and public park.
In this episode of BIC Talks, author and ecologist Harini Nagendra speaks to author and co-founder of BangaloreWALKS Roopa Pai about her book, Cubbon Park, The Green Heart of Bangalore – the first of its kind as they attempt to decode the enduring appeal of the Park. This conversation was adapted from a Bangalore Literature Festival 2022 session.
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Roopa Pai is one of India’s best-known writers for children. This Bangalore-based author has written over 25 books, ranging from picture books to chapter books and fiction to non-fiction, on themes as varied as sci-fi fantasy, popular science, maths, history, economics, Indian philosophy, life skills, and medicine. Her 8-part fiction series, Taranauts, is India’s first fantasy-adventure series for children in English.
She has also translated 100 poems of the celebrated Kannada poet, Padma Shri K S Nisar Ahmed, into English, and will be publishing them
soon. Her book Cubbon Park: The Green Heart of Bengaluru, the first history of the 152-year-old heritage park in Bangalore, has just been released. When she is not writing, Roopa leads groups of children and young people on history and heritage walks across her beloved Bangalore and Karnataka, as part of her job as director of a company she co-founded, BangaloreWalks.
Harini Nagendra is a Professor at Azim Premji University, where she leads the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability. Her research focuses on social-ecological transformations in South Asia. Prof. Nagendra received a 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award for her research and practice on urban commons. Her 2016 book “Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present, and Future” examines the implications of environmental change for cities of the global South. Her latest book, “The Bangalore Detectives Club” is a historical detective novel based in 1920s colonial Bangalore.