SECURITY WAS tight at the Leela Palace in Bangalore today, everyone being frisked, cars being thoroughly searched. That, explained an employee, was partly because of the outrages in Mumbai, but also because a VIP was staying in the Palace.
The VIP in question is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, quite a controversial figure.
Like other five star establishments, pubs and public places, the Leela Palace has banned the noxious habit of smoking. We came across a small group huddled in a little spot outside the restaurant, and listened in to the conversation. One smoker was a doctor.
He said: “I smoke, but of course the advice I give to my patients is not to smoke.” He works in the UK and said that the surgeons used to have a smoking room near the operating theatres, but that was now completely banned. “Dr Death” did not offer an opinion on whether smoking bans were good or bad, but we did see him head to the smoking cubbyhole on at least four occasions.
Instead, he said, when the surgeons and doctors want a quick puff, they head down to the mortuary. There is little risk of the corpses being affected by passive smoking.
A woman said that she had been to the coffee bar earlier and managed to find a quiet spot in a corner, outside, where she had a quiet puff without interruption.
A Bavarian guy said that the federal government was thinking of tearing up the the non-smoking rules they’ve got there, for several reasons. One is that irate neighbours call the police because of the noise the smokers make on the pavement. The other is that small businesses are threatened by the lack of business.
Apparently, Taiwan is introducing a smoking ban in January 2009. Will the freedom loving Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) be the only place where smoking in bars survives? ♦