Monthly Archives: July 2008

It’s 100 decibels on the 100 Feet Road

OUR APARTMENT is just behind the strangely named 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar, Bangalore and is a haven of peace and quiet, with sweetly singing wrens and that.

The 100 Feet Road is much much longer than 100 feet. Just like the equally strangely named 80 Feet Road is much much longer than 80 feet.

Walk a little way to the crossroads pictured in this video below, and you can’t hear yourself scream. As you can hear.

Oberoi goes namashkar nuts

WHAT’S GOING ON at the Oberoi, Bangalore? We’ve visited this fine establishment several times before – but every member of staff, every member of staff tonight greeted us with the namashkar mudra.

That’s two hands held together, fingers pointing up, against the heart. It’s a Sanskrit way of showing your respect and salutations to the spirit within the other you meet.

That’s all fine and dandy. It shows you’re in India when the doorman dressed in his finery does it and ushers you in. But when you ask the barman for a beer – yeah draught Kingfisher, not Haywards 5000 – and he does the namashkar, well you smell something is afoot. Perhaps guests have complained that the Oberoi is not Indian enough? Perhaps some dignitary is staying there and the namastes are absolutely necessary.

Or perhaps some hotel manager has got a bee in his bonnet and told everyone, everyone to do it. It’s not a bad thing – it’s a good thing, it’s Indian culture. But something is going on here.  Because it’s a new phenomenon.

Another day in Ole Bengaluru

Beggar Kingfisher, god bless Haywards 5000

FOR A CITY that claims to be the pub capital of India, you cannot escape Kingfisher anywhere. Hic! The firm obviously has a very sound channel – it dominates the Bengaluru world. Chip giant Intel should take note, but sometimes you fancy a change.

And this Haywards 5000 stuff is something else. For Rs 75 you can have a taste of Haywards “Super Strong Beer”. At around eight percent it’s got a fine kick and according to one end user, “it’s strong but it’s smooth”, a bit like Indian Gold Flake fags.

Obviously, this beer is exported worldwide and is apparently a big thing in Tasmania. It’s  pictured below against the background of a Bengaluru magazine that rivals Time Out and the incredible book “Enter from Backside Only” – an Indian phrase that sometimes is changed to “Backside being Beautified, do not Enter”. Cough.  The juxtaposition of Hidden Bang, Haywards 5000 and Entry from the Backside only is purely coincidental.  The official site is here.

Examiner domain gone and back

HECK, that was a hairy day here in Ole Bengaluru. First C.Shanti gets boasting about Eva Glass, then our domain name mysteriously enters a parking lot in Texas and starts to migrate East.

We managed to get it out of the parking lot and the DNS started seeing double for a few hours, but we’re up and running again now.

So what’s happening in Bengaluru? Plenty. It’s cool here, unlike Mumbai yesterday. The building next to our office was demolished by a team of people with their bare hands in the space of two weeks. The little squirrels who used to entertain us by moving from the Gulmohar to the building have been unceremoniously thrown out on the street although we did spot one on a far off building, earlier.

Pretty soon, the empty space next door will be occupied by a nightwatchman, and then by a man with a uniform and a hat, and by boys unbending iron bars to provide the shuttering for the continuing concreting of Bengaluru.

My folk in the editorial office look bemused as I show them a copy of the Daily Mail, and amused to read the Mick Jagger feature about his “65” girlfriends now he’s 65.

They have heard of the Rolling Stones.

Bengaluru has festooned itself with signs saying that Bangalore is in your DNA. Is it? The metro – “our metro” continues to make the congested streets of the city even more congested and so life goes on as normal, despite the bombs of last week.

Oh, I am out of the Hotel of Laundry Excellence and in a quiet apartment in Ole Bengaluru. A couple of lads come in every day to tidy things up. Yes, I left some items of laundry on the floor in my room and they vanished when I got home tonight. Bengaluru Launderers obviously have vendetta or drishti against me. Please……..

Mageek and his bag get labelled fragile

GOLLY IT was raining cats and dogs when I tipped off the fright in Old Mumbai earlier today. It is the monsoon season, after all. There is a journey that has to be made if you are frying in from abroad which involves waiting for ages for the bus to take you from the international terminal the domestic one.

It’s all the same airport, but you have to wait for the creaky bus to take you round the Wrekin to Monsieur Domestic.

Monsieur Domestic has several gates to depart from, and we were flying Kingfisher down to Bengaluru today – there are no sign posts at Monsieur Domestic that tells you the truth about how to take a Kingfisher fright.

In fact, you have to walk through the car park, brave several not so electric auto rikshas, and then climb a fright of stairs to find where to board your Kingfisher flight.

Luckily, the rain stopped for a few seconds once we figured this out. We had to check in our hand baggage because it contained a bottle of Stolichyna vodka and you can’t carry this through security.

In fact, a wandering sadhu tried to carry his bag through security before us which contained large bottles of olive oil and the like – the max amount of liquid you can carry through in  India is 100ml and the bottle of olive oil was considerably bigger than that.

The very nice lass at the Kingfisher check in asked if there was anything in what had now metamorphosed into check in baggage rather than hand baggage. Yes! A very large bottle of Stolly. Which resulted in an enormous label being stuck on the already well trussed bag and we being able to pick up our check in luggage very soon after we landed at the wonderful new Bangalore airport which is only an hour and a half away from down tooon Bengaluru.

But I have to say this about Indian airline security. I fly around the world quite a bit, some might say quite too much, but it is very thorough indeed. Today’s magic wand successfully discovered the titanium alloy plate that’s been in my leg for 27 years now and the only other authorities that pick up on that seem to be based at Barcelona airport.

Smoking ban hits India

IN AUTUMN this year India will follow the flock and introduce a smoking ban very similar to the one holding sway in Blighty.

This won’t mean many pubs close in Bangalore, because there weren’t very many pubs anyway, despite it being the “pub capital” of India. We are always recommended to go to the “Hard Rock Cafe” or “TGI Friday” for a good time, so you can tell the place is really buzzing.

The pubs in Bangalore are really not that wonderful. “Pub World” for example, seems to be populated by middle aged men sharing pitchers of Kingfisher and watching cricket – which is legion. NASA is really off the wall – the people there look like they’re wearing airline uniforms, not astronaut helmets. Once more, this is restricted to middle-aged saddos.

The Bangalore guide – link on the right down a bit, said that the Underground is a really happening place. It’s not. It shut down three years ago, we are informed. 

In short, now India is introducing the “no smoking” rule, it seems that Bangalore will be even less the “pub capital of India”. The hacks in the Examiner Bengaluru office tell me you can’t smoke on the railways either, not even if you’re on the roof. But if you slip the guards 10 or 20 bucks – rupees not greenbacks – it could well be overlooked as a misdemeanour.

If you’re convicted of smoking on the trains, you can get six months in jail, maximum. Golly, ciggie smoking is a dangerous habit, isn’t it? ♦

Inquirer and the Rogister turn into Tweedledum and Weedledee

OH THE NAVEL GAZING that’s going on between folk at the titles I founded now better known as the INQster and the Roojester.

On the one hand we have the ineffable Lester Haines, here, deciding to have a go at the INQster possibly for the reason it’s a slow news day. On the other hand, we have this one from the INQster, a long letter from the Editor to his reader.

You wait. August will get worse. Until it gets better. In September.  I’m off to Bangalore again tomorrow and all points east. God bless the Inquirer! God bless the Rogister! May they rull the wabes!  

INQUIRER editor gives Examiner editor the bird

THE FIRST PUBCAST has come to pass but it has happened here, on my very own bog.

Paul Hales, the editor of the INQ (founder: M.Magee) decided to join the Old Farts at the Globe Tavern opposite Baker Street yesterday evening.

Hales wasn’t a happy bunny. But at least he had the grace to respond to our request for a live interview, complete with sound effects. Just a second later, he grinned and gave us the finger twice. But we’ve cut that bit out, because this is a family bog.  The vid was produced with the fantastic Flip device – it plugs into your USB port, the sound is pretty good, and the vid quality isn’t bad either. The software is on the machine and it takes a couple of batteries which generate an hour of video. What’s inside this cheap device?

With apologies to Intel for the dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum thingie. It was playing loudly on the pub TV while we were filming. The finger is here.  

Beggar my neighbour

OUT WITH the old farts yesterday at the Globe tavern opposite Baker Street when a nicely dressed young man attempted to tap us for some money. We said no.

About 20 minutes later he came back and tried to tap us for some money again. I said no, I’m not giving you any money, you’re better dressed than all of us put together.

To which he repled: “Yes, and that’s because I have self-respect”.