Daily Archives: July 5, 2008

Pub capital of India to license “taverns”

FLYING BACK from Chikkiville (trademark Mad Mike Magee 2008), we chanced on the secondmost  top story on the front page of today’s Times of India. Now this is Masala News.  It is about “taverns”. The top story is about Congress and politics. The news editor obviously decided to spice up the front page.

It appears that for only Rs 5,000 you can open a “tavern” in Bengaluru which serves not beer, not spirits but wine. The journo writes that “tavern culture” is quite common in the West. Indeed, according to the newspaper, the “tavern” held a proud place in the culture of the United States in the 18th century.

In the 20th century we called them “wine bars” and they sold food along with wine. One of the more famous was a bar in Covent Garden called “Brahms and Liszt”. No one was so vulgar as to deck a pint of wine there, or ask for a “breezer”. Yet numerous bottles of wine were consumed, while creative subjects were discussed, a bit like the “coffee bars” of the antecedent centuries.

But plenty of bottles of the finest wine were consumed, along with food. And you could smoke. Yes, wine bars are coming to Bangalore, it appears.

Bangalore the “pub capital” of India?

PERHAPS NOT. We will discuss this claim in detail this coming week, after having had a chance to check out some establishments in the Silicon City.

Pune can be a presidential problem

LEAVING PUNE invites some comparisons between it and Bangalore. The eighth century Shiva temple to Pataleshvara and Parvati, hewn out of solid rock, is pretty impressive. But the traffic is worse than Bangalore, the roads narrower and the pace much different. We liked the fact we saw smiths using bellows and hammers and tongs to create wonderful things – although whether the poor people toiling in the humidity of Pune feel the same is very doubtful.

Caption: Eighth century Pataleshvara Temple in Pune, hewn out of solid rock

There is a lot of building going on and there are already three IT/science parks here, but the roads aren’t up to much – that is except for the Expressway which runs between Pune and Mumbai. The problem with the Expressway from the Pune end is that it takes about an hour to get there.

The problem probably wasn’t pacified by the visit of President Patil yesterday and today, although we have a feeling that even though Bangalore is bad, Pune is worse, politicians or not.

The Expressway runs right the way through Lonavala, which we visited overnight – and that really is a pretty nice place. The chikki franchise, however, seems to be owed by a monopoly, as far as we could make out. Pictures later, hopefully.

I am in the land of chikki and fudge

IN THE HILLY country, where the monsoon (mausum) sometimes takes a breather before the heavens open again, the chief item on the menu is chikka, followed by fudge, fudge and more fudge again.

Here, in the rather rainy village of Khandala, (the “Love City”) I’m staying at the Velvett (sic) Country, which describes itself as a hill resort and a healing centre. Physician, heal thyself. There’s a sanatorium down the road, just a few metres away. The staff are lovely.

On the way to this hotel, which has three tariffs of normal, modified American plan, and American plan, mobile phones don’t work. The wi-fi connection is in an “experimental stage”, which means that like the mausum it possesses a mind of its own. WiMAX might be really useful here. So might electricity, because there’s a whopping big candle in the ashtray next to book matches which don’t work when the lights go out.

Everything is almost all right here in Velvett Country, if only the incessant sound of the rain would stop. I’m going mad, I tell you, going completely off my trolley.

In the middle of the night, a rhapsody started which I have tentatively named Teaspoon, screaming and plate symphony. The music commenced with slightly raised voices, broken by a beautiful silent passage which after about 30 seconds was punctuated by the sound of a teaspoon hitting the deck. The sound of a small plate followed, with the sound of other pieces of cutlery and crockery building up to the crescendo, worthy I’d say of Beethoven at his best, where the most enormous bangs and alarums were followed by silence.

Now I said this was a rhapsody but when I came down for nashta this morning it’s obvious that this was really kinetic art, as you can see from the picture below.



The rains have started again, slightly less intense right now, and the sound of some beautiful birds singing is being drowned out because someone’s just switched the goggle box on and there’s an advert for Colgate toothpaste to the sound of the Beatles’ famous hit, “And I love her”.