Monthly Archives: July 2008

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”.

Mike meets Parris in Great Portland Street

I BUY THE TIMES of London every day, and for only one reason, because I used to work for David Aaronovitch at the National Union of Students (NUS) and I don’t like his column that much, defector from the Grauniad that he is. I buy The Times for Matthew Parris’ columns.

Matthew Parris used to be the lobby correspondent on The Times, was once a member of the mother of all parliaments, and I buy the paper so I can read his column, twice a week. I can always skip Aaronovitch.

Today,  I was lucky enough and Parris was unlucky enough that we briefly crossed paths with each other at  Great Portland Street tube.

I was headed up the stairs and briefly chatted with him – once I recognised him,  I said how much I admired his writing. I envy his writing style. He was gracious and modest about his skills, acknowledging me as a fan boy and a fellow journo. At the top of the stairs, I asked him if the yellow shirt he was wearing was a new one. He looked at me with a sharp glance and then laughed, because obviously I had read this column.

It is certainly worth paying an extra 20 pence or so to get his wit and wisdom, even if he sometimes has to scrabble around in fountains and get “Kim” to bale him out by giving him a quid. I’m not sure about his grey suit, but his yellow shirt certainly looks like it was a bargain.

Louis Vuitton [who he?] continues to loom over Bengalaru airport

WHEN I FLEW out of Bengalaru airport last week on a BA fright early in the morning, I took care to get what can be called a “juxtaposition” shot.

This carefully taken photograph below shows a full ashtray, a lonely soul pushing a trolley, and the Louis Vuitton suitcase which is not a walk-in restaurant, as some of my Indian readers have suggested.

India is banning smoking everywhere from the 2nd of October except for in the street.

The BIAL airport is suitably “iconned” – with Departures and Arrivals correctly signalled.  Departures in Sanskrit is Prasthan – I can’t read Kannada yet. Arrivals is Agamana – that’s Sanskrit too but I think it means “coming”, not “arriving”. The two verbs are different.

I was struck at 3AM in the morning by some very very fat sparrows – we call them spuggies in Britain – who seemed to be enjoying the scraps from the Subway restaurant (pictured).


They’re inside the terminal too – opportunistic little birds them spuggies  are. The wild dogs couldn’t be spotted this time round. They must have hunted in packs elsewhere, perhaps tracking down Easycab (sic) and Reliance Merucabs’ drivers while they were dozing, hoping for a fare.

When I went through “Prasthan” which I believe means “out of the country” in Sanskrit, I noticed that the bookshop was still not very well stocked. But the parfumiers, the tobacconists and the vendors of booze were well stocked indeed.  Bengaluru is a charming place, all in all. The city council must prevent the wholesale destruction of beautiful trees. In Bengaluru there are wheelie bins, far more efficiently processed than in the UK, far as I can see.  But so far without microchips…