Monthly Archives: October 2008

Diwali over but bangs persist in Bangalore

THE SECOND DAY of Diwali was even more spectacular than the first. There were so many bangs, fusillades and canons going off that you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in a war zone.

The kids set off the fireworks in the middle of the street apparently on their own whims, and every creature great and small is subject to colossal crackers. Unfortunately for yours truly, the second day of Diwali was spent abed, suffering my own colossal bangs and alarums from each end of my digestive tract.

On the way back to the apartment, we spotted two guys with a cow, pictured below. One sports a drum and one a nagaswaram, a reed trumpet instrument of South India. They were happy to have their pictures taken for 10 rupees.

The noise carried on throughout the night and the next day, with the streets of Bengaluru remarkably free of folk, even on the 100 Feet Road.  Our own alarums of the digestive tract ceased when Diwali did, but we’re sorry we missed the crackers, rockets and mines. λ

Bangs galore in Bangalore on Diwali day

IT’S DIWALI here in Ole Bengaluru and even before dawn we could hear very loud explosions as crackers were set off for the festival of lights. During the day you’ll be happily watching the butterflies and flowery trees when BANG an extremely loud cracker goes off. Sometimes there’s a very loud rapid fire series of bangs, and the streets are littered with the remains of fireworks, sparklers and the like.

Although, apparently, there is a law against too noisy fireworks, this is completely ignored. A witty TV one liner ran “Shortage means price of crackers rockets”, to which some wit here in the office responded “price of rockets crackers”. It’s all very good humoured, although we wonder how many accidents go unreported as the bangs multiply.

If a miscreant is caught in nefarious firework activities, we wonder if he would be banged up in this capacious clink, below.  

My name is Mark Spencer and I work at a call centre

AN INDIAN GUY we met today used to work at a Call Centre here in Ole Bengaluru, in a vast hall containing 500 employees all committed to the night shift in India calling America to sell bank accounts to punters.

His name is not Mark Spencer but that is the name he was given. He had to make 400 calls in an eight hour day to America and according to him the worst place to call from Bangalore is Texas.

He has a vast command of the range of swearwords he heard in his incarnation as Mark Spencer and gave a harrowing account of life in the call centre trenches.

The employees were forbidden to answer calls of nature while they were on the phone to potential customers, but sometimes the need was so great they ducked under the desk to fulfil it. Old people they called were the easiest to sign up because old people say yes to every question. Later however, they would receive an irate call from son or daughter saying rude things.

The offer letter from HR to a candidate was couched in the nicest of language but omitted to mention that no Indian holidays were available. Instead, they had to learn about important American holidays such as Halloween.

Mark Spencer only lasted 15 days selling bank accounts to America. He said that where he worked, no employee was allowed to answer back to abuse. The Microsoft call centre, however, is quite different. There,  a line in the sand is drawn so that if someone badly abuses an employee, she or he is allowed to answer back in kind.  One of his colleagues, for example, asked him to spell the word m***********. Was m**** his first name and f***** his last name, he wondered. He was instantly terminated and escorted from the premises in the Call Centre never to lighten its doors again. μ

AC wars start in Bangalore

AS AN OUTSIDE consultant, and I’ve been to India quite a few times, office politics never cease to surprise me here in Old Bengaluru.

It is late October, and the kids are bickering about whether the AC is on or off. One kiddie in the office tells me she cannot work under these conditions, and another kiddie tells me he is too hot.

The AC wars start. Some are too hot, some are too cold. Us foreigners suggest a compromise. The trouble is, the kids come from all different parts of India, so what’s hot here is cold there.  Rarely does a compromise even begin to enter the chit-chat.

The guy who has insisted he needs AC, suddenly starts to freeze, while the gal begins to bathe in the glow of non-AC.

Ah, the wonder that is India!

A house is not a home

IN OLD BENGALURU, everything is not what it seems.

Look, for example at this house below, which is an example of the kind of litigation that goes on in this Karnataka city.

The picture, taken by Jayant Mishra at, shows a fantastic amount of litigation going on, over just one property. What can have happened here? We think we should be told. The whole house is a court case.  ♥

The Doors come to Bangalore

BANGALORE never seems to amaze. We will let these two snaps speak for themselves.

And then there is this…e-yantra….

Pizza comes with innovation topping

THERE’S BEEN a recenty outcry against a restaurant in London which served frogs’ legs as a topping on its pizza, with the restaranteur remaining defiant, and saying he’s going to offer pizzas with escargots too.

Anything London can do, Ole Bengaluru can do better. Pizza Corner, for example, just round the corner,  offers Innovations as a topping.



Meanwhile, a rare quadruped was discovered just outside my apartment today. We believe it is what is called a cat, an animal in very short supply generally in India. The picture is fuzzy, but we promise we didn’t photoshop it and it is a ginger moggie.

It’s a beautiful sunset in Bengaluru

I’VE BEEN a bit too busy since I got to Bangalore to write much on this bog, but that will change. Some have asked about the building site next door… yes, work is in progress. The dragonflies are dancing in the run-up to the Diwali holiday, and the flying flowers of Bengaluru, the butterflies, continue to delight with their dance, during the day. Here’s a shot from the office at 6PM – today’s been warm and the humidity has gone, and the bats were flying and gobbling up Mesdames Mosquitoes. We’ll keep the Bengaluru Bog up to date, as we go… 

Yes we have some bananas

WE’RE BACK in Ole Bengalure, in the Defence Colony in Indiranagar, a very pleasant tree lined place, with lovely birds singing and butterflies dancing like flowers in the breeze. We note that the developers are beginning to knock down perfectly serviceable houses, no doubt to replace them with offices, and we fear for the future of Bangalore if this trend continues.

Our apartment has a little garden and we’re graced with a couple of banana trees and several papaya trees too. These little bananas, when they ripen, are very tasty and put to shame the standard Euro banana which all seem to be of one variety, tasteless. So without much more ado, here’s the papaya, followed by our little banana tree.

Natwest bank won’t cover me in India

LAST TIME I was in Ole Bengaluru, I went to one of the many ATMs (cash points) in the city – cos Bangalore is a very modern city you know, and it refused my debit card, despite the “international” logos on it.

I found a number, I believe it is a call centre in Scotland, 0131-339-7609, and using Skype Out, which is very cheap everywhere in the world, complained bitterly. To no avail.

So at the end of this week I go out to Bangalore again, and as a matter of courtesy called the Natwest to tell them to liberate my debit card.  Oh no, said the lassie, “there is a lot of fraud abroad, we cannae let you use your debit card outside this country.”

Oh. And I thought cash was international.  I will not tell you much more than I’ve already told you in this posting, but I am considering decking my 35 year old Natwest current and savings account. Because all they tried to do was ask me if I’d consider saving more money with them.

Of course, using a credit card, you can get money out of an ATM anywhere in the world, but at a premium.

Bhar me jaiye, National Westminster Bank, if you don’t mind me saying so. And we’re supposed to love banks? Perhaps, like George Soros, I should speculate in currencies.  And do a run on your bank for Indian rupees.  ♥