Monthly Archives: December 2008

Oxford has a beautiful sunset

BEFORE THE waxing crescent Moon embraced Venus – there is a conjunction later this week, we captured a picture of Mr Sun setting behind some trees.

We really cannot figure out the relationship between the luminaries and the planets. Are they friends, permanent friends, temporary friends, or allies – as in temporary allies, temporary sort of allies or whatever? Indian Astrology has it this way.

Anyway, here is Oxford’s beautiful sunset, snapped through a cheap camera (kamra=room=Portuguese). ♦


Everything must go in UK sales

SHOPS IN THE UK were panicking before Yuletide because nobody seemed to be buying anything. Quite a few started sales well before The Day of Turkey Nemesis in Blighty. And then came the after-Christmas sales. Everything must go. The level of nervousness in the High Street is palpable. When I bought a book from a chain the other day, I said is it true everything must go? The lass at the counter looked nervous and said “I haven’t heard anything about everything”.

Unfortunately, the period of tinsel brings with it a large amount of indigestion in the shape of the cold and long January which inevitably seems to attract bills.

It’s very cold here in Blighty at the moment, while the pundits are predicting that as many as 600,000 jobs may be lost during 2009. No one knows where it’s going to end.  A Happy Hogmanay to ye all! Hic! ♥

They paved paradise, everything went quiet

THE DOMLUR ROAD in Old Bangalore was unusually quiet today because without any apparent warning, the tarmarketeers started paving both lanes of this busy little road.

Those who live in this road found themselves engulfed by modern technology assisted by old fashioned technology known as many human workers. In one day they managed to pave both lanes, but that didn’t stop people riding down the still wet tarmac.

The sound quality of the vid above is desperately bad – sorry about that. But the wonder that is India still remains. Many people were marooned – rather imprisoned by the unannounced tarmarketeering, because there are still many people live in this area. On the right of the vid you can see the office building going up in place of a  perfectly good house complete with coconut tree and little tulsi shrine.  The motor bikes you can see were forcibly uplifted onto the pavement by workers in case the tar baby embraced them in its grip of treacle.

We saw people crossing the road, finding themselves in the middle and having to move fast, because any delay would mean they would be rooted to the spot. Here’s a still.


Today I had my first chance to ride in the electric Reva car on the 100 Feet Road which was really quite groovy. The driver, a senior editorial man, said it can do 50 kph, the charge lasts for four hours, and you can plug it into your home to re-charge it.   The Reva web site linked above overeggs its performance a bit. It is a little expensive at Rs 400,000 (four lakhs), but on the other hand it’s as quiet as a church mouse, unlike the rest of the vehicles on the 100 Feet Road apart from bicycles and bullocks.

I’m headed back to Blighty early tomorrow. There aren’t many electric cars in the UK – yet. I can’t yet see that petrol cars will be fossils for some time to come, what with the declining price of gas and that.

Tiger of Mysore says gerroff

I WAS IN MYSORE yesterday, a pleasant city a few hours drive from Bangalore. This is the third time I’ve been there but didn’t get a chance this time to go to the temple of Chamunda, on the hills around Mysore.  She is also known as Mahishasuramardini, and this is a shakti pitha.

Before we reached Mysore, we stopped off at the Ranganatha Temple, part of the complex of Tipu Sultan, the “tiger of Mysore”, and the man who defeated the British and was then defeated by Wellington, before he became Wellesley.

This is the temple of Ranganath, very busy yesterday and only a stone’s throw from Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. Tipu had a lot of palaces. There are Tipu palaces everywhere. Everywhere. The apocryphal tale is they are all connected by very long tunnels, although the entrances to these seem to have been totally lost.


On to Mysore and of course the palace of the Maharaja of Mysore, which was only started in the late 19th century. He is Mr Maharaja now of course, but some of his family still lives in the palace.

The Wodeyars were installed by the Brits after Tipu Sultan was toppled, but the tiger motif  still remains. This tiger is not to be touched. Or rather toutched. ♥


“Doctor Death” smokes in mortuary

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?

Learn how to lean like Pisa, a Babel

HERE’S A SIGN fixed to the side of a tree here in Indiranagar. The Institute is actually on the second floor of the same office as the IT Examiner. And it doesn’t teach leaning, as far as we know.


See what British journalists are really like

WE’VE ONLY MISSED a few Bill Moores’ parties at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, and unfortunately we missed yesterday’s event, as we’re in Sunny Bengaluru, rather than the cold Chrismassy atmosphere in London Town.

So thanks to fiends for sending us links to the best and worst of British journalism, raw in tooth and flesh, with the entire set here. It is Daryl Wilcox hosted now – he was a fine journalist – we used to call him Dayrate Wilcox –  but he has gone to the other side.  I wasn’t invited.

On Friday I wear my Scottish Quilt

FRIDAY IS ETHNIC DAY in the office where I work in Ole Bengaluru, and so I decided to see if Umli Miuli, the editorial assistant, on the could sort out a kilt, a sporran and bagpipes for me.

I was joking, because there isn’t an ethnic day on Friday, but she reacted in her usual enthusiastic and efficient manner. She called one company which was delighted to make a tartan quilt for me, and were ready to send someone round to measure me up. She called another company which advised her that no, unfortunately, they didn’t. But they could recommend a shop in London that could. Not Edinburgh.

Now this is more like it, she got this email from one firm:

Hi Umli,
We can deliver to India from here.Please say which tartan or if you wish us to choose
If you like we can phone you now to discuss. Please email your phone number
This, we believe, is a Scottish supplier.  You, my dear one reader, probably want to know what my tartan is. My mum was a Robertson.  This is the clan tartan.  And yes, I have worn a kilt. And no I don’t have a set of bagpipes. And yes, I had a sporran.  And no, I don’t have any pictures.

Louis Vuitton cans Tokyo shop plan

IT IS WITH THE deepest regret that we notice that Louis Vuitton has decided against opening yet another shop in Tokyo.

According to, it’s because people aren’t buying as much as they used to. More worryingly, it appears that 57 out of the 400 shops it owns worldwide are in Japan.

Louis Vuitton is rightly famous for having a sculture of a bag on display outside the bright, spanking new Bangalore International Airport.  Sadly, this wonderful sculpture, a full 25 feet high, has now disappeared. ♥

Welcome to Bangalore, India’s capital of coat hangers

YOU MIGHT THINK (mistakenly) that Bangalore is the world capital of pubs. Oh no, it is the world capital of coat hangers.

I know this because someone has just moved into the apartment here in Bengaluru and she was suffering a drastic shortage of coat hangers. So she’s been out today, and came back so happy at finding coat hangers that she went out and bought another clutch.

At Rs98 for eight, this seems sort of a reasonable price. She bought pink ones and blue ones and nicked most of mine too. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet unpacked and so I will have to either demand some back, or go down and buy some pink ones for myself.  Foolishly, I forgot to pack any trousers before I left Blighty, so I’ve had to go buy a couple of pair today. And they’ll need coat hangers, won’t they?