I WAS proceeding in a westerly direction when I spotted a photo opportunity and a sound bite to boot. Outside a theatre in Oxford, a juxtaposition presented itself.
And as you all know, I cannot resist a juxtaposition, of whatever type it may be.
Yes, it was Philip Pullman (pictured left) with one of the founding members of the band – the Ukulele Orchestra of the UK with Will Grove-White (pictured, right). Will was playing at the New Theatre and apparently Philip is a fan of the ukulele and I think asked Will to sign his rather wonderful book about the ukulele for him.
We did overhear Philip say how much Will’s book had helped him in his ukulele playing.
Pure fantasy? I think not. I was there. ♣
I HEAD BACK to the UK very soon, and so say farewell to the 100 Feet Road. The last week here was incredibly hot and that’s the pattern for a while yet. The Gulmohars, the trees with purple flowers and the trees with yellow flowers are blossoming. And so is the China Rose just outside the apartment. Goodbye Bangalore! I go back to Britain to a somewhat uncertain future. But that’s the case for anyone these days, isn’t it? The future is uncertain. ♦
A BEAUTIFUL COW, well trained in British traffic values, wanders up the Domlur Road in Ole Bangalore today.
She knows that it is perfect sense to go with the flow, and to walk sedately up the road in the same direction as the cars, autos and trucks.
Except! Can you see just ahead of her a road on the left? And can you see a barrier in the middle of the road? Vehicles coming down this road have no choice but to turn right, and go against the traffic flow because the barrier won’t allow them to execute a proper right!
Our cow was safe and passed the accident black spot without event. We have seen so many dogs limping on the 100 Feet Road that we suspect even intelligent pooches have trouble reckoning where the traffic is going. And us pedestrians have the same problem too. ♥
How now, brown cow?
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. ♣
I WILL SOON be able to experience the delights of the 100 Feet Road because I’m writing this from Terminal 5 Heathrow on my way to Bangalore.
Just out there for a couple of weeks this time round but I’m used to getting away from the freezing cold weather here in Old Blighty, and to the sunshine, flowers and butterflies of Bangalore. See you on the other side! ♦
AFTER VISITING Bengaluru now for eight months we have come to the conclusion that any claim it has to be any kind of pub capital at all is completely bogus.
Most of the drinkerias are located off MG Road and Brigade Road but they’re no great shakes. Perhaps the best of a sorry bunch is Coconut Grove, on Church Street, a small bar attached to a restaurant and separated from the road by greenery. We were down there the other day and bumped into some would-be journalist hacks and some ex-pats. You can also pick up pirated books there – we saw a copy of White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga, the recent winner of the Booker Prize. That was selling for Rs125 and was printed on a superior type of toilet paper.
The smoking ban in public places in India appears to be one of the best observed laws in India. While traffic laws are widely flouted, the smokers in the bars dutifully traipse out into the street and smoke their tabs while gazing wistfully at their friends and beers sitting two feet away in the open air. At least the temperatures in Ole Bengaluru are more forgiving than in Blighty – at this time of year the dedicated smokers stand outside shivering in the British cold and rain, paying homage to the great god Nicotine.
The hotels and coffee shops in Bengaluru appear to have decided that they may as well ban smoking even if they have open spaces as part of their property. Just around the corner from this apartment in the Defence Colony is a branch of Coffee Day, looking onto the busy and very smoky 100 Feet Road. It has lots of seating outside but smoke there and you commit an offence, punishable with an on-spot fine of Rs250 if the cops nab you, it appears.
The egregious Leela Palace has a vast area of fake tropical jungle, on the edge of which are two restaurants. There is no place for a smoker to lurk – if the addict wants a fix, she or he has to traipse through another restaurant into a little corner to light up a tab. The Oberoi, on MG Road, also has an area of greenery in the middle of the hotel. Smokers have to negotiate a dark little path and get their fix at two tiny ashtrays away from the eyes of those who must be obeyed. They cannot take their drinks – obviously people can’t have too much fun at the same time. ♣
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Tagged 100 Feet Road, Aravind Adiga, Bangalore, Bengaluru, Booker Prize, Church Street, Coconut Grove, Coffee Day, Leela Palace, Oberoi, White Tiger
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