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. ◊
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Tagged Angelica, Bangalore, Bengaluru, Bill Moores, British journalism, Cath Everett, Cliff Saran, Daryl Wilcox, Emma Woollacott, Fleet Street, Guy Dixon, Iain Thompson, Jack Schofield, Manek Dubash, Mari, Myles Hewitt, Paul Hales, Tamlin Magee, Tony Smith, Will Head, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
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? ♦
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! ♦
KRISHNA PRASHAD has done a very good job in giving an overview of what Bangalore is like, here.
The butterflies and the trees and the dragonflies appeal to me – they’re not in this video – and the pavements (sidewalks) leave a lot to be desired. But really Bengaluru is a very fine place. It is not, however the pub capital of India. ♣
HEADED DOWN to the Bull Temple in Bengaluru on Saturday. Nandi is the vehicle (vahana) of Lord Shiva, but this temple is unusual because Nandi takes pride of place while in the temple itself is only a small shrine to Shiva in the usual shape of a Shiva Lingam.
The bull is made out of one huge piece of white granite, with oil applied to it every week or so to keep its colour black. This site dates the temple to 1537AD, says it was constructed by Kempe Gowde, and gives the legend about how the 4.6 metre tall bull came to be. The carving is very impressive.
When you circumambulate the temple, you’ll discover a plastered over hole at the back. This was originally there to allow lower caste people to see inside the temple – they weren’t allowed to cross the precincts.
Outside, and to the right of the temple there’s a raised platform on which are several flagstones decorated with the nagas, or snake gods. ♥
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
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
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.
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… ♥