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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Bangalore Travelogue

Bangalore.

The first thing that hits you as you get out of the Airport is the lack of slums on the outside. Mumbai is tops as far as that goes, with rickety shanties gleefully sharing the compound wall with the AAI. In fact, the lack of slums is true for the most part as far as the majority of places I saw testify. Very few beggars if at all around traffic signals, unlike the veritable mini-republic I am used to out here.

As you start going towards the city, another pleasant surprise is the lack of multi-storeyed residential structures. Mumbai mandates a minimum of 4 floors, these guys are oh-so-happy with two, the swank office premises apart of course. Things are changing it seems, I couldn't really see too many though. The quaint old/neo-worldly bungalows still are a refreshing change.















There really aren't too many traffic signals. In Mumbai, every smallish/medium sized crossroad has a traffic signal, or a roundabout to regulate flow, but here, there are 'ram-bharose' intersections galore, where bikes, ricks, buses and cars love to partake in bad driving orgies. And add to that, those lovely mini speed breakers (4 or 5 of them in a row) which have a sudden, unpainted and unannounced tendency to just materialize out of nowhere and proceed to jar the living yin and yang out of you.


Didn’t probably experience the full majesty and glory of the city’s much publicized traffic woes. Braving Chakala everyday, and Saki Naka sometimes (the horror…the horror) safely qualifies me to kinda feel that I have you know…seen it all. Open to debate though.

For me, one defining, only in Bangalore (for that matter,
Karnataka) sight is this.














These plug-ugly electricity transformers or whatever you call them, can be found everywhere, right from the poshest colonies to malls. Never seen one in Mumbai. Very cool curios. Probably serve as a visual reminder as to how important 'poweru' is to the Bangalorean way of life.


Then we have the eating places, with fancy suffixes like palace(!), corner, sagar, mandir (I kid you not), camp and paradise. I'll be damned if I can find a spoonful of good old white coconut chutney here. A very disturbing development is the total bastardization of this all-important side dish. All these places serve a 'tastes-good-the-first-time-sucks-every-subsequent-time' type of revolting, greenish pudina (or if you want the Kannadiga spelling - pudhina) chutney, with coconut bunged in as an afterthought. The coconut prices are probably on par with the IT salaries here, and these guys thoughtfully pack in a good deal of this green stuff to serve the hungry hordes and make a nice little profit in the meantime. Waat to do saar? Vaalumesu (that's volumes with a 'u'). Food used to be cheap once upon a time here, but the decent sit-and-eat places are on par with Bombay rates. A Masala Dosa is priced on the wrong side of twenty here too. There should be a media story highlighting how much the eatery dudes here are raking in. If the famished crowds in front of EVERY joint are an indication, the IT earnings do have some serious competition.

Then the expat crowd. Tons of them, with the best part being the total absence of grubby street urchins running behind them, palms outstretched, idiotic smiles on their faces, and condescending 'wtf' types of smiles on the expats'. Here, they have their own space to take in the sights without taking home nice stories about how ****ing poor our country is. Which hopefully will influence Hollywood film-makers to show a little less begging in future flicks.
(Start of huge tangent)
An episode of the X-Files comes to mind, which showed Sahar Airport, and as soon as one of the characters steps out of the terminal, he is beseiged by a proper mob of raggedy people mouthing 'Kuch khaane ko de do sahab. Kuch nahi hai sahab'. And later when he mysteriously dies, his autopsy report is written in 'Farsi'. Brilliant homework there. Patriotic sentiments aside, I think they are justified... just think of the stellar portrayal of 'foreigners' in our movies. Bob Christo, Gavin Packard, even Amrish Puri (Marcolini - Commando, speaking flawless Hindi) and the likes, and you will realize that we HAD to meet Nemesis sometime.
(End of huge tangent)

Some rickshaws sport digital fare meters. Pity they stop working the way they are supposed to, post 9 p.m., when the mysterious rule of 'one-and-aulf' mows down everything in it's path. Post 11 p.m. it’s double. And really late? Gaad(u) help us awwl.

Had the good fortune to walk along Bannerghata Road, which houses some really swank IT companies at 4 a.m. Felt like I was in a bad-ass rural hinterland. There are no ****ing street-lights. Or maybe there are, but they don’t work at night. Was too dark to see anyways. Heh Heh. The only illumination I could see was thanks to the IT companies ka buildings on the road. Which really isn’t saying much. No ricks, no people, just the usual friendly stray dogs. Forget good roads, shouldn’t at least a couple of streetlights be provided? IT capital and all that?

The newspapers here are a lot better than the miserable rags we get in Mumbai. I LOVED the fact that ‘Bangalore Times’ is just 4 pages. Let’s not even go into what we get here. It’s enough to merit another post.

Somethings never change here though. It is still difficult to find a paan shop open after 10 p.m. here, people LOVE to retire early. The roads post 9 p.m. are as deserted as a theatre daring to screen 'Mr. Prime Minister'. Contrast that to ANY railway station in Mumbai, which can boast of a good amount of push-HAS-to-come-to-shove even at 1 a.m. Was a very refreshing change indeed. Enough for any Mumbaikar's sanity to be threatened. Where have all the people gone?!!! (pinch pinch) Where?!!

But the best part of whatever I saw was the typical Bangalore bus stop. Very nice colour combinations of white and dark green, with good lighting, intact railings. Everything save bus numbers mentioned on it. Couldn’t get enough of the concept. Bet you never thought that there could be bus stops without any bus numbers on them. How wrong you were. How wrong. According to sources, there’s something in the ether surrounding the city which permeates your inner consciousness, and automatically guides you all your life, just in case you ever felt like getting into a bus.

End of story.
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2:51 PM, January 10, 2006
Blogger Aniket said...

hey....a friend of mine referred your blog...read all of them...this one was too long..guess u were compensating ur absence in the blogworld...nice one though..good going!!    



8:36 PM, January 10, 2006
Blogger bluesman said...

dhaasu story baap. majha aaya.

Feels like going into a completely different city going into bangalore from bombay.    



5:33 PM, January 11, 2006
Blogger SEV said...

I resent the 'Mr Prime Minister' insinuation.. from the looks of it; that movie has the makings of a cult.:)

Classy description, I loved the part about ether and the inbuilt bus compass. Bangalore is a great place to be; but once you've had burjee pav at 2am; you'll always crave Mumbai.    



1:48 AM, January 12, 2006
Anonymous AJ said...

Fantastic post. I wish I could write like you.

AJ-http://justanotherblog.co.nr    



9:30 PM, January 13, 2006
Anonymous Raghu said...

Nice one dude...keep up the blogs...    



10:00 AM, August 10, 2006
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey y r u so negatve about Bangalore...its a different place altogether and its fool of u to expect Kanadin taste at Bangalore...about dosa and all...please talk smthing good about your country...these blogs are evn read by foreigners who wish to visit India..do u think u r doin justice..u have the technology try use it for sm gud of our nation...    



12:39 PM, February 27, 2007
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being true is not being negative !    



2:27 PM, June 22, 2007
Blogger Sheba Chungath-Vellokkandi said...

give the author his due! what he says about the pudhina chutney and the sagar/mandir routine is absolutely true...

But for great food, we have a bunch of high-end restaurants and you find no pudhina chutneys there...only the very best in Thai (Magnolia, Ebony), Japanese (Dhalia), Chinese (too many to count), Korean (a joint in Koramangala, forgot the name), Mughalai/Tandoori (too many to count), Awadhi (Rampur), Rajastani (Umerkot), Parsi(Ebony), Mediterranean (Fiorano), Tex-Mex (TGIF), French (Madeliene)...you name it....!    



7:17 PM, June 22, 2007
Blogger Tapan said...

Aniket,
Thanx..

Bluesman,
It is...

SEV,
Thanx...

AJ,
Very kind of you... :)

Raghu,
I hope to...

Anon 1,
So my painting a false, rosy picture with the 'help of technology' will be better for my country? Interesting. You evidently took the post way too seriously, even more than I did while writing it in the first place :)

Anon 2,
Thanx

Sheba,
Will check these places out the next time I'm there. Thanks!    



10:45 PM, June 01, 2008
Blogger Sriram said...

I think this is a very fair blog, phrased beautifully. Having lived here for 7 years now, and even comparing it with not-so-glamorous Chennai, I must say that the lack of streetlights(or working ones) is a serious problem in all new areas.

I think Bangalore is only now slowly coming to terms with its stupendous, almost scary, growth. The old areas(jaya nagar, indira nagar, shivaji nagar etc) are kind of stable, with fairly decent pavements(encroached or otherwise), streetlights, parks etc, but most of the new areas, especially anything not developed by the BDA, have only 10 feet(literally) roads with abutting 4-story buildings.    



10:32 AM, June 12, 2009
Blogger Meghana Naidu said...

If your post was a timecapsule then i just opened it ;)

Bannerghatta road has streetlights now! hundreds of them, stretching along in never ending line, and i think they're beckoning me to paradise especially on those "late sober" saturday nights
*ahem* i deviate.
But yes we do have that now.
While i cant disagree with your view of chutney OR the prices of masala dosa , DO regret the fact that you didnt get to 'taste' bangalore. This is BY FAR the best city for food, in the whole of india. Because of the sheer diversity, the next time you're here, ping me and you'll get to eat the most heavenly of paranthas and lasagna and rava idlis and mirchi bajji and bun samosas
OK i deviate again ;)

Good read this, to see it from another's POV. i must admit that i never gave those elec-ti-kitty pole a thought till now!    



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