April 2004 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman -  Contact  Current Month  Previous  Next  Index  Software

Nisha, and miss Y  - a new girl that has appeared at TGIF
Brothers, believe it or not
Terry's pick
Terry's pick.

62, and still incorrigible

Me too!.

30/4/2004 - Still Standing.

Well, today is my birthday, and I was born in 1942, which makes me 62. Touch wood, and I seem to be still going strong. I'm eating decently, and getting some exercise, so I might manage a few more!

They gave me a small celebration at work, complete with birthday cake. Ismael took a picture, but it didn't come out too well, so the picture here is a cheat, taken a couple of days before. This evening, or night, I got completely sloshed, since people bought me scotches and soda, which is always fatal for me after a gut full of beer. Terry and I are just about still on speaking terms.

The girl featured in the picture above with Nisha was there, and I was possibly too demonstratively amorous. We also met an English guy who is here for a while, and staying at the Taj Residency just around the corner from us. I should have got his phone number, but didn't. The brothers were also there, and for all I know I might have been too amorous with them too! You get the picture.

That's all for April, catch you in May.
Tight cornering - manpower rules OK

Homage to something - a Hindu parade just down Artillery road round the corner from where we live.
A budding guru  perhaps

Me too - this was a bit like herding cats!

Me too!.

27/4/2004 - A Parade.

I've had nothing that's been in decent focus for days, so I was getting more determined. We went to TGIF for happy hour tonight, and as we came back we passed this parade. So when I'd dropped Terry, I jumped on my bike and rode down.

I'd expected it to be either Christian or Muslim, given where it was, but as it turned out, it was Hindu, and I have to say that the people involved in it lived up fully to my expectations of that religion. Some white guy comes barging in on his bike, taking pictures, and gets a mini-garland and a forehead mark for his trouble.

The kids were fascinated by the camera, almost knocking me off my bike to get a look at the viewfinder screen. The picture of the bunch of them is no less than miraculous. There was no light for the camera to focus, so its setting must have been pure chance!

I love these people, they are so good natured and patient. I'll go anywhere here. If anything bad happens to me then it's just Karma, or tough shit, whichever you prefer.

Progress or mayhem - these coconut palms came down to make room for a flyover.

Progress or mayhem.

21/4/2004 - Now you see it, now you don't.

As I had said, the pubs closed for the election at five on Sunday, and were slated to open again at five on election day when the polling booths had closed.

So we arrived, predictably, at TGIF at around six o'clock on Tuesday night, to find a notice posted outside to the effect that the ban had been extended to midnight. We got back into another rickshaw, and headed for the Watchman, just in case there was some confusion about the ruling. But no, when we got there they'd just been notified, and were busy kicking out the punters who'd got in there earlier, and got drinks. There were a lot of annoyed bar customers in Bangalore that night, not least me.

So we went home, where we had beer in the fridge, and hung around until The Only Place was open, at which point I consoled myself with a steak. Nisha has been staying with us for a few days, since Krishna is away somewhere on business. She and Terry spotted a dishy young Englishman sitting alone at another table. He was promptly moved to ours, and the two of them spent an hour hitting on him while we ate.

Election fever - a serious thing in India.

Election fever.

The ELP tree - next in the blossoming series

The ELP tree.

Beggars (try harder)- the profession is alive and well in Bangalore, but probably less so than in New York

Beggars (try harder).

18/4/2004 - A Mini Break.

Well, you really don't have that much choice. In India, they discourage drinking and driving, and the police do pay some attention to it. However, drinking and voting appears to be an absolute no-no. How do I know? It's not difficult, they close the pubs two days before the election. We also get the day off work. So we went to the Watchman this afternoon, and everyone was thrown out at 5:00pm, not to return until Tuesday at the same time. We've got stocked up with a couple of crates of Kingfisher, and a bottle of vodka, so we'll probably survive.

Any other means of exciting the populace seems to be OK. The streets abound with free Indian rock concerts, and other loud music, and normal life more or less comes to a halt. I shall be very interested to see what the voting percentage of the population as whole turns out to be. According to Krishna, this is also politicians peak perk time, and they get girls thrown at them left, right, and centre in exchange for favours to be rendered later. Perhaps I should consider a career in politics. Unfortunately though to do that I'd have to get Indian citizenship, and that takes about ten years. By then I probably wouldn't know what to do with them!

What else? Well, over the last week or so, the ELP trees have come into blossom. ELP is my invention, and stands for Extremely Long Pods - which these trees have. At the moment, they have little in the way of leaves, just old pods - and some of the are pretty long - and the blossom.

Today we have the pleasure of Nisha's company, she came before we went to the pub, and has come back with us after. Krishna is out of town, so maybe she'll stay for a couple of days - who knows? It's good to have her around, I kind of miss her, even though she can be somewhat wearing when she's around all the time.

I took Friday off, and would love to extend the break until after election day. But we have a deliverable to produce on Monday, so there are bound to be last minute issues that I'll have to go in and sort out tomorrow. With luck it will be only a couple of hours, and I'll take the rest of the day off.

My part-time software project is coming along pretty well, though I suspect Terry may kill me before it is finished. Writing software and paying attention to anyone else seem to be mutually exclusive. I suppose I should be more definite about it. For the last 8 years much of my time has been spent on a large workflow system. It was written back in the days when Windows operating systems provided little support for anything, and the developers had to create everything they needed. I've always wondered how different it would be to do something similar now, when the operating system does more or less everything you need. During my year in India, I have no access to the source code, so it seemed like a good time to find out. It's going to be called Open Workflow, and will be under the GNU or MIT license, or something permissive like that. It's a project that could last me until I die, especially if anyone were to take an interest.

Oh, we finally got gas again on Friday. Terry is cooking spare ribs and potatoes in some form. I'm ravenous, and can't wait - should have got some wine.

Mr angry - butter wouldn't melt in my mouth

Mr angry.

A traditional charcoal fired tandoor


12/4/2004 - Getting to be a habit.

Well here I am on a Monday morning again, having frittered away the weekend writing software that will probably never see the light of day. I guess I just have to live with the fact that it's one of my compulsions. Once I get a bee in my bonnet, it's rather like starting to read a good book - I can't put it down until it's finished. Unfortunately, software projects can easily get much, much, bigger than the time required to read even a long book, so I'm doomed.

The week passed in similar vein, with nothing much to report. I keep seeing street scenes I'd like to photograph for you, but inevitably I'm on my bike, and by the time I'd stopped and got the camera out and open, the moment would be gone. I suppose if I were really dedicated, I'd wear it on a neck-strap turned on and ready to go, but I can't bring myself to look so much like a tourist.

On Saturday we were supposed to buy a toaster oven - our planned piece of capital investment for the month. So in the afternoon we went into town to the shop where we'd seen one we liked. We looked at it again, and checked that they had it in stock, and that they took debit cards. We were assured on all counts, and said we'd return to get it.

So then we went to the Watchman, and I had a browse in the second hand book shop next door. He has a large selection of computer programming books, though it's something of a hit-and-miss process. They're stacked from floor to more than head height lying flat in columns.

So anyway when we'd had a couple of drinks, we went to the Ham Shop to get bacon and pork loin, then went to get the oven. Of course the man we'd talked to was no longer there, and we were told to sit down and wait. Terry didn't like that idea, and persuaded some salesman that he should serve us because we knew exactly what we wanted. Of course, several other people wanted attention too, and it was a struggle to keep him focused. Eventually the oven materialized, in a bright untampered package, and we were all set to go.

But then it went downhill. The man wanted our name and address for billing purposes. I responded that they weren't going to bill us because we were paying for it there and then, so why the hell did they need that. Terry, more practically, gave them the information, and in a while we were almost there. The package was opened in order to extract and stamp the warranty card, then finally I gave the man my card. The machine declined the card - we don't take this card, he said. But you told me earlier you took debit cards! Yes sir, but not this one - CitiBank to be specific, one of the worlds mega banks. You should have the picture by now. Terry would have liked me to go and get the cash, but by then I was steamed. I told them to stuff it and walked out. I wonder if that's why so many of the packages you buy in India have been tampered with?

Yesterday we had supper - fish and chips - at "The Only Place". They've opened a new building there which is larger and more spiffy than the old dining area. It's the same basic idea, tiled roofs with the sides open - quite pleasant. We noticed while we were eating that one of the men in the kitchen was threading kebabs onto very long skewers. When I'd finished I asked, and the owner took me through the kitchen to see their new tandoor (oven). It's a real traditional charcoal fired one. The point of the skewer is down in the charcoal, and the contents get cooked mostly by the radiated heat from the slides of the oven. It was open for my benefit, in use it is normally partly covered by a wok-like steel pan which you can just see to the left. Unfortunately, the camera flash killed the glow of the charcoal.

Our cat is distinctly strange

Strange cat.

5/4/2004 - Late day again.

Our cat Cali really is quite strange. For one thing she is some kind of sex maniac. Whenever there's anything going on she appears like magic, and basically wants to join in. She'll come and rub against us, and roll on her back to get her belly rubbed, or just watch intently.

Although she has a perfectly clean stainless steel water bowl that gets filled with purified water, for some time now she has preferred the little puddles of tepid water that lie there for a while after you've had a shower. But over the last few days she's migrated to licking the droplets of condensation from the tiled shower walls.

Yesterday I was still pretty useless, lying about the house like a damp rag, alternately coughing and blowing my sore nose. I got a bit more work done, and we went out for a while, but I was a drag on events.

The weather has changed here, actually for about the last week. It's been hot and humid, and we've been having thunder showers in the late afternoon and at night. Nobody remarks on it, so I presume this must be normal. In fact I was just moved to look at some climate statistics. These show that here in Bangalore, March and April are the hottest part of the year, with a burst of rainfall, to be followed by the monsoon rain in July through October.

I was still coughing and spluttering some today, but basically the cold is on it's way out now that I'm back to work. It turned out that I was wrong about late day. It's daylight saving time in the US now, so our evening meetings can be an hour earlier.

More blossom by the junction of MG Road and St Marks
More blossom.

Waiting for the lights at MG and Brigade


Devaka practising for the Olympics

Practising for the Olympics.

Nisha with Krishna and her brother

Nisha with Krishna and her brother.

3/4/2004 - Another Month.

April did not start auspiciously. Terry started the week with a nasty cough. I thought at first she might have whooping cough, but it seems to have been just another variant of the common cold. Of course I got it too, complete with the same nasty cough, and the timing was perfect - it was at its worst for the weekend.

I took it easy during the day, working fitfully at my new software project (I'll tell you about it later), so I'd have some energy to go out for a while later. Terry was of course feeling better by then, and was raring to go. The destination was TGIF, where I hoped to run into Nisha because she has a CD she got for me. Krishna was there when we got there, and to my pleasant surprise, Nisha turned up complete with the CD a little later. The picture is of her, Krishna and her brother.

By the end of happy-hour I was waning. I tried for a while without success to get Terry to leave, getting, "yes, I'm coming" for some time, and eventually leaving by myself. I went home to bed and straight to sleep.

Terry exacted vengeance for being left by talking to Sandra in NJ on the land-line phone for half an hour - hit a fella in the pocket while he's down!
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