April 2007 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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65 Today.

30/4/2007 - The Easy Bit

Today is my 65th birthday. This is a significant age in the UK and the USA. Its meaning elsewhere is less significant. According to Indian law, I should have retired several years ago - there are plenty of young people who need jobs.

But it's significant to me. In my lifetime, 65 years old was the standard retiring age. By that measure, I've done my time, and I should now be released from the recurring Monday to Friday ritual. Of course, things are never quite that simple. I'm still in the middle of real work, and in some ways, as I'm sure lots of people have thought before, I feel I could go on and continue to be of some use in the job I've been doing. But there's more to it than that. I also believe that it's quite proper to have a guillotine put on your working life. There has to be some point at which one is confronted with true responsibility - you have to decide what you are going to do today. I'm probably lucky in that respect. I've spent significant spells of my life self employed, so I know the feeling. But, nontheless, the future is challenging. I have to find something to keep me alert, and active, and suitably stressed out, and I've only got the rest of my life left to achieve that elusive fame and fortune. That, I think, is the difficult bit.

The day was fortunate. May 1st is a holiday in India, and I'd already gone in on Saturday morning to get something finished off. So I skived off today, and I'll go in tomorrow to check my email and do what's required. It was a good day. I got a birthday blow-job - it wasn't a good day for anything else - and we had a most pleasant evening. We decided on Mainland China, because it has always been pretty reliable, and we went to the Night Watchman first, and later. Mainland China did a good job. They'd have got a perfect ten if it had not been for the temperature of the lobster. But even so I was happy. We had thick duck and cabbage soup (which also contained bean curd); 'crab claws', which are crab meat formed into an ellipsoid around an emptied out crab claw; and then lobster in black-bean sauce with baby bok choi and black mushrooms. It was all very good.

Afterwards, back at the Watchman, I bought a big box of chocolates for the staff - in India you get something for your friends on your birthday. Then later some of the customers I know there - Kiran and his brother - produced a birthday cake, and I was a celebrity for a moment. I had three large 'Old Monks'; Adia was happy, and I was happy. You can't say fairer than that!
26/4/2007 - A Famous Neighbour

I mentioned before that India's cricket captain Rahul Dravid has a flat in our block, and also I think, the fact that I had never ever seen him here.

But Rahul has a driver, and Rahul's driver has a soft spot for Adia, and washes her scooter for her. This morning as we were off back to the hospital to get my padding taken out, he was there washing it, and he mentioned the fact that his boss was just around the corner in the basement. Adia had said to him that she had never seen Dravid around the building, and would have liked to meet him, so he disappeared round the corner, and a few moments later the man appeared. Adia, who has become a new-born cricket fan, went and shook his hand.

I obviously would not make a good member of the Paparazzi, since my camera remained fixed in my pocket. I told Rahul that I could sympathize with his position given Englands world cup performance. However I'm pretty sure he didn't understand a word I said, given that my nose was stuffed with about two yards of cotton gauze rope. However he did ask what had happened to it, and I mumbled an explanation 'snus peration yesdy'.

So now I've briefly met two of the sub-continent's cricket captains. Jayawardene watch your step.

Dr Giri duly removed the two yards of rope later in the morning. It's just amazing how much of it they can get up there. That was another photo opportunity missed, but not one I dare say that you'll be sad to miss. As promised, I can now breathe through my nose again.

Not a pretty sight.

26/4/2007 - Some Progress

You'll notice that I've said nothing about the cricket world cup. The whole thing has been such a let-down from an English point of view that I would have nothing good to say. At the same time I'm not sufficiently savvy about cricket to make any kind of constructive comment. It's just been depressing.

I'm still living in the forlorn hope that some team might beat Australia once, but again they steam-rollered South Africa last night. There's only one candidate now - Sri Lanka - who are actually one of my favourite teams. Hey, you never know.

Yesterday I went to have one of my periodic nose jobs. I'm prone to sinus polyps, and about every four years I have to prevail on some friendly ENT surgeon to do something about them. I've been seeing a guy at our local hospital, but he's just kept putting me off with alternative nose spays long after the point where something really needed to be done. Finally I gave up on him, and went last Wednesday - fairly arbitrarily - to the Mallya Hospital where I had my 'Coronary' episode last year. The man I saw is called Girish, and much more my idea of an ENT Surgeon. He took a quick look up both my nostrils, stuck a mirror in my mouth to look from the other side, and said come in on Friday, and we'll do them then.

I declined Friday. It isn't my ideal start to the weekend, and plumped for yesterday, when it was duly done. I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the hospital and the man. The only slight problem I had was in persuading them I did not want to stay overnight. Once I'd got their attention, and actually spoken to the man, it was fine.

Today I have to go in at eleven to get the packing taken out of my nose and sinuses. Then hopefully within a couple of days I should be able to breathe through my nose again.

Classic misspelling.

21/4/2007 - Oh Dear

Another month is well on the way to escape and I've done nothing here. Time flies when you're either enjoying yourself or working to a deadline.

The picture is courtesy of some anonymous Bangalore photographer - I could not resist it.

Anyway, that aside, occasionally an idea pops into my head that I want to write down in a form other than prose. Such was the case when I woke up this morning. I think I had been rapping to Adia at the pub last night, taking the mickey out of some Indian TV advert, and the meter of it must have stuck in my mind. As we lay there in waking sleep, the bulk of it appeared in my head, based I would guess to a large extent on past experience, though nothing that ever happened to me exactly. The title just seems obvious, and as such I'm sure has already been used, in which case I apologize.

I'm no rapper, and I can't think of a background tune that would fit anyway, so any of you out there who are more musically inclined want to use it, feel free, but please let me know and give me credit.

Rap of Ages

It's Monday morning and I don't feel good.
The wife's not treating me like she should.
The kids are grumblin' about their food,
and Edie says there's no money left.
I give her my card, which I don't like to do,
'cos I know she'll spend when she gets to the shops,
and we're thin this month so we don't need that.

I get in my car and drive to work,
but the traffic's bad, and I'm gonna be late.
I'll miss my call and my boss'll be mad,
we've a deadline to meet that's turnin' bad.
I get into work and grab a coffee,
then try to hide myself in the office.
Try to tune my head to something solid.

The mornin' drags by and its nearly lunch.
The girls walk by, they're happy chattin'.
We're goin' to the pub Mr Teale, you comin'?
What the hell I think, I may as well.
This afternoon's gonna be like hell.
Young Silvie says she'll give me a ride
on the back of her scooter that she calls Mike.

I ride to the pub with the pretty girl
She smells pretty good and doesn't seem shy.
I get me a pint and a chicken pie,
and the world seems better by and by.
I chat with the girls 'bout this and that.
Wendy says that Silvie fancies me.
Silvie smiles and blushes and so do I.

We ride back to work, arms round her waist,
my legs spread wide and her between.
Just watch it man she's far too young,
could be your daughter or dating your son.
Whatever I say I enjoy the ride,
I say thank you Silvie, that was fun,
then get down to work - seems easy now.

Before I know it's six o'clock,
the girls are half way down the block.
As I watch them go Silvie turns and waves.
My stomach flip-flops - very strange.
I drive t'ward home and stop at the local.
My friend John's there and pretty vocal.
What a shit day Monday is he says.

I smile and buy him another beer.
But mine was good I realize,
which given its start, was a surprise.
I get home late, and E's been spendin,
but I kiss her lips and make no fuss.
Tomorrow will be another day.
We'll see what comes or goes that way.

She cooks me supper - the kids are out.
She's happy now and I feel horny.
We make love like she's someone else,
surprising her with my urgent need.
Man it was good and now I'm sleepy,
she'll watch TV and catch me later.
I've no idea when she came to bed.

Tuesday morning the boss is happy,
we got new work and it's down to me.
You'll work all hours that god will send
and if it comes off you'll be ok.
Silvie asks what I'm doin' for lunch.
No lunch today love - lot to do,
be here today till after seven.

Leaving that night she's still around.
I worked late, you can by me a drink.
She parks her Mike around the back,
then we drive in my car to a pub she knows.
It's after work so she has a drink.
Now normally I just drink my beer,
but I join her now in something stronger.

She tells me she's down cos her boyfriend split,
but really he was a bit of a shit.
She thinks she may be better off,
but it's been some time so she's kind of sad.
A couple of drinks and we both feel better,
but it's time to go or we'll be missed,
so we pay our bill and move for home.

She lives a little out of town,
and as we drive toward her home,
she turns me down a country lane.
I enjoyed our time today she says,
and before I know she's split my zip,
goes down on me, mouth hot and wet.
In a moment, it's over and we go on home.

By now I've seriously got the bug.
Going to work's a joy, and 'working late'.
Edie's still got the card so she's happy too,
and the credit card company's havin' a ball.
Silvie's there for me every day.
Our sex life's getting really mad,
we're doing it anywhere we can.

We lunch together when there's time.
But a woman at work is a friend of E's
and she doesn't think much of what she sees.
Edie catches us one day at the pub.
There's a rotten scene and Silvie cries.
I flounder - there's nothing I can say,
caught fair and square with my trousers down.

Oh rock of ages cleft for me,
I could do to hide myself in thee.
And now I have to make a choice,
my wife and kids or the girl who's life.
Every day is now a challenge.
I can't do a thing that suits them both.
My fleeting joy an old sick joke.

9/4/2007 - A Recipe

While I'm on the subject of food, here, after a long time, is another recipe. The dish is anchored on 'Adia's baked beans'. Now she won't tell me exactly how she cooks these, but I'm pretty good at guessing when it comes to cookery. The composition, as a whole, is sauteed prawns, Adia's baked beans, and steamed green bananas. Needless to say, by the time I'd decided it was good enough to write up, we'd already eaten it, so no picture.

  • 1 mug Pinto Beans,
  • Tomatoes, curry powder, onions, vegetable oil,
  • Four or five green bananas,
  • A couple of medium sized bags of peeled, frozen prawns,
  • Part jar of small pickled gherkins.

You can cook the baked beans any time, and freeze them if you wish. Take about a mug full of Pinto Beans, check them for stones, and wash them, then pressure cook them for around 20 minutes. If they are not tender then, give them another five minutes blasting. Then make a sauce for them. Finely chop a medium sized onion, and fry it until it is tender and browned (we are actually using coconut oil at the moment, but just use the vegetable oil of your choice). Throw in three chopped tomatoes, and a desert spoon of regular curry powder toward the end, and cook all of this in the oil until it is thoroughly tender. Then attack it with a potato masher or something and squash it up as much as you can. Tip in the beans, and a quantity of the residual cooking water, and salt to taste. Simmer the beans in the sauce for some time but don't let the mixture get too dry.

Peel the green bananas. You can't do this like you would peel a ripe banana, you need to cut the ends and the outer skin off with a knife, typically about 8mm thickness. Then halve the bananas, like you'd do for a banana split, and then cut them in half the other way. We're assuming that the pressure cooker is free by now. Put the bananas in there with enough water to almost cover them, heat it up until it vents, and then turn down the heat and leave the bananas to cook for ten minutes - no more. After the ten minutes, you can kill the pressure by holding the pressure cooker under the cold water tap. What you're aiming for is a texture that is ever-so-slightly al dente.

While the bananas are cooking, thaw out the frozen prawns in hot water. Drain them, and toward the end of the bananas' cooking time, saute them in a little butter or olive oil with a pinch of salt and a pinch of chilli powder until they are just hot.

Dress the bananas with butter and olive oil, and serve the three parts on hot plates. If you have the time while the cooking is going on, dice three large tomatoes to about 10mm cubes, and cut about 8 small picked gherkins into 8mm slices. Mix these together, and dress with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Serve this mixture in a separate dish to use as a pickle or garnish with the hot food.


Food at the Lila.

7/4/2007 - The Quest

In our continuing search for somewhere decent to eat in Bangalore, tonight we visited the Citrus restaurant at the Lila. We have to report that paying more money does not necessarily get you better food.

We will persevere and report our findings. I should have done the same for Desmond's - we've been there often enough. We will revisit and give them a fresh look next weekend.

Ratings are on the usual scale of 0 - 10, except for price, where it is the other way round.
High by our standards in India - RS 2200 for the pair of us, including a couple of glasses of Indian white wine (2). Pleasant. We ate outside by the mock streams and waterfalls, and the background noise of running water was quite relaxing (8). Sluggish; I eventually had to go and find a manager to get a menu. After that it improved somewhat (6). Reasonable, though not as broad a range of food as I would have expected in a restaurant of this size in a 5 star hotel (5). The food was attractively presented and plentiful. I had the mixed grill, and Adia had beef medallions on a baguette. (8) Tepid! Cool food on cool plates - just what I love.(3) It seemed like it would have mostly been good if it had been at a decent temperature. The exception was the lamb in my mixed grill, which was gristly, fatty, and tough as old boots. The bread was good, and the french fries lifted the occasion slightly by being hot and fresh (5).

Birthday month.

7/4/2007 - Housekeeping Time

Not much to say at this point, but it's time to put March to bed and open a new month.

This is birthday month for my family. All of my children were borne in April, as I was myself. I spoke to Rachel on the first, and she seemed pretty chipper. However she's got the the sort of age where women tend to get a bit coy about their age, so I'll say no more on that. Richard is next on the 13th, which this year I see falls on a Friday - lucky for some I hope. Then on the 18th, it's Leo, and finally on the 30th me.
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