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

The view from TGIF - pretty once, but now a building site and soon to be obscured by an overpass.

The view from TGIF.

29/2/2004 - Double Charging?

I read the small print on one of the prepaid mobile phone vouchers today. What a con! The one's we got have a face value of Rs. 324. That's 300 plus 8% tax. But, the call value of the voucher is Rs. 200. So the phone company pockets Rs. 100 for the little plastic card - 'administrative charges', as well as making a profit on the calls you make. This practice is not just limited to Reliance. Airtel, another of the major prepaid vendors, is even worse. They also have a Rs. 324 card, and in their case, the bit of plastic costs you Rs. 125. The same size piece of plastic also magically costs more if you buy a card of larger denomination. In Airtel's case, the same size plastic card, with the same amount of printing on it, magically achieves a price of Rs. 575 ($13) when you prepay for Rs. 2425 worth of calls.

Looks to me like they're all taking two slices of profit - making money on the airtime minutes, and on the cards. Or to look at it another way, they are misstating their per minute rates by a factor of around 33%. I've asked Reliance to explain to me what I'm getting for the Rs. 100. I'll let you know if I get any response.

It must be spring, the trees are bursting out in multiple colours
It must be spring.



More blossom

More blossom.

NGC 7293: The Helix Nebula - about 650 light-years away

The Helix Nebula.

Our new mobile phone - we rejoin the 21st century

Our new mobile phone.

28/2/2004 - R & R

The nebula picture has been pretty widely circulated, but I thought if you hadn't seen it you might find it interesting. Its from NASA and I use their title, though it has also been dubbed "The Eye of God". I'll leave that up to you. It is the aftermath of the formation of a white dwarf star, which is what our sun will become in a few billion years time. The surrounding clouds are gas that was blown away during the collapse of the original sun-like star into the dwarf (which you can see at the centre of the nebula. The earth will have gone before the sun reaches this stage, because before it becomes a white dwarf, it will be a red giant, big enough to get rid of at least the inner planets.

This morning we re-entered the 21st century by getting a new mobile phone. There's a heavily advertised deal on here at the moment from Reliance India Mobile, and we thought we'd give it a go. It's a prepaid. You pay Rs. 3500 ($83), and get back Rs. 3240 in recharge vouchers. No paperwork, you just pay your money and walk away with a working phone. Further recharge vouchers cost Rs. 324 or so, and you don't have to get one immediately to preserve your ability to receive calls. Interestingly, we got it at the shop where we usually buy our eggs and bread. He's sold phones for a while, but for the promotion, the shop is all dressed up, and now looks like a phone shop that happens to sell eggs and bread on the side, as opposed to an egg and bread shop that happens to sell phones..

It's just a simple Motorola phone, no colour, no camera. Exactly what we need. We got one for Terry first to see if we liked it. We do, so I'll get one for me as soon as my pay check has cleared. I won't use it of course, but If I don't have one I'll feel underprivileged. Unfortunately the cute girl in the ad doesn't have her number preprogrammed into the phones.

We're going to TGIF for our afternoon trip out. Beyond that there's no plan, so I'll catch you later.

The latest thing - a Deficit Card

Deficit Card.

Ashcroft seal of approval - read this at your own risk!

25/2/2004 - Roads to Ruin

I realize that after spending only 12 years in the USA, I'm still just an ignorant foreigner. So educate me. When a president takes the oath of office to defend the constitution etc, doesn't he at that point become something of an embodiment of the state, the head of state, the chief executive, and so on. Also if I've learned correctly, doesn't the US constitution require a separation between church and state.

So how is it that the boy king has no respect for this separation. Worse, in fact, he acts like the Christian religion were something that was an intrinsic part of his job description. References to god pepper his public pronouncements, like we are supposed to be able to determine from the office he holds which god he's talking about. If he didn't want to be head of a state which defines itself in its constitution as secular, why did he take the job?

During the period of his rule, the US economy has gone in the direction of most examples we've seen in recent years of states controlled by religious extremists - i.e., down the tubes. Remember how the Taliban ruined Afghanistan, and what the Christians did for Serbia and the surrounding countries. Bush uses rhetoric that reminds you of these people - he marginalizes everyone who doesn't belong in the camp that he represents. But then, to be fair, big businesses continues to do well, and to line the pockets of the few, so maybe I'm misguided, all's is as it's meant to be in an ideal world. Perhaps the results will trickle down to the majority eventually. I'll bet money on one thing though. The jobs won't come back. George's cronies have shipped them all offshore. The only way I could get a job was by moving to where the jobs have gone.

I doubt the rosy picture though. I suspect history will classify Bush correctly as a dumb bigot who got elected by spending a lot of money, and bending the rules.

Our local rooster

Our local rooster.

22/2/2004 - Neighbours

From our balcony, you can look over the next row of houses to the yard of a small car-repair shop. There lives our local rooster, who acts as everybody's unpaid, and probably in many cases, unwanted, alarm service. It was he who put the dogs in order at dawn on Saturday morning. He lives alone, and doesn't have any hens to look after, unless he gets used as a stud, which I don't know. I'll have to take Lavanya round there sometime to find out.

He's not an easy subject to photograph. Clearly nervous of strangers, and moving very quickly, he makes a difficult target. One afternoon when I've nothing better to do, I'll go and just sit round there until he gets used to me. A good picture in the right light would be quite something, since he's a handsome beast. The picture I got looks like a pose, but actually he was simply walking over the stone at the time.

Other than messing with the web page, I had a quiet day on Saturday. I'm still getting tired by about 4:00 in the afternoon, and in fact took a 2 hour nap. Later, at the place on Museum Road, Lavanya and I had fish and chips, Terry had a cheeseburger, and Nisha had spaghetti with a vegetable sauce. I was still labouring under the impression then that the Calcutta Cup match was on at 8:30pm India time, and it had been my intention to watch it at the Watchman. This was not the case, so I sat with Terry and Lavanya until a quorum materialized in favour of going on somewhere else. By then I was ready for home, and I left at about 10:30.

When I got there I found that the match was actually on at 11:00, so I watched it, then happy with the conclusion, went to bed. Terry bowled in late, but not in bad order, and reported that Lavanya and Nisha had come to blows. I'll tell you the story sometime.

Eleanor at five months

Eleanor at five months.

British men behaving badly - Doug, in this case a British man of Indian origin

British men behaving badly.

21/2/2004 - Bangalore Belly

Well, for the first time since I've been here I got a serious bout of diarrhoea and the associated symptoms. I'm not sure quite how I did this. Our personal hygiene is pretty good, though not paranoid. But it's so easy to eat a bag of nuts and raisins, and forget to wash your hands first. To take it to the extreme, you'd have to open the pack first, pour the contents onto a verifiably clean plate, then go wash your hands, and then eat them. When you're living somewhere indefinitely, you don't always have the patience for all that, or you're thinking about something else. Also, peeling fruit can be dodgy. For instance it's virtually impossible to peel a mango without contact via your hands between the skin and the flesh, and washing a sticky mango is of dubious benefit. Whatever! I guess it's going to happen.

Anyway it struck me on Tuesday night. We went out late - about ten - and almost as soon as I'd got in the auto I realized I felt very tired. An hour later I felt worse, and was glad to get back to the privacy of our own bathroom.

From then until say half way through Wednesday night, I spent the time either there, or lying like a wet rag in bed and dozing occasionally. Terry got me Immodium, and that helped. I got some sleep in the early hours of Thursday morning, and woke feeling sufficiently better that I thought I might go in to work for a couple of hours. But that thought didn't last long. In the afternoon I managed to get myself into some degree of hypothermia - numbness of the hands and violent shivering. I was wrapped up and fed soup and hot orange juice, and was soon in a sweat. Friday morning I felt better, though still weak. I ate some fruit, buttered toast, and tea, and went into work for half a day. Today I'll see if I can get by without the Immodium.

Yesterday I got new pictures of my granddaughter Eleanor from daughter Rachel. She's five months old now and looking good. Rachel, Eleanor and Rachel's friend Lisa have just been to the USA for a week to visit my ex-wife Lynn. That gets the Hartley/Teale family tree record youngest age for intercontinental travel. This was previously held by Leo who did it unescorted at age eleven.

The girls - now reduced to Terry and Lavanya - went to Club X last night. I was having nothing to do with it. They both arrived back in reasonable order, but late. Lavanya has taken at least a temporary pledge after getting badly sloshed on Thursday evening at TGIF, and has drunk water since. Terry was OK too. You can measure the amount she's had by how she behaves when she's asleep, and she passed the test. Apparently Krishna and Nisha were also there until late. There had been talk of a visit to the Bangalore horse racing today with Krishna, but given the late night, I'm not going to hold my breath for that. Steve was supposed to be having a poojah for his new house and woodworking lathe tomorrow, but that's cancelled as well. I've promised the girls we can go to the Leela Palace tomorrow for the Sunday brunch as compensation.

So I'll go out and buy us a doormat, and get the bike cleaned and oiled, or something exciting like that. Also of course there's the Calcutta Cup on TV at 11:00 tonight, so I'll have to park myself in front of a TV for that. In the meantime, here's an attempt at a poem about something that may or may not have actually happened last night.


The Big Bark

Startled awake in the small hours,
a crescendo of barking floods the night.
Some street-dog fight or night visitor,
alarms an insomniac domestic pet.

He sounds off, and wakes his neighbour,
who knows his voice, to join in too.
She in turn, her neighbours on each side,
jumping the street to rouse another block.

A chain reaction starts, and soon
all of the district is in uproar,
barks and howls of every sound and size.
Each dog waking another two.

There's open land between, but now
the din's enough to wake the dogs in town.
They hear the conflagration and set to.
From there, the suburbs all are doomed.

A city of barking dogs, alarmed,
and now excited by the sound of
pure dog power, become resolved.
Their owners' curses go unheeded.


It's ages till a dog gets hoarse,
and boredom's not an issue here.
Some owners win, some dogs give up,
I say goodbye to further sleep.

Gradually dogs drop out, and so it seems
the chain may break, but no.
Some cheeky little pup chimes in,
keep it up boys, this is fun.

And then, like magic, a cockerel crows,
signaling the first gray crack of dawn.
The neighboring dogs all know him, and
defer for a moment to his call.

Dogs far afield now stop to listen.
What's up? somebody's stopped. What's up?
The ripple of silence spans the city,
and so the cock's crow breaks the chain.

I sleep, woken by the cockerel later
to a city of tired sleeping dogs.
I shall be well inclined to let them lie.
They've made their point.

British men behaving badly - Mick - so what's new!
British men behaving badly.

Bar panorama, a Kiwi, Lavanya, Lee, and Mick (New Zealand, India, Israel, England)

Bar panorama.

Many cooks, but the broth survived

Many cooks.

Lavanya and Om at the Watchman last night

Lavanya and Om.

15/2/2004 - Culinary Changes

Breakfast today consisted of rice dumplings and a mild curry sauce - I'll get the proper names next time Lavanya turns up. It doesn't sound like a breakfast, but it actually works very well. The dumplings aren't heavy, and the sauce in this case was only lightly spiced. Once again this was made by Asha. The four girls have taken to drinking water melon juice, so my main role in the food preparation was to go to the juice stall at the end of the road and get 12 glasses of this beverage. Economical as always, if you order this to take away, the Indians put it in a plastic bag, sealed with a rubber band. It doesn't sound very robust, but we haven't had one leak yet. The juice shops are tremendously popular - I don't think I've seen one yet that wasn't busy. They just use one of a row of blenders to liquidize the fruit, then shake or rub it through a sieve. The water melon juice is Rs 6 per glass, other fruits or blends may be as much as Rs 10. You can get pretty well any fruit that's in season.

After the late night, and the breakfast, a certain lethargy set in, and it was mid afternoon before I got Asha and Lavanya - particularly the latter - out of the door. Asha was going back to Commercial Street to pick up some fabric she'd finally decided on to make herself a dress. Then they were to come with me as translators/hagglers to search for a barbecue. We found a simple galvanized steel BBQ in the same market area as we'd visited the day before. The man wanted Rs 450, but settled for 400. We looked at the basilica, and searched for a hand held mirror for Terry unsuccessfully, then went back home.

Once I'd got the BBQ home, the next search was for charcoal. I'm sure I could have got that at the market too, but it seemed to make sense to look for a source close to home. The ironing wallah who has a stall on the corner outside the Good Earth told me I'd get it at Ulsoor market, and sure enough, I got a big plastic bag full for Rs 10. Once you've got it fired up, the little BBQ burns at a slow and steady rate. It has a grid, or you can just use the skewers with wooden handles that came with it. Unfortunately, the fillet steak was a disappointment. Maybe I used to wrong end of it, but it was somewhat tough.

One of Nisha's friends came in the evening to help her move her stuff to the new apartment she got during the week. I think she was somewhat reluctant to go, and we almost had a tearful little scene. But in the end she gave each of us a big hug, and left. We saw her later when we went for a nightcap at the Watchman, and she seemed cheerful enough. After that it was home, and relatively early to bed - work in the morning.

Valentines pool party - left to right and top to bottom, Nisha, Asha, Terry, and Lavanya.

Valentines pool party.

14/2/2004 - Valentine Dosas

Today our cleaning girl Asha made us Dosas for breakfast. The closest western approximation to these is probably crepes. Dosas are made with either just rice flour, or with a mixture of rice flour and gram flour (ground chick peas). In India they are eaten with a sauce which is rather like a thin humus, but I actually like them with honey and lemon juice, or jam. At one point in the morning I was surrounded in the apartment by five women - Terry, Lavanya, Nisha, Asha, and Asha's mother Lalita. Poor me! I was busy devouring dosas, so failed to get a group photo - maybe I'll get another chance tomorrow, when there's some other culinary treat in store.

After breakfast we're supposed to be playing volleyball in the pool, then in the afternoon Asha is coming back to take us to the market near St Mary's Basilica. Terry discovered yesterday that you can get beef there, and all sorts of other things, so I'm going to check it out. Needless to say, supper last night consisted of burgers, and I have to say that they were pretty good.

The pool volleyball session is over now. The water temperature wasn't too bad, and the sun was warm. Our condolences to all our friends and relatives in New York and England. Give me St Valentines at this temperature any day! Terry's swimming has come on by leaps and bounds. She's been having lessons from a guy who teaches several of the kids in the block, and he seems to have succeeded in overcoming her fear of water. For my part I'm gradually overcoming my fear of exposing my horrendous stark white, beer-bellied old body in the company of all these young coffee-coloured female ones. Like I say, it's a hard life. On the other hand, I'm mildly chuffed about the results of the cycling to work. The beer belly isn't what it was, and my legs have really strengthened up.

The game - Asha took the pool pictures

The game.

A kite dive bombing us at the fish market.

A kite.

The beef man and his assistants at the meat market.

The beef man.

Indian men love to dance, and will do it with each other if neccessary.

Indian men love to dance.

The end of the evening - a pleasant end to a pleasant day.

The end of the evening.

The market turns out to be fairly close to the place where I got my bike. The whole area around the basilica is densely packed with shops and markets. Asha tells me that this is where I should shop because it's much cheaper there than at the local shops. But I'm not sure that this works. The vendors take one look at me, and the price instantly goes up. It's OK of course if I take some of the girls with me. Then I can look for what I want, walk away, and send one of them to buy it. We went to the fruit market, where we got expensive out-of-season mangos, and strawberries. Then to the fish market, where we bought prawns, and got buzzed by the mob of kites that constantly patrol the place. Then we went to the meat market where searched for, found, and bought a complete beef tenderloin - about 2.5Kg - for the princely sum of Rs 160 - about $4. The man in the picture wasn't actually the one I bought it from. He was a Muslim, and probably only sold the proper end of the cow. The guy with the tenderloin had the whole thing.

The meat market merges seamlessly into a pet/animal market where you can buy puppies, all manner of birds, exotic fish, and probably a load of other things that I missed. There were some Chinese dragon fish there with a price tag of Rs 1.5 lakh (150,000 - $3000). Big ugly bastards, I can't imagine why anyone would consider paying that much for one. Perhaps one of their body parts is the ultimate aphrodisiac. The girls - in this case Asha, Lavanya, and Nisha - went and oohd and aahd at the puppies while the butcher extracted my tenderloin from the side of beef where I'd been shown it. So tomorrow I'll have to get myself a little charcoal barbecue - I baulk at frying fillet steak. But fillet steak kebabs with mushrooms, onions, and green peppers sounds good.

On the way back we passed a wickerwork section, and I was about to buy a large standing basket to use for dirty laundry. But Asha wouldn't let me pay the asking price, which she said was far too much, and she made me walk away. I'll have to sneak back later and see if the walking away had any beneficial effect.

We got home, and consumed the rest of the ground beef as more burgers. Then the three girls, who obviously have a lot more shopping stamina than I have, went out again. This gave Terry and me a couple of hours by ourselves, which fitted into the scheme of things pretty well ;-).

I cleaned and cooked the shrimp, and we put them in the fridge to chill. Then when the girls came back we had them with tomato and cucumber salad, and potato crisps. I would have killed for one of those 1.5l bottles of cheap Pinot Grigio that I would have got from the liquor store round the corner in NY to drink with such a meal. I've found sources for most food things now, but the missing elements are decent wine, and cheeses. I shall have to open a cheese shop in Bangalore - do you actually have any cheese?

The plan was for a Valentine's day excursion to the Watchman, followed by Zero-G. Well it was about 9:30 by the time we'd eaten, and then there were three women to get showered dressed, and made up in a coordinated fashion. Any men among my readers who lives with a woman will appreciate the difficulty of achieving this. It's difficult to get out of the house at a specified time with one, let alone three who have to vote on everything. The designated colour of the evening was black. I wore my black slacks, cowboy boots, and my best black T shirt. Lavanya wore one of Terry's little black dresses, which showed a good deal of leg, Nisha wore a gypsy-style long black skirt, and a black lace-up corselet top. Terry cheated slightly, and wore a beaded top with a mandarin collar that has a bit of gray in it. But we were close enough, and I actually managed to get them out of the apartment by about 10:40.

The Watchman was packed, but our arrival magically produced a free table of the required size, in the best position. Suresh appreciates pretty women around his place as much as I do. It appears that the Indian men who were there celebrated Valentine's day by leaving their wives at home, and dancing with each other - the Indians love to dance, and will do so at the slightest provocation. Either that or they were all gay, but that theory was discounted when Nisha and Terry got up and did a dance parody that involved them shaking their bottoms about in an exaggerated manner. All the men instantly stopped dancing and watched.

Zero-G was busy too, but not unpleasantly so. Lavanya had met her friend Om at the Watchman and he took her, one of Terry's male friends from the Watchman gave us a lift there, while Nisha got a lift with someone else, and arrived with a party of about four admirers. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, with the possible exception of Om, who nearly got into a punch-up for spilling somebody's drink. I didn't take any photos, but obviously somebody did.

I was ready for bed when we got home. Terry and Nisha played chess, though I knew nothing about that until morning.

A panorama of ducks - for no particular reason.

A panorama of ducks.

A 10 rupee pose - a well-dressed beggar and child.

A 10 rupee pose.

The morning ride through Vannarpet

The morning ride through Vannarpet.

11/2/2004 - Some You Lose

Well after the agonizing about what to do on Sunday, the Brian Adams concert didn't materialize. The man who had the free passes and was going to take us did not turn up. In the morning at home, and at the Watchman in the afternoon, Krishna and I watched India get thrashed by the Aussies - bummer. As a compensation, Lavanya appeared at the Watchman in the afternoon, having emerged from her week of working the night shift. So we had fish and chips at "The Only Place" just down Museum Road from the pub - well, Terry had a cheeseburger. The girls - Terry, Lavanya and Nisha went on afterwards to 1912, while I went home early. When I got up they were all there - Lavanya and Nisha in the bed in the spare room with wrapped in separate covers like peas in a pod.

Nisha spent Monday apartment hunting again, and came home saying she'd found a place. Lavanya stayed for some down-time by the pool. She was in bed when I got home, only to get up at about 8:30pm for another night shift.

We actually went to see "The Return of the King" that night after she'd gone to work. It was spectacular enough. I particularly liked the bit where Eowyn and Merry did in the Witch King of Angmar, and the final battle and destruction of the Ring. The ending was a bit much - too much slow motion sentimental smiling. But the 3 plus hours went quickly enough. But I was initially a bit miffed about the way they'd hacked the story line. In retrospect I realized they could hardly have done anything else to fit it into the time. In terms of events, that section of the Lord of the Rings is huge. I can't really see anyone doing it much better

The pictures are a continuation of the panorama of my ride to work. After the Airport Road section I turn more or less south along Lower Agaram Road and past a string of army depots and barracks. This is the section where you have to really watch the traffic in the mornings. I'm going against the flow, and it's not uncommon for traffic to be going the wrong way in the same lane. Past the army, I come to Vannarpet, which I guess I'd classify as a working class area. The there's a quick left and right along Ijipura Road onto 80ft Peripheral Road, and I'm into Koramangala, passing a huge apartment development on my left, and tenements and a tarpaulin village on my right. This road goes first south-east, then bends round to south-west at Rajendranagar, another predominantly working class area.

Work was more of the same. I'll say nothing more of that. On Tuesday I forgot to leave Terry any money, and had a meeting so I was late home, so we ate out. Tonight she made a cheese and potato soup, and I went to the bakery in Koramangala and got a French loaf - the thing they do best. It was the first time we've had a hearty soup for ages, and it was excellent. I suspect it may now become a staple.

Cali the cat had a run in with some large bird. She'd got out on to the balcony where the washing machine lives, and up on top of the surrounding wall. There are also horizontal metal rails to stop you from jumping, and she was poking her head under the bottom rail when this bird swooped on her. Being a cat, she reacted quickly and pulled back behind the rail, so the bird missed. Otherwise I'm guessing she might have got pulled off the ledge and dropped, since she's probably too heavy for any of the birds I've seen round here.

Low end housing - tenement blocks and a tent village
Low end housing.

Rajendranagar in the morning - a busy little shopping hub

Rajendranagar in the morning.

Tank and traffic - by the Indian Army ASC centre on Airport Road.

Tank and traffic.

Bronze cannon with scenic background

Bronze cannon.

My boss Rich taking a little R&R


A decent portrait of Nisha - achieved quite by accident


7/2/2004 - A Heavy Week

Saturday, and I have a little free time to catch up. The configuration problems at work continued more or less unabated from Monday to Friday. It's rather like feeding a nest of baby birds - at any time all those open beaks are vying for attention. However, I think everyone will have something that works to do on Monday morning.

The tank and the gun pictures are the first part of a look at my ride to work. They belong the the Indian Army ASC depot in Bangalore which is on Airport Road - more or less the first leg of my ride. There's a guard in dress uniform at the gate by the cannon, but I was not allowed to take his picture. He should work outside Buckingham Palace for a while - he'd soon get used to it there.

As I said, my boss Rich was here from New York - and went back yesterday. He thinks we did OK with the visitors from the multinational, and something might come of it. Thursday lunchtime we had a company meeting and then went to lunch at a hotel at the west end of MG Road. The lunch proceeded at a typical Indian restaurant pace, so we didn't actually get out of there until about 4:00pm.

I'd booked Rich for Thursday night the day he arrived, since the last day of a visit is usually R&R night. We (me Terry and Nisha) picked him up from the Taj Residency at 8:30pm. Actually he was just arriving from work when we got there - your classic workaholic. So we went into to the Jockey Club bar while he dropped his bag and freshened up. They have a kind of karaoke thing in there. It's not proper karaoke, just a man with an electronic keyboard, and a laptop with song words. Rich arrived, and Nisha grabbed the microphone and sang Killing Me Softly. She has a good voice - and I hadn't heard her sing before.

Then as per plan we took off to the Watchman for the Booze and Brains quiz. That was a farce as usual. There were too many Indian questions for us, and in any case we all got talking to various people, and missed half the questions. But it was fun, as usual. Rich quizzed Terry about what happened at Raheja, and remarked cryptically that there were always two sides to a story. Krishna arrived later as promised, and at some point it was suggested that we went on to Zero-G. Rich was game, so we all went, and were there until about two. We somehow lost Nisha on the way home, and Terry and I both went to sleep instantly and never heard her ring the doorbell until about 7:00am to discover that she'd spent half the night asleep on the doorstep. I regretted the late night to a degree the next day, but I got to work at the usual time, and got some more things sorted out, and the plan more or less updated for Monday - Rich rolled in at his usual time perky as ever. I officially award him brownie points for R&R stamina.

When I got home on Friday evening, Terry was having stomach problems again. She's been having them on and off for about three weeks. She saw the doctor about two weeks ago, but I think he should come again. That's not the sort of thing to ignore. Nisha was going out with Krishna, so consequently I went out to get something to eat by myself.

As I arrived, Mick and the other Steve were leaving - the place was dead, and they were going to 1912, so I joined them. The other Terry (of the male variety) was there with Michael (the international water pipe specialist). We talked about work, politics, Steve's experiences living in Texas, and Indian women. There are a load of attractive women in India, of all ages, and all social groups. 99.99% of them might as well be on the moon from the point of view of accessibility - you can go to jail in India for making improper remarks to a woman, and heaven knows what constitutes improper. As Steve remarked, it's like the poem, here we foreign men are, afloat in a sea of pussy. "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink".

There was fillet steak on the menu, but when I ordered it they didn't actually have any. So I took a fit of peek and declined to eat anything there at all, getting some chicken tikka at the Watchman later instead. Mark Rego - the Booze and Brains quizmaster - was there, having been AWOL the previous night. He was eating chilli chicken, and didn't want all of it , so I ate half of his too, greedy bugger!

Now I need to take my bike down to the repair shop again. The back mudguard has lost a nut and is rattling madly. It can get a cleanup and its tyres checked at the same time.

We went into town and did fancy food shopping - cheese, sardines, black olives, minced pork, and bacon. Then we went to the Watchman so I could watch some of yesterday's cricket, and Terry could read the Hillary Clinton book. Nisha went apartment hunting. She's got a job starting on the 16th, and they provide accommodation, so she'll be leaving. We headed back to be home by about 4:30. I dropped off on the way to recover my bike. I like the people at the bike repair shop. They always do that little extra. I had taken the bike down at about 12:00, and told them to fix the mudguard, clean it up, and make sure the tyres were OK. When I picked it up, all this was done, and the bike had been fitted with mud flaps so that next time I drove through a muddy puddle it would not get into such a state. I got tomatoes and bananas at the market while I was there, then came home for a little quality time with Terry. Of course, 5 minutes later, the door bell rang. It was Nisha, with her real-estate agent in tow. She showed him the apartment - "This is what I want!". We closed the bedroom door and did our best to ignore the interruption, with a reasonable degree of success ;-)

Part III of Lord of the Rings finally made it to Bangalore this weekend, and of course, being a Tolkien freak, I'm dying to see it, so now the question is when to go. There's a nice cinema on MG Road where we'll go, but the showing times aren't too convenient. We've a choice of 6:30pm, or 9:45pm. We won't make it by 6:30 - Terry is making stuffed cabbage, and in any case it will probably be jammed out tonight at both showings. So I guess it will either be tomorrow night, or Wednesday. I would favour tomorrow, but there's also a Bryan Adams concert on in Bangalore tomorrow, and since we've got a free invite, I think we'll be going to that. Choices, choices, it's so difficult!

The east end of MG Road looking toward the city centre

MG road east.

Scratch cricket match at the Manekshaw parade ground

A Sunday parade - the camera, or the strange white guy gets attention.

A Sunday parade.

The plans of a bank building that someone had left lying on the sidewalk

Bank plans.

My buddies - I see these guys most days on my way to or from work


4/2/2004 - Back to regularity?

February already - time flies when your enjoying yourself! We've been in India for three and a half months now, and it doesn't really seem that long. I can see that it's going to be September before I know where I am.

Before our two month breakdown I used to try to write something every day. I don't intend to stick to that slavishly any more. I'm working pretty hard at the moment, and some evenings I'm just going to get home from work and chill, or go for a beer or whatever. If anything interesting happens, you'll still hear about it. Just not the same Day.

So, what's happening? Well on Sunday I did a quick summary of January, and got that posted. Later in the afternoon we went to the Watchman, and Lavanya turned up. She appears to have recovered from her pork-eating propensity. I bought some pork loin from The Ham Shop, but she wouldn't eat any when we had supper. Terry, Nisha and I made up for her.

On Monday my boss arrived at the office. He seemed quite pleased with the way things are going. Of course, this was a signal for everything that could go wrong to go wrong. So far this week I've been bogged down by configuration problems more or less full time. On Tuesday Sushanth approached me and said that he and Rich would like to have a word with me in the conference room. I panicked for a moment, with visions of no job, but it was actually a quite interesting conversation about possibilities of cooperation with a multinational company with a branch in India, and on a subject I know quite a lot about. A deal on those lines would be most welcome.

That evening we ate a light salad meal, and went to the Watchman for an hour before bed time. Nisha had been there earlier with Krishna, but of course we crossed. She was on the way home as we were on the way there, so she had to come back. There was another Indian girl there who was looking at us like she knew us, although neither Terry or I had any recollection of meeting her before. Eventually she called across from her table saying "Hey Steve, you've forgotten me haven't you." So I had to admit it. It turns out that we met her on the night of Suresh's (the proprietor) birthday party back in November. Her name is Roxanne. In this case, unusually, I remembered the name, but not the face.

The configuration problems continued unabated today, so it wasn't a wonderful day at work. Visitors from the multinational came and at least that seemed to go OK. Our short demo went quite well. If I can find some pictures to put with this in reasonably short order, I've half a mind to go for a beer later.

And so it was, somewhat later, as the miller told his tale, the wanderers returned. Nisha got a call from Krishna to meet him at Fridays - yes Bangalore has at least one TGIF - so we went with her. TGIF in India is somewhat mind boggling. Imagine a TGIF where you can't get a burger - well at least a burger as most of the worlds TGIF patrons know it. In the usual small world way, there were a bunch of people there that we knew, including the real estate agent KJ, Satish who we know from the Watchman, and a girl who was sitting next to us last time we were there.

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