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

A considerable queue - LP gas was apparently in short supply

A considerable queue.
30/7/2004 - Another Month, well Almost

So I got myself into trouble with Sandra (Terry's friend in the USA) for what I said last week. OK, just for the record I'll rephrase that - "Really if I can get my main computer and one of our LCD monitors over here, I'll be happy. Anything else except the monitor I promised Sandra, can be sold and replaced here.".

All being well, Terry is back next Wednesday at 5:00 in the morning, with a heap of excess baggage. I must check with the travel agent before then. Both Terry and I have a capability for getting arrival and departure times or days wrong. At that time of day, with a load of baggage, not enough sleep, and the inevitable Indian paperwork, we'll probably end up in a row to celebrate her return. I hope not though, I'm looking forward to having her back. Life has simply been on hold for a month.

As it turned out I did have things reasonably sorted out last Friday, but life knows about these things. When I got in Monday morning, the machine on which we were to do the testing bombed out. Wouldn't even start - some disk problem. It took me most of the day to build a replacement. We just squeaked under the rope on Wednesday and got the test results off to NY.

The run-around stacked up some extra hours, so this Friday I'm home early. For a sting in the tail of the week, I have to do a conference call with NY at 8:30 this evening. I shall go to TGIF first, and get a couple of beers and something to eat - happy hour finishes at 8:30. On a Friday evening at that time, they'll have to take me as they find me. Later I'll maybe go to the I-Bar.

A popular bus - young men travel hanging on the outside

A popular bus.
23/7/2004 - Another Weekend

After another rather stressful week, I think things have sorted themselves out to some extent. I'll probably just get two problem projects completed within time next week, and I think I've got the terms for my extension in India sorted out. All I have to do now is succeed in getting my employment visa extended.

Terry seems to be making some progress in getting our essential bits and pieces shipped from the US, though is looks like we might have to forgo the rather beautiful dining table I bought a few years back when I was somewhat better off. Apparently that would cost a bomb to ship, and attract considerable import duty at this end. Terry may sell it to her sister, and that should give us the money to buy a decent table here. Really if I can get my main computer and LCD monitor over here, I'll be happy. Anything else can be sold and replaced here.

I've been wanting to get a picture of one of the buses in the rush hour here, but I never seem to be in the right place at the right time. The buses are popular, they are inexpensive, and tend to run on time. Consequently they're also very crowded. During the rush hour, as many people as possible cram themselves inside, and reckless young men hang on the outside. This one has a mild tilt, but you'll see them at crazy angles going round bends at traffic speed. If one went over it could be guaranteed to put an end to the hangers on. On the other hand I've heard ho hearsay about such things happening, so they must be more stable than they look

Erosion - strong sun and heavy rain

18/7/2004 - Sunday afternoon

Gaitri set to and cleaned the place up when we got back. Then I walked her down home, said hello to Lalita and Nanda, and now I'm back home listening to Brahms 3, and wondering what to do with the rest of the weekend.

One thing I learned today is that at midday, when it's not cloudy, you don't go out without a hat if you are bald. This is definitely mad dogs and Englishmen season. Most of India is south of the Tropic of Cancer, so at this time of the year, at noon, the sun is almost directly overhead, and will fry your scalp in double-quick time if it's not protected.

The alternation between scorching sun and heavy rains takes its toll. I don't know how old the wall in the picture is, but the sun and rain have certainly done a job on that.

Another fact that you don't appreciate until you're in the tropics is that you become deprived of your usual techniques for direction finding based on the position of the sun. Just looking at it, you've no idea whether it's 10am and you're looking east, or 2pm and you're looking west.

Pose, pose, pose
Pose, pose, pose
St Mary's basilica, close to the Shivaginagar bus station
St Mary's basilica.
The bus station
The bus station.
A balloon addict
A balloon addict.

Going shopping - Asha, Gaitri, and Nancy FoodWorld bound

Going shopping.
18/7/2004 - Finally

An opportunity to get at the keyboard, that is. Not that I've much to say. I've been pretty busy at work - looking after five projects at the moment. I've also been somewhat depressed about my inability to get anything definite out of the NY company on extending my stay here. To do that I have to get my employment visa extended, and I have a feeling that it would be a good idea to start this process sooner rather than later. Terry says I should make more fuss, but I'm afraid that's not my nature - lambs to the slaughter I think they say.

She, Terry that is, seems to be more cheerful now. I think she's keen to get back, and the days are ticking away. It was the wedding yesterday, but I haven't had any report yet. I'll call her later on tonight, which will be Sunday morning there, though it's possible she may be at her mother's in NJ after the wedding.

Yesterday morning, I finally succumbed to the logic that says I really need to wear glasses for most things now. I went to get measured up for a pair of graduated specs that will let me read a bill, understand the cricket score on the TV, and otherwise see things clearly. They should be ready on Wednesday. Asha came too, since the glasses she got last weekend needed adjusting to stop them from slipping down her nose. After the opticians we went on a fruitless search for some cat food that Cali might actually eat, and bought some bacon that will make a welcome addition to breakfast this week.

Asha declined TGIF on Saturday night. I think maybe it's a been there, done that thing now. However, Gaitri is always keen to go anywhere, and the exposure has to be good for her English, which is a bit ragged. I think I understand about a third of what she tries to say, and it's probably about the same the other way round. Nisha and Krishna were there, and we conversed briefly.

This morning, Asha was off somewhere with her girl friend to try and get work as a film extra. The way she was dressed, if the size of her tits was a significant criterion, she should walk it! Anyway, she had to meet her friend at the main bus station at Shivaginagar, so since I fancied a wander around on a Sunday morning, Gaitri and I went along with her for the ride.

Asha and her intended

Asha and her intended.
11/7/2004 - Visitations

One of the guys from the parent company in NY arrived yesterday to do some training, and generally keep an eye on us. We'd arranged to have lunch together, but as it turned out, Asha had fed me breakfast regardless of my intentions, and Dave had had breakfast at the hotel. So instead, we went for a beer at the Watchman, and talked about US politics, work, and life in India. To follow, we did a mini-tour of bits of Bangalore I thought he might find interesting. MG and Brigade roads, then the market areas at Shivaginagar, including the fish market and the beef market, so he could get a proper feel for the aromas of India.

Then we popped in at the apartment, and after that, walked down to Asha and Gaitri's place. Asha was waiting for someone to pick her up to go to the wedding, probably her fiance. By that time, the jet lag had just about caught up with Dave. I walked him back to the Taj, then walked home and napped for an hour or so.

Later, after the wedding, Asha turned up with her man at TGIF clad in a sari - an unusual sight at the bar.

The fading day - the view from our kitchen balcony looking SE

The fading day.
10/7/2004 - Saturday Evening

Asha's going to her friend's wedding tomorrow, so she's busy sewing this evening. Gaitri will be my minder tonight, and she'll be here in about half an hour. I have the apartment to myself at the moment, so I can sit here naked, Monty Python style, at my keyboard, listening to the rather brooding Rachmaninov II - hmm, better watch that. But now I need to get showered and dressed, and venture out once again. Before I do, on a less brooding note, check out the web site www.halfbakery.com it's hilarious

A quiet Saturday night as it turned out. Gaitri is not quite such a cheap date, since she likes drinks based on ice cream, and eats more. Like me, she doesn't like tobacco smoke, and from that point of view she's quite a good companion to have. If someone lights up next to her, or to me, she just folds her place mat in half and fans vigorously. It sends a very clear signal, and coming from a pretty girl, a lot of guys take notice. I might buy her a Japanese style fan - she could do a great job with that.

After TGIF, we stuck our heads round the door at the I-Bar, but it was pretty dismal, so we gave it a miss.

A riven sky - the monsoon has been back in force this week

A riven sky.

Asha's cat (currently AWOL) - on the roof, eyeing a bird

Asha's cat.
10/7/2004 - Monsoons, Friends, and Opticians

The monsoon has been back in force this week, with some spectacular skies. There was a tremendous thunderstorm on Wednesday night, then another downpour during the day on Thursday, and it rained again during the night last night. As I predicted, the roads are suffering, and walls and such are starting to fall down with the constant drenchings.

Regardless, it's the precious weekend again. Friday night I had a conference call with NY. I did it at home at 6:00pm, having left work an hour early so I'd have time to get my hair cut and do some shopping. Asha arrived at 7:00 - I'd promised to take her to TGIF. By that time we were just about through with the call.

Asha hunted through the depleted remains of Terry's wardrobe, and found a black skirt and a white sweater top that looked quite decent. We didn't get there until after eight, by which time we were lucky to get a single seat at the bar. Asha, bless her, is a wonderfully cheap date. I think she drank a whole mango juice, and a glass of water. We shared a chicken something-or-other, and a side of fries, and an ice-cream concoction that we didn't finish. We'd considered going on somewhere else, but decided we were both tired, and actually left quite early.

The next day she, sister Gaitri, and I went into town to do something that Terry and I had promised them a couple of weeks back. Gaitri needs glasses for reading, and Asha really should wear them all the time. They'd both got a prescription from one of the local free clinics, but the glasses were beyond the family means. I got their eyes tested again, just to be on the safe side, and was pleasantly surprised to find the two sets of prescriptions agreed almost exactly.

The frames took rather longer. I think Gaitri tried on every pair in the shop. Asha persisted for a while, but by chance, the first pair she tried looked better on her than anything else. We have to go back Monday evening to pick them up.

Passing elephant - with handlers collecting for a temple

Passing elephant.
7/7/2004 - Life Goes On

Not much to write about, and not that much opportunity. X is using the room where the computer is, and spends most of the time in there with the door closed. She's out tonight, and I already have food to eat, leftovers from Monday evening. There's mashed potatoes and cabbage - I shall make bubble and squeak later. So now I have the time and the opportunity, and here I am.

I spoke to Terry on Monday morning, probably at about midnight her time on the 4th. Now she sounds down in the dumps. It turns out that neither of her friends, Sandra, and Romeo, are going to go with her to her sister's wedding. She was expecting both to go. I think she also misses home, which as far of both of us are concerned now seems to be located here. I miss her too, but at least I've got more accustomed to being by myself, and I'm sleeping OK again now.

Asha has been more cheerful this week, and on Monday and Tuesday after work we swapped cooking lessons. I showed her how to make chicken in garlic butter with mashed potatoes and cabbage the way I like it, and the next day we made a vegetable curry where she had more input. Interestingly though, her way of doing it was pretty close to the way I'd have done it myself. We used chick peas (kabli channa), tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, onions and garlic, with the customary spices, curry leaves, and fresh coriander, and had it with rice - pretty good.

Open sewers - sides of India you don't want to see

Open sewers.
3/7/2004 - Down in the Dumps

It's Saturday morning, and I'm feeling somewhat down in the dumps. The place is very quiet without Terry around, and the apartment doesn't have its usual welcoming airy feel when its full of cardboard boxes and suitcases. Asha, who is usually a little ray of sunshine, also seems to have been in a gloomy mood this week. I'm sure she misses Terry too.

Cali the cat is being a pain in the arse because she doesn't like the only cat food we can now get for her. Apparently the government of India has decided that such things should be made here, and not imported. So the US cat food Cali previously ate is no longer available. The government are probably correct in assuming that pet foods could be made here, but the fact of the matter is that they aren't - well nothing half decent. You can tell just by the look of it that it's crap. But that's what there is, so the poor little bugger will just have to get used to it.

The picture suits my mood. Every watercourse you see in the city is the same. They're horrendously polluted, and full of garbage. At the point of the picture, an actual sewer is overflowing into the stream too. Sometimes I'm glad I have no sense of smell. At least the plants don't seem to mind - they grow there quite luxuriantly.
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