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


Baggage claim area

Baggage claim area.
30/6/2004 - Departures and arrivals

Well, Terry got off to the USA at 1:00am on Tuesday morning. She should have just about got there now. Asha and I went with her to the airport, but we were only allowed as far as the gate before the check-in area. We watched through the glass as Terry went through the appropriate level of Indian paperwork, first at the check-in counter, and then at immigration. Why they take so much interest in your leaving will be a mystery to me until I've had chance to speak to Terry.

By the time I got home I was overtired. I went to bed, and Asha went to sleep on the DCL. X came in later. For whatever reason I could not get to sleep. I tossed and turned all night, only sleeping for a while after the sun came up, when of course I was in danger of missing my Tuesday morning conference call with NY.

When I got home from work yesterday night, X's baggage had arrived. She had said she'd be in during the day waiting for it. The apartment looked like the baggage-claim area at a small airport. She's looking for an apartment - obviously one with a lot of cupboard/closet space. I made myself a frankfurter casserole - comfort food - and ate too much of it. That's one way to avoid drinking too much beer in the evening. Last night I slept better, but still fitfully. Anyway, now it's time to get dressed and get off to work.

Sunday morning bazaar

Sunday morning bazaar.
27/6/2004 - Sooner than you think

Asha got me out of bed at 9:30 when she rang the doorbell. Gaitri was already here - she'd gone off somewhere with Terry last night. The first order of business was a visit to the Sunday bazaar in the area just to the west of our apartment building. The area is called Gautamapuram, and is like a village within the city. The bazaar is something in between an organized market and a fleamarket. It's mostly clothing, fabrics, and shoes, though there was one stall selling credibly fresh fish, presumably fresh-water fish, since some of them were still alive.

When we'd looked at the market, we wandered down through the village, and along one of the alleys close to where the girls live, through to Cambridge Road, and from there to Food World on Cambridge Layout. We got breakfast things, and soap and shampoo, then went back to the apartment. X was leaving as we arrived, saying she'd be back in 5 minutes - haven't seen her since. Asha made breakfast for me first, despite my objections, then finally fed herself and Gaitri.

Terry got up as we finished breakfast, and started some washing. A little later the girls left. In the course of conversation, Terry talked about leaving on Wednesday (Have I mentioned this before? She's going back to the US for a month for her sister's wedding, and to sort out our affairs there.). I didn't think that was right, having it in my head that she was going on Tuesday. So we checked her tickets, and it transpired that not only was I right about Tuesday, but that her flight is at 01:00 on Tuesday, so she is effectively leaving on Monday night.

PDA - me, Asha's brother and Nancy
PDA
Bananas au naturel - water cooled to slow the ripening down
Bananas au naturel.
Cows getting some R&R - sand heaps seem to attract them
Cows getting some R&R.

All smiles - the textile merchants before the argument

All smiles.
26/6/2004 - Quiet Weekend?

This weekend I'm trying to organize things so that everybody enjoys themselves, and it's reasonably peaceful. So far, I haven't been conspicuously successful. When I got home from work on Friday Terry was haggling with two guys about an embroidered bedspread and cushion covers. Asha and her sister were there browsing the fabrics and watching Hindi TV respectively. The haggling was quite amicable initially, as you can see from the mood of the two guys. But later it degenerated into an argument. By that time Asha and Gaitri were dressed up and ready to go out. I'd been ready for some time, but wasn't about to leave Terry arguing with two men. Eventually they left, and then so did I. The girls decided to wait for Terry.

Nisha was at TGIF. Terry had said she'd been on the phone in tears earlier, but when I questioned her she professed to be fine. Likes the new job, and is getting on better with Krishna now she's in his face somewhat less, and is gainfully employed. I wasn't entirely convinced. X was there too, she's staying with us for a while again.

It was a reasonably peaceful evening, or at least my part of it was. Asha and I had had enough by closing time and came home to sleep, me in the marital bed, I should say, and Asha on the double chaise-lounge that I had unconsciously bought Terry for her birthday.

Terry and Gaitri polled in sometime later, Terry in a state because she'd lost her handbag, complete with keys and money. Thankfully she didn't make too big a deal of it, and quickly went to sleep. The guy she'd given it to to look after phoned today to remind her that he had it.

To calm things down in the morning I took everyone to the Taj for breakfast. It costs an arm and a leg, but they really look after you, and it makes a pleasant start to a Saturday, and I know that all concerned like to go there.

Gaitri, the younger sister - a bundle of mischief

Gaitri.
21/6/2004 - Open Mouth, Insert Foot

So, on Friday night, yours truly put his foot in it, in a big way. I said something to someone in one of those late night drunken conversations that I should not have said. I've no idea what possessed me to do it. Anyway, this being Bangalore, it was back to Terry in a heartbeat, and as a consequence I've been in the dog house all weekend. Terry 2 (that's the less tolerant and friendly one of the Gemini pair) has been out frequently in full force.

I must try harder to observe the well tried rule about engaging the brain before letting the mouth open.

On the brighter side, Terry 1 has a new protegé. Gaitri, Asha's younger sister, has a couple of years to go before she needs to get married off. She's good basic material - good body, pretty face, lively, nice smile. I suspect Terry will attempt to do an Eliza Doolittle job on her. The pictures a bit out-of-focus - she's not one to keep still.

Also, I got an interesting work offer. I was walking out of the apartment to get my hair cut on Saturday morning. As I approached the lift, a young woman was walking up the stairs clutching some dry cleaning. She turned to go down the corridor in the opposite direction from where we live. But after a few steps, she turned and came back, with a questioning look on her face. I stuck my foot in the lift door, and waited. She asked me if I would consider doing some modelling work, and explained that she works for an agency. Without much hesitation I said sure, and gave her my card. She said she'd been watching me, and liked my look. If I'd been in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, I would have swelled up into a he-man at that point. That would be really cool, getting work as a model at age 62! Viagra ads, here I come - I'll believe it when I see it.

The beast with Beauty again - this girl could leave a trail of broken hearts

The Beast & Beauty.
17/6/2004 - Moan, Moan

These days I dread having to do anything that involves handwriting. In general, I'm quite coordinated. I can ride my bike fast in heavy traffic, type quite quickly with two or three fingers, chop onions without cutting my fingers off, and so on. But when it comes to handwriting, I've completely lost it.

This, I suppose, is because I hardly ever do it. The pen seems to have a will of its own, and this applies most noticeably when I'm writing a cheque.

I don't like writing cheques anyway. They're such unpredictable things. You write one at the beginning of the month, and it returns to bite you in the arse at the end, just when you thought that financially speaking, you were doing OK.

The signature is the biggest bogey of all. Mine is just a semi-organized squiggle. The pen waits until then to really do it's thing, and sometimes I have to tear up the cheque and start from scratched because I think the bank will bounce it as being a forgery. I think I also dislike cheques just because they're such hopelessly outdated technology - I should be able to do it with my mobile phone, and get a confirmation of the transaction there and then. Perhaps I can. In some ways I'm an old technophobe.

Pieces of Eight! Me with one of Asha's family pets - two parrots and a cat
Pieces of Eight!
Lalita, Gaitha, and Asha outside their house
Lalita, Gaitri, and Asha.
Asha with Nancy - a neighbor's child
Asha with Molly.

Asha's home

Asha's home.
13/6/2004 - Reality Check

I'd been there Friday night, but we were rushing, and in any case it was dark, so today I returned, and asked Asha's mother Lalita for permission to take pictures of their home and put them on the Internet.

The house is a single storey stuccoed brick or stone building, with a corrugated asbestos roof. It is about four meters wide at the front, and maybe 6 to 7 meters front to back. In fact this is two houses, or at least has two separate doors. Grandma lives in the smaller of the areas on your right as you face the house, and Asha, her mother, and her sister Gaitri live in the other, which is not quite 4 meters square, and I could be exaggerating. Most of the area is occupied by a large bed, that doubles as a sofa. In addition, They have a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a plastic armchair, and an elderly black and white TV. At the far side of the room as you come in, there's a granite worktop, and in the far corner, a floor level stone sink with a drain.

There is no bathroom/toilet - you have to go to a shared one at a neighboring house. There's no fridge. Food is on a buy it, cook it, eat it basis. The washing gets done in a tub on the doorstep.

I can relate to this to some extent from my early childhood, when we lived in a back-to-back stone house in the north of England. There we had one ground floor room, but there was also a first floor bedroom, and also an attic, and it had gas and running water. Asha's place is like an order of magnitude more basic.

Our apartment is by comparison, palatial. It in turn is a hovel compared to some of the upscale private housing in Bangalore.

Asha - in western drag

Asha.
12/6/2004 - Still Crazy

Regular readers of this page will know that I am a sucker for a pretty girl - so, what's new - I'm a man. Well Friday afternoon, maybe 5:00PM, I get a phone call from Sushil, who turns out to be a front for Terry, and they're at TGIF (would you believe it?). I said I'd be there when I'd got off work and got changed. So I get home, and am just about to drop my drawers and get out of my sweaty clothes, when the door bell rings. It's Nisha, who had forewarned me she might turn up, though we haven't seen much of her this week, any even! She's here to get what the British describe as "a shave, a shit, and shampoo". So we're both trying to keep out of each other's way, and just about ready to go, when the door bell rings again, and it's Asha, reason unexplained. She'd brought a concoction she'd made that I think involved milk and mangoes. Now I eat fruit, but liquidized with milk is not exactly my thing, so I declined as politely as I could, and suggested that she join us at TGIF.

Well, the immediate reaction of course was that she couldn't possibly do that, but I persisted, and eventually we (Me, Nisha, Asha) got to the point of going to ask mother for permission. We got in an auto, drove down Artillery Road, and got the auto driver to wait.

Asha's family live down a street, or I should possibly be more precise and say an alley, opposite the mosque at the low point of Artillery Road. This is part of my morning ride to work, and is the just before the first point where I actually have to do some work.

So anyway, mama is agreeable - aiding and abetting one might say, but she has to be back by 9:30. So Asha disappears, and reappears shortly in western attire. The effect was spectacular. Asha has quite large breasts, and the top she was wearing was something of a jaw dropper. We go back to the auto, accompanied by a miffed Asha's sister, who would like to have been invited also (there's a magic sentence that goes "Can I come too?"). 15 minutes later we make our grand entrance into TGIF, and suddenly every guy in the bar has a new heart throb.

Well 9:30 came and went. Nisha went off with Krishna, and Terry, Asha and me went home for the ritual women's change of clothes, and then to Zero-G. The place was dead, so we migrated to Club-X. This is not on my highly favoured list, but it was OK, since Asha stuck to me like glue. You've gotta know that there's nothing better for an old guy's ego than the attentions of a pretty young girl. Eventually, she and I got tired, though Terry, true to form, was raring to stay. So Asha and I went back to the apartment - fantasies, fantasies. I gave her a sheet, and sent her into the spare room, with a hug, and a peck on the cheek. Such is real life.

So now I've got over my infatuation with Rachel at Brother Jimmy's in New York, and have new one. It's helpful when they're on the same continent!

Beauty and the Beast - me and Asha at TGIF
Beauty and the Beast.
Arabesque - Terry all dolled up
Arabesque.
Unknown girl
Unknown girl.
Jean & Terry - Jean is a painter
Jean & Terry.

Reagan

Reagan.
11/6/2004 - History - Fact or Fiction

So Ronald Reagan died, and now he seems to have achieved a status somewhere up there with FDR and JFK. I have difficulty understanding why. His ratings while he was in office were lower than Bill Clinton's, and nowhere near Eisenhower and JFK.

I guess a good job has been done in massaging history, and Reagan is now credited with the downfall of the USSR. It all goes to show how effective it is to be in the right place at the right time. (Photo is courtesy of free-stock-photos.com.)

The real story to me is the bitter irony of having been the president of the USA, and living to the age of 93 with a disease that robbed him of the memory.

Business as usual - the anti smoking law might not exist

Business as usual.
9/6/2004 - Nosmo King

An open letter to the Bangalore Police Commissioner.

Dear Sir,

As I understand it, smoking in public places has been illegal in India since the beginning of May. According to statistics, about 25% of the population smokes, and a decent proportion die of lung cancer. That leaves us non-smokers in an extraordinary position. We, the majority, are presumably entitled to go to public places. There, it seems, we are to be exposed to illegal tobacco fumes against our will, without any protection from the law enforcement authorities.

As an example, I was in a bar the other night (I won't single a particular bar out - this is general - if you need to know, I'll tell you). On a random pass through the bar, about 15 people were smoking. There was minimal extraction of fumes, the air was thick with tobacco smoke. The establishment provides ashtrays for the smokers, and provides lights for their cigarettes.

I have seen not a single no-smoking sign in any bar or restaurant in Bangalore. I have seen no bar or restaurant in Bangalore without ash trays. Most significantly, I have not seen a single police officer in any bar or restaurant enforcing the law. Are establishments with such scant disregard for the law of the land to be considered for periodic renewal of their license?

Several countries and major states have banned smoking in public places. It is now a high profile international issue, with many countries considering similar legislation. In the places where such law has been applied, it has stuck, because it had some teeth. Is India to be a laughing stock in this respect?

I would be pleased to have your response, and your permission to publish it on the same web page as this letter.

Thanking you, and yours sincerely
A taxpayer
7/6/2004 - Running the Gauntlet

A cockroach scurries across the busy road,
avoiding my bicycle's narrow track,
and on toward the heavy traffic.

I pedal on, wondering about its chances,
and how they might be estimated.
Quite quickly giving up on that.

Elsewhere perhaps, running the gauntlet
of the traffic might not be the catch.
Pure chance would deal that card.
 

The morning crowd beyond the traffic flow
would pose a greater threat,
with sharp eyes and malicious feet.

But in India it might fare better.
The attitude's more laisser-fair,
and maybe feet would be just chances too.

As I drink my morning coffee later,
I wonder if the cockroach found it's way
to tasty morning garbage on the other side.


Terry in the new sari

Terry in the new sari.
6/6/2004 - Pictures

Here's the promised shot of Terry in the sari. It's a striking one, but possibly a little OTT for a Sunday afternoon. We went to the Bombay Store on MG road, and to the Watchman and TGIF. Both were pretty deserted, though there were a couple of girls in The Watchman. One of them was quite striking, and she was happy to pose for a portrait. Now as a rule, I don't put large pictures on the page, since I'm wary about making the thing too slow to download for visitors with limited bandwidth. So I've decided that when I have portraits that I think are worth it, I'll include thumbnails of them that link to a popup window, so users have the option to download or not, as they choose.
Link to Rithu's portrait
I noticed as we rode into town that the latest Harry Potter film is now on, so we'll be heading for that one night during the week. I'm something of a Harry Potter addict. The previous movie was the Day After Tomorrow thing. It wasn't there for long, and would guess that it flopped.

Tonight though, we think there's a decent band on at Zero-G. It starts about 8, which means I can pay a meaningful visit, and still get home in time for my Sunday night shuteye and work in the morning.

Well, the band was crap. Some guy who thought he could play jazz guitar, with a drummer, bass player, and keyboard player who had nothing to contribute. They had a girl singing with them who had a decent voice, but they really need to decide what it is they are trying to do, and then practice. So we split and went to the Watchman. Unusually, Vidya and her husband were there, so we sat with them for a while at one of the corner tables, and chatted.


Roman style - Saturday night at the I-Bar

Roman style.
6/6/2004 - Decadence

In stark contrast to the 5th of June 60 years ago, a time of fear, apprehension, and austerity, last night we went to the I-Bar, which is a yuppie haunt at the Park Hotel, close to the east end of MG Road. For some reason the place was infested by people from HSBC bank. There seem to be a lot of them here at the moment. I think they're setting up a call centre or something. I met a couple of American girls, Dawn, and Laurie, the two Roman girls - actually Scots, and an Anglo-Indian woman closer to my age, whose name I'm ashamed to say I have forgotten. They're all going to be in Bangalore for some time, so we'll have to attempt to induct them into the regular crew at TGIF.

I baled out at about 1:00am, having had enough beer and socializing for one day. The Park is just at the other end of Bazaar Street, so I walked home that way, past the homeless people who live there on the pavement at night, and the street dogs. India is a place of stark contrasts.

Asha came again today to make me my breakfast. This now appears to be a routine, which may well be fostered by the fact that I spoil her and slip her an extra RS100 for her trouble. She came back later, and has installed Terry in a new sari that she acquired from somewhere - I'll do a picture during the day.

Omaha Beach 6/6/1944 - a naval demolition team clearing obstacles from the beach

Omaha Beach.

6/6/2004 - D-Day+60

A day in history. 60 years ago today, 150,000 men of the British, American, Free-French, and Commonwealth armies, landed on the Normandy beaches. Many men died, particularly amongst the American troops at Omaha beach, but their comrades, out of sheer stubborn determination and rage, climbed the bluff, and killed or captured the German machine-gunners and mortar teams at the top. By the end of the day, the allied army had a sure foothold on Festung Europa.

At that time, I was two years old, and thanks to the sacrifices of those men, and of the untold numbers of Russian soldiers who also died in the same cause, I have lived my life in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

The Star of Bethlehem flower revisited - apparently it is unusually prolific this year

Star of Bethlehem flower revisited.

3/6/2004 - Well Doused June

These months wind round with frightening regularity. June is hardly flaming, the monsoon-like weather shows no sign of abating. But obviously there are some things this weather suits. When we were at The Only Place the other day, the Star of Bethlehem plant had no less than six flowers in one night. This is, apparently, very unusual

We had our first for-publication comment on the BritsEyeView bulletin board this week. William - otherwise anonymous, but in mood 'sexy' - suggests "Can we have a chat center where like minded people can meet have FUN!!. We all Should try to meet every week & exchange our views, ideas etc... you have done a great job in creating the WEB site and updating regularly".

Well thanks for the compliment William, if I get a couple of positive responses to the suggestion, I'll think about it.

It's quiz night tonight at the Night Watchman, so Terry, Nisha, and I are off there. Krishna is supposed to be coming, and one of Terry's target men will probably be in attendance too. I'll catch you later.

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