June 2006 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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Tea room with a menu.
30/6/2006 - Daily Ritual

Except for yesterday and the day before, there was football every night, and I think I watched all of them, usually in company with Fred, though he chickened out for the Ghana matches and watched them at home. There was a good crowd at TGIF for pretty much every game.

Terry got a job bar tending at one of the better bars in Patterson NJ, and was quite pleased with her first night. However it sounds like the owner is more interested in her as a woman than as an employee, so I don't know how long that will last.

I met another girl called Beena a couple of Fridays ago, and we met again yesterday. We had a pleasant evening's conversation, but she was at pains to tell me that we could never be more than good friends, so I don't think I'll be getting myself into trouble there.

I went to see the Da Vinci Code movie one night with Nisha. Neither of us were much impressed, somehow the story just didn't seem to fit into a movie context. Also I didn't feel it was one of Tom Hanks better performances, and I thought the woman was lacklustre. Pulla was ill with some sort of viral thing for a while, and staying home. She's surfaced again now, and we've eaten a couple of times at a tea room - yes you heard me right - that she introduced me to. It's called Infinitea, and it's on Cunningham Road, and the fact that it doesn't serve alcoholic drinks is counterbalanced by the fact that it has a nice atmosphere, and a really good menu

The football has been a saving grace in that it has given me something to do in the evenings, and associated company. Unfortunately the rest of the world cup games are on much later in the evening, and I don't think that watching them at the pub will be compatible with going to work in the morning.

Visa renewal time again.
19/6/2006 - Annual Ritual

It's time for the annual binding in red tape at the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office). This time hopefully I'll get it done more or less when I'm supposed to as opposed to last year when we lost our passports and it all got postponed to the 11th hour.

There's a long list of items to get together, then fees to pay, notaries to visit, and then lots of copies to make. The first step is to take a piece of paper the FRO give you to your local police station to get what is euphemistically called tour address proof. In practice this is an annual good conduct report from your local police. If they've got anything on you, you get an endorsement, and might well not get your visa renewed. This would be a disaster as far as I am concerned, so I try to keep my nose clean.

I met Pulla after work and we went for an espresso further down Infantry Road where she's currently taking part of an air-hostessing course. She was in her air-hostess drag, and looked quite different - similar effect to a schoolgirl costume, know what I mean!

Then I went to Brigade Road and picked up some audio cables that I'd had on order forever, and ate fish and chips at the Only Place where they have now, very thoughtfully, started selling beer, like good Muslims. After that I watched a bit of the Togo/Switzerland match at the watchman until the result got obvious and the match got boring.

Soothing fruit.
13/6/2006 - Confined

Sunday night I was riding my bicycle, and managed to clip a concrete post at the side of the road. I came off fairly spectacularly, and got cuts and bruises on the left side of my face, my left arm, and my right elbow. I picked up the bike, and walked it home, which was close - the bike was unscathed. I put it in the basement, cleaned up the scratches and put some antiseptic ointment on them, and went to bed.

Later when I went for a pee, I had some pretty violent pain in my lower left abdomen. Must have banged myself down there too. I wondered if I should do something about it, but in the end I lived with it for a while, and it went away enough for me to get to sleep.

In the morning I felt reasonably OK, but went to work in an auto to be on the safe side. After about an hour at work, the abdominal pain returned. It was pretty severe, the sort that makes you ashen-faced and come out in a cold sweat. So after a couple of minutes of that, I staggered into Ashok's office next door and told him I thought I should really go to a hospital.

A car was conjured up, and he and Ismael took me to the Mallya hospital, which is the nearest big hospital with an emergency department to our offices.

By the time I got there, the pain had subsided somewhat, but nonetheless, I was bundled onto a bed in the emergency ward and subject to the usual barrage of tests. They did not like the look of my ECG, or my blood pressure, so being 64, and having no obvious external injuries, I was stripped of my clothes and possessions, and carted of to the Cardiac Care unit. Well I know nothing about ECGs, but I do know what my blood pressure is like when confronted with a lot of white coats, and a degree of stress, so I wasn't exactly surprised about that. I was convinced that I had not had any kind of cardiac incident, the pain was miles away from my chest and I'd not been short of breath or anything like that. But there wasn't much I could do about it. I was basically strapped to a bed, held down by a drip tube into my left wrist, an automatic blood pressure cuff on my right arm, and monitoring electrodes on my chest. I figured the quickest way to get out was to calm down and get my blood pressure back to something like normal. So I snoozed as much as I could.

About four hours later, after further ECGs, and chest X rays, I did get some response to my actual complaint. A guy came by with an ultrasound set and took a look at my abdomen. He said he couldn't see anything unusual and speculated that I'd had a bang in the left kidney, and might have passed a kidney stone as a result. That's supposed to be pretty painful. As he seemed to think I was OK, I asked if I could go home, but the cardiac aspects of my confinement were apparently more important. I was to remain incarcerated for the night. Another guy came with a Doppler machine and took sound pictures and recordings of my heart beating.

I got some sleep, then suffered the endless morning as best I could. I had no phone, and the room had no TV, so it was extraordinarily boring. By afternoon, they'd apparently decided I was not going to die on them immediately. The cardiologist came round and explained that about 15% of people routinely had an ECG like mine. The only way to tell if I was in the 15% was to put me on a treadmill. This sounded like a way to escape, so I was keen. About two hours later I did a brisk walk for them, which was as I expected, no sweat at all. Apparently the ECG was OK, because a mere two hours later, they released me with a caution, and a prescription for some pills to keep my blood pressure down. Mercy!

For those of you who might be interested in relative health-care costs, this incident - two days and a night in a private bed in the CCU, and a barrage of tests - cost around RS 13,000 - about $300. I was glad it had not happened in the USA.

I was seriously intent on going to watch that night's world cup match at TGIF, and getting something to eat. But a bouncy auto ride over a few potholes quickly convinced me that ticker problem or no, my kidney was pretty bruised. I settled for the oddments I could find in the fridge, watched the match at home, and went to bed early.

World cup promo.
9/6/2006 - Football Crazy

So the World Cup is upon us. This is about the only time I ever watch soccer, and I guess that until it is over, it will be a nightly ritual at either the watchman, or TGIF. I'm not sitting at home alone to watch it, I see it as more of a social event. Tonight is Germany v. Costa Rica, which match I would think has a fairly certain outcome.

I missed a good photo oportunity at some point because I'd forgotten to take the camera out with me. Somebody had cut the top off a Ford whatever - I think it would have been an Escort in England - and left it parked in Brigade Road with a large replica football wedged in the top. It wasn't that old a car either. The picture here is courtesy of Arul Prasad who caught it the night before in the small hours of the morning.

Pulla amused by something at brunch.
4/6/2006 - The Taj Excells Itself

Pulla turned up at TGIF on Friday evening, and we arranged to meet at the Taj for brunch. She's learning to swim, so the pool there was an attraction, as well as the food and drink.

On Saturday, I went into town and bought an Onkyo sound system that I'd been promising myself, and a Philishave electric razor. Ate, surprise surprise, at TGIF, and went to bed early.

This morning I partially fixed up the sound system - I still need some more cables, then arrived at the Taj at the specified time. The brunch had a new look. There was a dedicated seafood section, with prawns, mussels, and, glory be, oysters! Now I've had oysters before in Bangalore at Tiger Bay, but they were awful. These oysters were good. Oysters and champagne (well, fizzy white wine), and some good humus. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

By two thirty I'd pogged out on oysters, humus, tenderloin, chicken, and camembert, and was about ready to leave when Pulla arrived. Apparently her son had had a fever, and she'd had to find a doctor on Sunday. She ate, and I rested, then we went in the pool, and I floated about digesting my lunch while she practiced her swimming.

Red means what?
3/6/2006 - Pet Peeve of the Month

The new traffic lights that have sprung up all over Bangalore recently are the subject of my pet peeve for the month. This particular set allow the traffic to go straight ahead or turn right for a period. After that you can go straight for a while, but not turn right. The picture shows the state of the traffic lights corresponding to the straight ahead only phase. The green straight ahead light flashes.

Next to the lights, though not visible on my picture is a sign that says "Red Means Stop", which is what I've always understood it to mean, and is certainly what it says in the Indian driving regulations. I think this system is positively dangerous. I've seen lots of drivers hesitate when confronted with it already, and it seems to me that it's only a question of time before someone who wasn't concentrating sees the red and jams on the anchors, while someone following sees the green and puts his foot down.
2/6/2006 - A Safe Journey

I phoned Terry at her mother's house early in the morning. She'd had a good flight, all on time, and her sister Stephanie had picked her up from Newark. She sounded quite chipper. The family had put on a welcome-home party for her, and she'd just got to the point of starting to unpack some of her stuff.
1/6/2006 - Freedom?

So here I am, a bachelor in Bangalore. Terry's advice is that if I've got anything I need to get out of my system, now is a good time, but to make sure she's gone by the time Terry gets back. Of course, I've no idea when that might be. If she fights with her mother it could be two weeks, if she gets a job she likes it could be six months. If despite her protestations that she won't, she gets herself a new man, or if her family's point of view prevails, it might be never. I probably won't know until I get a phone call telling me to pick her up from the airport. So making sure "She" is gone to the required timetable might be problematic.

But, at the same time, it's nice to have some company in the evenings and on weekend afternoons. So I survey my resources. Fred and Rita will probably have to bear the brunt of it, and Nisha will probably come out occasionally. There's also Pulla, who has appeared several times at the Night Watchman when we've been there recently, and always talks to me. She's a relaxed sort of person and does not seem to be after anything in particular, so I shall attempt to recruit her as well. At least for starters, that will have to be my team.
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