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

Buying flowers - a time-lapse impression
Buying flowers.
As through a glass, darkly
As through a glass, darkly.
Phantoms - me and Sophie, one of the TGIF hostesses, who is truly cool
Phantoms.

A squall gathering over Cambridge Road - by the time I'd walked the five minutes back home it was raining again

Gathering Squall.

31/5/2004 - Instant Month

It's the end of May already. X left last Wednesday, so it was quiet here for a couple of days, but now Nisha is around again. I must have words with her to discover her intentions.

The rains continue. It's tipping it down as I speak, and it seems like we are doomed to an unusually early, and possibly unusually long monsoon season. The picture is typical of the weather at the moment. The sun will be shining, but suddenly one of these squalls will appear. Then it will rain cats and dogs for half an hour, sometimes much longer.

And I don't know that Bangalore is built to tolerate four months of saturation. I suspect that a lot of buildings and systems will be right on the edge of surviving a two month rainy season, but four may be pushing it. On that topic, I must get something waterproof to keep the camera in. I got wet twice last week, and although it seemed superficially OK, the shutter and electrical circuits must have got soggy, because I got some extended exposures - sticky shutter I presume - and some shots that came out mostly in shades of red. I was quite despondent. By Indian, and now my standards, the camera cost a lot of money, and I'd have to save up for some time to replace it. It seems to be OK now, but I obviously need to watch it! The pictures are there to remind me, though I think they also create an interesting reaction, like an impressionist painting.

A soggy sunday
A soggy Sunday
Followed by a soggy Monday - flooded road on the way home from work
Followed by a soggy Monday.

Asha's back - making dosas on a Saturday morning

Asha's back.

24/5/2004 - Instant Weekend

Well anyway, that's the way they seem. It's Monday before you know it.

There's nothing much to report. Asha is back. Terry and Nisha bumped into her and her mother in Cambridge Road last week. Bets were on that she'd be round to see if Terry wanted to give her her job back. Sure enough she did, and Terry relented on the strict condition that her mother was to stay away. Terry and Lalita don't get on particularly well, but I knew Terry had missed Asha. She's a cheerful little soul, and pretty, and her one hour a day visits give Terry someone to interact with when there's nobody else here. She's taking a fashion design course now, as well as skivvying for people. She sews pretty well, so maybe she'll make something of it.

I made some progress on my software. The workflow designer is close to working, so I'll have to start devoting some more serious attention to the server. I've got a test bed working using plain-old RPC, since I want it to be able to run on Linux, and I don't know how well the DCOM implementations are likely to do there. So now it's really just a question of churning out the API - boring stuff. Then of course I'll have to put a C++ wrapper round the RPC layer, and build an example client and an example archive. It will be never-ending

I bought some new pants - Dockers style - for RS 380, about $8.50. I was quite pleased with them until the bottom ripped out of one of the pockets on the second day. I'll recover. I can get the tailor round the corner to put some strong pockets in without doubling the price, and the rest of them seems to be reasonably robust.

The weather was OK until Sunday afternoon, when the heavens opened again. Same again on Monday, just in time for leaving work. The 80 Foot Peripheral Road in Koramangala was flooded up to about a foot deep in parts, so it was an interesting ride home. It had stopped when I started out, but got going again on the way, and I got home looking like a drowned rat.

I watched the Monaco Grand Prix at TGIF on Sunday afternoon with a mob of Formula One addicts. Really quite exciting, with wrecked lumps of very expensive engineering all over the place, but fortunately, no bones broken.

A working day - the first for some time

A working day.

21/5/2004 - Friday Again

It was quite a pleasant day today. More sun than clouds, and no rain. This was an exception to the trend of the weather over the past couple of weeks, when it has rained pretty consistently. They - the ubiquitous they, presumably the BDA - had started preparations about three weeks ago to widen the road down to Koramangala. A new sewer was installed last year and the road has been a mess since.

The rain put paid to that. The trench filled with water, and everything turned to mud. But the last few days have actually been drier, and today it had reached the stage when something could be done again. It is being done in the Indian way, using largely woman power, and a smaller number of men with shovels.

The pretty girl looked like she'd have been quite happy to have been whisked away from the life. She would have posed with the 20 kilos of granite balanced on her head forever. I'll have to keep an eye open for her! First of course, I'd have to learn some Kanada, and persuade Terry that it would be a good idea for me to become a Muslim and have two wives. Hmm - doesn't sound very plausible. But daydreaming comes pretty naturally when you're riding your bike to work in the morning.

The Star of Bethlehem - flowers only for one night

The Star of Bethlehem.

18/5/2004 - Not As Advertised

Sonia Gandhi has decided that she will not be India's next prime minister. This despite the fact that all the Congress election posters all featured her as the big attraction, and it was the widespread expectation among congress voters that she would be. Many of the elected congress MP's are of the same view. It also seems quite possible to me that many women may have voted for Sonia because the idea of a woman Prime Minister was something of importance to them.

Of course the BJP people have been putting her down, saying she has no knowledge of politics. I seem to remember that powerful men in Europe said the same of the young Elizabeth I when Henry VIII of England died. She went on to become one of the most powerful and politically influential monarchs in 16th century Europe.

So step up Sonia, and take the challenge - vindicate the trust of those who voted for you. You've been an Indian citizen for the length of time that a good proportion of the population of the country have been around. If you fail, just be sure you've done your best. In the course of making sure you have, you may well succeed.

The picture is of a rare flower - the Star of Bethlehem. It flowers for only one night, and in the morning is shriveled and dead. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Mexican - well Steve B.

Mexican.
Hat - Nisha
Hat.
Dance - Shiva
Dance.

The India Shining crowd

India Shining.

14/5/2004 - Shining?

Well, we got a new government on Thursday. The BJP, who had held power through a coalition, called elections six months before they had to, because they reckoned that the economy was strong, and it was a good time to go.

Now advertising by political parties is not allowed in India, which I should say after living in the USA for 12 years, is a bloody good idea. So for the four months before the election, these mysterious advertisements appeared on the TV. They generally extolled the virtues of India, and showed happy, prosperous people going about their work and play, and finished with the pronouncement "India Shining". Krishna finally explained to this simpleton what was going on. However, the truth is that the majority of voters in India live in poverty, if not squalor, with no electricity supply, and no running water. So the BJP's plans misfired. Their sneaky advertising campaign simply pissed the majority off, and now they're out, and Congress is in. Turnout was low by Indian standards. I'd guess that if it had been higher, they could have been even further out

Krishna took us to the wake last night. Definitely the India shining crew, it was an invites only party at the "I" Bar, a yuppie destination inside the Park Hotel, close to where we live. Some big fashion designer from Mumbai was there, and the place was crawling with good looking women and well heeled men. They didn't seem to be too devastated.

Jack fruit, or an invasion of aliens

Jack Fruit.

14/5/2004 - Strange Fruit.

There is currently a plague of seasonal fruits. For a start it's mango season, so all the fruit vendors' carts are groaning with them - big ones, small ones, red ones, and green ones. But also there are these weird looking Jack Fruit. They're mostly bigger than a football, and elongated. I'm told that they smell bad, but taste good. Like I'd know!

Today, another of Terry's girl fiends (who shall be nameless - let's say X) arrived for a visit to bangalore. We'd said she could come and stay with us for a couple of weeks. She's been away it was clear that she was really missing Bangalore. So now I'll be living in an apartment with three attractive women. It's a good job I'm old and past it, otherwise I could get myself into some trouble.

The fruit vendors

The fruit vendors.
Girls, girls, girls, girls

Girls, girls, girls, girls.
All ages, shapes, and sizes
All sorts.
I love them all
Gotta love em!

Nisha and yet another new girl

Nisha and Nutan.

An unusual occurence - an all-girl team at quiz night

An unusual occurence.

8/5/2004 - Wasted Again.

Well, it was a simple plan. We were to go to TGIF for happy hour, then go to the Only Place for a steak. However, this always seems to be doomed to failure. I was tempted by hunger, and had the Chicken Veracruz. Then of course there was no reason to move. We finally got thrown out at about 1:30am. The two girls were stone-cold sober, and I was wasted!

Nisha was there when I got home from work, and she came with us. Krishna if off to Dubai for the week. Both she and Terry are, for different reasons, on the wagon this week. Terry is doing the Atkins diet, which forbids alcohol for the first two weeks - presumably because if you got squiffy, you'd succumb to the temptation, and eat bad things. Nisha because she's had an upset stomach and is nursing it. Terry has stuck to it religiously so far. I'm most impressed.

As an aside, but on the general topic of abstinence, I should have mentioned that from May 1st, it became illegal to smoke in public places in India. This has had a spectacularly negligible effect. Nobody who smokes will even admit to having heard about it, and all the bars are still full of smoke and equipped with ash trays.

The way it has been done was doomed to failure. When they imposed a similar ban in New York, the responsibilty was put on the owner of the establishment. If a bar owner allowed smoking, he was liable to lose his license. So the ash trays disappeared, and the customers were politely reminded that they should go outside to smoke. Here, the offence is only by the individual, and the penalty in the unlikely event that you were caught, is only RS 200 - about $4.

I'm thinking about devious ways of applying pressure through the civil courts. For instance, since the activity is now illegal, I could presumably go after the bar for negligently allowing me to be exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke which damaged my health. Some bright ASH lawyer should come up with something. Blather, blather - OK, I know, nobody gives a damn!

Heavy rain overnight - a soggy Bangalore
Heavy rain overnnight.
A sad loss - Diwaker (center) a casualty of the rain storm
A sad loss.
Sachin - badly bashed up and still on the critical list
Sachin.

4/5/2004 - A Bad Night.

The rain that had threatened us in the pool at Krishna's place materialized overnight. At varying intensities it went on through the night. Sometimes it was heavy enough, and accompanied by squally winds, to wake me. It was a soggy Bangalore in the morning.

This would have been no big deal. Unfortunately though, directly or otherwise, it contributed to a sad event for the patrons and staff of TGIF, and others unknown to me. Diwakar and Sachin, two of the barkeepers there, were riding home that night in the rain. For whatever reason, the bike skidded, and went out of control. It hit a central divider, and Diwakar was killed, hopefully instantly, with a broken neck. Sachin is broken everywhere you can think of, and on the critical list. Our fingers are crossed.

BritsEyeView, and I'll take it upon myself to say everyone else who frequents TGIF, offers its sympathy and grief to those who were and are close to both of them. Sachin, hold on. If you don't you'll never read this, but if you do, god bless you.

I went there tonight. The place was under a cloud, and I guess may be for some time. Our fire juggler was popular and generous. He informally organized my birthday night, from which I walked away scot free. So now I owe him a debt that I can now never repay.

Terry (and someone else) took what may be the last pictures of Diwakar. This isn't intended to be prurient or morbid, but I've no other way of getting them to people who may care. So here they are #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 (the last one with reservations - but who am I to judge). I've reduced these to 800x600, and cropped the images somewhat. If anyone wants the originals at high resolution, or if I've done the wrong thing, click the 'contact' link at the top of the page, and email me. (Buzzby, do that also.)

Apartments in the middle of nowhere
Apartments.
Gathering cloud and dusk late Sunday afternoon
Gathering cloud.
Krishna's dining room - of course, everbody eats in the kitchen
Dining Room.

Nisha and Krishna in the Pool at his 'weekend place'

Nisha and Krishna.

2/5/2004 - Sunday Out.

Today we were invited out to Krishna's weekend place which is where he and Nisha vanish to from Friday to Monday. It's about 15 kilometers north west of Bangalore out on the Hyderabad road, a large block of apartments in the middle of nowhere. He's about the only person who ever lives in the whole block, which is otherwise owned by investors who never go there. Krishna actually got two, and had them knocked through. Huge and quite swish, with about 5 bedrooms, bathrooms at every turn, and polished granite floors and kitchen worktops.

There's no way I could live there. After many years of experimentation I've determined that I'm a townie, and need to be within walking distance of the town centre. But it was a pleasant visit. He'd made us a mild chicken curry and rice for lunch, and had the DVD of Master and Commander, which I've been wanting to see and seems to have been bypassed by the Indian English cinema circuit. An excellent film by the way - see it whan you can.

The complex also has a good size pool - probably close to olympic length across the widest part - and we went there in the late afternoon under gathering clouds. The water was warmer than it was out, and there were a few drops of rain.
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