November 2003 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman -  Contact  Current Month  Previous  Next  Index  Software

20/11/2003 - Not Lazy really

I'm not really being lazy, but I'm just having so many Internet connection problems I hardly dare do anything to the page for fear of losing data. I'm hoping it might get sorted out before I too long.

Alas, that was not to be. Actually it got worse, and a little later my laptop went bye-byes also. So that's all for November, and December will be a summary.

Our new local bakery in Koramangala 4th block - it makes Euopean style bread, pastries and desserts

Our new local bakery

14/11/2003 - TGIF

Having worked extra hours earlier in the week, I got out early on Friday, and Terry and I went into the city to pick up the starter pack for my HSBC bank account. I'd been told it would be ready by then. Of course, it wasn't, but I paid in my pay cheque anyway, and hopefully it will get delivered by courier to the apartment on Tuesday.

While we were in town, we went to the textile shop where I'd got the raw cotton fabric before. This was the second attempt to get more. I want to get some more shirts made, and Terry wants to use it for a dress. But once again there was none. Apparently it's very popular, and gets sold as soon as it comes into stock. Maybe I'll have to try city market.

On the way home I got my hair cut. I got my favourite barber. He's young, but really good, and you get a head massage thrown in for RS 50. In the evening I went for a walk, feeling that I wasn't getting enough exercise. Then we went to the restaurant just down 80ft Peripheral Road for a drink.

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These lads can get the steel out of these pillar bases quicker than you can say Jack Robinson

Demolition men

The problematic bees nests

The problematic bees nests

10, 11, 12, 13/11/2003 - The Working Week Again

The demolition men are grinding away at the remains of the building. The steel is still a prime target. There's a JCB (a back-hoe) pulling out the concrete pillar bases now, and then these get broken up to recover the steel. There are two other things of interest. The building had some brickwork, and the decent bricks are being recovered, but also, I think there must have been a stone building there before this one. The trenches where the foundations were put down were back filled with the stone - rough-cut granite blocks. The JCB is pulling those out too, and the men are recovering them. Not much goes to waste!

Apparently, every year at this time, bees descend on Raheja Residence, and build nests on overhanging sections near the top of the buildings. Usually the bees are gassed, and the nests, presumably along with the honey, are removed. This has happened to some of them this year. But on the centre building this year there are a whole bunch of them close together, and these pose something of a problem. Attacking one of them would probably provoke a savage reaction from the ones close by. I don't know what they'll do with them.

I'm back to reviewing a mass of test scripts at work. This is going to be a long job, but it should make life a lot easier later. It's not very exciting, but I believe it is very important.

We did the "Brains and Booze" quiz on Thursday with Mick at the other Steve, and failed miserably. Personally I thing some of the 'correct answers' were wrong. For instance, I'm not sure that a Grizzly Bear is a larger carnivore than a full grown Orca. In fact I'm not sure that the bear is technically a carnivore at all - don't they eat fruit and honey too?

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Basic Transport

Basic Transport

9/11/2003 - Cricket Sunday

We rose late, and pottered about during the morning. I couldn't get to the web site, and neither could anyone else. It was a while before I realized what had happened. Before we left the USA, I had got a new debit card, since the magnetic strip on the old one was shot. The new card had the same number, so yours truly hadn't updated the card information at my Internet provider. Result, when they tried to charge for the service at the beginning of the month it didn't go through, and my account got suspended.

In the early afternoon, we went to JAP (it's Just Another Pub, not Yet Another Pub - I lied). Terry has finished East of Eden, and is now on Grapes of Wrath, so she read, and I watched Australia beat New Zealand

After the pub we went to the new bakery that has opened in 4th block to get some cheesecake. It's actually more like a mousse than NY cheesecake, but it's very pleasant. In the evening I fiddled with the computer trying to upload stuff to the site, but to no avail - no Telnet, no FTP, no WWW, no nothing

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Recycling - breaking up concrete for the steel bars

Oxpower - moving faster than you'd expect

Apple, banana, orange, papaya, and pomegranate

Fruit salad
8/11/2003 - A Pictorial Saturday

Lots of pictures today, so I'll be brief. The demolition team were in action at the crack of dawn. The latest phase of their activity is on the reinforced concrete frame of the ex-building. They are breaking it up with sledge hammers to extract the reinforcing bars. That'll give you some impression of the value of their time! One of them is cleaning up the bars and straightening them so they can be reused.

I went to get things for breakfast, and the ox cart passed me on the way back. You tend to think of oxen as being rather slow, but these two were going at a fair clip.

My breakfast was toast with cheese spread, and the fruit salad - papaya, apple, orange, and banana, garnished with pomegranate. Afterwards I went to HSBC to open an account. HSBC in Bangalore looks pretty much like an HSBC in New York or Harrogate. After that I returned to City Market. The cones are heaps of brightly coloured powder, this is what Hindus use to make the dot on their forehead that signifies that they are married. The men with the heap of flowers are making the ropes of blossom that Indian women wear in their hair. The other pictures are self explanatory.

In the evening we went to the Watchman, where Terry befriended Latha. She was there with her younger brothers as chaperones. She works for P&O, and spends most of her time on a cruise ship, where she gets by without chaperone since she's outside parental territorial waters.

HSBC in Bangalore looks pretty much like HSBC in NY or Harrogate

HSBC Bangalore
Banana arrangement (slightly overexposed - sorry)

Banana arrangement
Home grown vegetables at the market

Veggie vendors
The powders used by Hindus to make the mark on their forehead

Red spot pigments
Weaving blossom ropes for womens hair

Blossom weavers
Terry and Latha

Terry and Latha

Caught in the act

Caught in the act

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7/11/2003 - A Pleasant Friday

Since I was well ahead on hours, I left work at 2:00pm today. Terry came in a rickshaw to pick me up, and we went to the HSBC bank on MG Road to see what it would take to open an account. I snapped the graybeard surreptitiously from the rickshaw on the way back, but as you can see, I was rumbled.

When we got back we decided on a quiet evening. I was dispatched to buy food. It had just got dark, and I was in a good mood, so for the first time in a long time, I'll paint you a word picture of the walk home.

Wipro Park

I walk the length of Wipro park.
Taking the side furthest from the road
to distance myself from the traffic noise.

The clop, clop of my cowboy boots
sounds on the hard packed earth,
as I pass lovers on the benches.

A line of newly planted palm saplings
sit in pits of mud to my right.
My groceries hang in my left hand.

The tiniest beer-buzz makes me calm
and yet elated, at peace in the dark.
I am content in this far away place.

Leaving the park, I cross the street,
buy onions, dhaniya, and eggs,
then make my way home for supper.

Yet another pub

Yet another pub

Terry with vegetables

Terry with vegetables

Terry in drag

Terry in drag

3, 4, 5, 6/11/2003 - Mostly Work, Some Play

So yes, that's a lot of days all crammed together, and what's my excuse? Well I've been busy at work, so the time kind of slipped by. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I worked 10 or 12 hour days. We're getting there, but it's been more work than it looked like in the first place. I'm working with a guy called Nagendra, who's been very quick to pick up a new technology, and a pleasure to work with.

On Monday I introduced Terry to a new pub I'd found. It's called "Yet Another Pub" - I shall refer to it henceforth as YAP - and it only sells beer, actually only Kingfisher. I guess it's some sort of licensing law thing. It's a pleasant place though, and Terry seems to like it, despite the fact that she has to drink beer. The food there is good too. If you go there too early they tend to be playing dance music, but later in the evening it gets more mellow, and I can relax.

On Tuesday or Wednesday, Terry noticed a small poster stuck on the wall in the foyer of our block at Raheja. It transpires that there's a doctor living in 'the compound' who does house calls for the residents. This is most convenient. He'll come round at the drop of a hat, and I can do a consultation on the phone from the office. I haven't seen him, but Terry says he's nice but looks very young. Nonetheless, he can sign prescriptions, and that's what I wanted, since the Flonase I brought from the US is finished. He charged us the princely sum of RS 150 - about $3 - a US practitioner wouldn't fart on you for that!

This led to another revelation. We took the prescription to the local pharmacy. It wasn't for Flonase, but for a similarly named (Flomist) Indian pharmaceutical product containing the same dose of the same ingredient. I paid $25 co-pay for the Flonase in the US, with health insurance. If I'd had to pay full price I don't think I'd have seen much change out of $100. The equivalent product in India was RS 175, less than $4. Wake up, US public - you're being fleeced. Of course, it's possible that the the spray I got is just saline solution, or battery acid - time will tell.

Apparently, a new bakery has opened in Koramangala, up in the NE corner in 5th block. They claim to do all kinds of European breads, and if the pictures on their leaflet are in any way representative, it should be a real asset for the area. I shall go and check them out at the weekend.

I'm featuring pictures of Terry today for Sandra's benefit. Since Terry has been sending emails rather than phoning, Sandra wants some assurance that she hasn't been abducted by some mad maharaja or thrown in jail or whatever, and I'm not just faking emails to keep it quiet ;-)

The coconut - a popular breakfast drink - costs all of RS 8, say 18 cents. The coconut vendor woman cuts the end off deftly with a billhook, and gives you the coconut and a straw. The cauliflower had just arrived outside our local greengrocer, and looked really good. We'll convert it into Gobi Masala for supper tonight.

The dress, which Terry bought from some handmade boutique down the road, and is pure silk, was a different matter. But then, girls will be girls. I think she looks pretty cute in it, but I've no idea when she's going to wear it - we don't really go anywhere that posh.

Thursday night at the Watchman, Mick was there, so we had more of a team for the quiz, and managed to win a pitcher of beer again. Interestingly, Mick has two English friends who also come to the Watchman periodically, one called Steve, and the other called Terry. It keeps things simple, you don't have to remember names. We'd have done better but were stymied by two or three India specific questions at the start of the quiz. Everybody else simply gets on their mobile and phones somebody who might know. To compensate, we get occasional hints from the bar staff.

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My venerable tree destroyed

My venerable tree destroyed

2/11/2003 - Less Than Perfect

The day didn't start too badly. The fetish pineapple tasted as wonderful as it looked as part of a late breakfast, and we finally bought a skillet with a lid, and a toaster, and an iron. We got them at Big Bazaar, and they were all pretty good deals. It's an interesting shop. The price tickets don't bear any relationship to what you actually pay, so It's rather like Russian Roulette, though you can decline to pull the trigger.

Terry had invited her new friend Anthony to come at 2:00pm, so that I could do something to his web page, and had volunteered to make brunch. He arrived, put his own music on the DVD player, and commandeered my computer. He didn't seem much interested in food, or perhaps our preparation was at fault. He allowed me access to the computer for long enough to do what I was supposed to, then was back on it like a shot. We finally prized him off at about 5:30, by saying we had to go somewhere else.

To add an extra touch to the afternoon, the demolition guys who are destroying a small building outside our balcony set about the large rubber tree that previously formed the boundary between Raheja and the adjoining vacant lot. The lot is about to become a building site, and it's owners obviously want their pound of flesh. Much of the tree was hacked away because it overhung the property - a true act of vandalism!

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Steve's pineapple fetish

Steve's pineapple fetish

Fetishist's paradise

Fetishist's paradise

1/11/2003 - New Vistas

Having got through the month with about enough money left to pay for them, this morning we went to get a dining table and chairs, and a stand to put the TV and DVD player on. We'd already picked out what we wanted, so that didn't take very long. My next fixation was a return to the frying pan hunt. We went to City Market, because I'd been told I might find a cast-iron frying pan there. It was a case of close, but no cigar. There were shops that sold plain rough iron cooking ware, but nothing heavy with a flat bottom.

The market however was a revelation. It's quite large and very busy, and divided into areas of specialization - hardware store, tailors, herbs and spices, fruit and veg, and I believe, though we didn't get there, rather smelly meat and fish sections. The fruit and vegetables section was wonderful to behold. I bought the pineapple, which Terry sniffed, and assured me was perfectly ripe. Tomorrow morning's breakfast will tell! As you can see, there was a large heap of them, all bright and fresh, and the epitome of one's mental picture of the fruit.

I took quite a few pictures in the market, but the conditions were difficult. Many of the stalls were under awnings, but at the same time, the sunlight was intense, so the camera got confused on most of them. It's November already, but my head was distinctly sunburned when we got home. Terry wasn't particularly happy at the market, since she was getting groped fairly extensively in the crowd, but I'll certainly go back, preferably on a day with rather more diffuse lighting, because there were some wonderful scenes there.

We retreated, had a beer at the Scottish Pub - they've sprouted a new downstairs room with a projection TV, and then went home to await the furniture. This was quite agreeable, since India were paling a one-day match against Australia at Mumbai. The Aussies were on top form, and it was clear right from the beginning that India were in trouble.

The furniture arrived as specified, between 3:00 and 3:30pm, and now the apartment looks quite spiffy, with the TV on its stand and the DVD player underneath, and the table and chairs in the previously empty area in the middle of the apartment.

In the evening we ate at the Bay Leaf, then had a couple of beers. India responded bravely to the Aussie challenge, but they never really had a chance, and actually did pretty well to lose by only 72 runs.

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