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

The new sofa and coffee table
The new sofa and coffee table.

The dining set

The dining set.

31/10/2004 - Rosewood

The shopping expedition was quite productive. Terry had ordered a table previously, and we got them to deliver it today. Then we went to Mr Amin's shop where Terry had seen the divan bed. It's a small shop, and he must turn things over pretty quickly, because every time you go there he has different things. This time there was another sofa on the general lines of the divan bed but upholstered in what I guess you'd call a brocade over a rosewood frame. Definitely Indian in character, but both Terry and I liked it immediately. The price was such that it was not a difficult decision. Then of course there was a rosewood coffee table that went with it, and Terry had to have that too.

Both go well with the table and dining chairs, which have their legs in a dark wood of a similar shade. It's to be hoped we do get the new apartment to put all this stuff in! I had sent a draft lease to the man who owns it last Monday and heard nothing, which worried me. I phoned him yesterday. He apologized and said he'd been very busy all week, but that we'd get it sorted out next week, so it still sounds hopeful.

The girls were at TGIF last night. The Indian girl - Nitasha - is one of Nisha's acquaintances. Sweetflower and Mabel are part of a new bunch of first year students in from Namibia. I had to use all of Irfanview's picture tweaking capabilities to dig Mabel out of the background, but I thought the result had a certain atmosphere.

Nisha was there too. She's looked somewhat down-in-the-dumps to me lately, but last night she seemed brighter and more her usual cheerful self. I have a scheme for a picture of her that ocurred to me last night - more on that later.

I didn't get there until after eight, having had to wait until seven thirty for the five oclock deliveries - typical India timing. I found myself a spot that wasn't entirely surrounded by smokers, and had quite a pleasant evening.

Terry has determined that we will go to the Taj for brunch again today. I did not take much persuading, since there's no food in the house, and I'd have to have gone out shopping in order to make any breakfast. I'll starve myself until then except for a cup of coffee. Now that's something I don't think I've mentioned. India is a big coffee growing country. Most of it comes from the state of Karnataka, which is where we live. We get our coffee from a little shop down Bazaar Street, where the man roasts the beans daily and grinds it for you. I buy just enough for the week each weekend for RS 63 - not much more than a dollar.
Smile please - actually Nitasha's smile was quite spontaneous
Smile please
Sweetflower - unfortunately rather spoiled by the flash reflection
Mabel across a crowded room - there's only so much you can do with a handheld point and click at long distance
Mabel across a crowded room.

These grow on a tree on the corner near our apartment - this one fell off. These grow on a tree on the corner near our apartment - this one fell off.

Strange fruit.

This rather striking bird-of-paradise flower is part of the bouquet currently decorating my desk.

Strange bird.

30/10/2004 - The Naturalist

The fruit - whatever it is - had fallen off the tree on the corner next to our apartment. I picked it up on my way home, having always been curious about plants and trees and such. It was maybe 10" long. Terry said it looked like an alien pod, and didn't want me to open it. As it turned out it was pretty conventional. It had an outer skin that was quite hard and tough as old boots, then a fleshy part, and as you'd expect, a core of seeds. As you can see, it appeared to be getting somewhat overripe, or maybe this was just the effect of bruising from its fall. Terry said it smelt rather like okra. No aliens - anyway, now it's gone.

As I said last weekend, Terry has been putting flowers on my desk. The current bunch has gladioli, chrysanthemums, roses, a cowlick, and the bird-of-paradise flowers. They are pretty spectacular

Today at some point we're going back to the furniture shops. A couple of weeks ago we'd seen the frame of a divan sofa outside one of them. It was in a dark wood - a deep mahogany colour - and was quite elaborately carved. Terry went back to see it on Thursday, by which time it had been upholstered in a pale brown leather, and looked terrific. Unfortunately it had already been sold. The man said he'd make another one for us, so today we're going in to haggle about this. We don't want the divan style, but rather a chaise lounge with a similarly carved back.

You'll notice I didn't write a word during the week. Work has been a tad rugged, and I've got home pretty drained each night. I've been getting to bed early, but unfortunately waking up at three or four in the morning then lying there worrying about it. Next week is not going to be any better in that respect, but then we have a week's holiday. I can feel the tentacles of New York reaching toward me saying "can't you take it some other time Steve", but I've already paid, and I haven't had a holiday since we arrived here in October last year, so my hearing won't be all that good.

Dragonfly season - not an easy picture for a hand-held digital camera on auto.

Dragonfly season.

Our hoped-for apartment

Our hoped-for apartment.

24/10/2004 - All Too Short

It's Sunday, and one o'clock already. It's amazing how much shorter a three day weekend is than a four day week. All I've done is some washing up, make and eat breakfast, and get my bike back from its two weekly maintenance.

Last night Arpurna had conned Terry into buying tickets to a classical sitar recital at the Bangalore club. She'd been forewarned by X that she wouldn't like it, and X was right. It was pretty dire, about half way through, there was a mass exodus, and we joined in. The event was supposed to include dinner, but we passed on that and went to Tiger Bay to eat the meal we didn't eat the night before. Terry had a steak, and I had fish and chips - British tourist or what!

October is dragonfly season in Bangalore. They were here when we came last year, and are back in profusion now - possibly something to do with the unusually wet summer. There are lots of butterflies at the moment too, including some very pretty blue and black ones. Insects are difficult to photograph though. By the time you've got the camera out they're gone, and even when they're still around they don't obligingly keep still.

The building picture is the outside of the apartment we're hoping to move into. It overlooks the inner courtyard and swimming pool of our block, and it's bigger than the one we have now - a full two-bedroom, with two bathrooms and a small terrace. It should be a go, but nothing is certain until the lease is signed.

Festival decor

Festival decor.
23/10/2004 - The Weekend

Now I'm back, I have to think of something to write about - hmmm. I kind of got out of the habit. So, yesterday afternoon we went to the furniture district on Infantry Road to look at beds. We found a shop that had a catalog you could order from - then they make the one you've chosen. We settled on one with wooden posts and wrought-iron head and foot, which in king size is going to cost us RS 8500. This is pretty good compared to thee prices we'd seen for off-the-peg beds in other stores
Last night we did a mini pub-crawl. First briefly to TGIF. It was dead. Then to Tiger Bay where we intended to eat, but when we got there we discovered we weren't really hungry. Then to the Watchman, which for some reason wasn't bad smoke wise. I talked to Suresh, and idly watched the TV. Terry played her new addiction game with Steve Boon and Mick. It is I think a Thai game, called Jinga. You start with a tight packed stack of wooden blocks, maybe each 75mm long, 25mm wide, and 12mm deep. The stack is initially about 40cm high, three blocks per layer laid in alternate directions. Each player in turn has to extract a block from the stack and place it on the top to make a new layer of three. The loser is the one who finally causes the stack to fall down. It's not a bad spectator game, especially toward the end when the stack has got high and pretty sparse, and very unstable. Terry is quite good at it.

Then we went home, and ate the leftovers we found in the fridge. We had thought of going out again to Oblivion, where they have made a new section on the roof. It has open sides, so is presumably not too smoky, and is reputed to attract a somewhat older crowd than the other floors. But when I'd eaten I couldn't be bothered to move, and eventually went to bed quite early.

Ajeet (derived from the Folland Gnat) on a pole

Ajeet on a pole.

Banana tree slaughter day

Banana tree slaughter.
22/10/2004 - Back in Business

It was very quiet on the way to work this morning. I ride up Artillery Road, then across on to Old Madras Road, past Trinity Church to MG Road. Half a kilometer along MG Road I have to get over to the outside lane at the first lights to turn right on Dickenson Road, and then left onto Cubbon Road. Cubbon is a long straight two-lane road with a slight upgrade going to the west. It's mostly lined all the way by military buildings, the more prestigious ones, so it's well maintained and clean. It takes me past the Manekshaw parade ground, and a park named after some famous Indian military man, and finally past the cricket stadium to Minsk Square. This is the site of the war memorial, and there's a 1970's Ajeet Aircraft mounted on a pole. Then I'm on to Raj Bhavan road, a four lane one way that's slightly more uphill, then after another half kilometer, left to get to the east end of Infantry Road.

When I got to work it was deserted. It turns out that today is a national holiday - Dassera - but no-one had thought to tell me. As far as I can tell it is dedicated to the destruction of banana trees, since there are fronds everywhere. I passed the stall on Cambridge Road on my way home that had a slew of quite large branches, or maybe whole trees. It's difficult to say what Dassera is actually about. I looked at a couple of web pages, but there was little in the way of agreement. You could have been looking at the description of different festivals!

It's a pleasant day, not too hot, and it was enjoyable to ride back in daylight. Coming back, when I take a different route, it's mostly downhill. There's just one stretch where you've gone too far down, and have to get back up some, but otherwise it's a breeze. I passed a shop with a carpet in the window that was interesting enough to make me turn round and go back to look. It was gorgeous - all silk - but the man wanted RS 50,000 for it. That's always the way with carpets I like. He said he had lots more and wool ones that were not as expensive, so maybe we'll go and look one day.

However, our lease expires in mid December. After that, the landlord wants the apartment for a relative, so we have a tentative agreement to lease one on the floor below where we are now. That apartment is unfurnished, so we'll have to buy various bits of essential furniture and equipment like a bed, a fridge, a gas stove, and a washing machine. Consequently, expenditure on luxuries like a fancy carpet is not on.
October Synopsis

So where have I been? Well, it's a cumulative story that I'm not going to go into in detail. Let's say I've been on strike. My access to my computer was limited, so in the end I just stopped.

The hole in my back, initially roughly circular, and getting on for two inches in diameter, slowly healed and shrank to something more like a slit.

I eventually summoned up the courage to go and apologize to Suresh for my outburst at the Night Watchman, and was graciously forgiven.

The company I work for has grown like Topsy, and we've moved away from Koramangala to an office block on Infantry Road, closer to the town centre. My bike ride is shorter, but it takes a little longer, since there are more traffic lights.

X left on the 19th, having found herself an apartment in Indiranagar. It was time, I wanted our apartment back, and was getting irrationally mean about it, to the extent of removing the modem cable from the computer when I wasn't using it. Not good. Terry restored the spare bedroom to being an office, bought a nice rug for it, and put flowers on the table. With the curtains open in there, and the door open, the apartment is brighter, and feels like home again.

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