October 2006 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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28/10/2006 - Back to Work

As a result of the bad night after the Chinese meal, I did not get into work on Wednesday until almost lunchtime, and felt pretty crap at that.

Work was OK though. I got my email sorted out pretty quickly, and found that nothing disastrous had happened while I was away. There was however, more stuff to do, and a pretty tight time frame to get it done in. But I can handle that, and it kept me busy on Thursday and Friday.

Adia went to the National Law School on Thursday to check out her assignments and projects, then in the early evening she went to see a lawyer who does tuition in the subjects she's taking. She came home pretty happy with the outcome. It seems like the man is well qualified to give her what she needs, and has all the appropriate material.

Last night we went together to TGIF for the first time in god knows how long. We got a table fairly quickly and ate while I watched South Africa thrash Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy match. But there was nobody there that we knew, and it was smoky, and I don't think that our visits there in the future will be as frequent as they were in the past.

This morning Adia went for her first real session with her new tutor. He gave her a price which seems OK to me, and she seems happy with the arrangement. It will mean shifting our days around a bit, as she has to be there by eight in the morning. I shall get up at the same time and go into work earlier. Then we'll have an earlier evening.



The Eid party.

24/10/2006 - Eid

Today is the last of Ramadan, and in all honesty I have to say that I'm glad to see the back of it. A celebration is traditional, so we had asked Florence and her two daughters Jessica and Melissa to come to dinner with us at Mainland China. Florence broke all the laws of special relativity and turned up almost an hour early to take us there in her car. Apparently she was looking forward to it, and had been starving herself all day in anticipation. Adia had to get into the Eid dress at express speed.

It was a good meal, everyone was in good form, and for once, one of the waiters managed to take a half-decent picture. We were all pogged, and Adia and I went to bed early in anticipation of work in the morning. Maybe the new nose medication did not agree with me, but as a postscript to a pleasant day I had a ghastly night coughing, and was completely unable to breathe through my nose.


Majestic.


The chair, desk, and me in a three wheeler truck.

23/10/2006 - Busy Doing Nothing

The way my trip fell relative to Indian holidays, I had five days off before going back to work. Friday was Diwali, and Tuesday was Eid, and on Monday work was closed because nobody would have gone in anyway.

I popped into work on the 20th to check my email to find that my machine was messed up and I couldn't get to my email. This was slightly unnerving - did I still have a job I wondered. But then it occurred to me that Jayanthi is somewhat more organized than that, and If I didn't, I would not have got into the building. So I thought to myself "well I've tried", and went home.

There I discovered that I could not get to my personal email either. After a while it dawned on me that during the year I had switched my main domain name over from opents.com to britseyeview.com, and that as a result I'd missed the reminders for the domain registrar, which would have been sent unsuccessfully to the old email address. As you can tell I got it sorted - thank you Richard. But for a moment there I was panicking.

In the evening we went to Majestic (a busy shopping and market area of the city), so that Adia could get measured up for a new Indian-style dress and pants for Eid, and then we ate at Desmonds. We spent the weekend just pottering about, happy in each other's company. In the course of this we got a work table and chair so that Adia has somewhere to do her masters course work.

On the Sunday evening we went back to Majestic to get the now-completed dress, and then ate at the Only Place. I had fish and chips so as to get a reality check. They weren't a patch on the ones at Gravely's in Harrogate, but it's about the only game in town.

Finally, today we went and bought some spanners, took the two beds to pieces, and switched them, since Adia has decided that it's time to reclaim the master bedroom, and since we are attached to the smaller and stronger bed that lived in the spare room. In the evening we went to see the ENT specialist at Cambridge Hospital. My sinuses have been getting steadily worse over the last year, and it's time something was done about them again. He looked at them, and said we'd try some different medication first, and if that didn't do any good, he'd send me for a CT scan and then we'd decide what's to be done. I like this guy - he inspires me with some confidence.



New surroundings.

20/10/2006 - Home

I got little sleep during the flight. It wasn't the right time of day for me to get to that point. So once again I watched the little plane creep across the video screen, and intermittently read Lord of the Rings. Eventually the nine hours ticked by. As we approached Bangalore I switched the T-Mobile SIMM I'd used in India for my Airtel India SIMM. The landing was the antithesis of the one in London - a ton of bricks rather than a feather. I think the runway is humped at Bangalore, and this means that when the plane comes in level it hits it at an angle, hence the jolt. If they adjusted for the angle, the plane would probably take off again when it passed over the top of the hump.

As soon as we got down I phoned Adia. She answered immediately, and said "hello my love, I'm waiting here for you." Forty minutes later she opened the door, and I was home - a great joy.

The apartment was transformed. The walls and ceiling had been repainted. The old furniture was gone, and there was a new 3 piece suite. The elephant has a new home, and there were flowers. But best of all, there was my Adia, just as always. OK, you can call me a sentimental old bugger if you like. I don't deny it.



A rare picture of me, Julie, and Robert.


Leo's workplace in W1.

19/10/2006 - Homeward

In the morning I walked into Bingley again to pick up timetables from the station to make sure I was in the right places at the right time. When I got back my sister Julie had arrived, thus achieving quite a rare event - the three siblings in the same place at the same time.

Julie's husband died last year after a long and losing battle against severe diabetes, and after a decent interval Julie has got herself a new man, and Italian called Luigi. She seemed happier than I've seen her for a long time, and she encouraged me to go the whole nine yards with Adia, not that I wasn't about to anyway.

The moment did not last long. Julie was quickly off about her business, and Robert and Joe took of not much later to head back to Scotland. I was the last out. I got a train from Bingley station down the Airedale Line to Leeds. This section is now electrified, and the train into Leeds was comfortable and fast, just three stops. It seems that there's little reason now why one would go to Bradford. At Leeds I had time for a parting pint of Tetleys before boarding the 14:05 to Kings Cross.

When I arrived I phoned Leo to get instructions on reaching her office. She told me it was 10 minutes walk down Euston Road. Lies, all lies - 35 minutes later I arrived lathered and with sore feet having carried my hand-baggage-size, but rather heavy bag from Kings Cross to Great Portland Street. I settled down for an hour, had a cup of tea, and read some more of my book. Then there was more bag carrying to get us to Clapham Junction, and finally to Putney.

We ate with Steve, Leo's man, at an Italian restaurant on the banks of the Thames, by Putney Bridge, where I had calves liver and red wine to top off a weeks excessive evening. Having eaten, we were all tired, and when we got back to their flat in Roehampton we soon went to bed. By the time I awoke, they were gone back to work. I gathered up my stuff and had a shower, then locked up and put the keys through the letter box. Amazingly I seem to have got away with this manoeuvre without leaving anything behind.

I got a bus to Hammersmith, and then the subway to Heathrow Terminal 4. By the time I'd worked my way along the massive line at the BA check in counters there wasn't much time to wait for my flight at 14:15, and before I knew it I was in the air back on the way to India and Adia.



A massive portion of fish.


Stack Point.

17/10/2006 - Change of Venue

On the Sunday and Monday nights I stayed with Richard, Cathy, and Lulu, as Tallulah gets called for short. Leo went back to London on Sunday night. On Monday night Richard and I went out for a couple of beers then ate fish and chips at Gravely's. The fish was enormous, so I took a picture of it to show to Adia. It was good. After we'd ploughed through that our appetite for beer was abated, so we went home and watched about half of the Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban movie before we all decided it was bedtime.

By this time I was missing Adia quite badly, and would have cheerfully got the plane back to India the next day. But my ticket was for fixed flights, so Thursday was the day.

In the morning we took Lulu to feed the ducks and geese at Swinsty Reservoir which is about 5 miles west of Harrogate. It was a misty morning, but this did not seem to dampen the eagerness of the birds to consume bread.

This evening Rachel came over to Harrogate again, and we all went out for a meal at William & Victoria's down Cold Bath Road. It was another enormous meal. By the time I'd finished I felt as if I'd put on pounds during the five days I'd been there. When we were finished I said my goodbyes to Richard and Cathy, and went back to mum's house with Rachel.

My brother Robert and his son Joe had appeared in my absence. It's years since I've seen either of them, and I'd say if I had passed them in the street I would not have tumbled. Robert is still teaching, which is what he's done most of his life. Joe runs a bar/restaurant on some small island in the Hebrides, and appears to have become quite the self-made man.



A country lane.


Betty's at Harrogate.

14/10/2006 - Another Ritual Visit

This morning I walked into Bingley by an indirect route. It was a pleasant autumn morning, and more by luck than judgement, I got a picture of the back lane that I followed that turned out really well - it has the feel of an oil painting about it to me. I'm going to have an enlarged printout of it made and hang it on the wall.

Each time I visit England we also usually visit Betty's in Harrogate. Betty's is a tea room/restaurant close to the Montpellier end of the South Stray. Betty's most notable feature is that at almost any time you might be inclined to go there, there is a considerable queue. If you are in Harrogate as a group, it is best to detach one of the members to go and stand in line to get a table at least half an hour before you want to eat. When you have queued and got a table it isn't cheap. When we visited it today I had the Betty's version of sausage and mash, Leo had some Swiss vegetarian dish that was similar to mine but without the sausages, Rachel had a portion of cheesecake, and Eleanor had a marzipan covered pumpkin confection. With drinks this cost 54. Any other business would simply move to larger premises, but in this case that would be self defeating - location is everything.

They have already converted the basement into restaurant area, but most people who know the place will still stand in line to wait for a place in the area where you can see out of the large pavement-side windows to the trees, flowers, and grass.

If you're in Harrogate, do go, the food is excellent and the service just as good. Don't settle for a table downstairs.

In the evening, Leo and I went to a pub in Bingley that was converted from the old town fire station for supper and a couple of drinks.



My two granddaughters at t'mill.

13/10/2006 - Annual Pilgrimage

Rachel had arranged with Cathy (my son Richard's wife) to meet today at the cafe at Salts Mill in Saltaire - Salts Diner. The trip to Salts is kind of an annual pilgrimage for me. I love the ambience of the place, and as a bonus, they play opera as background music. As I'm sure I have pointed out before, Salts is a 19th century woollen mill that has been converted into shops, galleries, offices, and other commercial premises. The place I like to visit is a gallery cum shop that is devoted to the work of David Hockney, a Bradford lad who did much of his work while living in the USA.

Cathy brought Tallulah, so I got the first chance to see my two granddaughters together. This was a very agreeable experience. Eleanor, now three, has lost all the shyness she had last year, and seems inclined to make a friend of me. She's lost the baby chubbiness in her face, and is now quite a stunner. Tallulah is a charmer - one of those babies who is big into intense eye contact. I took to her instantly, and she seemed to return the favour. I think she will know me when I return.

In the evening, Rachel and I went over to Harrogate to have supper with Richard and Cathy. The meal was pumpkin soup cooked in the pumpkins, cheese, cold-cuts, pate, assorted bread, and wine. It was an interesting change from what you get in India except maybe at one of the five star hotels for Sunday brunch. At midnight Rachel and I went into Leeds and picked up Leonora, who arrived by train straight back from a trade show in Cannes. Leo came back with me to stay at granny's house.



The river Aire close to my mother's house.

12/10/2006 - England in October

I worked my way through the time wasting at Bangalore International, and through the ten and a half hour flight by a mixture of doing nothing, reading The Lord of the Rings, watching the little airplane on the video screen creep across 6000 miles, and dozing. Eventually we reached Heathrow - smoothest landing I can remember anywhere, like a feather.

It was my intention to go from there to Victoria Coach Station, and from there to catch an express coach to Leeds. But when I asked how to get to the coach station they told me I could get a bus to it from terminal 2. At the terminal 2 bus station, I found there was a coach to Bradford about to leave, so I thought I might as well give that a go. This turned out to be a mistake. It was a pleasant enough bus, but it stopped at Warwick, Coventry, Chesterfield, twice in Sheffield, at Wakefield, then Leeds, before it finally reached Bradford. Seven and a half hours for a four and a half hour trip!

My daughter Rachel picked me up from the bus station in Bradford, and took me to my mother's house, pausing only to buy some fish and chips at the chippie in Saltaire. I ate them as we drove, and we dropped my bag at mums house then went round to the Fisherman on Wagon Lane for a couple of pints - I was gagging for a beer at that point. Rachel drank coke since she was driving, and we had a good natter about friends and family.


An example of our 04:30 breakfast.

11/10/2006 - Now You Have It, Now You Don't

The course being settled, Adia attended her first day's classes yesterday. When I got home from work she was clearly upset and disappointed. She explained that it had not gone well. The material being presented was nothing she could relate to in the terms of her previous education, and contained a lot of jargon and terminology that she did not understand. I knew in a moment that it was not going to fly. She gave it another try today, but the outcome was as I expected. Of a sudden, the distance learning business law masters degree looks much more attractive, and I expect that will be the chosen path. I have no problem with this. OK, it turns out that we wasted our money, but I'll settle for happiness over money most times, and definitely in this case. You live and learn.

Today was my last part day at work before my annual trip to England. I fly out tomorrow morning at 05:45, and have to be at the airport by 02:45. My bag is packed and I'm ready to go. We will set the alarm, and I will go by myself at 02:15. Here is as good a place as any for our farewell.


Through a glass darkly.

8/10/2006 - A Private Function

On Saturday it seemed that we'd finally got something sorted out for Adia's masters course. Adia had been to the college with her friend Justice, who does business with him from time to time, and it seemed it was a done deal. They all came back to the apartment to report to me. Justice and Walter, his brother, had apparently asked why I was looking so miserable, and Adia passed the question along to me. I told them as straight as I could that from my perspective, she and I had been getting along wonderfully for two and a half months, but that then out of the blue she had turned round and said there would be no sex for 30 days, and I was upset about it.

Both of them responded immediately that they were not surprised, and they feel the same under the the circumstances. This in itself actually made me feel better, since I'd previously been branding myself as an insensitive chauvinist pig. They left, and Adia and I went and did some shopping in the afternoon, and then had dinner at Desmonds with my boss Dick Mann from New York in the evening. It was the pleasantest day we'd had for a while.

Today, Adia asked me if I thought of myself as her husband, and I said that I had felt that way since the 12th of July. She then pronounced that as far as she was concerned, it would in future be so. This was of course an intensely emotional exchange that I'm not doing justice to here, and I'm not going to try. Neither am I going to try to justify the conclusion in either civil or Islamic legal terms. But as far as I am concerned, it is the case, and I am bound by this promise as much as any I have ever made in my life, and maybe more.

We went to Mainland China and ate noodles, duck, and clay-pot rice to celebrate.

4/10/2006 - Karnataka Bandh

India can't really be called a country that is overburdened by the rule of law - bureaucracy perhaps, but law, no. As I reported a couple of years ago, smoking was banned in public places in India. That made no difference at all. The police regularly ignore quite serious traffic offenses, such as reckless driving and running red lights. The state police, as opposed to the traffic police, ignore all of them - not my job. The population tell you that all the politician's are corrupt, and shrug their shoulders - that's just the way it is.

Political organizations call 'bandhs', a kind of mob-imposed general strike that can paralyse a city, and bring business to a halt. These are banned by the Supreme Court, but apparently the one we are having today is supported by the Karnataka state government.

We got a circular email at work, telling us we would not be working today, and would work Saturday instead. This is general in the IT industry in the city today. It's a pretty bum deal. We get a day off that's useless to us; the shops, restaurants and bars are closed, so there's nothing to do, and it's doubtful that it's safe to go out on the streets in some parts of the city anyway. In exchange we get our weekend break cut in half.

To compound my feelings toward the day, the phone company - Airtel - cut off Adia's mobile yet again. The issue is address verification. The man had been for the second time to do the address check last Friday. He came to 202, but apparently Airtel have our address as 301, the apartment upstairs where I lived two years ago, despite the fact that we had to give them our current address when we bought the SIMM card in question. We've had it since August 9th, and the phone has worked only intermittently since. At the weekend I shall get new SIMMs from a different provider, or maybe I won't, since that will probably be something I can't do on a Sunday.



One of the new burkhas.

2/10/2006 - Shopping and Daily Routine

So Adia got three new burkhas, and is now the model of Islamic chic. This was yet another new experience for me, shopping for Islamic dress during Ramadan in a crowded Muslim shop in deepest Shivajinagar, and being required to choose the ones I liked best. I can tell you that the pair of us got some strange looks in there. We shall be a Bangalore celebrity couple soon: either that or locked up!

She also wanted to buy a rice cooker - I think that is approximately 'slow cooker' if translated into Euro/US terms. We looked at various models in various shops in Shivajinagar that looked like they might be competitive, as in close together and sold the same sort of stuff. What she wanted was priced there at about RS 2500. Then just on spec, we went into Westside, which is a small middle-of-the-road department store on Commercial Street, close by. They had some unknown-brand rice cooker for RS 710 that actually looked quite well constructed, and had a glass top - a plus on the others. Being a Yorkshireman, my course was clear: we got the one for RS 710. We tried it out that evening after sunset, and it seems to do its job pretty well. So unless it has really crap heating elements it will probably be just fine.

Speaking of food, I had not mentioned that I am fasting too. This is not out of any religious requirement, but rather because I don't feel it's right for me to eat in front of Adia while she's fasting. I'm already condemned to the no-sex part of the fasting anyway, so I may as well muck in. Adia says it's OK for me to eat, but I'm allowed to have my principles too, so I won't.

The routine is rather more complicated than the simple statement 'fasting from sunrise to sunset' would seem to imply. We get up at 04:15 on Adia's mobile alarm, and make and eat some breakfast. Then Adia has to say her 05:00 prayers, while I clear up the breakfast things to some extent. After prayers we go back to bed with my alarm set to 40 minutes later than my usual going-to-work getting up time, since all I have to do when I rise again is shower and get dressed.

In the evening, when sunset is currently at around 18:09, it is conventional to break the fast with some high sugar content fruit - dates are the example given in the Quran, we use banana and other fruit - and water or maybe some fruit juice, to get some energy and fluid back into your bloodstream. Then Adia has prayers again - she's doing the full daily complement during Ramadan, so we eat our main meal of the day a bit later. Of course because you are ravenous, you eat too much, and are then knackered for the rest of the evening.


The Ramadan Adia.

1/10/2006 - To Do List

It's not a long one for today. Adia wants to go into town to buy two more burkhas. She likes to have one for each day of the week, but left two of them in Tanzania.

This garment, the burkha or hijab, is supposed to be a modesty cover, but I find it tends to turn me on and make me more horny than I would be if she was normally dressed. There's nothing more exciting than something you can't have. The picture was taken at Florence's daughter's birthday party last week.

While we are in town, I should get myself a seriously thick book that I can plough through. Maybe I'll do the Lord of the Rings again. I promised Adia that I would read it to her sometime. Alternatively perhaps I should get myself some tranquillizers and sleeping pills and just go into hibernation.

I came up with a silly analogy. I'm on my way home from somewhere to see her, my luggage is checked in and loaded on the plane. The departure lounge has no facilities, and my flight is delayed for thirty days. Whoops, only joking!
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