Sunday, December 02, 2007

Passing through a Metal Detractor

I often prided myself on being a music buff with a healthy gyan-giving-quotient. But recently realized that I’m absolutely ‘in the buff’ when it comes to certain kinds of music. A couple of weeks ago my good buddy, and on-the-surface-your-normal-overweight-Malayali, Jacob Ninan insisted that I need to go with him to see Brazilian metal band Sepultura live. The fact that he was going to pick me up, and drop me back, give me a guided tour, and that it was happening in Opus’ backyard so to speak, still didn’t seem more enticing than ‘facebooking’ (if googling is a word, this really can’t be far behind), but it’s always been one of those things that I have to strike off my list as ‘done’ (time to be realistic about these things-to-do-before-I-die business. Being Hugh Heffner for a day, or having SRK’s abs, are seeming very bleak).

Mr. J landed up home 2 hours before we’re supposed to leave, literally bouncing off the walls, in his bloody brilliant Cannibal Corpse T-shirt. He picked up tickets a week prior, and was behaving as if he was going to score with some 19 year old PYT.

“I’ve got something for you too” he says and handed me this neatly folded black Tee. I held it up for less than a gowda-second (that’s the new researched lowest measure of time. It’s the time Deve Gowda takes to change his mind) to find that it was an image of a naked woman, covered with blood, arms and legs chopped off, lying on something that looked like an operating table. Sheepishly I told J that it was rather nippy (absolutely no pun intended) and that I’d wear a sweatshirt instead. Later I was told (he must’ve thought he could make me feel guilty) that the shirt was from his prize collection. The album was ‘Reinsertion of Aborted Remnants’ and the band’s name was so creatively and aptly called Retch.


The car ride to Palace Grounds was an hour’s journey (isn’t that the norm to traverse 3 kms. in this city?) of death and gore and blood and murder. Stories that made Quentin Tarantino flicks look like they were fit to be aired on Pogo. Demented minds that could easily be on the Madrasa University’s visiting faculty and conducting crash courses (literally) for Osama’s jehadis. From thrash metal (contrary to what I believed, not all metal was trash), to death metal (J explicitly explained how Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ single-handedly inspired this genre, and how for their live gigs it would actually rain blood), to black metal (which had nothing to do with iron or lead or anything from the periodic table, but apparently an anti Christ, anti democracy, anti anything-that makes-sense-to-normal-human-sensibilities) to power, doom, gothic and nu metal, Mr. J was truly ‘in his element’.

Wish I had taken this trash course earlier. There was this time when I was asked to judge a ‘western electric’ competition at a city’s premier college fest. Three bands into the competition I got up and left telling the organizers that I didn’t have the requisite knowledge to judge a competition of this nature. All that those musically challenged (to be politically correct) bands did was simple: make as much noise as possible.  The guitarists and bass players held their axes, bent over, hit the distortion and made noise. The drummers double pedaled furiously and made more noise. And the vocalists (if one can call them that) were hilarious, quite literally, howlers.


But as usual I’m digressing. We got to the venue a little after Sepultura started, and as we were running in Mr. J said, “Dude, now you will realize how much mayhem and havoc just three instruments can generate!”

What greeted us was a sea of devil horns (its that cult hand symbol that metalheads show their solidarity with), and long haired headbangers, and black, bloody, gothic tee shirts and body piercings and tattoos, and the sweet smell of mary jane (how do these dopes always manage to weed their stuff into any joint??) and moshing (some sort of demonic ‘free for all’ bash that happens in the middle).

But I have to say this. As far as the music was concerned there was some method in the madness. They weren’t musically challenged by any stretch of imagination (mentally challenged could be debated though). The guitar lines and the rhythm patterns were nothing short of stunning. Every song had a different feel to it (all within the ‘noise-growl’ genre of course but still with a lot of imagination). Mr. J stood patiently through it all explaining the little intricate nuances. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure out and get what this craze is all about.  Far, far simpler in my book, to understand complex jazz chords and carnatic rhythm structures.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Road Sense and Serpentine Sensibilities

Every global city should have a landmark street they should be proud of.

The reason I write the following piece is the fact that for 2 days in a row Brigade Road has been hogging the front-page of this very newspaper. The first one was an article on how selfish, unscrupulous, ‘snake-like’ shop owners were transforming Bangalore’s favourite walkthrough (or so they said) into a serpentine footpath, by illegal encroachments, thereby constrictoring passage.
The next morning’s Mirror had images of that very road with frenzied brigades brandishing the tricolour, car stereos locking horns, delirious dancers, spraying beers, wiping the sweetshops out, and going completely berserk after Sreesanth held onto that catch (phew!) and had the Pakis Misbah a real whisker.
Which made me want to draw parallels (or antiparallels) to a landmark street in Barcelona, where we were on holiday, just last week.
La Rambla is arguably Spain’s most famous street and it is here that the local Herbies go bananas every time Ronaldinho or Messi take the home side FC Barcelona to a win or the La Liga premiership.
But I guess that’s where the parallels will have to be hemmed. Other than the fact that all the souvenir stores on the street belonged to some sort of Indian mafia and if you looked closely, most of the ‘I love Barcelona’ bags and tees (that sell upwards of 15 euros) were proudly ‘made in India’.
But let’s get back on the road again. I’m going to try and recreate (‘try’ being the very ambitious operative here) the magic and the vibrancy of that 1.2 km stretch (the walk between the two extremities could take anything from under 10 minutes to well over half a day) in the space allotted to me.
An inconspicuous drinking fount marked the top of the walkthrough and legend has it that anyone who drank from it would revisit Barcelona. No guessing then, that I drank a bladderful. A Mexican mariachi 10-piece band was doing their stuff, passing their sombreros around after having got a large crowd singing along. Musicians of all genres demarcated areas as their stage; from flamenco to Latin jazz to even someone who played Bach on soprano sax. One stopped by, listened to a couple of tunes, dropped a coin or two (or, if you really, really liked them, bought one of their CDs) and moved on.
The elaborate human statues that allowed the tourists photo-ops were most amusing. From spitting images of Ronaldinho and Caesar, to over-the-top, bizarre ones like someone who resembled big mama’s house (complete with 54DDs in an inflatable bodysuit) to flamenco dancers, to mewing Mr. Mistoffelees hiding in a garbage can, to another, that took that Eiffel 65 song a little too seriously and painted himself head to toe in blue paint. A tad better and way more imaginative than our shoddy-bandage-daubed-with-red-paint-groping-beggars that we find this side of the Mediterranean.
One then passed La Rambla dels ocells and La Rambla de les flors (the twittering bird and the gorgeous flower market) before stopping at the Mercat Boqueria, arguably one of the best-stocked and most colourful produce markets in Europe.
The Gran Teatre del Liceu, the city’s monumental opera house (built in 1847 but still maintained in all its splendour) came next and we were really fortunate to catch a flamenco rendition of the opera Carmen. But I’m digressing and la rambling again.
Getting back on La Rambla, you could take your Picasso from an endless range of artists that lined the walkway, to have your caricature / portrait done, or you could step into the Museu de l’Erotica out of curiosity like I did (only to curse that 80% of what they had on display were works from the Kamasutra) or one could reach the bottom end of La Rambla near the waterfront where it got seedier with the strip clubs and peep shows.
But my favorite part of this street (and we were really lucky to have found a room that overlooked all this buzz) was the fact that you could just sit by at any of the street cafes order a jug of sangria and some tapas and watch the world go by.
I can only fantasize (one of the few fantasies of mine that actually can go into print) that there will come a day when Brigade Road and Church Street will become iconic like this. Till then we will just have to put up with everybody’s snake-like ways.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

‘Cos we’re free … free falling

My last piece got me into a spot of trouble. On my writing table the next morning, the mother-in-law had placed a large meat cleaver with a post-it attached to it saying ‘WARNING’. I’m slowly realizing how hazardous and treacherous writing a column for a newspaper can be. So, this one comes with a disclaimer. “Any resemblance to political parties or persons living or dead is purely coincidental”.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve got freedom coming out of my every orifice. Every news channel, every newspaper, every FM station, just hasn’t stopped singing the same tiresome ‘aye mere vatan ke logon’ type drone and it has become almost as unbearable as the other sordid freedom struggle that we had to put up with barely 2 weeks ago, the one now better known as the ‘free Dutt’ saga.

First let me clear the air (‘if only it were that simple’, the environmentalists in Bangalore would say).

It’s not that I’m not patriotic. I too went bare-chested, waved my shirt in the air and danced in the aisles when we ended that 22 year drought and ‘pommie’led them in their own backyard. It’s another thing that I didn’t agree with the way we played the 4th day of that cricket match and I told someone that my next article would titled ‘the day the Wall lost his balls’. But let’s not digress.

I am as proud as our national bird, to be Indian. It’s just that I’m not hypocritical.

If MF (it’s Maqbool Fida, lest idle minds start wandering) Hussain saw his ‘Mother India’ as a curvy woman in the buff, then, so be it. Who gave the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti the right to decide that religious and patriotic sentiments were offended? Why hasn’t this 92 year old icon, who, arguably, has single-handedly put India on the world canvas, been able to return back home, even after a year and a half of self imposed exile and is still subjected to death threats. Freedom of expression indeed!

And if Narayan Murthy decided to play an instrumental version of the national anthem rather than let his foreign guests be subjected to his cacophonous Infoscians on campus, then again, so be it. On what grounds were sticks and stones (and whatever else they use to destroy life and property) cast by that Kannada culture vulture (read Garuda) Ambareesh or the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike.

Yes, the very Vandal Commission / immoral police / shiv insainiks etc. who have decided that people should be home and in bed by 11.30, that rock shows, valentines day, discotheques, miss world competitions, and MNCs in general should be banned on ‘moral grounds’ and ‘pub culture was foreign to India’.

Ironically, the Raja of Bihar, is the best quote I’ve heard on the topic

“yeh moral ground kya hota hai main nahin jaanta. Haan playground hum ne suna hai. Duniya ka sab unmoral aadmi moral ground ka baat karta hai”

I can go on and on with stories from some of our prize freedumb fighters.

What happened to those 20 hooligans from the Mental Institution of Marredpali (aka Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) who hurled everything from bouquets (literally) to brickbats (figuratively) at Taslima Nasrin at her book reading in Hyderabad recently? Apparently they were taken into custody and later given their ‘freedom’.

In yet another incident from the land of ‘Paradise’, a fatwa was issued by Muslim clerics because a spunky tennis star ‘didn’t cover up enough’ and that she ‘set a bad precedent’. Why doesn’t one look at the example she’s set for millions of Indian sportswomen. Yes, she’s the very one who put the word ‘women’ back in sportswomen and of course, ‘the rack’ in racket.

If Mandira Baby (sorry, Bedi) wished to flaunt a Satya Paul with a tri-colour on it then, (to use a very profound statement we used as kids) ‘who’s father, what goes?’. It’s not that it was a thong or anything (though, I shall spend the next 2 minutes dwelling on that happy thought).

If Shilpa-goody-two-shoes-Shetty decided to make out with pretty-boy-Gere in public, then again, so be it. What she does with her ‘business partners’ is entirely her business.

And when a Tamil actress stated the absolute obvious on ‘virginity’, and endorsed safe sex, tomatoes, eggs and the entire chappal shop was hurled at her because she ‘hurt Tamil sentiment’. Wake up and smell the Khushboo, people.

It’s about time people realized that ‘riot’ is not central to patriotism.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Bangalore Mirror, Tues 7th Aug 2007

I’m surrounded by people who religiously believe that “There is nothing money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard”

How shopper’s stops and malls have become the forum for one’s recreational lifestyle, just goes to show how central they’ve become to one’s existence.

How can anyone consider aimlessly wafting through rows of lingerie or some such, as entertainment? One would argue that I did just that, strolling through the ‘glasshouses’ in Amsterdam, but in my defense, the lingerie back then, at least had people in it!

Why would anyone spend over an hour in weekend Bangalore traffic, find parking 20,000 leagues under the mall only to be jostled around, pinched, nudged and letched at? Even the escalators aren’t considered safe for kids like me anymore, so it certainly can’t be for the joyride.

One has to only go to one of these places of Sunday obligation to know what I’m talking about. Mama bear, Papa bear, Grandma bear, Baby bear (in pram) with Goldilocks in tow, all in their finest finery. They will get there really early, spend their entire day running through the great wide open fields of gold, taking in the invigorating air-conditioned air, listening to the promotional birds twittering (about why AMD is the best multitasking processor), spreading out their picnic basket and enjoying a lazy lunch at the food court, before going home only to be back the next week.

But what’s most interesting is the wonderfully therapeutic properties of shopping.

The undisputed cure for all depression, joblessness, obesity, failed love lives and menopause. Name the ailment or the situation ... I am told, the greater the indulgence, the faster the road to recovery. And mind you, this is irrespective of whether there is need to buy or not.

A friend of mine (let’s call her Little Ms. Marcos to protect her identity, because she’s one of Bangalore’s pretty, known, socialite faces) buys shoes as a hobby. Even if she were to wear a new pair every week she would be taken care of for the next 5 years. Her defence lawyer would say ‘whats wrong with that? People collect everything from stamps to coins to matchboxes to AK56s.’ But really, there has to be a law against this, because 200 odd stilettos could most certainly be classified as weapons of mass destruction.

Then there’s my wife (lets call her Jeans, to protect her identity and my backside) who insists on buying her denims always a size smaller. It’s called an aspirational size (again, I am told). All it aspires to be really, is neatLee stacked away in it’s original packaging waiting for famine and drought to strike the land.

There are also others like that canteen manager (let’s call him Ashok Malhotra. There’s no need to protect his identity. He’s busted good and proper anyways) who buy 50 cars (and we’re not talking functional, mode-of-transport type vehicles here, we are talking serious symbols of status like Mercs and Prados and Land Cruisers here). What does he do with the other 49 when he goes out for a drive? Puts them on a leash and takes them in tow??

Then I know of another (let’s call him John. In Lingarajpuram, if one throws a stone up in the air it will land either in a beer bottle or on a John, so I’m safe) who changes his mobile phone as often as Little Ms Marcos changes shoes. For a contraption that helps one to make calls and send messages, life-altering upgrades every month seem rather ridiculous don’t you think??

But the queen of it all just has to be my mother in law. If someone had to tell me that I won a crore in a lottery I really wouldn’t have a clue what to do with it.

But let’s put her in a similar situation. Before the money even reached her, she would’ve decimated it all. It’s a rare gift, again, I am told. Every other big spender has pet projects. Like shoes or gizmos or jeans or cars. But here, it hardly matters. Initially I thought she had a soft cushion for furniture. I always feel like a bull, when I am in their china shop, because it’s more museum, less house. What is remarkable though is there are no favorite projects. The minute she walks in a joint, every spend gets equal and adequate attention. Whether it be jewelry or saris or crockery or just something as mundane as shopping for groceries, more IS the new lesson.

So, to all of you that give gyan that ‘money can’t buy love and happiness’ tell that to that Japanese man Ta-Bo who has spent 16,000 USD over the last decade on dolls. The same dolls he watches TV with, bathes, powders them and then takes lovingly to bed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Confessions of a banGOAlorean

I’ve been out of circulation (quite literally) for a while now, and my deepest apologies to that vast multitude of two and a half readers that actually noticed that I wasn’t around. But I have that mother of all excuses to hopefully get me out of this one.
‘I was traveling’.
And amongst my diverse travels, which included the exotic locales of Mumbai (I still can’t get used to calling it that) and Goa, and those thousand idle-mind-is-devil’s-workshop moments in between, I got thinking as to why is it, that when asked ‘where are you from?’ I still say ‘I’m from Bandra’ or ‘I’m Goan’, after being part of the parthenium populace for close to 10 years now.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m not really proud to be tagged Bangalorean??

Is it due to the fact, that over the last few years, the travel time from the airport (Sahar or Santacruz) to my place in Bandra has actually reduced?
Or, that it takes around 40 minutes to cover a distance of 27 kilometers from the Dabolim airport to Panjim. I shouldn’t be complaining really, because it takes about the same time to reach the Bangalore airport ‘on a good day’ from my place in Ulsoor. Though one would have to be Mr. Bojangles to sidestep the fact that it’s less than one fifth the distance. And the lesser said the better, about how one would have to detail an expedition, if and when the Devanahalli project actually happened.

Could it be the fact that after a wonderful evening of live music and dancing (words that are spoken of in hushed tones in the country’s pub capital) you can actually get a meal at one o’clock in the morning? And not at a five star hotel coffee-shop who doesn’t know the difference between Thai green curry and palak prawns.
In Goa, at precisely the hour our Wee Willie Wankies in BANgalore are tapping at the window panes and crying at the lock to shut down, we ‘decided’ to go out.
It was way past midnight when we reached Cavala, on the Calangute-Baga stretch, where a trio was rocking a house so packed, one couldn’t get a toe in. Cars were parked for a mile down that road and it would sink me into deep depression if I had to tell you till what time the place remained open. And just to rub it in further, this is not even Goa in season. This is Goa in the rains.

Maybe, it’s the fact that that Goa is greener that the garden city ever was or ever could be?
Or that fuel (both petrol and alcohol I’m talking about) costs way less than it does here.
Could it be the fact that we spent five minutes on a busy highway intersection because people from all four directions insisted on letting the other go ahead of themselves?
Maybe the chirping of the birds that woke me up in the morning? This in contrast to a report that said noise pollution had gone up by 200 whopping percent over the last 5 years, in the country’s so-called garden city.
Or, that a super market that we went to, which had a big placard outside that read ‘Monsoon Special. Special hot chai for all those who enter wet. Because we care!’
Or, the fact that it’s almost impossible to find a pothole there, which differs vastly in the IT capital of the country, where it’s difficult to find any road amidst the craters.
Or the fact that they don’t have those irritants (both to the environment and to one's general mental wellbeing) that we Bangaloreans fondly refer to as auto-rickshaws.
Or perhaps, my respiratory system reveling in the know that I didn’t need Mr. Salbutamol for company, over the entire time that we were there. Quite literally, a breath of fresh air. Not the toxic, naala-scented poison that we’ve been air conditioned to accept.
So, getting back to the question I squirm, turn red-faced with embarrassment and really try and avoid.
Am I a Bangalorean??
Err … umm ... yikes … ooof …. Do I really have to answer that??

Monday, July 02, 2007

caught in a quackmire

Carry On Doctor (lage raho mbbs)
bangalore mirror - views, sunday 1st july 2007

It’s that wonderfully prosperous time of the year when certain businesses are booming, and its at times like this (only approximately 2 months in the year, mind you) that I realize the stupidity of not having heeded to my mother’s constant nagging of wanting her ‘munna’(boy) to do his MBBS.
All right so check it out yo! (As the obese Randy embodiment of Yankspeak, the dawg Jackson would say). With the dropping temperatures that the South Westerlies have brought over the land, one in every 4 people have already contracted the deadly HIV (horribly infected voice) virus and are literally behaving like their world is coming to an end, writing their respective last will and testament in between sneezes. I had a friend come in from Bombay yesterday and he forced me to call up a doctor friend of mine and spoke to him for an hour like he had a terminal disease, discussing at length the dosage and repercussions of erythromycin.

The worse part of this season though, for me, is the fact that one has to wear ‘clothes’. My Goan / Bandra roots make me repel the notion of dressing up for the weather, with the result that invariably, I’m always found under it, with my asthma (and pa) dealing severe breath-taking pun-ishment, and forcing me to go quack quack

Then there’s the whole gastronomic buffet of stomach ailments. From protozoan to schistosoma to fasciola all happily laying their eggs in every available puddle and mineral water source, one really couldn’t ask for a better spread. An adventurous educated (if one can call MBA’s from Pune that) friend of mine went to have egg burjee (yes, yes, those very eggs we were talking about) from a roadside cart the other day. (I don’t have the guts literally and figuratively to even attempt something that treacherous, even though bungee jumping and the zorb at palace grounds I consider as good adrenaline rushes). For 2 days she cried and moaned and groaned (and occasionally smirked for bunking work and staying at home and getting fussed over) and after doctor and medical bills that would’ve totaled to buying the entire cart outright, she decided that maybe, just maybe, that 20 rupees wasn’t VFM (that’s lingo they teach you in B school) after all.

The wetness is also a haven for most fungi (that goes without saying, most fun guys like wetness, I’m told) and that brings that violent animation of Itchy and Scratchy to life. (insert gross Itchguard advertisement here). From athletes’ foot (you don’t have to be an athlete to contract it, I’ve learned) to jock itch (ironically, that sounds like a Czechoslovakian athlete) there are way more than four skin irritations. I was at this meeting the other day, where the person in question started and ended from scratch and the way he was going for it, I really thought the yeast would rise. Ewww!!

I’m not even going to go to start writing about all those maladies and irritants that have transcended being termed seasonal. Like the mosquitoes which are now omnipresent. Dengue, malaria be damned. Tell me if you know of anyone who can do without a “Good Knights’ sleep. And those stray rabid canines that keep making a meal of unsuspecting children and motorists. Or electric wires that go skinny dipping in arbit puddles. Or those fattened bandicoots that are wining at dining off the cities swankiest restaurant leftovers.

So, coming back to our ‘quackmire’. You can tell the season by looking at the endless expanse of the most diverse footwear outside a doctor’s clinic. From homeopaths, to allopaths, to naturopaths, to those who sit on the footpaths, to psychopaths (yes, the last one I went to was one of those. He used to scare the living daylights out of me forcing me to wear ‘clothes’ and drink eight glasses of water … shudder). All are making pay while the rain pours.
Maybe its time for munna to buy MBBS. Sure everyone could do with a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’

Friday, June 29, 2007

Finding AutoImmunity

views, bangalore mirror - friday june 22nd

auto-: with the meaning of self, one’s self, one’s own, its own, spontaneous. An abbrev. of automobile, used as a prefix with the meaning of self-moving, self-propelling; as, an autocar, an autocarriage, an autotruck, etc.
I’m guessing Webster never laid eyes on the uncouth, vulgar, roguish, scum of the earth species that have infested this city, when he put down his dhobi list of definitions.
A couple of days ago I got back from a weekend trip to Coorg, a weekend of lots of drinking and pandi curry and merriment like only the Coorgs know how (apart from us Goans, that is). So, sleepy and tired after partying for 2 days and after enduring a 6 hour Volvo bus ride I got off at Majestic (we really need to re-look at some of the names in this city … Majestic? Really?). Anyways, I was really dying to get back home; phone battery dead, backpack strap giving way, bladder overfull after 2 bottles of ‘Himalaya’ mineral water… all in all, not a pretty picture. So I asked the first of those black and yellow irritants (to the roads, the environment, and humanity in general) that I could auto-focus upon.
Autocrat No. 1: “Ulsoor?” I said. He half stopped, half glanced, gave me a look (the same look that I would’ve given one of those poor little rich boys at the Brigade road / MG road signal who tie bandages and daub themselves with red colour and keep touching you all over till you give them money or the signal turns green) then stylishly, a la Sivaji turned his right wrist skywards and is on his way.
Autocrat No. 2: “Ulsoor aaa??” then without flinching said “double meter”. (This is a good time to say that it is 6 o’clock in the evening.)
I raised eyebrows and asked “Why?”
He shrugged his shoulders and gave me a look that said, “because the sky is too high and the crow shat in your eye. Bye”.
This went on for a while. From excuses like ‘I will have to come back empty’ (my home’s 200 meters from MG Road, goddammit) to ridiculous demands like ‘pay me Rs. 250” (which ironically was the cost of the ticket from Coorg), I saw it all.
I was really reaching bursting point (both with a blood vessel in my head, as well as my bladder, thinking that even Sunita Williams’ return home is comparatively ‘piece of cake’) and so the next one that came along I said to myself ‘it’s either him or me’. The next of those 3 wheel varmints approached and before he could hear me saying ‘Ulsoor’ I had thrown my bag into the back seat and was sitting pretty inside.
“No saaar. Am not going Ulsoor”
“I really couldn’t give a rat’s a$$ with where you are going. This is where I want you to take me.”
“No saaar. Ask another auto.”
“Let me give you the pleasure. I’m going to sit back and wait till you find me one.”
“No saaar. Am not going.”
“You have three choices. You can take me to Ulsoor, or you find me another auto that takes me to Ulsoor or you can take me to the nearest cop station.”
I kicked off my shoes crossed my legs and he could see that I was going nowhere.
“Ok saaar I will take you Ulsoor. But will charge double meter.”
By now I’m seeing everything in hues of red.
“I will not pay you one paisa more than what this already-tampered-with contraption will tell me to”
“No saaar. Then I not going.”
And he turned his autovibrator, the symbol of his manhood, off. For another 10 minutes we sat there, both of us like stubborn 5 year olds refusing to budge. By now I’d taken out a magazine, flipped through it and started treating this whole experience like I’m at a flight lounge waiting ‘indefinitely’ for my Air Deccan flight to announce boarding.
Then in great disgust he bent down picked up the lever and started up. Not before spitting and delivering a string of pearls in the most Majestic Kannada.
He drove through the Bangalore street circuit in a way young Lewis Hamilton would be proud, pit stopped at one of the petrol bunks on the way (just to further try and irritate me), and finally demanded Rs. 20 more which I gave him (to avoid living with the guilt of having cheated him).
I hear there’s an SMS auto service that launched a couple of days ago and folded up the next day because not enough autocrats were willing to sign up.

Hmmm. Webster? Wake up and smell the filter coffee.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


views, bangalore mirror - monday june 11th

I’m certain that last night the ‘big boys’ (not to be confused with the ‘big boys’ in Vidhan Soudha, in spite of their godlike status) up in the heavens had a huge do. Buckets of imperial chicken kebabs, loads of women (mythology and Renukacharya affirms that there never was / is a dearth of those) and gallons of draught. So when they decided to empty their oversized bladders at just about the time Bangalore is forced to go to sleep, all heaven broke loose … quite literally. It took precisely 8 minutes and 32 seconds for all of bean town to look like a shot straight out of ‘Waterworld’. I really rued the fact that I didn’t have a movie camera with me, as I would’ve most certainly shot a sequel titled ‘Watermess’.
In the 10 min drive (it took much longer this time though, because my beaten and battered Ford Ikon just refused to be coaxed into being a speedboat) from Opus to home, I saw 2 trees who had decided they’d had enough … streetlights who were making the most of their rain holiday … 3 Kinetic Hondas, who like my faithful Ikon just wouldn’t be conned into being water scooters, as they lay there listlessly by the side of the road. Drains were having a severe and violent bout of bulimia, and a really pitiable family of 4 huddled under an awning soaked to the bone, whilst inconsiderate Ford Ikons like mine splashed water all over them, and the litter, after a speeding ‘Swift’ decided to bonk a call centre taxi, shamelessly in the middle of MG road.
But, as always, as in times like this, the best was yet to come.
As I neared the Gurudwara I saw this huge Godzilla of an excavator bang in the middle of the road who, after having gorged more tar than he could digest, was sitting back and chewing the cud. But not after he and his cronies had blocked all access for me to get home.
So there I was, windshield wipers slapping time, too stunned to even react to the fact that those morons, who are in actual fact a disgrace to the Moronic Bangalore Association (MBA) were telling people to leave their cars on the main road and wade home in the pouring rain through 2 feet of sewage water that Godzilla had unearthed.
But I was going to have none of it …. As the case with everything Bangalorean, there’s always a backdoor entry, and I had noticed a road that comes up from the Ulsoor shanties, but had never had the whachumaycallits to even think of attempting the expedition. But I guess there comes a time in ones life where one has to (as Russell Peters immortalized) ‘be a man’ and this was as good a time as any.
So I swung the car around, went through by-lanes so narrow, that they would give any of Bidappa’s anorexic fashion models a complex, saw people baling water out of their houses (and we are now talking 1 o’clock in the morning for chrissakes), and the already beaten and battered Ikon got a couple of more war scratches. But after another half hour through this maze, I finally got home.
There has been no electricity since last night, no cable television and no internet connectivity - all the basics that one would expect from a 24-hour metropolis that is namma Bengalooru. And all this because a couple of the ‘big boys’ (and this time, not to be confused with the ‘big boys’ in heaven) are having a party, and piddling on us tolerant taxpaying dimwits.

C - scapes ... underwater colours