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’

C - scapes ... underwater colours