Showing posts with label bangalore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bangalore. Show all posts

November 12, 2011


Fans of Mass Transit Railways, Marginal Tax Rates, and Methionine Synthase Reductase may be dissapointed, but anyone who enjoys eating food will not be after enjoying a hearty lunch at Mavali Tiffin Room (MTR). My flatmate Shyam and I decided to go to Bangalore's favourite restaurant. The fare was vegeterian but delicious nonetheless. Not too spicy and not too pricy, what the landmark lacked in visual appearance it more than made up for in taste.

The service was extraordinary, not because I could distinguish the waiters from the clientele, but because how quickly empty plates were filled up within moments of the eater licking them clean. After the main course, ice cream was even served. I was encouraged to taste everything by the waiter who once noticed my hesitation at the appearance of some strange looking dishes. With our hunger satiated and our bellies expanded, we left our table satisfied. .0237 seconds later our seats were occupied by the next batch of eager diners.


"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

June 18, 2009

People's Liberation

About to head off from Bangalore to Mahabalipuram for a beach weekend, a Korean and I made our way to the Majestic bus station. A bus heading to our destination arrived punctually at our scheduled departure time of 9:30 pm. We got on, only to be informed that this was actually the 8:30 pm bus. We got off and waited. In due time I headed off to the washroom. The dutiful Koreanette remained at the bus stop to watch over my travel gear.

I entered the public bathroom and found all the water closets occupied. Several uncomfortable minutes passed and the situation remained the same. I discovered that all the stalls were locked from the inside except for one. I could still hear noises coming from inside this one though. The stench was most foul. A poor soul seemed to be trapped inside, seeking deliverance at the hands of a fellow potty patron. I unlocked the door, and out popped a beleaguered looking fellow who quickly ran outside. I do not know how long he had been dwelling in the commode.


"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." - Bob Dylan

October 21, 2008

Comedic Talents

The most famous comedian to emerge out of Canada in recent years is Russell Peters. The Indo-Canadian comic focuses his talents on generating racial and rude humour, hilariously mimicing the accents of people from different nationalities. Russell Peters is often criticized for reusing material. Most of his fans have only come to this realization after repeatedly watching all his performances on YouTube. On his first tour to India, the first by any North American comic, he visited Bangalore. A mixed group of Bangalore's nouveau elite and foreigners were in attendance. He performed to a full house at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, an auditorium that was constructed in the shape of a violin.


Back in Vancouver, after enjoying a hearty meal at Hamburger Mary's Diner, I went to the Jupiter Lounge for another night of rib tickling laughs. The meal at the seventies style diner consisted of a mish mash of free Range Canadian bison, venison, and musk ox (the Arctic burger) and a chocolate milkshake. The Comedy Night for Diabetes was an event to support the Canadian Diabetes Association. Four comedians were scheduled to perform in the fundraiser but one did not show. A stand up stand in was quickly located and performed adequately considering he had no preparation. The roster included host Paul Breau, Seth Perry, the hyperactive headliner Simon King, and an unknown comedian.


"Somebody gonna get hurt real bad!" - Russell Peters

September 25, 2008


July 14, 2008 - I was busy sitting at my desk in my office tower when the reports started trickling in. Many parts of Vancouver's downtown core were going dark. I quickly saved my work on my computer so that I would not lose it and checked the regional power provider's website to see the extent of the electrical outage. BC Hydro was reporting that almost the entire business district had been affected. My building was located in the eye of the hurricane. Panic engulfed the businesses of the city with their near absolute reliance on electricity. All around me buildings were engulfed in darkness, stores were shuttered, food started to rot, and office workers were given the rest of day off, as my building remained unaffected.

With the generators working admirably to provide electrical power, it was business as usual for my coworkers and I. At lunchtime I ventured outside into the empty streets of Vancouver. An eerie silence was my only companion. I surveyed the deserted cityscape in search of an establishment providing food. After a long trek I arrived at the intersection of Burrard and Smithe. A solitary hot dog stand was all that separated civilization from anarchy.

A dignified crowd of about 20 working professionals who had not gone home or to the beach had formed a queue at the famed Japadog stand. The purveyors of specialty hot dogs, Japadog, infuse Japanese ingredients into the North American staple. My Terimayo hot dog was coated with teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and seaweed. I devoured it in a few minutes. Japadog says that "Our English is very poor. The followings may make mistakes. We are sorry" but "We will do my best for supplying most delicious hotdog in the world". They lived up to their promise, escepecially in a time of crisis.

September 18, 2008

Musical Weekend: Aerosmith & Jagjit Singh

Rock and roll legends Aerosmith, led by front man Steven Tyler, made their way to Bangalore to perform in front an enthusiastic crowd of youngsters. It was their first performance in India. Held on the expansive Palace Grounds, a crowd of 30,000 enjoyed the two hour long concert. Quite a few of my friends had come over from Hyderabad for the concert. I am not a fan but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I went also. I enjoyed the spectacle even though I was not familiar with all of the songs.

In the same weekend, ghazal singer Jagjit Singh performed in front of a much older crowd at Ambedkar Bhawan. A ghazal is a form of poetic expression that has Arabic origins, usually dealing with topics such as love and pain. The complete Aerosmith concert was shorter in duration than the first half of Jagjit Singh's marathon performance. Including the intermission, the concert lasted approximately five hours. The crowd here had a much greater knowledge of the songs performed by the artist having grown up listening to him, and sang along on quite a few occasions with their enthusiasm and appreciation increasing as the hours went by.


Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing

- Aerosmith, from the Armageddon soundtrack

September 12, 2008

Ranga Shankara

As a patron of the arts I attempt to support local artists wherever I may be. Ranga Shankara is Bangalore's most prominent theatre. With a modern design featuring stadium seating for a small crowd, it provides an intimate surrounding for both the actors on stage and the audience watching them perform.

With my flatmate Chang, I went to the 150th show of a theatre troupe called Evam. Located on the outskirts of Bangalore, we weaved through heavy traffic on Chang's motorcycle and arrived just as the doors were opening. He came to a grinding halt in front of the entrance and I hopped off. While he looked for a parking spot, I picked up our tickets. As he joined me, Chang pointed out a famous director, Girish Karnad, in the audience, but I was not familiar with his work.  

The play was titled 'Love Letters' and was the tale of two people who spent their whole lives writing letters to each other. Beginning from elementary school and continuing through to old age their relationship progresses and their lives unfold, with the only constant being the friendship and support they provide to each other through trying times. It was quite deep and tragic.

May 19, 2008


During my days at Simon Fraser University, it was known for being a commuter campus. With a solitary location upon a mountain peak and a limited amount of on-campus housing available, students would make the trek to the campus just for their classes and immediately head home afterwards. In the same way, Bangalore is a commuter city with car, motorcycle, rickshaw, and bus loads of individuals being carted to and from work, followed by a mass exodus on weekends (in particular long ones) to the cities or towns that each calls home in Karnataka or the adjoining states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. Most of these locations are within a 6 to 18 hour bus ride away from Bangalore.

On Friday evenings, a great many of these people will converge at the Majestic bus stand, which is conveniently located across the street from the Bangalore Central Railway Station. The whole area in fact bears the label "Majestic" for some unknown reason. Local lore says the name comes from the name of a nearby movie theatre, but this has not been verified. It is a well planned station with plenty of signage indicating where to wait for which bus. Amenities such as restaurants, cloak room, bathroom facilities, drinking water, phone booths, information counter, convenience store, and hair dresser are all available.

Officially named the Kempe Gowda Bus Station, the sprawling complex provides the hordes of travelers with many types of buses upon which to place themselves within or on top. Some buses have air conditioning (A/C), some have 1/2 A/C, some have windows that open, some do not have windows, some have A/C that is currently malfunctioning, and some make no mention whatsoever of A/C. Some buses accept advanced bookings, some sell tickets to passengers once they are aboard, and some sell the same seat twice using both methods. Most of the buses are operated by the state government sponsored KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation), and have "Majestic" names such as Airavat ("Elephant" - the carrier of the gods), Rajahamsa ("Royal Swan"), and Mayuri ("Peacock").

For longer rides, travelers may opt for sleeper buses where they can lie down and relax throughout the night. There are solo bunks available on most buses, but not always. Sleeper buses are not recommended for solo travelers who may have concerns about their mystery bedmate for the night. Once the sex of the traveler is verified by the operator of the bus, he or she is assigned a bed buddy of the same gender, which increases the likelihood of an unpleasant, though never unremarkable, journey.

March 03, 2008

To and FRO

If you are a foreigner planning to work, study, or travel within India for more than 180 consecutive days without leaving the country, then you are required to register your details with the closest Foreigner's Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigner's Registration Office (FRO) within two weeks of your arrival. Five other law abiding non-citizens and I decided to fulfill our legal duty soon after our arrival in Hyderabad. Our first stop was Satyam City Center in Begumpet (across the street from popular department store Shopper's Stop). One of the better furnished Satyam office's, here we picked up letters attesting to our proof of employment and other required documentation.

A foreigner is required to submit the following (from the Indian Bureau of Immigration):
  • 4 recent passport size photographs (the remaining 16-20 photos in the set became valuable collectors items among the female interns)
  • Photocopy of passport photo page and a valid Indian Visa page
  • Proof of residential address in India (electricity bill from the landlord and a letter stating that we lived there)
  • Documents of identification
  • In case of Employment Visa, request letter, undertaking, contract agreement from employer
With documents in hand, we arrived at the police headquarters. We were promptly directed towards the authorities responsible for foreigner registration. Initially reluctant to process our documents since we had arrived after lunchtime, after some light persuasion they agreed to do what they could. We were herded into a crowded room with boxes full of overflowing stacks of paper and rows of men with stamps. They inspected our documents, frowned, and approved them with authority. We were then told to wait outside. Several hours later a kindly clerk gave each of us slips containing an identification number and a date when a letter stating that we had registered with the FRO would be ready for pickup. This letter is collected by Indian authorities when you are leaving the country. If you do not have this document then, you may be deported from the country as punishment. Unfortunately before my letter was ready, I had been transferred to Bangalore and did not get the chance to pick it up.

After I had alerted Satyam's foreign affairs department that I had not transferred my registration from Hyderabad to Bangalore, they directed me to do so post haste. I made my way back to Hyderabad for 5 days, spending a few extra days reuniting with old friends, eating biryani, and inspecting pearls. The FRO had relocated from the old police headquarters to an even older one so the surroundings were once again unfamiliar. The officers in charge were disgruntled at first since I did not have my identification slip and gave me a lecture about irresponsible foreigners thinking they can come to India and do whatever they want. They saw my passport and then lightened up when they realized I was a Bengali. After explaining the Satyam diet and why I looked different from my picture, they allowed me to bypass the long lineup so that I could immediately finish my paperwork. The staff were friendly and helpful, especially the ones that were not snoozing or reading the newspaper. They passed around my picture and chuckled. First I retrieved my letter stating I was registered as a foreigner in Hyderabad. Then I applied for deregistration from Hyderabad. After I was granted this, I requested that my information be forwarded to Bangalore so that I could register there. I did not want to further increase India's population count by being registered at more than one place at a time.

Back in Bangalore, I went to the FRO and let them know that I had given them permission to receive my original paperwork from Hyderabad. They stamped my documents and told me to write a letter to the Hyderabad FRO stating that the Bangalore FRO had noted my arrival and were ready to receive any documentation that they may have concerning me. I followed instructions, but several more trips to the FRO were in vain as the documents never arrived from Hyderabad. The on duty clerk finished his crossword puzzle and informed me that there was no problem and whatever documentation I had collected over the year would be enough to ensure my departure from India.

February 11, 2008

Bangalore Riots: Aftermath

A narrow escape from death affects even the most stoic of men. Amid the chaos and rubble, I emerged unscathed save some cuts and bruises, but not everyone was as lucky. One child was killed and many others were injured. Store windows were left shattered and auto rickshaws were set ablaze. Curfew was enforced for the next several days and groups of people were not allowed to congregate or loiter around the streets together after 7pm. Lathi charges were carried out by the police. During this exercise, officers systematically proceed throughout many city blocks applying batons to buttocks to enforce law and order. A sense of unease permeated every crevice of the city, with tensions high and nerves on edge. It took more than a few days until life was back to normal. After examining my wounds my colleagues expressed deep sympathy for my ordeal. None of them had met with the same misfortune as I and were impressed at my survival skills. Later on they would chuckle at my narrow escape from a well deserved thrashing, but their immediate concern was touching.

Weeks later, tensions were again running high. This time the battleground was not religion, but the ownership of the water emanating from a river - the Cauvery - that spanned several neighbouring states. A Supreme Court decision was pending on who would get access to how much water, and regardless of the outcome many would be left unhappy with the decision. I was sent home early from work and told to remain inside so that the disgruntled masses would not get another chance to make mincemeat out of me. A statewide work stoppage (a bandh) was scheduled in advance for an upcoming Monday. With sufficient warning I was able to orchestrate my escape from Bangalore and spent the long weekend relaxing in my stronghold of Hyderabad.

January 27, 2008

The Satyam Diet

I lost weight during the year I spent working in India. Most of it can be attributed to the Satyam Diet plan that I followed in Bangalore. My eating habits changed to accommodate my work schedule. My hours spent in the office were from around 10 in the morning to 7 at night. One hour on each side could be added as traveling time. Since my carefree existence allowed me to indulge in at least nine hours of sleep a night, by the time I woke up and got ready, there was no time for breakfast apart from some fruit or juice picked up on the way to work. The office gruel served at lunchtime was so consistent in its putridity that eating even a tiny portion of the fare tormented my taste buds and stripped me of my beloved appetite. Apart from the tasty morsels provided by office belles the amount of food I consumed during the midday meal was severely diminished. With two of the days three meals much smaller than I regularly had, dinner became a meal of meals. I would visit the finest establishments around the city, having food of singularly high quality but with a diversity of flavour, ingredients, and preparation.

No diet can be successful unless it combines both food intake and physical exertion. The exercise portion of the diet was provided by the 8 floors I had to climb every time I took a break (a surprisingly large number of times) with my colleagues or went to lunch. There was only one elevator for the many hundreds of employees, and with a significant proportion of these taking a break at any one moment in time, the elevator was always stuffed to overcapacity. The dozens of Satyamites left behind on each trip eagerly hoped that the next time the elevator opened its doors, they would find themselves within its friendly womb. Unable to bear the thought of lost productivity due to waiting for the lift, I resorted to using the stairwells to physically transport myself from the bottom of the building to the top and vice versa. During these breaks, often times I would partake in strenuous games of table tennis. My innate talent was not enough against my experienced opponents, so I had to work on my conditioning and reflexes. Other times I played carrom, a game similar to billiards or pool but played with bare hands.

Combined with the occasional escape from a wild mob or leap from a bus, the Satyam Diet worked wonders. Not only can a job provide opportunities for career development and financial stability, but it can also have a profound impact on other facets of life.

October 24, 2007

Arnab Appreciation Days

My contract with Satyam expired on June 13, 2007, a date that marked my one year tenure at the company. Satyam admired my strong work ethic and love for the company and its associates. With glorious joy, my departure from Satyam was celebrated through a series of Arnab Appreciation Days. My humble and approachable nature had made me a popular figure to the employees of the organization, and the endearment was mutual. Tears were shed and fond memories recollected. Goodbyes were said and best wishes exchanged. After serving the company with passion and earnestness, it was time to go our separate ways.

At the farewell ceremonies my new logo was revealed to the public. The stylish "Arnab" word mark with a Bengal tiger proudly perched atop drew rave reviews from the audience at hand during the daring debut. The symbiosis of light and dark, and of man and nature, used the traditional "Arnab" colours of red, black, and white.

October 03, 2007

Canteen Angst

In the 8th floor of the Hebbal office of Satyam Computer Services Ltd lies the canteen. Affording stunning vistas of Bangalore, much time is spent on this floor by employees. In particular the view of Hebbal Kere (lake) is fantastic. During the course of my 8 month stay at this office, the lake was systematically drained until it was converted into a puddle. Hundreds of workers were then sent out to clear the lake bed of all the rubbish that had been deposited throughout the ages. Once the trash was removed the lake was to be refilled with clean water, allowing it to regain its original luster.

Apart from enjoying the view, a host of other activities take place here - playing table tennis or carrom, listening to Kannada songs on the radio, watching live cricket matches on television (or old games which India won), socializing with colleagues, and the most dreaded of all - eating the food provided by the caterers. A consistently putrid combination of rice, spice, and assorted gravies is offered to the masses who line up with trays in hand for their daily subsistence. The portions are great in size, but minimal in taste. More enterprising associates try to escape this facility in search of tastier dishes, but do so in vain. Encircled in barb wire fencing and high walls, the office is situated in a secluded business park. A shortcut to Hebbal village through military dairy testing facilities has also been blocked by the authorities. The sole remaining option is a hospital cafeteria located within the same complex. This is not a very palatable option either, although its business has boomed due to the influx of Satyam canteen refugees.

Taking a keen interest in the culinary welfare of my colleagues, I arrived at work earlier than usual one morning so I could attend a food meeting held by the building's corporate services staff at 10 am. They explained that the food was carted in during the morning from outside caterers as government bylaws prevented them from cooking fresh food anywhere but on the ground floor. The point that was driven home to attendees of the meeting was that although the quantity of food provided could be changed, the quality could not. One person mentioned that the food was "C/O the Dustbin" to much applause and synchronized head nodding. Another complained that the canteen teaman had laughed at him when he had pointed out severe deficiencies in the tea making process and had told him that he expected an improved product the next time. He was assured by the corporate services staff that next time there would be no such outburst of laughter.

September 30, 2007

Auto Rickshaws

My primary mode of transportation for intracity travel was the venerable auto rickshaw. Predominantly sporting an yellow and black paint job, these vehicles occupy an unique niche between private vehicles and public transportation. The peculiar shape and sturdy frame allows for it to navigate through dense traffic and diverse terrain without a care in the world. Auto rickshaw drivers are an interesting lot. Their driving skills are usually exceptional, allowing them to maneuver their three-wheeled vehicles through the most treacherous of road conditions. Their business ethics however, are suspect.

Officially only two ways to obtain a fare should be available – prepaid according to some standardized distance chart or according to the untampered meter which is to start running at the precise moment that the journey commences. In reality, it comes down to negotiating a price somewhere above what the actual rate should be. According to them, wherever you are going is either too far or too near, so you have to pay extra for the added effort or sacrifice.

Your destination will also be deserted even if it is the heart of a city with over 5 million people in it. They will have to drive back empty exactly to the point where you were picked up, so that means double the fare on the meter should be paid. If you want to accompany them on this return journey though, the fare again doubles. If it rains (August – November) or gets dark (after 6pm), 1.5 times the meter should be paid due to the personal anguish and physical stress placed upon them during these difficult times. If there is a traffic jam that means they will have to wait idly by without making much headway towards your destination. This will cause them to lose potential customers, so additional financial incentive should be provided.

Only 3 passengers and a driver are allowed by law unless extra moneys are provided. No change will be carried by the rickshaw driver at any time of the day or night, so the fare must be rounded up. Vehicles should only be refueled once a passenger is on board and not during the times when no passenger is present. Tea/coffee/toilet breaks and visits to shops/homes are permissible, but only for the driver. The meter may quite frequently be broken, too slow/fast, completely missing, or a figment of your imagination, so the charge will be greater.

September 06, 2007

Bangalore Burns, Arnab Bleeds

"What are you waiting for?! Run!!!"

I was reeled back into reality from a dreamlike state by my roommate Shyam's screams. Looking around, I saw everyone hurriedly clearing out of the small restaurant I was in. Panic was in the air. Everyone was rushing to the back of the dining room, into the kitchen, and out through the rear exit. I quickly followed them outside into the back yard, which was enclosed on the left and right by neighbouring buildings and by a 8 ft high wall at the back. A "Where's Arnab?" query came from a familiar voice just as I saw Shyam's body disappear over the top of the wall. Several more people followed him over before I too pulled myself to the top of the ledge, using cracks in the wall as leverage to power myself up. I discovered that the distance from the top of the wall to the bottom was almost double that of what I had just climbed on the other side. The descent was not even mildly pleasurable, although it did create a healthy distance between myself and my pursuers. I slid downwards along the face of the wall before letting go and landing on the ground beneath. A sprint through deserted back alleys and over some rail lines would lead us back to the safety of our flat.

Moments ago, a man with a motorcycle had come in through the front entrance of the Fraser Town eatery I had been dining in, warning everyone that an angry mob was fast approaching and to get out as soon as possible. The front shutters were pulled down as sounds of rapidly approaching footsteps, threatening shouts, thrown rocks, and heavy pounding were heard on the outside. At this critical juncture in time I had put down the food I was eating, stood up, paused, heard Shyam yelling, saw people fleeing, and joined them in beating a hasty retreat.

Once I had caught my breath, I checked to see if my comrades were alright and then examined my wounds. I had scraped my arms when I had grazed the wall, with the area between my arms and elbows bleeding from several lacerations. My skin, a surface so far left unblemished by the actions of man now bore the scars of communal violence, but the injuries were mainly superficial. Questions still remained to be answered though. ARNABlood had been shed tonight, but for what and by whom?

August 30, 2007

4 High Street

Now a popular tourist attraction, during my days in Bangalore I lived at 4 High Street in an area called Cooke Town. The maroon coloured apartment complex was protected by a pair of vigilant security guards who were capable of being present at any time of the day or night. For an additional fee they would also wash the vehicles of the other tenants of the complex. On the second floor on the third story (as ground floor is zero) of the building was my flat. There was a large lobby with sofa and TV, a balcony, a kitchen, and 3 bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms held 3 paying guests each, while the more expensive bedroom had two occupants. Each bedroom contained an attached bathroom, TV, beds, and cabinets. There was also a washing machine, ironing board, malfunctioning water filter, and maid for all of us to share. I was in one of the three person rooms. The rooms were sparsely decorated save for a sign taped to the wall warning us of all that we could not do.

Over the 8 months that I lived there I met an interesting cast of characters. At any one time the flat could accommodate 8 paying guests. The average period of stay per person was a couple of months, so a great many guests rotated through High Street during my stay. By the time I left I was third in seniority. Unsurprisingly, most of my flatmates were Indians, with 10-12 whom I spent time with and around 5-7 souls who did not interact with anyone not related to them or working with them. They came from many different states - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Punjab. The rest of my flatmates were either Dutch (4), Mexican (1), Brazilian (1), British (1), or French (1). There were dentists, lawyers, interns, and software engineers. There were Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, and some who did not believe in anything one way or another. Some were married, some had girlfriends, some were engaged, some were not interested, some were searching vigorously, and some were hoping for a miracle. Some were extras in Bollywood films or contestants on Indian Idol. Some were friends, some were acquaintances, some were strangers, but all were my flatmates.

Bengaluru Tigers

Waking up to see the sun shining through our curtains on a Sunday afternoon, two of my flatmates and I decided to go on a road trip to Bannerghata National Park. After heading to the Ulsoor Lake swimming pool and picking up a bald headed Belgian, we set off on the one hour drive to our destination. On Bannerghata Road we passed by two prominent local institutions - the Indian Institute of Management (IIM-B) and the Forum Shopping Mall - one for study and one for play. After taking a wrong turn we consulted the locals and were given directions to our destination. When we arrived at the 25,000 acre zoological park the crowds at the entrance were already large. Most were waiting to board the buses that would take them inside the popular lion and tiger enclosures.

Busy trying to identify potential ARNABombshells in the crowd, time flew by for the four of us and before we knew it our foray into the wild had begun. We boarded the bus and sat in any available seats we could find as the safari began. The Bengaluru Tiger came face to face with his counterpart in the animal kingdom. A Bengal tiger blocked the path in front, pausing momentarily to allow everyone to take a few snapshots, before slowly circling around us. The bus had metal grates across the windows for protection from the magnificent creature, so fear could give way to admiration. The same could be said for the tiger outside, with its muscular orange and black form and regal carriage. Several other tigers also appeared as our journey progressed. The lions we encountered were not as forthcoming, preferring to laze in water holes and not approach the bus as closely as the tigers had. They were also very thin and appeared to be chronically undernourished. There had been reports in the media of misappropriation of funds earmarked towards the welfare of the animals in Bannerghata. Rumour had it that some of the park staff had been taking home the tender and juicy strips of meat meant to feed the lions and having a nice feast at home with the family instead.

The park also contained a zoo within it complete with reptile park and aviary. Soon after we entered though closing time was upon us. Friendly park officials encouraged us to get out. We complied, but not before catching a glimpse of feeding time. Large snakes were given live rabbits for dinner while the smaller ones were busy swallowing rodents. It was an engrossing experience where the line between man and nature was as thin as it could be in a controlled environment.

August 20, 2007


Date: March 2007
Location: Outskirts of Bangalore
Event: Private Party

Due to my status as an international icon I generously made an appearance at a farmhouse party being thrown in Whitefield by a fellow intern, on the far eastern fringe of Bangalore city. After finding an auto, having it run out of fuel, going to the bathroom (indoors), finding another auto, arriving at what we thought were the premises only to have it be an intersection, and then sitting on a canister of gas in the rear storage compartment of a shared taxi, it was not too long before we reached the location.

Upon arrival, we followed a trail leading to a small treehouse-like complex where all the guests had congregated. With around a hundred people already in attendance, this area was quite crowded with lots of drinking and dancing going on all around me. As a devout non-dancer and frequent teetotaler, I was out of my element and frantically looked for a safe zone where I could place myself. I spotted some tables that had been left near the balcony. I gracefully glided in behind them, planning to relax and enjoy the rest of the night. I found quite a few bottles of rum and various soft drinks situated around me. By now darkness had fallen and the crowds were getting heavier. Soon people were accosting me and asking me to pour them drinks. It appeared I had taken the place of three no-show bartenders and had positioned myself as the preferred beverage provider for the party.

As I mention in my cover letters when I am applying for any jobs, I am a fast learner who can quickly pick up new skills. Soon I was simultaneously mixing drinks into many glasses at once, making small talk, and looking devastatingly gorgeous. The ARNABar was open for business. The ARNABeauties all complimented me on my newfound abilities and old world charm, while their male companions scowled at me and complained that the rum was no good. The rum in question was Super Jack Rum (from the makers of Super Jack Brandy and Super Jack Gin), and tasted better with each subsequent glass. At 6am the next morning I was finally able to go home and rest after a hard night's work.

April 30, 2007

The Bus Jump

At 7pm sharp each working day I leave my office and head towards the area where the Satyam busses are parked. This location changes occasionally to add an element of surprise. None of the company buses have dropping points near my residence, so I have resorted to taking the bus whose route comes nearest to the venue for my fine dining or other entertainment that I have planned for that night. As these are not on the official list of drop points, the bus drivers are reluctant to stop. Sometimes they slow down enough for me to elegantly leap of the bus and make a graceful landing on the surface of the road. Sometimes they only appear to be decelerating, before picking up the pace.

Such was the case, when I departed a bus in a section of town known as RT Nagar (named after the brilliant Rabindranath Tagore) to play a friendly game of pool with my eager colleague Kartik. Misjudging my angle and time of departure from the bus, I landed on the street knees first, lost my balance, fell, then revolved three times on the ground, before springing back up and striking a heroic pose to placate the souls of my female fans who were seated at the front of the bus and witnessed the whole spectacle with eyes wide and mouths open, concern for my well being clearly etched across their demure faces. Meters away the bus came to a halt and out jumped my coworker. Heroically, he came to my rescue, cleaning my wounds and nursing me back to health over the course of the next few hours.

“You’re a puff.” – British roommate upon examining the extent and severity of my injuries.

Water Shortage

Electricity is a wonder that occasionally graces the city of Bangalore, but water has been a much more stable resource. So far only once have I been left out to dry. After waking up and taking a look in the mirror, I turned on the tap so I could wash my face. It did not elicit a response. Frustrated, I tried the other water sources in the bathroom. Toilet – no flush. Shower – no sprinkle. Bucket – empty. Adapting to the situation using my sharp survival skills, I had to take a shower and brush my teeth using my one litre bottle of packaged drinking water.

Men in Saris

Out of the many categories of less fortunate people in India (the old, the young, the unhealthy, the mistreated, the frequently impregnated, …), the one that is the most forward in their requests for money are the Men in Saris (MIS’s). Frequently they attempt to make physical contact with me, stroking my face or other significant landmarks on my body. The MIS’s also have a unique clapping technique which they use to signal their arrival and consequent demand for compensation.

Draped in traditional Indian clothing, each of these (wo)men possess muscles comparable to what 10 regular Indian men enjoy, and can be very menacing. As their unique position in society prevents them from getting regular jobs, they have turned to alternate means of funding their subsistence. Whenever I am approached by beggars I give them food if I have it, but I never give them money. I usually receive several colourful epithets and a scowl in return for my lack of financial generosity.

Those with a superstitious mindset have suggested that the MIS’s may have instigated the birds against me, which would explain my frequent aerial attacks. In one week, I was victimized twice - a pair of brown nuggets on a blue shirt and a white stain on a beige shirt, bringing the total count to 6 overhead attacks.