March 23, 2007

Mosquito Bites

On my first day in India I was attacked by a squadron of bloodsucking mosquitoes. Left in an almost comatose state, each bite zone swelled up to the size of a ripe mango. Mosquitoes have a propensity for my sweet untainted blood. It is a savory delight which they feast upon with increasing frequency. At first I thought I was the meal of choice because I was the new treat in town, but eight months later the mosquitoes remain just as fond of my succulent blood as ever. My recovery time from the bites has drastically increased though. The initial agony from the bite is just as intensely painful as before, but within 12-24 hours I no longer notice any itchiness in the affected region. Legend has it that mosquitoes are universally attracted to a rare collection of individuals who possess a divine love scent. To counteract this effect, some victims have taken up smoking or prescribing to medications that make them smell like cabbage. As a man with considerable self respect, I have taken neither of these precautionary measures.

On a related note, the company bus arrives at the office half an hour before the departure time. During this period it keeps its doors wide open. By the time it is ready to leave a squad of bloodsuckers has positioned itself inside. During the journey home, my head is surrounded by a cluster of mosquitoes while the rest of the occupants merrily listen to their MP3 players, chat with their colleagues, or pretend to sleep. I have yet to determine if locals have been bitten so much that they instantaneously heal from the bites or if the mosquitoes have no interest in them when I am available.


On a Friday night I met up with a group of 13 Europeans. The approximate breakdown was 6 Dutch, 1 German, 1 Italian, 2 English, 1 Belgian, 1 French, and 1 Hungarian. Together we departed for north Goa on a two story bus, where the top deck consisted of mattresses and the bottom one of reclining seats. Always a gentleman, I took one of the less comfortable seats with my head grazing the bottom of the bunk positioned above me. 14 hours later we arrived in Panjim, Goa. From there the group split into two, with some settling down in Calangute and some in Vagator, but then meeting later on for joint escapades. The first of these locations, Calangute, offers a long stretch of sandy beach with overpriced activities on offer such as parasailing and jet skiing, while the other, Vagator, is known more for parties but has a rockier beach.

The first day was spent learning how to ride a motorized bike. The Europeans looked down at me as I can only drive an automatic vehicle and have no experience with gears. I rented a scooter, a Honda Activa, and after a few practice rounds and one close encounter with physical disfigurement, was soon off and running. At high speeds (30kph) I was comfortable, but I was very bad at maintaining balance and maneuvering through high traffic areas. Due to my minimal velocity and lack of driving skills, at one point I was leading a caravan of around 70 cars, trucks, bullock carts, etc down the main street linking the two beach destinations. I pulled over and went inside a street side restaurant. After watching India’s cricket team play miserably against Bangladesh for one hour, I noticed that the traffic had subsided and thus continued on my journey. At night we proceeded to Club Cabana, where the young, rich, and beautiful gathered for a night of fun and frolic. The theme was “Model’s Night”. I spotted two scantily dressed ones (or was it 4?). Apparently India’s most legendary superstar Amitabh Bachchan was present for all of 35 seconds at this fancy establishment, situated on a hilltop overlooking the Goan countryside.

Day 2 was a continuation of the first night’s party. Thoroughly inebriated and unable to drive my scooter back to my hotel, I shared a cab back to my place with the French lady and a middle aged couple who were still young at heart. Around noon, I awoke, had lunch, and picked up my scooter, before heading off for the beach. A hearty game of beach soccer was played and I put on a dazzling display of my defensive skills, stripping the opposition of the ball and blocking shots with equal vigor. While the others were sunbathing, I proceeded to climb up a nearby hill. The ruins of a fort and a magnificent view awaited me. Apparently this was also the location of a famous scene from the Hindi movie Dil Chahta Hai. A 65 year old Bob Marley fan offered me a strawberry, clasped my hand and pounded it against his chest, and advised me to “Live free”. The second night ended with a trek down the hillside to the beach, only to discover that it was almost entirely gone due to the high tide. We retreated and after considerable effort and teamwork, created a beachside bonfire. Soon everyone fell quiet and underneath the starry sky contemplated their place in the annals of history. Meals consisted of hearty amounts of seafood and liquid intake was primarily alcoholic. Before heading back to Bangalore, I sampled the Goan poison known as feni in two distinct flavors – coconut and cashew, with coconut winning the taste sweepstakes. All in all, a most wondrous experience!

January 20, 2007

Third Bird

For the third time in as many months I was victimized by avian attackers. On this occasion, I was taking a leisurely stroll in a particularly desolate section of Hebbal surrounding my workplace when suddenly my vision was partially obscured. I staggered around before discovering a caramel colored gelatinous substance on my left spectacle. I found a leaf nearby and attempted to wipe my glasses clean, only to smudge the brown stain across the whole surface of the lens. A benevolent coworker came to my assistance and provided me with a napkin, which I promptly utilized to rectify my optical issues.

January 19, 2007

Holiday Season

Pre-Christmas weekend was spent carousing with Koreans. We ate Korean food, watched the film Kabul Express, and went to a temple. This site, located in idyllic Kemp Fort near the airport, is open 24 hours a day and contains a large Ganesha idol and an even larger Shiva statue. It is accessed through the rear entrance of a mall that claims to house the largest kid’s store in the world!

For my Christmas holidays, I returned to West Bengal and met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin’s family. Together we went to Darjeeling, famous for its tea and situated in a very scenic location nearby the Himalayas with an elevation of about 7000 ft. Although foggy for most of my stay, I was able to glimpse the Kangchenjunga mountain range, containing the third highest mountain on Earth. From the airplane, I was able to view the complete range in all its magnificence from above. I was able to ride the steam powered toy train from Darjeeling to the nearby town of Ghum. This included crossing the Batasia Loop, an engineering marvel where the train completes a 360 degree turn to get up a steep path. Other activities included visiting the Nepalese border at Fatak, picnicking at the lake town of Mirik, going to a rock garden, checking out Buddhist monasteries, and learning how to play pool with my cousin’s son.

Post-Christmas, I came back to Bangalore on December 31st. As a refined man of the world, I try to attend various cultural events. Bangalore has a large community of artists and musicians so on New Year’s Eve I attended an art exhibition called Chitra Santhe and on New Year’s Day I witnessed a classical musical performance at Garuda Mall, one of the city’s largest shopping and entertainment complexes. My friendly flatmate Chang, destined to be one of the greatest dentists this world has ever seen, attended both the art show and concert and has written about them in detail on his own blog. Accompanied by two flatmates and two of their friends, I made my way to approximately the 32nd most happening place in Bangalore on New Years. For a flat entry fee we were able to enjoy unlimited drinks at a club and unlimited food at adjoining Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants. I do not remember my meal.


In India, Arnab means “ocean”. In Arabic, “rabbit”. In Africa, ARNAB stands for African Research Network for Agricultural Byproducts.


Some of my more foul-mouthed colleagues have taken it upon themselves to teach me vulgar terms in Hindi. Being pure of mind and virtuous of spirit, I have cleansed these words from my memory.


Not being the type to live a sedentary lifestyle, in the past seven months in India I have participated in strenuous sporting activities such as cricket, mini golf, and table tennis, among others.


A rickshaw driver by the name of Ali and I had come to an understanding where he would pick me up from near my flat at 10:30 am every working day and then deliver me to my workplace safe and sound. Unlike most Bangaloreans, Ali did not possess a mobile phone. Due to my overwhelming zest for work, I sometimes found that I wanted to arrive at office even earlier than my regular 11 am starting time, but I had no way to convey my desire to my rickshaw driver. After a week long trial period, the relationship ended due to this reason.

January 01, 2007

From One Year to the Next

For the hero of our story, the year 2006 was a momentous one. In 2007, the legend will continue to grow. As one year comes to a close and another begins, it is time for some "to do" and "have done" lists taking a look back at the year that was and offering a sneak preview into the year that will be.



Top 3 Achievements of 2006 (in no particular order):

Graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BSc in Computing Science and Business Administration after four years of continuous effort and dedication to my studies

Cemented my status as a bonafide heartthrob with mass global appeal and a diversified fan base

Obtained an internship with Satyam, allowing me to gain international work experience in my chosen field and at the same time explore my heritage, travel India, and visit my relatives



Places Visited So Far (Days Spent):

Mumbai (5)
Hampi (2)
Delhi/Lucknow/Neemrana (10)
Chennai/Kanchipuram/Mahabalipuram (4)
Aurangabad/Ajanta/Ellora/Pune (3)
Kolkata (12)
Cochin/Alleypey/Varkala/Trivandrum/Kanyakumari/Kovalam (6)
Nandi Hills (1)
Coorg (2)

Total Places: 27

Places on the World Heritage List (Visited):

Agra Fort
Ajanta Caves

Ellora Caves
Taj Mahal
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Sun Temple, Konârak
Kaziranga National Park
Keoladeo National Park
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
Churches and Convents of Goa
Fatehpur Sikri
Group of Monuments at Hampi

Khajuraho Group of Monuments
Elephanta Caves
Great Living Chola Temples
Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
Sundarbans National Park
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
Mountain Railways of India

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

So far I have visited 11 of the 26 sites. The complete list can be found on the UNESCO World Heritage Center website.



Bangalore restaurants I have been to or plan to go to
Hyderabad restaurants I have been to or plan to go to