Thursday, September 29, 2005
Bloggers' Meet in October - When?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
It raineth, It poureth...
Pull on your flippers, Bangalore, the drains have just invaded the roads. Yeeesh.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Bloggers Meet - September
Thursday, September 15, 2005
A Tale of Two Cities...
I returned last night from the city of Vada Pav and "Ganapati Bappa Moriya!". I came back from seeing a city ravaged by the recent onslaught of the rains, and yet smiling as it greets fresh showers and dancing as it takes it's utsav murtis to the seaside for "Visarjan". "I love Mumbai in the rains" said one of the people I met during my day, affirming the strength of spirit of a city that has seen bodies of its families floating past in those very same rains. "I love Mumbai during Ganapati, going around town seeing the various society Ganapatis.." vowed another. And I too was overwhelmed by the spirit of the people around me, walking, dancing, laughing in the constantly descending rains, as they proceeded in slow congress towards the beaches, accompanying their respective Ganapatis. The spirit went beyond the immediate group and engulfed even passersby, attracted everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion. But, for a city with a much vaunted public infrastructure, I also saw Mumbai grind to a slow crawl in places as traffic snarls, rain-damaged roads and inconsiderate motorists attacked.
What struck me was how Mumbai today is what Bangalore is steadily working its way towards. And I am not lauding the survival and community instincts here. I am referring to the similarity, to the Mumbai I saw, coming from the state (or lack thereof) of our roads, our traveling public and the sheer chaos that greets you at every turn. And from the fact that Bangalore is today turning into what Mumbai started out being - a destination for everyone who wants to find their fortune.
Back home I landed to greet a Bengaluru taking a break from the rains, cool, breezy and relatively more quiet and composed even on Day 8 of the Ganesha festival. Bangalore takes its festivals seriously, but festivals don't "take" Bangalore the way they do it's sister up in the West. You will find warmth, joy, festivity within your homes and families and with your friends. But you will rarely find an occasion to share this with absolute strangers, both of you never rendered same, equal and joined in some common cause. Here the festivals are about family, not about community.
I sometimes wonder if there does exist a common thread, here in Bangalore, that winds its way through the lives of all Bangaloreans and gives us a sense of oneness. Does Bangalore make people here profess love for any part of the city they have made their home, forcibly or otherwise? I sometimes wonder if today's Bangalorean sees this city as more than just a means to fulfill the immediate needs of Life. Do we care about our city?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Beyond Blogging: Volunteering at Akshara Foundation
I talk to them today about volunteering at the foundation for a couple of hours every week, reading to the children, helping with school work, playing with them and so on. The volunteer coordinator there asked me to put together an e-mail about what we would be interested in doing with the children, when we would be available during the week or weekends, for how long, etc.
I am hoping that we can go together as a group for a few hours every weekend or every other weekend, depending on Akshara's needs. If you are interested, please leave a comment to this post with details of your availability. I am really looking forward to working with the children and getting to know you beyond your blogs.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
A Local Market Preps for the Ganesha Festival
The Jayanagar market is a haven for old-style stores (no Fabmalls, Coffee Days or Big Bazaars in the good ol' complex). It is the mecca of old-style shopping, the kind in which you haggle shamelessly. No bar codes or scanners here.
The complex itself is sprawling and has many entrances. In addition to book stores, luggage stores, clothes and shoe shops, and a supermarket, the shopping complex is home to an indoor market with a maze of shops selling everything from vegetables, fruits, and stationery to all the items you need for a puja.
While plantain shoots and mango leaves arrive at the market only during festivals...
....flowers are a daily feature
The indoor market has four entrances. All the pathways leading upto the four entrances are prime real estate and on any given day, these pathways are permanently lined with fruit, vegetable and flower stalls. On days preceding a major festival, the pathways themselves become the destination. More stalls manage to appear in already cramped spaces. You could get away with not bothering to enter the enclosed market.
Which would be a pity.
The enclosed market is an ode to stimulus overload. For the first time visitor, it is nothing short of an assault on the senses.
The scent of agarbathis and camphor clashes in mid-air with the mild stench of the just-beginning-to-rot fruits and vegetables. The flower stalls try to out-do them all, but in vain.
The makeshift shop on the right specializes in Ganesha and Gowri idols.
A tiny shop within the complex holds everything you might need for the puja.
There are stores that sell only coconuts, all the same brown color, and there is a whole lane of stores devoted to decorating items in every shade, even some that nature never intended. There are stores that make and sell photographs of gods right next to a store selling pets. There are stores selling crimson kumkum and sunny yellow haldi and then there are stores that sell decorations made in plain white cotton. There are stores that sell carpets, clocks, steel utensils, sheets, towels, plastic papers and cups, napkins, decorations for birthday parties, and stores that sell hooks to hang your mosquito nets.
Mounds of kumkum and haldi...
...mimicked by mounds of fruit.
Shoppers crowd around the tiny shops, all vying for the attention of the shopkeeper at the same time. No lines here. Lung power trumps chronology. Shopkeepers with no shoppers at their stalls call out hopefully, "En beku madam? Banni nodi" ("Madam, what do you want? Come, see").
One circumnavigation of the market is enough to make you want to see the light of day.
An entire row of shops dedicated to decorations.
Crossposted on Blogpourri.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
ATMs & Akkirotti
By day a simple, nondescript ATM, up the stairs and right next to the entrance to the Bank. But by night, a haven for the hungry. As the darkness falls and the stars twinkle on, the stairs to this ATM transforms into an alfresco dining experience, fronted by a trestle table and a portable hot-plate-style stove. And what does one dine on here? Rottis and dosas and idlis and omlettes. But the show stealer is the Rotti (no, I haven't mis-spelt 'roti'...I mean the famous down-south rotti!)...in every form...akkirotti, raagirotti, jholadarotti...**drool drool**!
You come, you ask, you get served steaming hot rottis with a variety of chutneys, you munch and then you swoon with delight. Then you get up and do it all over again...this is the true finger-licking-good experience.
And where this magical Akkirotti ATM be? Mission Road, before the flyover...smack in front of Canara Bank (or mebbe it's SBI...I have always been too busy eating to notice!), opposite Ad Labs or some such photo joint. Rottis on offer only in the evenings and the best times be from 7-9pm.
Don't just take my word for it...go and try it out for yourselves!