Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rowdy Revanna

Question 1: How do you fit a daddy long legs and significant other into a Reva?
Easy breezy.
Two in the front, seats pushed back.

Question 2: How do you fit two porcine colleagues and one daddy long legs into a Reva?
Easy squeezy.
Two in the front, one in the back.

Question 3: How do you extricate two porcine colleagues and one daddy long legs from a Reva after 1 hour on Hosur Road?
Geezie Louisey.
Method 1:
Switch off AC and wait for everyone to melt into puddles and trickle out onto the sidewalk.
Method 2:
  1. Gradually heat the windshield until the suction pocket formed by colleague 1’s nostril on the windshield expands and pops loose.
  2. Remove various body parts of colleague 1 separately and reassemble on sidewalk.
  3. Move seat forward and entice colleague 2 out with a benne biscuit. Notice that colleague 2 has now been neatly moulded into a compact cuboid. You might have to tilt the car a little to enable cuboidal colleague to scurry out on fingertips that have permanently adhered to his backside.

Question 4: Write short notes on salient features of Revathi car.

  1. Hello, no engine = no servicing. What a lovely.
  2. Powered by Jog Falls. Eat my dust, Bushie.
  3. Looks like slightly cute dead lizard. Very endearing if you’re into that sort of thing.
  4. Has 4 speed AC which when turned on at full blast can double up as reverse gear.
  5. Contains one of 8 working cassette players in Bangalore. Also lets you to hatch ingenious plans of murdering Radio Indigo RJs while driving to work.
  6. Chick/dude magnet: “Aww, Reva you’re hawing? So sweet yaaaaan.”
  7. Squeezes into loincloth sized parking slot on MG road while you beam sympathetically at other drivers who have been circling the block for 8 hours trying to park their big bottomed style-party cars.
  8. Can scare all manner of people by sneaking up silently behind them and nudging them with bumper.
  9. Confuses cops and therefore gets through all police checkpoints in record time:
  • Cop: “Sir emission thorsi” (Show me emission (tra la la la la) )
  • Proud Reva Owner (PRO): (Putting on a Mangalore accent for effect) “Saara, gaadili engine il-la, yenthadhu thorisali.” (No engine sir, what shall I show?)
  • Cop: “Oh haudalla? License thorsi sir hangaadre.” (Oh isn't that right? show me your license then)
  • PRO: “Licensu maneli bittu bande. Halasinakaai happala untu. Beke?"(I left the license at home. Shall I give you jackfruit papad instead?)
  • Cop: “Umm, sari hogli, smell maadi sir.” (Oh alright then, smell please (breathalyzer))
  • PRO: “Saara! Electric car odisuvavarige vaasane maadalikke heliddare dosha biluththadhe. Ee gaadili vaasane baruvudhilla, bari parimalave baruvudhu. Sathyavaagi heluthene” (Sir! If you ask an electric car driver to smell you, you will be cursed forever. Only fragrances will emanate from this car, and this is the truth.)
  • Cop: (confused, not wanting to mess with a Mangloor type) “Hauda??!!" (really?)
  • PRO: "Hau-duuuuu.." (Yes)
  • Cop: "Aithu saar, hog banni" (Alright sir, pls go.)
  • PRO: (Preferably in Silk smitha like groan, half biting lips) "Saara, bere enthadaadaru nodabeke?" (Sir, did you want to see something else?")
  • Cop: "Aiyo hogri swami, namskara." (Aiyo go sir my lord. I salute the divine in you.)
Ah lurrrves mah li’l junebug.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A kannada movie in little Delhi

Yesterday, C and I did the million mile schlep to Forum to watch a movie. I hadnt watched a kannada movie in years and Mungaarina MaLe seemed like the best one to break my kannada movie fast with. Err, or not!

I was late as usual. When we reached Forum (the Dalhi that Bangalore never had), the parking guy insistently directed us to a Reva charging point and hovered around anxiously. The charging point looked like it would short circuit if I plugged my car in. The parking guy looked like he would weep if I didnt. I muttered a quick prayer to Maini motors and apologized to my li'l junebug before plugging it in, hoping it wouldnt strangle me with its power cord for leaving it alone with an eccentric socket. You gotta hand it to old Forum for being Reva-friendly though, to the point of stuffing it down your throat.

We battled the "yaar I voj talling him yasterday ki yeh nahin hoga" crowds all the way upto the theatre and joined the serpentine queue to get in. When we finally walked through the permanently squealing metal detectors, the guard nonchalantly sent us all the way back downstairs to check C's laptop in. Schlep schlep, huff puff and back up again. Back in the queue, a similarly affronted NRI was yowling away at the unflappable theatre manager for "naat writin' a sign outsahd tellin' people to check their laptaaps in", much to the amusement of everyone around. "Yes sir defnitly next time I will write. Please side sir, other people are vaiting."

The movie: Bad Idea. Forum insisted on playing the audio at 10 million decibels. The story line was ludicrous and involved the hero continuously falling into a series of drains filled with black goo. Didn't hurt his looks, for sure. The heroine had two big moles on her ageing face that seemed to get bigger and bigger with every scene. Anant Nag, long past his chocolate glory days of the 80s, looked and sounded like he had been hit with something hard and blunt before every shoot. The villain had a facial tick and a drool, and spoke with a fake-as-a-40p-coin kodava accent. When a white rabbit named Devadaasa appeared on the screen, we left.

Apparently a younger star would come in half way through the movie and make it all better. We didnt have the energy or resolve to stick it out long enough to find out. The photography was quite nice though completely lost in the useless storyline.

A movie so grossly horrendous that it was enjoyable. Brinnnng back, brinnnnng back, bring back 80s kannada cinema to meeeee, to meeeee.

PS: Excuse pls, what is meaning of Mungaaru??

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A tribute to Kabir from God's own country

Would Kabir ever have thought that children all over India would learn his brilliant dohas in school, and recite them in every conceivable accent?

I discovered the beauty of Kabir through my ever-pregnant Rajamma miss in school in Kerala. This selection of my favourite dohas in my best accent, is my contribution to the great man, with compliments from malluland.

Thooguh meim zab sumiran gare, Suguh meein gare na goy
Suguh mein jyo sumiran gare, dhuguh kaahego hoy?

(Meaning: Venne sadeh evverybody remember Goade, you know. Venne haapi, if remember goadeh, then why you will be saade?)
दुःख में सब सुमिरन करे , सुख में करे न कोय
सुख में जो सुमिरन करे , दुःख काहे कोई होय?

Kal karnya dho aajuh gar, Aajuh gare so abuh
Palumeein barlaiy hovegee, Behuri garoge kabuh?

(Meaning: Aye Joji, staaandup boi. Tomoarrow vaat you do, today you can do, you know. Sometimes flood-eh vill come then vaat you will do?)
कल करना सो आज कर, आज करे सो अब
पल में परलय होवेगी, बहुरि करोगे कब?

Burya jo degan mime chela, Burya na deega goy
Jyo dil degha apunyaa, mujhusaa burya na goy

(Meaning: You going see baad-uh thing. Butt-eh naththting you can see. Then you looke oawn haeart-uh. Evverthing is baad inside oNly. )
बुरा जो देखन मैं चला, बुरा न दीखा कोय
जो दिल देखा अपना, मुझसा बुरा न कोय

Thinaga kabahum na nindiye, Jyo paayana thara hoy
Kabahum giri aanginu paraiiy, peeru ghaneru hoy

(Meaning: Don'd igginoarre Thinaga. Thinaga means eerkille - smaaLeh stickeh you know. SuddanLy TijoKutty ville be vaalking oan rod-eh and it will getteh inside eye and paining like anydhing.)
तिनका कबहूँ न निन्दिये, जो पायन तर होय
कबहूँ गिरी आँखिन परई, पीर घनेरू होय

Saanju berabar thaba nehim, Joottu berabar paab
Jaage hirdai saanja ho, thaage hirdhai aab

(Meaning: Aye boiys-eh, keep quietteh. Like trrootheh, there is no penance-eh. Like Lies-eh there is no sinn-eh. Aye Mahendralal, heard? This is foar you oNLy. Venn-eh heart is troothfuLL, in that-eh heartoNNLy Goad will come, you know.)
सांच बराबर तप नहीं, झूठ बराबर पाप
जाके हिरदय सांच हो, ताके हिरदय आप

Luckily, Rajamma miss was a lot better at explaining kabir dohas than pronouncing them, and thats why he is my favourite poet of all time.

PS: Pls forgive Hindi spellings. Combined effect of an ornery blogspot transliterator and 15 years of disuse.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Bangalore Bell-Curve

I have a theory that the average corporate expat in Bangalore (who isn’t into kundalee-knee or the Dah lee Lama) goes down a standard socio-emotional path, or what I call the Bangalore Bell-Curve.

Phase 1: Arrives and complains. Battles with the infrastructure, dust, chaos, housing, transport, and the language. Tries to adjust to the fuzzy work ethic and the long work hours s/he needs to put in to compensate for it. Complains ceaselessly but quietly so as not to ruffle too many feathers.

Phase 2: Settles in and slowly makes friends in an effort to blend in. Starts developing an interest in the curious Indian cultural ethos. Being from a dissect-analyze-resolve culture, is amazed at how many unresolved cultural nuances India has. Makes politically overcorrect cultural observations at every opportunity, much to the amusement of local friends. Is pleasantly surprised at Bangalore's colonial hangover. Enjoys hanging out at local pubs, junta restaurants and Koshy's and is delighted at how friendly India can be.

Phase 3: Awesome times, parties, clubbing, trips out with friends. Falls in love with a few. Has a great time at work with enthusiastic colleagues, parties and offsites. Is the center of attention at the lunch table. Continues friendships outside of work. Travels to Goa, Rajasthan, Agra and Pondicherry and loves it all! Looks at other ghettoed expats with pity and is convinced that s/he will never be like them. Emails jealous friends back home about all the awesome times had, and considers living here forever.

Phase 4: Slowly tires of the socializing. Cannot handle travel any more. Begins to develop culture related problems with the office management. The initial keenness to understand Indian family, social and value systems wanes away. Feels embarrassed by overpersonal Indian friendships, and has no idea how to handle them. Fixates on negatives because of the insurmountable cultural barrier. Hangs out more and more with other expats at Leela brunches to share woes that local friends cannot relate to. Suddenly realizes s/he is one of them, and panics.

Phase 5: The social strain begins to tell. Has huge fights with office management. Realizes that a lot can be achieved by capitalizing on Indian docility. Turns arrogant and yells at acquaintances, hotel staff, drivers and office admin. Local friends, outraged but too timid to react, begin to back off silently. Is infuriated with hot-and-cold Indian friendships and doesn't have the energy or the inclination to handle them any more. Wants to beat everyone up and run away screaming.

Phase 6: Make or break. The majority leaves quietly, unwept, unhonoured and unsung, with bell curve stories to tell. Most of those that choose to stay, do so for a love interest, or because they managed to find a sustenable social circle. The few local friends that survived phase 5 are secretly relieved to be at one arm’s distance.

Hats off though, to the tiny number of expats that refuse to get on the bell-curve, and have pleasant times and friendships all through their stay in Bangalore. They make the best of friends, and are very welcome to tell me exactly where to put my theory :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Ok so words in Tamil and English don't exactly mean the same all the time, but who cares, cos it’s bloom time in Bangytown again! My favourite time of the year, when the excitement of an oncoming summer mingles with the joys of a flower laden spring. And boy, are those trees flower laden these days! Everytime I pass the copse of golden Tabebuias at the cauvery circle, a big yellow hand reaches out from them and slaps me in my face. Aside from the mysore turmeric factory, they are definitely the yellowest sight Ive seen in my life. And thanks to the good doctor Neginhal who planted a huge bunch of them in the 80s, Beansville now has a lot of people looking like they’ve been slapped in the face by a brilliantly yellow tree at the end of February. In contrast, the delicate blossoms of the Jacaranda are cooling, inspirational, and well, purple. Paint them together in a picture and I’ll bet your drawing Miss will chide you for being unrealistic. Just send her to the nearest Tabebuia for a good slapping and she’ll come back a changed woman.

Neginhal was one of few horticulturists who actually had a vision for the tree cover of Bangalore. He managed to ensure that at least one species was in bloom at any point of the year. Flowering trees unfortunately aren’t very hardy, which is why you shouldn’t park under them in the monsoon. But for the rest of the year, aren’t you glad they are around?

Here are some spots with breathtaking views of some of my favourite trees in Bangalore:

The Pink Tabebuia (Dec- Jan) – Pink, pink pink. Uff, what a! For me, they are synonymous with Christmas in Bangalore. The best collection of these beauties is in the Cubbon Park looking towards the Vidhana Sauda from the Central Library.

The Yellow Tabebuia (Feb) – Riotously yellow, they are a traffic hazard in February because of their breathtaking beauty. One of the best pure stands of this Argentinian wonder is at the Cauvery Circle in Guttahalli.

Jacaranda (Feb-Mar): Delicately beautiful, this tree carpets roads and yards all over town with fragile purple flowers. One of the most ethereal sights to see every march or so. Cubbon Park as usual has a prize collection, apart from houses all around town.

Cassia (Mar-Apr): delicately pink and loverly loverly, this summer bloomer is best viewed at Edward V’s statue in Cubbon Park. Lucky dude got all the nice trees.

Gul Mohur (May-Jun): Synonymous with summer and mommie dearest’s birthday, this is definitely one of my favourites. Happy happy memories of my brother and I atop my grandmother’s huge Gulmohur, making fake nails with the calyxes of the flowers, and having sword fights with the huge flat seed pods. Best viewed at IISc, Bangalore.

The Cream Tabebuia (Jun): Lovely pinky-cream flowers, though not as riotously abundant as its other cousins. Edward V’s statue on the Chinnaswamy stadium road has a lovely specimen.

The Indian Laburnum (Jul-Aug): A madly yellow tree, has coin shaped sprays cascading down from short delicate branches. A sight for sore eyes. Sore eyes after this sight too! Not as frequently found in Bangalore as in Kerala, but there are a couple of beautiful specimens in lalbagh and Cubbon park

The Peacock Tree (Or pride of India) (Aug-Sep): Gorgeous fat red blooms nestled in a sea of dark green. A bird paradise, and a wonderful sight at Dasara

The Cork Tree (Oct-Nov) : A tall, tall tree where kites and vultures roost, that casts a fragrant carpet of white tube-shaped flowers on the ground. Best viewed on Sankey road near palace cross.