Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Odes to Bangalore

To the tune of: Yesterday (The Beatles)
Far as hell and dull as dust, but hey..
Would you rather choke on smog, or say
You're glad you live that far away?

To the tune of: You fill up my senses (John Denver)
Chud-dies, con-tact lennnnses,
Butter Gulkand, Black Forest.
Its always shop-ping time
On Malleswaram, 3rd main.
Stop at Asha's for dessert
Where milk tastes like hand lotion.
The '98 census
Showed alarming brain drain.

To the tune of: Jamaica Farewell (Harry Belafonte)
I wanna party away
MG Road is teeming with angry cops.
You look as hip
As a fashion clip
But at midnight your party is gonna stop.
We can't stay and play,
What is this, I say?
This rule will stay for many a day.
Just simmer down,
Stop hoppin around
And bring the party to my pad at the edge of town.

To the tune of: Country Roads (John Denver)
Migrant haven - Koramangla
Flats with fountains
By a sewage river.
Land is gold there, not so much the trees
A hundred Jacarandas
Mowed down 'fore you sneeze.
Bumpy roads, spell your tome
Not the place, to sing a song
Koramangla - money corner,
I'm staying home, won't miss you loads.

To the tune of: California Dreaming (The mamas and the papas)
Oh to Frazer town,
You shall go away.
Go take a,
To Thom's bakery, I say.
The cakes are fresh and warm,
Made at 4 every day.
Should I send you screaming,
Or will you go to-day?

To the tune of: Take it easy (The Eagles)
Oh if youre really very bored
Just hit DVG Road
But just tell me what is on your mind.
Looking for some flowers?
The kem-pe-gowda towers?
There's V.B if you wanna dine.
What's up duuudey?
Are you a fooodie?
Lets get a nice fat benne-dose, outside U.D.
Just get here in a car or van,
Or on a horse with a wedding band
Because it's great in the far off land
Of Basvangoooodi.

Cartoon Translation: "Where will you run now?" (Pun on the word 'Odu' = run)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Modern Indian Idiom - An illustrated tutorial

Linguistic education in India is in dire need of change. Casual conversations in modern India are no longer limited to one language. Multilingual textbooks are therefore the need of the hour, and must include modern turns of phrase, wise sayings and quirky Indian idiom in a minimum of three languages. The following is the recommended excercise format (with solutions) , for a "Learn Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu in 30 days" textbook, to be released in 2010.

Excercise 37: Translate the following passage into Tamil, Kannada and Hindi wherever applicable, with neat, labelled diagrams. (10 marks each):

'Hey Manjunath, why are you seated as if you are just back from a bungee jump? '
Ans: Dai Manjunath, yaen da bungee adichcha madiri ukanthirukkai?
--(Tamil: Bungee = cannabis. Bungee adicha madiri = looking doped)

'Argh, destroyer of evil, I hit the bore and became a mad dog. '
Ans: Ayyo, bore hodidhu huch naai agbittidene shiva
--(Kannada: I've become a mad dog out of boredom = bored crazy)

'Yes dear friend, I too have caught the madman and am currently scratching the mat. '
Ans: Aaman da, naanum paithyam pudichchu paaya praandindu irukkaen
--(Tamil: Gone crazy and scratching a mat (out of frustration))

'Hey Piyali, what disease has come to you? Who has shaken your chair now?'
Ans: Hey Piyali, Ningen roga bantu? yar nin chair na alladsidru?
--(Kannada: What disease has come to you = What's wrong with you? Who shook your chair? = Why do you look disturbed?)

'Sigh! Yesterday Rahul touched me and my death occurred. '
Ans: Hae! Kal na, Rahul ne mujhe touch ki aur meri toh daeth ho gai.
--(Hindi: died = 'I just died in your arms tonight' sorta died)

'Clean, go. Ladles two ladles, both loose ladles. '
Ans: Suththam po, Aapai rendaapai rendum kazhandaapai.
--(Tamil: Suththam = clean= Perfect, Loose ladles = useless)

'Oh move aside, monsoon cloud. You and your underwear friend are the ladles.'
Ans: Ae, chal hata sawan ki ghata. Aapai hoga tu aur tera chaddi dost.
--(Hindi: Move aside monsoon cloud = buzz off, underwear friend = childhood friend.)

'Oh pshaw old girl, are you turning on your meter? How did your exams go? '
Ans: Uyy, yenamma, meteraa? Sari, exam ella hegithu?
--(Kannada: Meter = autorickshaw meter = being obnoxious)

'After giving the last paper, I sold horses and slept. '
Ans: Arre, kal aankhri paper deke ghode bechke so gai main toh.
--(Hindi: sold horses and slept = slept soundly)

'Oh by the way, you haven't fallen properly in any of the photos I caught during our trip. '
Ans: Aye, naan trip-la pudicha photola ellaan nee nallave vizhala ma.
--(Tamil: Tamil words reserved for photography. fallen = appeared, caught = took.)

'Forsooth, dear friend, Did all of all not emerge properly? '
Ans: Arre yaar sare ke sare theek se nahin nikle kya?
--(Hindi: saare ke saare = all of all)

'Pish tosh, leave it, woman. Whose father's house bundle goes?'
Ans: Aiyo, bidamma, yaar appan gant hoythu.
--(Kannada: whose father's house bundle goes = who cares).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

28 day fever (Or five day fever, part fouru with pichars moru)

Read Parts 1, 2 and 3 here.

Day 28. I parked near the construction mela like I do almost every day and peered over the edge. In a heartening show of solidarity, college students were pitching in to complete what trained, paid masons were struggling to do. They had even set up a helpdesk to explain the convoluted traffic plan to the public. Some pro-active Bangaloreans at last! Such a relief from the usual jaded, moaning lot!

Manipuri artists were creating sun-patterned frescoes along the walls. Painters were giving a final coat to the concrete. The errant bulldozer was smoothening out slopes in a calm, lobotomized manner. The wronged crane was nowhere to be seen. A group of 60-something gentlemen were standing atop the underpass, fingers pointing in every direction, giving a hapless supervisor a piece of their collective intellect:

"Allappa, hing craas aag katsi yen sukha bantu?" (But young man, like this crooked you build means what comfort has come?)
"Ishtu chikka bridge mel yenaiya madthiya? Shuttle-badminton aadthiyenu?" (On such a small bridge what lord you will do? Shuttle badminton playinga?)
"Haiyyo, yen katsthaaro, bidthaaro. Thale iddru upyogsalla saar ivru. Eega idara mel bussu, gissu, maNNu masi, ella band sikakond bitre devre gathi ."(Haiyyo, what they will build, what they will leave. Head is there also means they will not use sar. Now bus, giss and several similar sundry objects will come and get stuck on top of this means god is only recourse.)
"This is vy country has gaan for daags sar. Aal these peepal musht be lined up and shaat I tell you. "

"Sir ond nimisha, bande" (Sir, one minute coming), said the long suffering supervisor, and vanished into the underpass with the old biddies harumphing after him.

I studied the student helpdesk's thermocol plan (slightly soggy after a cloudburst), and noticed that my dancing fountain idea to entertain gridlocked commuters on the U-turn atop the underpass, was not included. I advised the student body to undertake installation activites immediately. Grim studently silence ensued. Nevertheless, I managed to get a fair idea of what the traffic plan is going to be, and this, I think is it (fountain optional):

But sob!!! All the action will be be over in a couple of days and I will miss it sorely! What on earth will I do now, without squint eyed supervisors, mad machinery and genteel crowds to blog about? Sniff!

I will therefore leave you with an ode composed in memory of the birth of the Cauvery Junction Magic Box Underpass, before I go away and cry myself to sleep:

Under passu
You will help to crassu
The road without laassu.

Of your ingenious planu
I am a fanu
And so is my clanu.

So my magic baaxu,
Pull up your saacksu
Because you provide irrefutable proof that Benglur raacksu.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sri Gattikal Coffee Works

Bangalore is where things have traditionally been put to pasture. Hyder Ali tried to retire his troublesome army chief quietly, in Bangalore. The British turned Bangalore into a hospice for weak and wounded soldiers. Professors, accountants, and army officers retired in Bangalore to escape the heat and disorderliness of the plains. Ageing rock bands perform swan-song concerts in Bangalore. Old and unhip foreign institutions open new botoxed-up avatars in Bangalore, hoping for a final blaze of glory before biting the dust.

One such institution opened quietly on St. Marks road this year. I watched in distress as the antique-chic Barista and Nineteen Twelve were scooped out of the old Bible Society buildings, and fused into one huge space. My Indian sensitivities bristled as the yellow neon Hard Rock Cafe sign was hoisted over the door. I was only slightly mollified when a sign that said "Bengaluru" was tacked on underneath it. I watched them knock down walls, open up windows and re-structure courtyards. I hoped and prayed that they wouldn't convert the beautiful old building into another jarring modern eyesore that we certainly didn't need.

Fortunately, they didn't. It looked just as pretty as before, notwithstanding the yellow neon. As expected, people flocked in on the opening weekend. I didn't feel like battling the crowds, so I stayed home and did my nails for a couple of weeks till they died down. This weekend, a cousin and I finally decided to go find out what all the fuss was about.

"Hi surrrrrh", sang the ubiquitous Manipuri maitre d'ni, as we walked in and looked around. The old granite walls of the building had been left intact. The newly installed distressed wood flooring and furniture gelled perfectly with the rough stone. The mezzanine floor had been ripped out and a purple-lit bar put in its place. The old vaulted Mangalore tiled roof soared high above us. Elegant picture windows looked out at the the beautiful LIC building across the road. Slightly scuffed rock memorabilia, guitars, costumes and photographs glared down at us from glass coffins all around.

"Vyelkam to Hord Raak Cyaf-fayyyy!!" screeched our waiter Manjunath 'Call me Mannie' S.V., and went away while we studied the menu. Aside from standard American fare, it had an enigmatically named section called "Namma Bengaluru", that featured 'local specialities' like paneer wraps, pita bread and hummus. Wonder what my grandmother would have had to say about that.

"TGIF plus fifty rupis, no?" remarked the cousin as we glanced nervously at the prices. This was true. The menu read exactly like a marked up version of the already overpriced TGIF in Indiranagar. Luckily for us, they had half portion salads and the like, which we instantly ordered. "They'd better be good", I grumbled. "Medam, just I will check if Vanill 'odka shtack is there and come won minit." said Manju to the cousin. After a brief consultation with the ever-grinning bartender, he returned triumphantly, glass in hand.

The drinks were pleasant. The salads and mashed potatoes (yeah I know, whats the point) that we ordered were nice. The service was courteous and unobtrusive. The DJ played lovely classic rock. The obnoxious bartender interrupted our reverie periodically by yelling out to people that arrived and left. The gifts section had endearing "Hard Rock Cafe Bengaluru" tshirts, and little autorickshaw keychains.

I have to admit though, that they've succeeded somewhat in giving the place a Bangalore twist. Perhaps it was the familiarity of the music and the old building, or the comfortable kannada accents of the waiters that did it. In fact, for some bizarre reason, it reminded me of a big bad super rich cross between Guzzlers Inn and Windsor Pub. As for the grinny screechy bartender, I'm going to ask Manju to wrap him in a Bengaluru speciality and drown him in a barrel of Vanill'odka.

Old Bangytown has proven itself yet again, to be a perfect pasture ground: this time, for an ageing temple of Rock. To enter it, however, you need what most Bangalorean rock lovers do not have: TGIF plus 50rs.

Acknowledgements: Photo of the Hard Rock Cafe from SloganMurugan's brilliant photoblog.