Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On the outside looking in

It takes forever to get from Trivandrum to Bangalore. The flight is delayed and There. Are. NO. LOOS in the security lounge at Trivandrum airport. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! I considered going over to a potted palm and letting fly, then discretion prevailed. Statistical outlier – there were at least 4 pregnant women flying out of Trivandrum. Am I missing something here? I need more data to do a Levitt on this.

Bangalore traffic sucks. In comparison even Delhi is orderly, Bombay serene and Cal sheer heaven. Seriously. Objective opinion. An hour and a quarter from the airport to Lavelle Road. (On the way out at 5 a.m. today, it took 11 minutes.) As a result, I’m already in a bad mood by the time I check in. Further downer – after Chennai, this hotel seems a bit of a dump. I’m biased, it’s actually clean and adequate, but they can’t give me an ironing board (I cannot stand wearing un-ironed clothes. Some kink. Ask a shrink) and there’s no shoe mitt in the wardrobe. I call around to see whether I can move out in the morning. Nope. The entire damn city is full up. Mem: business ops – public loos in Chennai, hotels in Bangalore.

The natives were friendly, so we decided to stay the night. I needed to get out of that depressing room for a while. Koshy’s? Shoot me for sacrilege, but I find it too hot, too noisy and too predictable. The evening was salvaged by texted advice from a friendly Blooru. I ended up walking down past Koshy’s to The Tavern, a nice pub paradoxically located in what must be one of the worst hotels around.

I looked around and there was only one other person who looked over 30. Ugly old sod, too. Then I realised it was the mirror behind the bar. Two techies perched on their stools beside me, talking shop with heart-wrenching sincerity until Techie #3 walked over, draped an arm over each shoulder and turned the conversation to the staple of men in bars. I checked her out (the girl he was talking about) in the mirror. Yes, very attractive. A gora in jeans bellied up on my other side. That accent? Northern Ireland, it turned out. Didn’t like to call himself a Brit, but definitely more stiff uppah lip than Irish blarney. He was too propah to share my munchies, finished one mug of beer and vanished. No Guinness. Can one get Guinness on tap in any bar in India? I’d make a pilgrimage.

A couple two stools away had an animated conversation. The guy was big and flashy, the kind who takes the mufflers off his bike exhaust. The girl looked altogether smarter. Plump. Nice hands. At one point she put two books back in her tote. Sensible enough to stay away from low-rises and navel show. Strictly no touching, I noticed. Till another girl in a tight T and tighter jeans wandered up, exchanged greetings, hugged the guy a little longer than seemed warranted, wandered away. Wandered back twice more, major PDA each time. Girl #1 looked at her watch, lit a cigarette. Till that point she had been sharing cigarettes with Mr. Flash. In a few minutes she was gone. Flash drifted desolately after her till the door, came back, brushed off Ms. Tight T, extracted a helmet from under the stool, walked out. Tsk. Lack of focus, son. Elvis had a whole lot of songs about it. The least he could have done was see she got home safe.

Santosh behind the bar mixed me a nice vodka with lime and bitters, stopped by once in a while to talk. About soccer and why he supports Italy (Oh, so you’re from CALcutta, sir? THAT explains why you support Brazil!), about the long hours and clients and about weight training. Santosh, you’re a nice guy but I don’t take your b.s. Bicep-curling as much as you can bench-press? Nobody can do that. Nobody. Unless they have severe pectoral atrophy. And I wish you’d let me take your picture.

I perched there for a while, nursing my drink, looking around without making eye contact. The sound was excellent, balanced, the music good but not great. Till a certain guitar phrase dropped into the evening. Contemplative. Almost tentative … think you can tell / heaven from hell / blue skies from rain … That did it. I took over the playlist. My second drink (Smirnoff have an Orange Twist, it’s good) went with Shine on and Walk of Life. They even threw in some Santana. I felt good, even though they started switching off and shutting down at half eleven.

The night air was pleasant. Cars fretted at the crossing outside the Empire Hotel. As I reached K.C. Das, two girls were parking a scooter opposite. I thought Bangalore shuts down before midnight? Maybe they were only looking for some dinner.

St. Mark’s Cathedral was right opposite my hotel. As I passed the wrought-iron gate I could see the portico, the watchman an ominous shadow crouching from the neon glare. And so to bed … If I’d known what Tuesday held in store I might not have bothered to get out of bed. But that’s another day, maybe even another story.

**** ****


Anonymous said...

Sigh. Bangalore. The traffic sucks and the hotels are always full (so I hear). And even though you diss some of our favorite places we are happy to read about our city. I can tell a story for every street corner... :)

Priya said...

You were in Bangalore? Really? Glad to know I was of some help. Thanks for mentioning.

Swar Thounaojam said...

koshys is too "too hot, too noisy and too predictable". ah! ah! ah! lemme also add "too expensive". finally i meet, someone who shares my sentiment. everytime i have a meeting there, i have to curse myself coz all theatre ppl of blore has to have their meeting there and i cant stand it. did ya notice the mock fireplace at tavern?

March Hare said...

You keep a camera handy all the time or do you have a camera phone???

Ron said...

Finally!! Someone who agrees with me that Koshy's is just waaay overrated. In addition to hot, noisy and predictable its filthy as well. Have you seen those tablecloths?? As my mother puts it, Babar er shomoykar jinish.

And not just the traffic, just about everything sucks in Bangalore right now. Roads, power, water, public transport, hotels, traffic, even the weather (though it hasnt reached Calcutta standards yet, its getting there). Horrible.

Just out of curiousity, which hotel was this?

scout said...

Ah, a guinness man eh? Don't like stout much myself, but I know people who swear by it.

Am suffering from insomnia atm, your post reflected my state of mind :D

Hyde said...

Lavelle Road, eh? My office is in that area. Oh btw, how do you pronounce Lavelle?

ilaiy said...

I have heard b'lore is changed for the past 5 years and this have just become so crazy and insane around there ..

Nice blog ..


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

If you think Blore traffic is insane (which it actually is ) you should get a taste of Hyderabad where the traffic constables stand apologetically to one side while all sorts of vehicles and pedestrians have a free for all .. great action if youre not driving .

And in Mumbai the only place where the traffic moves is on the Sion Dharavi road- ofcourse you have to keep your senses of smell and sight closely under wraps if u'r not in an ac vehicle !

GhostOfTomJoad said...

Great post, JAP..this and Southern like a book.

Now that I've got compliments out of the time Nature calls, pal, pick a neighbour's pocket. Remember, palms, potted or otherwise, are not not even an option to consider.

If you think the traffic in Delhi is better than it is in Bangalore, surely, you've not been in Delhi enough.

The last time I was in Banglaore, which was a really long time ago, the one abiding memory I came back with was that of the people on M. G. date, I have not come across a less aggressive group of strangers as I did that evening.

Poorna Banerjee said...

this is really not fair... living la dolce vita and telling us all about the lovely Vodka, Smirnoff and tight t-shirts. The last time I had a good screw driver was in Park Street Oly, on one odd day when JU got to me. Now I really miss it all.

Vishnupriya said...

aha! so thats what the old guys i see sitting alone in bars, checking out the little girls are doing. they're collecting material for blogs! ;)

The Marauder's Map said...

All this Bangalore-bashing is beginning to make me feel very defensive about this city. I mean, just look at the weather now. While the rest of India wilts and dies, we are taking out the light jackets and blankets because of the chilly wind. Plus, where else are there bookshops like Blossoms and Premier, huh?

Veena said...

JAPda: The security lounge at Trivandrum airport has a loo. Actually it has more than one. You have to take the escalators up and you find a huge waiting lounge that's always always empty. The loos are up there.

Anti-establishment Inc said...

The traffic sucks..haha. Wonder what you would have said, had you have to pass over market road..:)

Smith said...

Bangalore traffic has become very sucky I must admit, but it's more an infrastructure problem than a style-of-driving problem as it is in Delhi, or an insane-men-in-ambies problem, as it is in Kolkata. In terms of insanity and disorderliness Kolkata wins, in terms of lack of consideration Delhi wins, in terms of lack of forward motion (and the resultant frustration), Bangalore wins. Three categories, three winners.

Tavern Tavern....I love it. I've deejayed there once. The regular DJ was on the leave, the stand-in DJ wanted to go home, and I happened to have my CD case with me. So the stand in DJ showed me how to work the console and scooted home, and for almost 3 hours i experienced the pure unadulterated high of being a DJ (surrogate rock star high)! I played Van Halen, Little River Band, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Steely Dan, Queen...and when pretty girls asked I even played Billy Joel and Elton John!

The crazy thing was that although the waiters and barmen and 'regulars' had never seen me beforee, the very fact that I was behind the console gave me credibility and authority. Nobody questioned me, the waiters politely requested me to announce the last song, the pretty girls begged.

And strangely on that day they let me play on till 12.45 am, and i signed off with "the show must go on." That was sooo much fun!

whoops...this is your blog :-P

ichatteralot said...

Calcutta traffic is unruly, think Bombay behaves when there are no jams! The guy meets gal description was interesting!

greatbong said...

very evocative---the desolateness and loneliness of an evening away from home is beautifully brought out.

That Girl said...

you sat there all by yourself!??!
ah my gad! i couldnt do that...i feel terrible!!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ph, WRITE those stories, please.

Priya, you’re all heart!

Bem, what is the alternative, then?

Sen-sational, I did mention (and even show) my camera bag in the previous post.

Ron, the Chancery on Lavelle Road. Owned by a Bong, yet!

Scout, insomnia may be cured by stout.

Hyde, Luh-vayle?


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ilaiy, thank you

Eve’s Lungs, noted. Shall comment after I visit Hyderabad.

Tom J, I was in Delhi yesterday. Traffic is bad but not THAT bad. And yes, Bloorus are mostly nice.

Panu … ummm … “screw driver” is not the same as “screwdriver”.

Vish, SOMEbody has to restore the balance after all you little girls blog about men in bars!

Marauder, yes, it’s a lovely city and I wish I lived there (holds on to nose to keep it from getting longer)


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Veena, thanks. Now if I ever fly out of Trivandrum again …

Anti-Est, we’ll find out some day.

Smith, I have to respond by e-mail. Address? (And I’m a big Billy Joel fan!)

I-Chatter, there are ALWAYS jams in Bombay.

Arnab, thankee kindly.

Reverend, what IS the weird reason and what does it have to do with Blank Noise?

GrafxGurl, I quite enjoy it. “No company” is fare preferable to bad company.


Smith said...

pls do, revengeofsmith at gmail dot com . I am a Billy Joel fan (and an Elton John) fan as well, but left to myself I wouldn't play 'uptown girl,' but when pretty girls ask, what can one do?

silverine said...

Traffic sucks and the govt had just signed the Bio Tech park deal. Bangalore is full up. No more vacancies. The worst is yet to come.