Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions du Jour – part 1

Been a long time since I wrote some…err make that “any”… Quite frankly, I have not felt like it and even now, I am resorting to this post as a spare-myself-the-expending-of-energy-exercise of having to repeat myself a gazillion times over. (this be the disclaimer for a very, very ramble-y and prêt-ty much directionless post)

Back to the “trigger” for this post though - you see, suddenly, people have nothing new to ask me or speak to me about. Everyone’s world seems to revolve around these four questions.
  1. How’s Bangalore?
  2. How’s married life (et all)?
  3. How’s the new job?
  4. (Oh and…) How’s watzisname?

So, here’s my one shot attempt to put down everything I ever wanted to say in response to these questions.

Answer 1:

Bangalore has not felt much different from Delhi in any big way (I mean, it’s just another city really!) except that I will hasten to add an emphatic “I am loving it!” rightaway. Huh? Well quite simply because I have hated Delhi and living in it for as long as I can remember. And so, just because I hate that one, I love this one!

Even so, it has it’s own little quirks and super jerks (wise-and-evidently-not-frustrated-man says: s’long as there is frustration, free time, and great weather, jerkazoids breed up an army) and so, here’s a list of it all:

The weather here is something I get down on my knees and thank God for all the way. I have lived in the swelter-sweltererer that is Delhi for so long that the slightest hint of respite/relief (read: effective airconditiong) would have me eating out of your hands. So, to be in a whole city where the sun/wind/atmosphere does not actually attempt to murder you as soon as you step out of your home is something I am bloody grateful for! And top that with 24/7 cool breeze…we are talking ehl-eh-vay-SHAN!, people!

Again, after years of practising the art of taking a bath (and this for someone who is psycho about baths – yep, you got that right – I am p.s.y.c.h.o. about baths) with half a bucket of water or less (with the whole soaping routine et all) in the faint hope of a fake oasis one day saving us from this lowly existence, we have buckets and buckets and buckets (Yes! Yes! more than one and then some more!) of beautiful, clean, cool, wet waterrr! (yes, yes, they have their own set of issues with it, but evidently, these do not dent the die-hard-bath-taker’s average routine.*)

The range, variety, and quality of eateries is mind boggling! Each and e-very place I have eaten in this city so far - starting with my office cafeteria to THE Leela Palace and everything inbetween - has ex-ce-llent food! Not to mention at great prices that suit every kind of pocket – the beginning-of-the-month pocket, the mid-month pocket, and of course, the dreaded month-end pocket. From the obvious idli-vadaas, to set dosas, and to my personally ultimate discovery – Konkani and Mangalorean cusine! (sidenote: any food lover with plans to visit Bangalore, DO make a trip to “Kanua” – you will NOT regret it!). The flip side is South-Indianised North Indian food (tip: do NOT assume kababs are like you knew them up north – “kababs” are strange red dry pakoras here!)

Oh and the “garden city” actually does not have so many of those, but it does have lakes! Well, okay, let me just call them multipurpose-natural-water-reservoirs or something…whatever…they are truly lovely! (Since a measly concrete-ridden pothole is the only one the city publicly acknowledges as a “lake”). Coming back to my MpNWRs then - there is this mini version right next to my home and then there is this rather large one on my way to work and they are both absolutely lovely!

Speaking of my drive to work, it is almost surreal - the major part of this 12 minute (which, btw, is a joy right in itself) commute consists of going over a winding road that goes right by the large lake. The water stretches right up to the horizon on one side and to a palm grove on the other…I mean this is my drive to work in a concrete ridden city! It is not supposed to have palm groves and gently-rippling-away-to-glory water! Reality Byte: As you come toward the end of the lake, there is a narrow one-way bridge (which means that only one-direction-bound traffic can travel over it at a given point of time) the lake kind of converts to a green waterfall at this point and that’s where your nostrils make the cruel discovery that this joyous beauty is actually an industrial waste dump site). Still looks beautiful though!

Any discussion of (my) true happinesses in this city would be incomplete without mentioning my home. Now, when I moved to Bangalore, I moved to my husband’s at-the-time apartment that was in the heart of the city. (Note to newbies: In Bangalore, the living tradeoff (for non-native Bangaloreans) stands thus – If you want to stay in the city aka within arms reach of all/most of the “happening places, then prepare for cramped, seriously polluted, and traffic-ridden woes. Move to the outskirts (which by the way are witnessing a development explosion and thereby, will deem any discussion on city lines redundant), while you would be likely rid of traffic jams and get roomy quarters, you would not be so close to those aforementioned “happening” places. Anyway, so the greatest joy in the current home we have (and I think “moving in/out” should be a whole different post) is that its is so very people-friendly! Not a weekend goes by without friends or family or friends of family etc dropping by/staying over. (who-am-I-kidding note: there are moments…okay more than just “moments”…of slight exasperation (“ballistic psycho” is how one house guest once described me) for quite the same reason, but even so…)

Since I mentioned “happening” a couple of time over in the last paragraph, I hasten to add that the city is not quite as “happening” as its word-of-mouth reputation would have us believe. There is an 11 pm (YES! Ee-LEH-vun! I mean, even that dratted Cinderella had it better!) curfew on all places to close down and I am told that I missed a (s.e.n.s.e.l.e.s.s. - I mean, this is the only city that can comfortably be open air!) ban on open air eateries by a whisker (thankfully we have a lot of these now) and really, the pubs are a-okay. Benefit of doubt: they were probably a lot better off without timing restrictions and other such but now, they are just about okay…I have favourites but there is nothing like, extraordinary about these places.

I never ever thought I would say this about any city, traffic is arguably worse than in Delhi! (side note: Actually, I feel Bangalore is a lot like Delhi was about 10-ish years ago…going through a lot of rapid seemingly uncontrolled growth with infrastructure barely being able to keep up with it.) Coming back to the traffic, its not like the distances are much in Bangalore (on the millionth relative-to-Delhi note) but it can take ages to get some place O.N.L.Y. because of traffic. It is chaotic, whim-based and taking on seriously anarchic proportions. This combined with road planning that sucks (the whole city depends on 2-3 major roads to take them everyplace possible), stoopid, STOOPID, one-way systems (they don’t serve any purpose except for you to develop ulcers over the amount of aimless travelling you need to so to get to some place that would possibly be 1/4th the distance away) and bad, bad communication about traffic movements or anticipated obstacles to travel.

And now for the very bane of all Bangalore-kind – autowallahs! I cannot even begin to tell you about what it is like to deal with this breed in this city. Type 1: they just plain refuse to budge from wherever it is you have stopped them – the main road, your local market, an auto stand (this is the worst place to encounter these b@!#$@#s). At first I thought it was a language barrier issue, but my Kannada and Tamilian friends have much the same woes to report. Then, I thought it could be a happening-ness-of-destination issue – but if you don’t want to go to MG Road/the station/the airport WHERE do you want to go?? Type 2: they will agree but only if you agree to/with their a) route plan (which could sometimes include a preferred destination as opposed to the one you dared suggest) and/or b) fares (motto: the succinct and simple “cheat maadi”) Type 3: GET OUTTA THE WAY THEY ARE OUT TO GE…ulp *dead*

Sigh…that’s all for now…there’s lots more about the place such as how amazing the sky is each and every day, how our office is located so close to the airport runway, that planes are at eye level while landing, and how blissfully laidback the city otherwise is. All in all, while I don’t miss Delhi in the least, I do rather wish I could somehow pack all of my friends and bring them here (..and lock them all up in a room only to be brought out when I need them or something)

*for all those tsk…tsking about my apathy to the heart rending plight of farmers driven to suicide by the biased distribution of Kaveri waters, etc…if it helps any, I use borewell water! :P

Coming up next: How’s married life?