When did I become a grown up?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this happens to everyone. Almost everyone, at least. That feeling of “wow! I’m an adult now? When did that happen?”

One of the instances of that feeling accosting me occurred last weekend. I was at my sister’s place and was out for an evening walk with my sister and my 6 month-old niece when three 10-year-ish-looking girls ran towards us, all giggly. I smiled back politely and maybe encouraged by that they proceeded to tell me the story of how they saw “3 frogs.. no wait, there were 4 frogs – 3 big and 1 small.” The long story was told, debates on the size of frogs were made and they ended the story with “Don’t go there Aunty!”

When they said that, I immediately looked at my sister, because in my head, it makes sense for her to be called “aunty”. ‘Coz, you know, she has a kid and stuff. Only catch – they were clearly talking to me.  (Unless all three had crooked eyes. That is a possibility, yeah?) Then I convinced myself that they called me “aunty” ‘coz I was holding the baby – can’t blame the kids for being politically correct, can I? It took me a few more minutes to accept the reality that I am (and I look) old enough to be included in the ‘aunty’ category, especially from a 10-year-olds eye.

As we were walking back, my sister and I ended up talking about the whole ‘oh-man-she-called-me-an-aunty’. (Dear reader, I can sense you rolling your eyes at me now. I’ll stop in a bit. Thank you for your patience!) When we were talking it dawned on us that there is no equivalent term in English for the Malayalam word ‘chechi’. Technically, it means sister, but colloquially, it is used to address all women who appear to be older than you but is no old-old, geddit? You can’t ask people ‘sister, could you help me get an auto?’ whereas ‘chechi, can you help me get an auto?’ is completely acceptable. The vagaries of languages. Sigh.

As for the growing old part, I feel that there is a huge difference between growing up and feeling grown up, though I am still on the fence about the importance of the latter. All this hungama (which I am causing. Yes, I’m aware of that) is reminding me of a conversation from the movie ‘Liberal Arts’ (it’s one of my favourite movies. Go watch it if you haven’t. It’s super amazing.) which goes as follows:

Prof. Peter Hoberg: You know how old I am?

Jesse Fisher: No, how old are you?

Prof. Peter Hoberg: It’s none of your goddamn business. Do you know how old I feel like I am?

Jesse Fisher: [shrugs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: 19. Since I was 19, I have never felt not 19. But I shave my face, and I look in the mirror, and I’m forced to say, “This is not a 19-year-old staring back at me.”

[sighs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Teaching here all these years, I’ve had to be very clear with myself, that even when I’m surrounded by 19-year-olds, and I may have felt 19, I’m not 19 anymore. You follow me?

Jesse Fisher: Yeah.

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.

And now you have in on the dirty secret too. You can thank me in the comments. Or send me Bournville – the super dark one, not the raisins one. That works too.

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Exploring Karnataka – Kolar District

So that happened. To be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to wake up at 4.30 am. But wake up I did, after about 10 min of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to give up the whole idea of heading to Kolar at the crack of dawn.

Yes, Kolar – the destination for the day, primarily chosen for its proximity to Bangalore. My friend and I set off from Majestic at around 7.30am from Platform 3. The buses are frequent and cost around INR 70.00. We reached Kolar bus stand by around 9.00-ish and that’s when the story started.

We found an auto from the bus stand that was willing to take us to the nearby Kolaramma Temple for INR 30.00 (TBH, it is just within walking distance. We opted for auto because we were a bit late and were not sure how long the temple will be open) Incidentally, while planning the trip, I tried, in vain, to find out the timing of the temple. Even now, I have no accurate idea of the timings – it was open till 10.00am on a Sunday is all I can say. The Kolaramma Temple was quaint. Small, but quaint. It took us barely 15-20 mins to see the entire place. It is also pretty famous and draws huge crowds on certain days, an inference I made from all the crowd control measures found inside. It wouldn’t eat up much of your time. After the temple visit, we realised that we are pretty hungry and set out to find a place to take breakfast. After roaming around the entire town, which is pretty small and old school, we ended up at the hotel in the bus stand. And let me forewarn you – Don’t eat from there! The food sucks. Which is why we ended up setting off to Anatara Gange in a semi-hungry state.

Kolaramma Temple
Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple

Antara Gange is a range of mountains that you first get a glimpse of when you enter the district of Kolar via bus. It is around 4km from the Kolar bus stand – it should cost you around INR 50 to go there – beware of auto drivers just outside the bus stand who’d charge you INR 70-100 stating that they’ll have to ‘return empty’! We had asked a vendor inside the bus stand how much the autos charge you normally, so when the first auto bhaiyya said 100 bucks, we knew better than to take it.

The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar
The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar

Now the Antara Gange mountains can be climbed in 2 phases – first there is a series of steps that take you to a temple that is built at the slope of the mountain. The deity is Ganesha and the temple had a decent number of devotees offering prayers when we reached. Now the climb is pretty steep with around 100-200 steps, but no worries – you’ll be escorted by hordes of monkeys throughout. Once you reach the top, the real trek begins. Climb the rocks and you’ll find a narrow path covered with trees and bushes – once you pass through the “portal” (as I like to call it) the mountains beckons. The trail is pretty straightforward – most of the stones even have rough steps carved on them!

The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple
The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple

We climbed our way to the top of a mountain where we found a bunch of trekkers with a young local boy acting as a guide – apparently, they were in pursuit of the famed Antara Gange caves. Since it was 12.00-ish by then and hot like hell, the breakfast-deprived duo (aka us) decided not to join the team. We found a cosy spot by a tree at the top and rested for a good half hour, gushing about Wild, Reese Witherspoon and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and enjoying the view, after which we had an uneventful trek downhill. Autos were readily available at the base of the mountain (INR 50) to the bus stand from where we took a bus to Bangalore.

And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don't you agree?
And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don’t you agree?

All this took just half a day. I was back in my room by 4.00pm.

P.S: You could also try visiting KGF (Kolar Gold Field), the Kotilingeshwar Temple and Someshwara Temple, situated around 35 km from the Kolar town (nearest railway station is the Bangarapet). Frankly, we were too exhausted from the lack of sleep and food to head out there. Antara Gange also offers considerably challenging cave exploration treks which could be undertaken at night – moderately dangerous, yet worth the effort, I’m told! Btw, don’t forget to carry plenty of water when you set out for the trek!

P.P.S: In case you are planning a trip to the place and need any info, please feel free to post your query in the comments. The primary reason I decided to document the trip is the lack of detailed info about the place – you know, the kinda of things that actually help you plan the trip, especially if you are a geographically challenged newbie like me. 🙂

WTH!

Since time immemorial, scientists across the world have been working on trying to come up with logical explanations for many a head-scratching questions like why the bread always fall on its buttered side or the velocity with which Poonam Pandey was dropped when she was a kid. One of the many questions which have baffled the best of the better brains of the universe is deceptively simple – what prompts a guy to offer a random girl a lift? (Nope, not looking for the obvious answer)

Now before the awesome male population that happens to be reading this blog starts writing the script for a “my choice” male-version-video type response, allow me to put out the necessary disclaimer. To quote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,

“Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them, especially if the author has been kind enough to have provided their real names and, in some cases, their phone numbers. All events described herein actually happened, though on occasion the author has taken certain, very small, liberties with chronology, because that is his right as an American.”

The basis of this sudden reflection of an age-old phenomenon stems from an experience I has while I was out for a run today. It was around 10 at night and I was jogging (read panting like a sweaty, headphone-wearing doggy) when I saw a car slow down a few meters in front of me. I was about to pass it when a young man driving it did the whole “Excuse me” thingy and asked me where BTM 2nd Stage was. Assuming that the poor man was lost, and being the queen of FGCP aka Federation of Geographically Challenged People and hence sympathetic to the plight of fellow members, I pointed out with a pleasant smile that “this is BTM 2nd Stage”. And since he continued to look lost, alternatively peering at his phone and saying “Just a moment”, I asked him where he wanted to go. (Of course, HE didn’t have to know that I’m almost as lost as him, did he??) He mentioned another landmark, which I pointed out and proceeded to jog. I had barely gone a few meters when he slowed down again and did the whole “Excuse me” process all over again only to ask me if I am a localite. I was like “Erm..depends”.

And then he asks me if I want a lift.

I was like “Wait…what?” I mean, I was in my track pants and running shoes with headphones in my ears, puffing like a choo-choo train…which part of that spells “I-need-a-lift” to you? I gave him The Look and he speaks again “I could give you a lift” . Me, being the epitome of politeness, goes all “I don’t need a lift, thanks” (yeah, I tend to be excessively polite at times, without meaning to be. Chances are if someone comes with a gun at me, I’d probably be like “Nah..I don’t need a hole in my heart, thank you very much”) By now, I was pretty creeped out. I mean, yes there are people around in a if-I-shout-they’ll-hear-me distance so I’m not outright scared, but the itchy feeling that says “let’s get outta here sweetheart“ was on. So I jogged on, a tad bit faster, two blocks away where there were plenty of PGs (and hence couples – which count as people, I suppose). All good, right?

Nah.

The guy comes in his car and slows down next to me. Again.

And he goes “Hi”. With a grin. Creepy grin. By now, I’m all “WTH!!” And a tad bit worried. Images newspaper headlines that goes “Single lady raped in car in Bangalore” starts floating around my head. And I go all “What is wrong with you?” and head home taking the long route through the main (aka plenty-of-people) road.

So there. Now you know why I asked what I asked. So what am I supposed to take away from this episode? Was that guy harmless? Or was the whole asking-for-address thing a smoke-screen for something more sinister? Was he drunk? Or was he like “I’m bored. Lemme go scare the bazooga outta some random girl-on-the-road”?

So. Many. Questions.

Just a note.

It’s been a while. It’s almost like I’ve forgotten how to write. For the past few days, weeks even, I’ve been carrying this nagging feeling to jot down something – anything, really. Of course, like the wannabe I am, I’d love it if I could sit in front of my lap and churn away a poignant, eloquent piece of article. However, that’s not how it is to be. I’m trying to come in terms with the fact that maybe this is the best I can do – an occasional peep into the blog to rant/jot about life and its numerous intricacies.

So as I was saying, I’ve been wanting to write desperately for the past few days. In fact, the last time I wrote something meaningful was a good 3 months back. In between these, many a thing has happened that’d have normally had me running to my beloved Word document. And I did too. But somehow, every time I sat down to write something, all the words that I knew of, all the clever metaphors and witty one-liners I had in my mind seemed to fade into oblivion right before my eyes, until all that was left was a wisp of lame English words strung together by the most uninspired of connectors.

I’ve spent quite a few bus rides wondering why this is. For the uninitiated, I love bus rides. And I love not to talk during bus rides. Unless I’m in exceptionally, exceedingly awesome mood, that is. It is during that time that I do a lot of things I like to do. I think about stuff like the Calvin n Hobbes quote I read the other day. Or a conversation I had with a friend about religion/politics. I talk to myself in my mind. I pray in my own warped way. I read sometimes. So my point is that I’ve spent quite a few precious hours (I live at Bangalore, so a normal 15 min bus ride gets stretched to at least 40 min – plenty of time) pondering why I don’t write anymore. As I said, it is not for lack of issues. If anything, it might be ‘coz of too many issues to write about.

After much thought, the conclusion I came into was this – of late, I’ve been exposed to a variety of articles on a wide range of topics that I’ve hit what can be called (sophistically) a writer’s block. Let’s not focus on the fact that I just referred to myself as a writer (I mean, how vain is THAT!) and move on to the point I’m trying to make. Basically, I’m feeling how Cooper might have felt when he stepped on (erm..stepped on? That ain’t right, is it?) space – so much out there that transcends what you know and what you do…so much out there that you know is out there but is yet to find out. And in between all this there is the incomparably insignificant you, your work and your passion that matters so much to you but in actuality, is not even a drop in the ocean. Does that make sense?

Well, if it doesn’t, blame it on the rain. It always messes with my mind. (Yep, it’s raining in Bangalore. And yep, that smell of new soil is overpowering my senses.) I mean, I love rains. Monsoon is my favourite season. However, in what may seem as a contradiction, rain also makes me sad. Emotional. It makes me long for the places I left behind and the places I have to go to.

It makes me feel alive.

The Amma Show

Jayalalitha’s conviction in the 16 year-old disproportionate assets case has been celebrated as a triumph of justice by her detractors and the aam aadmis of our country. The high profile case which was moved to Bangalore in 2001 and saw 4 judges come and go was ridden with drama and would be remembered for its many firsts – the first judgement against a sitting Chief Minister, the ruling of Rs.100 crore as fine and so on. Needless to say, the days following the judgement saw sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka borders and the unsurprisingly insane show of loyalty by many of her followers – last I heard, 16 of her fans had committed suicide, apparently heartbroken at the ‘harsh’ judgement. When news like this surface, I’m reminded of the words of a acquaintance of mine. He, a top-level member of a political party, used to narrate stories of how, whenever news that tarnishes the image of their members come out, the party used to silently ‘encourage’ their gullible followers to create a scene, often by giving up their lives or fasting to death so as to make a statement. I remember laughing it off as an exaggeration then, but now that I think back, I don’t think he was joking.

One of my Facebook friends had put up a post that gained much traction considering the current atmosphere. He wrote “People are terribly angry at the court for finding out that their leader stole a lot of money from them.” Fair enough. After all, the response to her conviction has been nothing but confusing. Keeping aside her supporters, the politically neutral diaspora has been reacting to the news with a mix of ‘justice prevailed’ and sympathy. The reasons for this are two-fold. One – she was, as far as Chief Ministers go, a pretty good one. In between all the gold and property she is said to have amassed, she is one CM who actually managed to try and give back to the poorer-than-poor section of her state with her rice for Re.1, Amma canteens, Amma school bags and her latest, Amma Cements. Of course, the choice of name did provide for a lot of amusing one-liners then and now, but it is an irrefutable fact that her schemes did go a long way in easing the pangs of being poor in TN. Another, and in my opinion, more prevalent reason for the sympathy towards her is the fact that she has been caught in the net of justice of which many of her contemporaries have eased through like slippery eels. In a country where politician is synonymous with corruption, it seems to many that Jayalalitha has been singled out and prosecuted, particularly in light of the upcoming elections. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure out that the ruling could not have come at a better time for DMK, and, interestingly, to the BJP who has been, for long, looking for ways to weasel its way into South India and Tamil Nadu.

It is no doubt that justice have been served. The idea that no politician, not even a CM, is above law is a comforting thought, especially to the Indian youth who are increasingly frustrated with the Indian politics. The lack of transparency has long hampered the enthusiasm of the youth, so much so that a mention of development is all that it takes to fire their bloods. By its brave judgement, the Indian judiciary has indeed set an encouraging trend. It has proven that justice delayed is not justice denied. Of course, it is naive to assume that just because the ruling is passed, Ms.Jayalalitha is going to spend 4 years in prison. The law is ridden with infinite loopholes and second-chances – no doubt her team of lawyers will find a way to bring her out. As often is the case, the ruling here is symbolic. Yet, this symbolism is a breath of fresh air to the citizens who are being starved of its faith in judiciary and the law. One can only hope that the wind of change would someday fondle the likes of Mr.Amit Shah who has, allegedly (aah..how I love that word!), blood in his hands and yet holds one of the highest positions in the ruling party.

But then again, money & development triumphs lives, so it is befitting that a case for corruption is viewed with much more seriousness than that of a ruthless massacre.

The Open Couple

At Thrissur, the place I hail from, there is a place called the Regional Theatre. It is one of the many cultural hubs in the city of Thrissur widely known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala. Also it is barely 5 minutes away from my home. Hence it is a matter of colossal shame (to me personally) that the first play I ever saw was after I came to Bangalore – a month or so back, to be precise. It was a wonderful experience and it certainly moved me enough to decide that I’d be back to theatre many a time in future – a promise I was not able to make good of until yesterday.

On Sunday, a friend and I decided to go to a play called “The Open Couple”. I had been harping on about how Bangalore’s cultural strength is overshadowed by its bright new malls and discotheques (not that I’m against it!) and it is perhaps to gain momentary relief from this that he came up with this idea. Besides, there is something exhilarating about paying 300 bucks to watch a play as compared to spending the same amount for watching a less than decent (and often downright crappy, IMHO) movies, don’t you think?

So back to our play. The Open Couple is a satirical English play written by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame in 1983 and is directed by Faraz Khan who was recently featured in Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus. It revolves around the life of Antonia (Vaishali Bisht) when her husband, referred to as ‘The Man’ (Anuj Gurwara) decides that he is bored of their normal married life and proposes that they be in an open relationship. The play opens with Antonia as a suicidal emotional wreck and through a series of funny, poignant vignettes, concludes with a complete role reversal.

The Open Couple (Pic Courtesy: http://metawards.com/)

The Open Couple (Photo_Courtesy:http://metawards.com/)

The play is nothing like you expect it to be. For one, the first thing I noticed when I got inside the hall was that there was a commode at the center of the stage. Just a commode and no other furniture except for 2 wooden stools. Also the troupe uses painted faces and includes some miming techniques and several exaggerated body movements to convey the ridiculousness of certain situations. It goes without saying that the two actors have done a wonderful job of portraying Antonia and The Man, especially the adorable Italian accent – so much so that I actually thought that the actors were of Italian origin! (Of course, this was a source of great humour to my friend!) It was only after I got home and Googled the play that I realized that the actors are rather acclaimed in the theatre world. Vaishali Bisht, Google tells me, is a graduate in theatre and drama studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England and Anuj Gurwara is an active theatre actor in Hyderabad and has worked in films with directors like SS Rajamouli, Sekhar Kammula and Nagesh Kukunoor.

At the end of the day, The Open Couple certainly lived upto its promise of being “A larger-than-life and bizarre with unexpected dose of life and laughter.” The show is on at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, Bangalore everyday till 28th September 2014. Online booking is available at bookmyshow.com

Happy watching!

The new-found freedom

It was only the last evening while talking to a friend on phone that it dawned on me that I’ve been away from home for nearly 6 months now. Which, of course, in the larger scheme of things is kinda like a drop of water in the ocean. It’s just that I absolutely loved these last few months. And I find that amusing ‘coz if you were to call me up at this moment and ask me to educe my memories of Bangalore, I’d probably come up with more rotten ones than the other.

Huh.

On second thought, that shouldn’t surprise me so, should it? En masse, we humans have this tendency to highlight the bad over good, haven’t you felt? Trashy movies, shoddy books, third-rate politics, mediocre celebs, their sub-standard tactics…all this makes us have collective mini-orgasms. The good stuff usually makes us go “Damn, why didn’t I think of that? And now I have to sit through others praising him. And smile while I’m seething with jealousy.”

And so, it is a truth universally acknowledged that bad experiences end up being a damn good story. And yes, I realise it echoes of the first line of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. And that, keeping in with the tradition, I’ve drifted off the topic. Focus, Navmi.

So yeah, Bangalore. I keep saying Bangalore ‘coz even though I’ve been here for just 3 months, life in Gandhinagar had been a breeze compared to that here. There, everything was handed out to us in a platter – all we had to do was to shell out a few bucks to keep ‘em coming. Here, we had to start everything from scratch. You know how you watched Ayesha paint her cute little apartment in ‘Wake up Sid!’ and told yourself “That’s how it is gonna be when I move to a new place”? Well, I really don’t want to rain on your parade, but THAT is utter bullshit. When YOU move to a new place, you’re probably going to end up in a P.G which advertises free wifi, “homely” food, and a bunch of smiling owners only to realise by the end of the month that (a) it takes an hour to load Google, (b) you can only have so much dal in a day (c) you are the little Red Riding Hood and the owners may as well be the big, bad wolves in your Grandma’s clothes. So there.

And then you are going to realise that life is bloody expensive. I’m not talking about the ‘No cash for petrol’ kinda crisis. I’m talking about the one where you realise a packet of Surf Xcel costs as much as a king-sized Diary Milk Silk! And once you realise the number of chips packets you consume in a month, you’ll start wondering how your parents could afford to stay off the streets. Seriously. But hey, jokes apart, there is nothing like being completely in charge of your finances that helps you grow up. A few of us taste the first spurt of this growth in your college days. For a few others like me, it’s a completely new arena. There is nothing as baffling as watching your carefully scripted monthly budget plan falling apart in the first week of the month. From then on, it’s like increasingly depressing cricket match. Theoretically, there is hope till the last over is bowled. And yet, you get a picture of how things are gonna be in those crucial initial overs.

And somewhere between all these, you’ll start getting hounded by a newfound worry that you are not doing enough for your parents – financially or physically, whether they need it or not. There’ll be times when you’ll be astounded by the heights of your selfishness in choosing to put your life, your dreams, your independence above that of theirs. You are gonna fret over those calls that start with “I have this headache for the last few days…” or “Cholesterol level is quite high…” When they call you up to inform you about the demise of an acquaintance or a friend or are uncharacteristically silent on the phone, you are gonna catch yourself wondering “If only I were there, we could have talked about this…” You are gonna brood over that for a while and will, almost certainly, try and shake it off by watching a movie or reading a book. After all, you gotta do what you gotta do.

And in between all these, strangely enough, you’ll relish the life you live. You’ll enjoy that you can go out at 9.30pm to buy a jar of jam. Or that you can go jogging in the morning just because you felt so. Or that you can blow off a good portion of your salary on books and no one is gonna give you THAT look. Some days you’ll go up on the terrace, look at the stars and simply lie there, listening to the distant rumble of traffic, the impatient horns and wonder where everyone is going. You’ll gaze at the apartments nearby and wonder what they are doing. You’ll have the luxury of being at your whims and fancies…

Some days, most days, that’ll be enough.

LFB #2 – That Bus Ride

It was just another day. As usual, my 5 friends and I boarded the bus from our hostel to work. It had been around 2-3 weeks since we had landed at Bangalore. The city was becoming less alien and was fast losing the “Wow!” factor in our eyes as was evident by our choice of local bus over the AC-fied, extremely sleek-looking BMTC buses. Being the responsible adults that we are, we preferred skimping 20 bucks by compromising on our level of comfort so that we can hit the Commercial Street and blow up twice the amount we have saved on shoes that we’ll never wear and books that we’ve already read. Like I said, responsible adults and all.

Back to my story. So here we were, in the local bus, cramped between a cute girl with a nose-ring and enough perfume to drown out the stench from the nearby gutter & an aunty with long, loose hair which, I know not how, kept finding its way into my mouth. The conductor came in and I gave him the customary 10 Rs. And as was the practice, he didn’t give me the ticket. My friend, who asked for the ticket was dismissed with a shrug and some muttered words (most probably, it was Kannada). Nothing unusual in that. In Bangalore, you get tickets only in the above-mentioned sleek-looking BMTC buses.

In the next stop, the aunty with long, loose hair that kept getting into my mouth (and tastes disgusting, btw) got down only to be replaced by a kakhi-wearing uncle. He came in and asked the cute-girl-with-the-nose-ring for her ticket. She promptly explained that she had already paid but was not issued a ticket by the conductor. She looked towards our conductor, who looked rather frightened and said that since she didn’t give him 2 Rs. change, he had not given her a ticket. On hearing this, the kakhi-clad conductor said (in Kannada) “Alright then. Travelling without a ticket is a crime. Pay Rs.140 as fine.”

And thus started the drama.

Within seconds, the cute-girl-with-the-nose-ring turned to a Kannada-spouting version of the girl that the author of the lines ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ had in mind. She went on and on in full steam, alternately shouting at the conductor (who, by now, was feebly trying to say “she did take a ticket”) and volubly refusing to pay the fine. And with good reason. Apparently, she HAD given the prefixed amount of Rs.12. The conductor, in order to slip that amount into his pocket, had not accepted that 2 Rs. and not given the ticket too. This, we later came to know, was a common trick in local buses.

In between all this hungama, that girl somehow got down at her stop and the kakhi-clad conductor turned his fury towards us. We explained, rather tried to explain, that we had paid the amount and didn’t receive the ticket. But the kakhi-clad conductor wouldn’t listen to any of it. He kept on saying “Fine of Rs.140, fine of Rs.140” By then, in true Kannada movie style, another kakhi-clad conductor got onto the bus and blocked the back door to prevent us from getting down at our stop. As things started getting a bit ugly, one of my friends (who, incidentally, is the perfect example for the quote ‘appearances can be deceptive’) suggested that we pay up, only to be silenced by 5 pairs of Bharatanatyam-style stares.

By now, the kakhi-clad conductor had started scolding us in Kannada. Not to be left behind, we retaliated in a mix of Hindi, English and Telugu. Next he came up with a “brilliant” idea – we pay up the fine, he’ll question the conductor ‘properly’ and if our claims were found to be true, he’d send us back the money to our address!

When we refused to give our address after repeated ‘instructions’, he took out the ‘Brahmastra’.

“Take the bus to the police station,” he shouted, rather dramatically.

“Alright then, take the bus to the police station”, we retaliated.

This went on for a few minutes. By this time, all the locals in the bus, with the exception of a gentleman (alright, a good-looking gentleman. Gawd! Just let me get on with my story, will you?) who worked at UST Global and had supported us right from the beginning, had started getting pissed off with us and the drama. Unable to withstand the pressure, the kakhi-clad conductors made our bus conductor pay Rs.720 as fine right before us, and let us go. Finally.

So the moral of the story? If you get into a bus at B’lore, before you give the money, always ask “Ticket kodi..”  Might save ya quite a bit of trouble later on, you know.

Live From Bangalore

That tangy smell of coriander being sautéed…I’ve always associated that with the feeling of being at home. For there is little that says “Welcome home” like having your nostrils burned by the smell of spices. So here I am, another day, another place and yet, very much at home. Only this time, it’s my sister pottering around the kitchen, trying to whip up something edible from a mass of greens and pulses. Every time I look at her, I get this kinda maternal vibe…a sense of pride as if she is what she is because I am who I am. Does that make sense?

So here I am. New day, new place. The same old sense of excitement. But this time, there are no nerves. Bangalore seems as much home as Thrissur. Now how is that? I don’t know the language, the people… and considering the fact that I’m one of the most geographically challenged people existing on the face of earth, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t know any of the places too. And yet, my mind is at ease. There is something about Bangalore that welcomes you right in. It seems to have a place for you, whoever you are. And somehow, I have this gut feeling that life here isn’t gonna have as many peaks and ditches as life at Gandhinagar. Let’s see…

Meanwhile, I’d appreciate it if those of you who knows Bangalore like the back of your hand or knows someone who knows someone who knows Bangalore like the back of their hand lemme know about what to do at the so-called happening city of India. Good eateries (‘coz after all, food comes first), good music, fun places to hang out (which are, preferably, rather easy on the pocket)…anything and everything about the place. So do drop me a message with suggestions, wokay?

More on life here later. Go…have fun!