A Christmas in Bangalore… Bangalore bytes ( Part 6 )

Christmas in Bangalore is still pretty but a lot more hazy. The nineties were the best years to celebrate Christmas in the city. The city in the nineties was not completely inundated with new faces and new money. Until the Nineties, the old crowd would masquerade in comfort and familiarity. Alas, this is completely amiss now. Very seldom does a walk on Commercial street, MG Road and Brigade road leads to chance meetings with friends and acquaintances. The locals appear to be in hiding or so it seems.The locals in Bangalore are not the Kannadigas per say but a truly cosmopolitan crowd that had made Bangalore their home. A chance meeting with some friends on the streets of Bangalore was always a delight. Luckily, after a long time some “chance” meetings occurred.Some locals are so aghast with the changes that this city has witnessed that they have altered their life styles. No more is a walk down Brigade Road, MG Road or Commercial street a pleasure they complain. Thanks to the traffic mayhem, getting into the nerve centre of Bangalore is best avoided. The locals try their best to keep within the confines of their little hubs in and around their residential areas. Every residential area is now more than adequately self-sufficient. Most main roads of residential neighborhoods are swamped with commercial outlets.Old, monkey top houses are razed to the ground for high rises. More trees felled, more vehicles added, more potholes created, more garbage piled, more dust gathered and less light streaming into the city.

Christmas cakes are still famous in this city. The rich, dark plum cakes are made with dry fruits and raisins soaked in a heavenly concoction of brandy, rum and sherry. All Saints bakery and Nilgiris continue to make the best of them.By the second week of December , Nilgiris, traditional Bangalore’s “once upon a time” dairy farm organizes a cake exhibition. They have been running this for the last thirty-six years. You do not enjoy these cake shows anymore. The last one I attended was a decade ago; by then , no one was appreciating the cakes in near stampede like situations. Bangalore club still hosts the traditional Christmas lunch complete with roast turkey. The bells of St Francis Xavier Cathedral still ring magically at the stroke of midnight on Christmas. Somewhere in the night, christmas carols are sung sweetly, somewhere in the night fireworks light up the foggy skies.

On Christmas day the malls are swarming. Bangalore Central has an emaciated Santa throwing little goodies to children, most adults are catching the goodies greedily, the children are wailing since nothing comes their way. DJ’s are spinning thumping music , I cannot hear anything but ” Sheila ki Jawani” over and over to the point of ad nauseum. One scrawny Santa gyrates to the number in an uncontrollable manner and then croons “jingle bells” into the mike in a rich malayali accent. The real Santa would be quite taken aback with this performance and would never wish to leave the poles.

Everybody is cashing in this festive season. The hotels in Bangalore stopped making “Onion uthappams” when onion prices skyrocketed to Rs 80 / Kg and hiked other prices on the menu even if onions were not the centrifugal force into the making of the dish.At the food court in Bangalore’s malls, a bottle of mineral water costs Rs 35 when the MRP is Rs 15. Nobody objects. The great Bombay circus has descended into Bangalore at the Palace grounds and boasts of having sixty-four animals in its mobile zoo. The grand , old , majestic trees that line the Palace Roads have been marked for felling, they still have a plea stuck on them ” Please don’t kill me”. Nonchalant to the pleas, life in Bangalore rumbles on at a fast pace. Today’s Bangalore Mirror ran a story of a rabid dog being beaten to death, then tied to the back of a motor cycle and dumped in a pile of garbage. Who is rabid here?

The Reddy brothers are still singing jingles on TV, Yeddy is Karnataka’s Santa, handing out wads of goodies to his favorite boys and girls. Banaglore’s Metro had a trial run of its Polar Express yesterday from Bypanahalli to CMH Road, barely a two kilometer stretch. The trial run was labeled a “milestone” with the train chugging at a paltry twenty-five kilometers an hour. A view of the Metro project from MG Road for the time being looks like blocks assembled by children for an advertisement for ” Toys r us”.Christmas in Bangalore is not white, it is a sultry brown with very little green. I miss the quiet, I miss the serenity that Bangalore once had. Commercial street is still a shopper’s paradise and the lighting is magical. The roads in Bangalore are continued to be lit by the big and bright hoardings with the exception of the new Airport road.Having said this, Christmas in Bangalore is still fun. It is not what it used to be, but the air is festive and the spirits run high and that’s what matters for the good revelers.

For the rest of Bangalore bytes – https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/category/bangalore/


84 Responses to “A Christmas in Bangalore… Bangalore bytes ( Part 6 )”

  1. Sharmila,

    A nostalgic post. And very nicely presented.

    I think there need be no fear about Bangalore becoming a Mumbai or Delhi. Not in the next decade. Nor ever. There is no time for that.

    The industrial world is running out of gas literally. We are consuming at ~85 million barrels of Crude Oil every day globally.

    Planet earth is going cold in its belly. Mankind is getting even with God.

    2011 is going to see a revival of the energy crisis. Iraq is now producing 2.6 million barrels of crude oil every day despite its pathetic state. Oil prices have hit US$ 91 per barrel yesterday and the futures are looking ominous.

    Add the nuclear energy contracts and defense deals to the fuel import, India is going to face a serious foreign currency crunch as early as mid 2011. That will invite more foreign players in the investment markets.

    The Indian rupee was devalued last night, which is momentary according to a Bloomberg report. The INR will bounce back at least 0.5% around the budget session of the parliament and then I expect it will sink at terminal velocity rest of the year.

    BLR does not have the natural sea face of Mumbai or the proximity to power like Delhi. The metro can never become a business hub.

    My only concern, and one that you have figured out in the post, is the rising prevalence of decadent politics.

    The state as a whole is still a source of rich minerals including gold, aluminium, copper, coal and rare earths.

    According to law, this does not belong to the state. All natural resources belong to Sonia Gandhi and her politicians in Delhi who call themselves the Central Government.

    With continuous in-flux of refugees from Telangana, UP, Bihar, Orissa, Karachi and Chennai, the city of BLR is becoming a slum.

    More than 50% of the BPO business has already moved out with major players like Infosys, Wipro, and Tatas setting up their shops in Hinjawadi in Pune. The new breed of enterpreneurial IT designers are working out of flats in TVM and Chennai with pay-pan accounts held overseas.

    Prohibitive high prices of cement and steel will slow down the construction industry in 2011. The limestone quarries in North Karnataka are done for what they were worth. Those quarries that are in MP and Rajasthan will be used by the Northern states.

    And I feel extreme climate change is likely to wreak havoc with food supplies.

    Cheapest things in the BLR are going to be alcohol and religion.

    An ideal strategy for this condition would be:

    Buy and sell Indian assets overseas in foreign exchange. Do not make long term deals with Indians in India. Its taxable and politically uncertain.

    Stock basic necessities for at least 2-5 years.

    Do not borrow Indian rupees. Do not invest in Indian education.

    Invest in real assets after June ’11.

    • Interesting,,I do not think Karnataka is going in the right direction especially with the migration you speak of. A major expressway connecting Bangalore to Electronic city was at the behest of Narayanmurthy who took to the roads with a spade and staged a dharna.

      • Narayan Murthy misjudged the state of the economy in BLR and Karnataka as a whole.

        Unlike the industrial ecnomies of Mumbai and Pune (where he is moved now), Karnataka is an uneven agro based economy that is taking rather long to evolve. the local rich could not measure or scale the transformation from selling farm products to hi-tech IT services. The Goudas and Appas are still depending on manual labour and monsoons.

        Compare that to western maharshtra, Pune, Mumbai and interiors of Gujarat where practically every economic activity is now industrialized. Gujarat, for instance, has turned into a food surplus state in less than 10 years under Modi’s rule with dams, dykes and canals, hi-tech irrigation systems and mechanical farming.

        Karnataka is unable to achieve even 25% what Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar, Vasundhara Raje and Narendra Modi did in their states, despite the same level of corruption.

        There are 3 states that are currently off the map of multinationals. West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka.

  2. Hi Sharmila,

    Lovely post ! Very nostalgic too ! I belong to that grand old crowd of ” Old Bangaloreans ” and completely agree with everything said here, including the fact that i do not enjoy the stroll on Brigade Road or Commercial Street, which at one point used to be the ” High point ” of my life .

    It would be a crime if i said that i do not miss those old days. I Do definitely !

    But the truth is also that, i would choose Bangalore over any other city in the world, any day, any time !

    I Still Love My Bangalore ( oops ! should i call it Bengaluru ? Nah ! i guess ! 😉 )

  3. Sharmila,

    The change from garden city to silicon valley has been swift and drastic.

    In one of the dailies, there was recently a picture of cattle crammed into the back of a lorry, being taken to a slaughterhouse. One of them had lost its footing and slipped halfway out -head caught in between the door, body hanging out, and hooves dragging on the road. The lorrydriver never stopped to help it back in. The plight of animals is sad.

    The scrawny Santa gyrating to ‘Sheila ki jawani’ was hilarious. Wonder what he would have done if he was at the North Pole…pole dance?:)

    Good post. Lovely reminiscences…


  4. Daily report:

    Weather here has changed all of a sudden in the last 2 hours. I had to call the sites and send a general weather alert!

    Cold winds and dark rain clouds in the desert! Temperatures have dropped below 20 Celsius for the first time in the year.

    The gods must be crazy. Don’t they know this is a demarcated desert?

    Nature is suddenly reminding me of warm clothes. So here I am fully dressed and waiting for my elves.


    The country’s census was taken last week by the government. It took them 2 weeks to collect the data and just 2 days to release the information. We really are in the information age!

    The population is now 2.9 millions including 27% expats. The number of houses in the country is more than the population! The revenue from Oil exports is presently at US$ 80 million per day which is rather phenomenal for 3 million people. There are 36 appointed ministries that spend the money. Health Care, Education and Infratstructure are free.

    The total land is about 1 million square kilometers. So there are about 3 people for every square kilometer of surface.

    A country that was officially mapped and registered by the UN in 1969-70, a plain sandy desert of bedouins and camels has turned into a modern thriving city in just 40 years! I have been around since 1991 when there were no sat-phones and no roads.

    According to the census report, the population has grown by a mere 15% in the last 10 years.

    • Daily Report update:

      Ice-fall reported in northern areas! The place is freezing!

      I am going o porpose organic farming!

      BTW, some sort of wierd coincidence occured today. Just two days ago I had mentioned that there was a high attirtion rate in my section.

      I have been asked today to submit a causal report! Some premonition that!

      What should I say?

      Let me draft something:


      The Office of the CEO

      Re: Increasing incidence of Resignations

      Dear Sir,

      After compliments:

      The attrition rate in my office stands at 49.90% for 2010. This is mainly because people in India have to register their marriages legally unlike Nigeria and Kenya.

      Wives are insisting to see their husbands more frequently than before due to long winters and load shedding.

      I propose we introduce a clause in the HR Manual that hereafter all employees shall bring a No Objection Certficate from their legal spouses.

      Thanking you and wishing you & your families a happy new year,

      I remain,

      Yours truly,


  5. What an amazing change in weather. Its chill and still. The hills are silent. There are no vehicles on the road. The street lights are standing in solemn attention, their blue lights are dispersed evenly by a veil of mist.

    This is one new year that will be remembered for a long time. No one in the town has ever seen anything like this here. They usually go to scandinavia in summer to feel this weather!

    • This is global warming or cooling at it’s best!

      • This is a big subject. Global warming according to the Oil industry is a myth. There are no facts to prove that. All peer-reviewed researches so far have only indicated that it is a likelihood.

        Statistically, the planet is actually cooling not warming.

        The Carbon footprints caused by burning fossil fuels is a fall-out of poor technology. Less than 5% of the CO2 is contributed by the production of fossil fuels. 95% is caused by inefficient usage.

        The actual cooling is happening deep inside the earth at a fantastic rate; As I said, 85 million barrel per day. Each barrel is 200 liters. So every day you see the sun rise, reduce 8.5 billion liters of fossil fuel from the volume of the earth. This process started 100 years ago.

        There is nothing we can do. The next generation will have to evolve in their own way to adapt to the conditions.

  6. Sharmila and EF,

    Last entry for the week. I am away to the interiors till Sunday. Back online on Monday 3rd January ’11.

    Wish everyone a very happy new year and rest assured that you are always in my thoughts.

    Logging off now… bye…

  7. Muraliraja Says:

    Well written post Sharmila. Some smartly written lines make this post interesting. (My fav line: “even if onions were not the centrifugal force into the making of the dish.”)
    I wish you get chance to visit Bangalore often & update us about this lovely city 🙂 And I sincerely hope someday Bangalore will regain its serenity.

  8. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    I have lived in Bangalore for about 4 years…loved the city. But now the traffic is appalling, I dread stepping out of the house when I visit Bangalore. Nice blog as usual Sharmila…


  9. Sounds like all the metros in India are inflated and stretched out out of proportion…Its good when new developments come in and raise opportunities for jobs and small businesses…the downside is…it brings slums with it…a cosmopolitan slum like Bombay…as soon as on think about Bombay…with other landmarks…the largest slum of Asia or may be world…(who knows) strikes one’s mind like a thunder…
    That entire skinny Santa episode and Santa singing jingles in Malayalam is quite hilarious…and rabid men episode is quite pathetic…oops…! did I say “Rabid Men”…? 🙂
    Wonder …how that circus is allowed to cage so many animals…!? What if… for a change… all animals rule the world and cage all homosapiens ….and they remain free…! Hmmm…how does it feel to switch places..?!!!

  10. Prashanth K.P. Says:

    As usual of you, good one Sharmila.

    Yes, Bangalore has journeyed way away from the serenity and ambiance it prestigiously inherited and nurtured from earlier days until the 80s and 90s. By mid 90s the IT boom took its first prey in Bangalore. Bangalore was a city for retirement. Countless people from all around India, those from the Services especially, and a few foreigners have become permanent settlers of Bangalore and eventually its citizens. But that face of Bangalore, that of being a retirement home, changed with the influx of IT Boom and its ensuing development. That brought about vibrant development, dramatic migration and a metropolitan countenance and has remained intrinsic to Bangalore ever since.

    No doubt, the Bengalurians feel occupied and wanting for that beloved space they once owned and enjoyed. But the megalomaniac pace of development and riches the city found itself endured in was astounding and the consequent wealth it inherited was blessed upon the citizens of Bengaluru. So, I would say it was a reciprocal process whereby the citizens benefited, the city benefited.

    While all the good for nothing wasted creatures from the political spectrum has unscrupulously looted the state and city, Bengaluru has withstood the onslaught and retained a certain charisma that still can be enjoyed by all.

    I am going to be there for a week mid January 2011, come what may!

    • Thanks a lot Prashanth. Always a pleasure to read what you write. Yes, there are advantages but I don’t see the riches being equivocally distributed, which is the sad thing. But, having said this, no pace comes close to namma Bengaluru!

  11. Pretty picture…! seems few decade old…Is it Brit India old…?
    Calcutta post picture is very elegant too…seems like some palace or Brit time Gov. Residence or office building…if it is..!

  12. Anand Khare Says:

    I am also enjoying pleasant weather and sumptuous food of Bangalore.


  13. Sharmila,

    Good Morning. Please go ahead and put up the post.

    I have found a net access outside the restricted area. I’ll be able to log in at least twice a day.

    MonaLisa, Aishwarya, Sharmila,

    MonaLisa, “My Name is Sheila” is the new christmas carol of the season in India. It is only for paying customers. The mass is held every evening in dance bars and pubs in the presence of the Lords of the Rings.

    The Indian Santa is thin due to malnutrition. The poor man is on a forced diet unlike his counterpart at the North Pole. The prices of foodgrains and onions have spiked so much, Santas in town are giving an offer – one onion per baby per hour of baby sitting. Crying babies are charged extra.

    North Pole reminds me, Aishwarya wants to see Santa doing a pole dance… piya tu ab to aaja… lets invite Jim Carrey & Salman Khan to the floor… One flips and the other strips…

    I know, I know, not enough value for money… but in these days of inflation we got to live with this…


    I am on a monitored line. Must clear the cache every time I log out. Shall be back online after noon.

    Its a Friday tomorrow. Shall be able to stay longer. This has to be thus till 3rd Jan. Working for money is so boring.

    Back soon…

    • LOL..hilarious and welcome back. Yes, your post will be up shortly. Great to see you.

    • I thought you were not in ME?

      • Sharmila,

        I am in the Oil field in the interior desert about 740 kms out of the city. Inspections and state audits till Sunday.

        This is a high security area called “Ramm Al Khali – The Empty Quarter”, a patch of sand dunes on the edge of 3 GCC nations.

        The only satellite base stations are in the field control room and the army’s comm center.

        But I am a homing pigeon. I find my way back to the blog somehow.

        The trick in this place is to drive out 10 -12 kms towards the nearest rig-mast. There is always a transmitter on a rig. Lock-into their channels and request for a passage.

        No one says no to human beings in the desert.

        I look like one mostly.


      • Thanks for the update and the Kapoor links,..hope he gets better,

      • This is where I am. Check the link…


    • Wow…Indeed India is prestigious in its own….and Indians so….very innovative…! Lol….! Santa in North Pole must be very proud to see and hear that…! 🙂
      Santa…and pole dance…! ha…ha…! Amazing…! ppl will throw away every $$ in the pocket on him…!
      Hmmm….! Emptying out deep pockets is a Good…Business in India….! 🙂

  14. Shamila – if you think the condition of Bangalore is deteriorating, wait till the building mafia sets it’s eyes on the city. You have seen nothing yet. The building mafia won’t just chop the trees near the roads of Palace Grounds, there won’t be any ground or Palace left.

    • I shudder now Ninad!

      • Mumbai’s 65-million-year-old Gilbert Hill is threatened by a rash of urban constructions around it These vertical columns are similar to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, and the Devil’s Post Pile National Monument in eastern California, USA is already a popular tourist destination, visited by over half million tourists annually. Gilbert Hill is a 200 foot (60 m) monolith column of black basalt rock in Andheri (West), Mumbai. The rock has a sheer vertical face and was created when molten lava was squeezed out of the earth’s clefts during the Mesozoic Era about 65 million years ago. Gilbert hill is rare geological phenomenon. A top the rock column, two Hindu temples, the Gaodevi and Durgamata temples, set in a small garden, are accessed by a steep staircase carved into the rock. Gilbert hill gets panoramic views of Mumbai city. Gilbert hill surrounded by the man-made sprawls of concrete, and slum dwellers. A number of high-rises have come up all around Gilbert Hill in recent years, triggering concerns for its stability. The hill has been declared a national monument by the Geological Survey of India, but it is highly unstable due to the reckless encroachments. There’s still some joy to be discovered on top of the monolith in the form of these beauties. . It can’t be thrown away into the hands of builders lobby. Government & revenue department have fallen deaf ears. I am working On documentary with trustee of Gilbert Hill to save this pre-historic Monolith. It’s a hard fact that 60% of Mumbai lives in slums and they do deserve decent living, but then not at the cost of such monuments. These structures are ours Natural Heritage. Recall its significance. Its the only kind in the world after the Devils Tower. It can’t be thrown away into the hands of builders lobby. Already the Sagar City constructed right next to it has scaled down its beauty. The Gilbert hill is in real derelict state now because of the encroachment by the builders, and the slums. “Only a kind heart and spirit to hear the cries of mother earth as she pleads with humanity to give her space to breath, the landscape is so destroyed by urban sprawl, we ought to act together to save this Monolith. If we can’t do anything then all the beauty will then lost forever”.

      • Ninad – Thanks much for all this info. Aptly narrated for our benefit. It is a sham really. Had a look at the link. Mumbai is a disaster. Bangalore feels like heaven for the time being. Lets see how long this lasts.

  15. MonaLisa,

    You do not know who is Munni? I am surprised!

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Scientists make great discoveries just for a little bit of Munni

    Soldiers watch the border all their lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Rulers tax their own citizens to get a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Jairam Ramesh is protecting the forests for a little bit of Munni.

    Kalmadi and Raja made deals to enjoy a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Good actors become jokers only for a little bit of Munni.

    Good jokers become actors only for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    The merchants are hoarding onions for a little bit of Munni.

    The rulers are smuggling food for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    The goons and ministers are grabbing land for a little bit of Munni.

    The bureaucrats are writing procedures for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Children go to school dreaming of a little bit of Munni.

    Teachers do their teaching for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Tata makes steel and Ambani makes Oil for a little bit of Munni.

    Birla makes Cement and BHEL makes hardware for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    Doctors sell medicines and Engineers sell machines for a little bit of Munni.

    Priests sell Gods and Atheists sell drugs for a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni.

    I am not alone though I sing this song for a little bit of Munni.

    You see now that the whole world seeks a little bit of Munni.

    Man-kind lives for a little bit of Munni

    — Composed by Reader for MonaLisa

    PS: Munni is a strip-tease dancer. A bit of her is the Great Unknown that man-kind is searching for thousands of years.

    • This is the best thesis on Munni by far!

    • 🙂 🙂 Reader,
      Thank you so much…for the song…The most…challenging one..! Wow..! You got some talent…! Man…! 🙂
      Now I know what Munni is…! Entire world roams around her/it…(Munni and Moni goes hand in hand…!)Lol…!
      She is the reason… the drive …to man… run like a Rabid Dog…! Awesome…! 🙂

  16. Just heard that Shashi Kapoor (Balbir) is seriously ill.

    I met him 2 years ago when he was collecting funds for an NGO. He still had the same charming boyish evasive smile but he was looking very tired. Walking with great difficulty.

    Here are a few songs remembering his golden days:

    Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 1

  17. Remembering Shashi – 2

  18. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 3

  19. Remembring Shashi – 4

  20. Remembering Shashi – 5

  21. Remembring Shashi – 6

  22. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 7

  23. Remembering Sashi Kapoor – 8

  24. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 9

  25. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 10

  26. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 11

  27. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 12

  28. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 13

  29. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 14

  30. Remembering Shashi Kapoor – 15

    This is not Shashi Kapoor. This is his father Prithviraj Kapoor in 1941. Son Shashi looked exactly like his father face and features.

  31. Leaving for the dunes.. back soon..

  32. Muraliraja Says:

    Man Madan Ambu(Yes, it’s abt 3ppl): Not a full fledged comedy movie.
    Falls short of expectation.
    Worth watching once-only ‘coz of Universal Hero!
    Story ends abruptly. Kamal has done a good job in all department except story. “Kavithai-Song” between Kamal & Tirsha is missing(Thanks to religious political parties arm twisting) which makes the screenplay weak.
    Title track is missing(comes in back ground during end credit). If they have used it as a dance number, would have satisfied “B” class audience.

    As “Man Madan Ambu” unable to satisfy my appetite, me & friends watched “Michael Madhana Kamarajan” once again! And that movie still rocks.

    • I love MMK…one of Kamal;s best and Crazy Mohan’s too. Yes, the reviews for MMA have been a bit of a damp squib. Will try to catch it in a day or two all for the sake of the universal hero..Love him.

  33. Sharmila,

    Excellent post on Bengalooru.

    Feels very sad to see the way it is now.

  34. Nostalgic and very true. I have lived in Bangalore for the past 14 years. The Friendly, Classy and more than helpful citizens are lost forever. I remember, back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s i use to walk along Brigade road, Richmond road early in the morning after a party or so, which i would never dare to do it in these times. Thank you very much Sharmila for sharing this with us.

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