Archive for the Bangalore Category

Bangalore, India’s best city to live in…

Posted in Bangalore, Tiger Trail, Times Blogs, Times of India with tags , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Sharmila

Link to my new blog on TOI – http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tiger-trail/entry/bangalore-best-indian-city-to-live-in

A Christmas in Bangalore… Bangalore bytes ( Part 6 )

Posted in Bangalore with tags on January 10, 2011 by Sharmila

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. Continue reading

The climate around…Bangalore bytes… ( Part 5 )

Posted in Bangalore, Politics with tags , on October 24, 2010 by Sharmila

It is that time when I descend into my favorite city, my home town of Bangalore. Also known as the silicon city of India and where silicon continues to spill continually on the never-ending construction zones of the ring roads. The ring roads are a fascinating part of Bangalore, the rings are not complete but we still call it one. It is crescent-shaped and will be a while before the complete loop is formed for it to look like a ring. The loop is largely stopped from completing because politicians own stretches of land on which the highway needs to be laid and they are reluctant to let it be acquired. A smooth, well laid out stretch on the outer ring road literally comes to an abrupt halt, the road just ends. If one is cannonballing along this stretch, he is bound to make the most perilous leap of his life. The self-centered actions of one politician Mr Roshan Baig who owns a farm in this vicinity is repulsive. The case now lies in the high court. Continue reading

A friday in Bangalore…( Bangalore bytes Part 4 )

Posted in Bangalore, Social with tags on April 3, 2010 by Sharmila

A pleasure to be back in Bangalore. Currently warm, currently more chaotic on the roads, currently more power cuts yet currently the place to be. A drive on MG road last evening has revealed that the metro rail project is bearing semblances of being a bit more finished than what it was earlier during the year. The road under the overhead metro rail has been tarred and the vehicles now make progress in a straight line rather than zigzagging around pot holes. The metro above the heads has been shaping up like a jig saw puzzle, inching its way from one column to another and the pace it has been moving towards one another is symbolic of the fact that the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr Yeddy is the child putting the pieces together in his own sweet time. Bangloreans are crossing their fingers and hoping that the Metro is no child’s play and pieces of it don’t crash on the commuters head who risk their lives traveling under the metro lines.

Chinnaswamy stadium, home to the Bangalore royal challengers looked rather upbeat despite the BRC game not being held there last night. A MRF inflatable hoarding sits pretty near one of the gates. I was quite impressed with one particular hoarding that had Kumble’s image etched in a crowd formation, quite impressive. All around the stadium was a flurry of red. There is without a doubt festivity in the air, and one can almost hear ” ohh la la la le lo” as you drive past the stadium. Well done Mr Mallya for converting Bangalore into a city that parties even more than what it previously did.

Christians gathered at the St Francis Xavier’s church yesterday for the Easter prayers. After the service, a wonderful sight to see people dressed in white after and make their way out to the sprawling grounds like a wave of white lilies. In the nearby vicinity, friday afternoon prayers had also concluded at the Jama Masjid mosque and people from the mosque make their way out. Opposite the mosque, is a Devi temple, friday again being an auspicious day for the Devi and worshippers have concluded the ceremonial friday prayers. Worshippers from three different faiths spill on to the same road. It now becomes virtually impossible to differentiate one faith from the other. They all spill on to the same road, they buy their snacks and lunch from the same shop, they buy the weekend groceries from the same store, they shop for vegetables at the same market. The senses are satiated with the sea of humanity that converges together.

The plants and shrubs that have been planted along the dividers on the main roads wear a parched look. There is dust sitting on the dull green leaves and  the plants yearn for the much-needed droplets of water. I think about Hong Kong in summer where the council takes care in watering all these plants every other day, what the councils plant, they maintain and do not let the weather gods play havoc with the green plan for the city. Sadly, that is never the case in our part of the world here. Greenery and flowers tend to bloom around the time an important dignitary is visiting the city or an important event or meet is conducted in the city. On conclusion of the event, nobody tends to worry about any thing that is aesthetic.

I enjoy having the much cherished south indian filter coffee in the Udupi hotels in Bangalore. Wonderful to drive into one of these restaurants, order a piping hot cup of coffee whilst sitting in the car. The coffee is manna to a dead brain, what an invigorating effect it has on me. Nowhere in this world do I get the same kick that I get by slurping on to this heady mix of well roasted coffee beans from the fertile, rich valley of Koorg finely ground to produce an aromatic decant that is laced with steaming hot frothy milk and with the right amount of sucrose. Nothing short of fabulous. These restaurants are the best, far better than the Starbucks and the Pacific coffees and the Uncle Russ. I let my south indian taste buds make this decision and the best coffee-making award goes to the south indian joints! I would give the mushrooming Coffee days the second spot. People sip over one cup of coffee for a few hours, an economical place with a bit of flair for conducting social and business activities. A wonderful hangout for students, marketing and sales gurus, uncles and aunties alike.

Construction is happening everywhere, a good sign for the real estate market in and around the city. Abandoned projects when recession partly hit the city are now rekindled. More labourers cross the border into Karnataka from Hosur in Tamil Nadu. Concrete mixers that stood still at sites are once again churning and mixing cement and sand. Construction workers sit on the road outside the project sites and open up their aluminium boxes and have starchy rice, covering their heads with their cotton saris to get some respite from the hot blazing sun over them. A site co-ordinator yells at them in kannada and asks them to finish up quickly and get back to work. Some reluctantly do, some don’t and continue slurping their meal.

The lakes within the city limits if one could call them have begun to dry up. There is a foul smell of rotting vegetation around the vicinity of these lakes. The perimeter around the lakes are swampy and reveal along with the slush, plastic bottles, bags and cans. A rag picker has gotten into one of these lakes and sifts through the mud and with dedication collects the rubbish. There is a lake called Ulsoor lake in Bangalore which is maintained by the Army and is in an extremely good condition. The Madras Engineering Group ( MEG ) looks after the affairs of the lake and its surrounding area in a pristine manner. They do a far better job than the local council in maintaining the areas around cantonment.

I continue to enjoy my few days in Bangalore. The days are warm, the mood is lazy.

Links for Bangalore Bytes 1,2 and 3

https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/bangalore-bytes-part-1-the-ever-changing-facade/
https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/bangalore-bytes-part-2/

https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/cosmo-city/

Cosmo city… (Bangalore bytes Part 3)

Posted in Bangalore, Social with tags on March 15, 2010 by Sharmila

How easy it is to snuggle into our respective comfort zones and not try to venture out of it. Not many actually do try to get out of it and I am a victim of zoning myself at most times. The zone I most times zero in on is Bangalore. I am so comfortable in this city that “comfort” can be redefined. After all, it is the city I was born in and studied in and for a few years worked in. Bangalore is also a very accommodating city, a bit like Mumbai and rightfully cosmopolitan. Bangalore is so not so bashful of its roots so much so that kannada is hardly spoken in the cantonment areas of the city. The local language is by and large spoken more in the older parts of Bangalore like Rajajinagar, Malleswaram, Jayanagar etc. Full credit to the locals for accommodating a diverse population from the north of India who have made Bangalore their own.

The city has been home to the neighboring ethnic tamil, telegu , malyalam population from the beginning of time and there were sparingly few from the north of India. The business community of Bangalore was a diverse mix of the few from north ( Sindhis and Punjabis ) and more from south. The IT boom in Bangalore led to burgeoning of the population way beyond anybody’s imagination. The infrastructure struggled as people from all over India zoomed into Bangalore, set up shop and became a Bangalorean. The locals who were welcoming began to feel a bit overwhelmed with this sudden influx. The initial open arms started to get a lot less wider, to the point of now remaining indifferent to the changes around them. Kannada is barely heard in the city, people communicate to each other more in all other languages. Auto drivers from Sivajinagar were not the only ones speaking Urdu / Hindi but so were the local shop keepers, vendors and traders. The cantonment area of Bangalore was decreasing it’s usage of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and getting proficient in hindi and super proficient in english.

Kannadigas are by and large gentle people and a lot less fanatical than the neighboring Tamil. If one compares Bangalore with Chennai, the contrast can be rather blinding. Tamil remains the favored language on all counts for the average Chennaite. Kannadigas are good-natured patient people and have not coerced people into speaking Kannada in Bangalore. There are a few sections of the society who have turned a bit aggressive in trying to enforce Kannada, but the vibrant mix of the city has left such people cooling off their heels. Thankfully the Kannada extremists are not as daunting as the Shiv Sena in Mumbai. My only wish is that because the Kannadigas are a patient lot, they must not be rubbed up the wrong way. The migrants must learn to respect Karnataka and its wonderful culture and not shove and push their way around. We are proud of Bangalore’s diversity and may it always remain so.

Bangalore represents that well-educated strata and the large middle class of Bangalore have an immense amount of purchasing power in their capable hands. Shopping and eating out is the favored form of entertainment and there is no dearth of either options. I do find some of the malls in Bangalore like Garuda mall a bit suffocating over the weekends. There are people spilling out of its seams and I shudder to think the chaos that would enfold if there is a fire or any other eventuality. Those who think that there is ample security in these malls are highly mistaken. There is a metal detector at the main entrance but there are multiple gateways to the mall from the various levels which remain insecure and where every Muniappa , Mustaffa and Mark amble in lazily, absolutely free from any form of frisking. I do encourage in myself a bit of paranoia when I am in crowded places. Not a movie has been watched in any of the mall’s multiplexes without my mind wandering. Is there a bomb under my seat, will there be a short circuit, will there be terrorists storming the mall and gunning us down, will there be anthrax blown into the air. It never stops. But, the experience of watching a movie in a crowded Inox multiplex is something. The movie experience for some is a full day event depending on how far one stays away from these malls. It could take a good hour or so to get to the mall even if one is in the five kilometer radius to it (thanks to the traffic chaos), another half hour trying to get a parking space, two hours for the movie, half hour to take the car out of the mall and another hour to reach home. Another reason why piracy is not regarded much of a sin by those who have no patience to tackle the movie adventure.

The other interesting thing about these malls is that during summer it is a great place to cool off for those who don’t want to run high electricity bills in their homes or for those who do not have air conditioning at home. There is a great population who just walk around or stand in corners in groups, enjoying the cool drift. The genuine shopper squeezes through these people and cusses them under their breath. But, I do not blame these idlers, in fact I feel sorry to see them standing around for so long all for the sake of some respite from the outside heat. There is forum mall in Koramangala which is better planned than the Garuda mall and a lot more spacious. It accommodates more idlers.More about Forum later.

I chose to write a bit about Bangalore as I had initially meant to keep it as a mini series and I got distracted with the IPLs and the iPhone and a few other things. I noticed that the blog crossed 20,000 hits yesterday and thank you all for having the patience to read what this boring finance professional writes. Feel free to criticize or compliment, it helps us all to take it off the chest! A big thank you to Pritish Nandy who so kindly retweets some of my articles on Twitter and for finding the writing bearable.

Links for Bangalore Bytes 1 & 2

https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/bangalore-bytes-part-1-the-ever-changing-facade/
https://sharmilasays.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/bangalore-bytes-part-2/

Bangalore bytes ( Part 2 )..

Posted in Bangalore, Social with tags on December 30, 2009 by Sharmila

Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan passed away today. A fine actor who has contributed significantly to the kannada film industry  and whose popularity was at par with the late  Dr Rajkumar’s’. He shot to fame with the 1972 movie  “Naagarahaavu” by Puttana Kannagal. Like the late Rajkumar he too would sing in some of his movies and captivated the kannada audience with his charming good looks and affable nature. He has acted in over 200 movies and his premature passing away has created a huge vacuum in Sandalwood.His demise at the age of 59 leaves everyone shell-shocked in Karnataka.

It is a pleasure to land in the new Devanahalli international airport at 1 AM. The immigration officers are civil, plenty in number and efficiency seems to be smiling all around. This is the tenth time I have landed at the new airport and I have not been disappointed so far. A far cry from the days of landing at the old HAL airport where three to five sleepy immigration officers would cater to a barrage of passengers spilling out from international flights. A rather worse activity would be trying to pick up the luggage from the carousel. There were only two of them, one would never work and the one that did was a haven for utter chaos. Passengers would push and trip over each other to pick up their luggage and if one was delayed by immigration, chances of not finding the luggage was rather high. The luggage would be thrown in the area around the carousel and people would fight, bully and trip over each other to beat the confusion. And try asking any of the local staff about your lost luggage, a look of utter amazement  that blankets a suprised audience at a magic show greeted you. But, no longer! Devanahalli airport has a few carousels and luggage worm themselves out surely and quickly. A common complaint about the new airport is that it looks like an industrial shed. I disagree, I think it looks like a grand industrial shed. On stepping outside the airport, a familiar sight. Howling dogs have migrated to the new airport from the old one, the security forces sleep on the pavement while two of them sit in a corner sipping tea while another reads a book. No active black cats in vantage position behind make shift bunkers this time near the arrivals area, hopefully I should spot them at the time of departing. Do we not expect terrorists striking the airport at 2 AM? Probably not.

At this unearthly hour driving into the city which is 35 kms away is relatively easy and the traffic moves at 90km/ hr. Absolutely unimaginable for this feat during peak hours. The six lane road that leads to the city is not an expressway by any standards although it is called one. Roads from the satellite townships merge into the main airport road and there are traffic lights in random succession, dogs and cows cross over without a care in the world. Devanahalli property prices were bullish in the last five years with the expectation that the new airport would transform Devanahalli into Indiranagar, the plush suburb near the old HAL airport. Devanahalli remains a “halli” (village). Other than the modern airport imposing itself in this remote area, development is sparse due to very low water tables acting as the main hinderance.

The airport was subject to delays of the highest order with the Government and private investors head butting for over fifteen years over the project feasibilty. It was only in 2005 that  construction began and the first plane took off in January 2008. The promoters being Siemens-Zurich Airport-L&T consortium, Airport authority of India and Karnataka State Investment and Industrial Development Corporation . Mr Narayan Murthy ( Infosys ) was overseeing the project and resigned after Deve Gowda threw pebbles at his every move. Deve Gowda demanded the airport be named after him! The audacity of the man who slept more during parliament sessions than on his bed during his stint as Prime Minister.Thankfully, better sense prevailed and the airport is likely to be named after Kempegowda the founder of Bengaluru. I wish the airport only improves with time, but for the time being if it were to maintain status quo, it will suffice.

Bangalore bytes ( Part 1 ) The ever changing facade..

Posted in Bangalore, Social with tags on December 21, 2009 by Sharmila


Bangalore – Once upon a time called the garden city of India is now a silicon city, where silicon spills on the roads with the ongoing Metro mayhem, a city where software codes get cracked as rapidly as it’s roads do, a city which still believes that the three epicentre points within Bangalore are Commercial street, MG Road and Brigade road which every Mark, Muniappa and Mustaffa wants to be a part of.

Bangalore is no longer the sleepy town it used to be when people slept on park benches during peak hours either because the benches are gone or the parks are. The foliage that was synonymous with the city has been over the years replaced with concrete structures to accomodate the ever-growing influx of new people and their tagging fancy vehicles that this city gets dumped with . May flowers aka the Gulmohar used to spread a frenzy of red over the tree-lined avenues of South Parade and Kamaraj Road.Plants, shrubs and flowers of all sizes and colors used to greet Bangalorians at every nook and turn. Today turning in the city by itself is a difficult task with no “U” turn, no left turn, no right turn and one way signs put up every where. We may get around the city easier by foot or by cycle but most surely not in a car during peak hours. There was a time when the fragrance of incense used to rise from a section of the street near Seppings road ( towards Fraser town ) which lined some small-scale incense maker’s warehouses, today one gets the whiff of carbon monoxide not restricted to Seppings Road alone but seeping into every artery of this city. The traffic policeman who stands in the middle of busy intersections during peak hours, sucking in madly to any possible atom of oxygen that may come his way, looks more sooty than a coal miner and my heart goes out to him.

The modern city has its state of the art IT parks which are at least 20 odd kilometers from Bangalore central. The drive to these parks is most certainly not a breeze and the traffic bottle necks slow you down. Visiting foreign delegates who are invited by Infosys and Wipro amongst other software giants need not go to Rajasthan to experience a bumpy camel ride, a drive on Hosur Road would do. There is news that the elevated Hosur tolled expressway that links Koramangala to electronic city is likely to open soon. “Soon”, in Karnataka Government’s definition can be a year, two , three who knows. Electronic city houses India’s leading software giants and I cannot believe that we could showcase our technical capabilities in IT to Bill Gates and a myriad other important business tycoons after making them travel on a road full of potholes, dust and chaos. The elevated expressway is not a fully funded Government initiative but partly funded by Infosys and Wipro out of sheer frustration. I believe that Infosys founder and Chairman Mr Narayanmurthy actually took to the roads with a spade and a rake and started digging, this was when the Government decided to do something about the situation. It is a shame that a city which shines in IT pales into oblivion when it comes to infrastructure.Bangalore remains in a state of chaos with the Metro project giving the municipality a great excuse for not maintaining whatever little roads are left. Roads were dug two years back and nothing has risen from the ground in certain areas and more people have fallen into it than concrete and limestone. And even before Metro is complete parts of it are falling off. 

All said and done, I love this city. After all it was the city I was born in and I did my schooling and college from this garden city and I have the fondest of memories of this place. I thought of writing a bit about this city , share its terrific traits and also use this space as a platform to interact with people with interests in Bangalore. I can go on and on, but I will stop and write a bit more later about this fabulous city. I will keep this as a Bangalore bytes series and use your inputs for the next.