Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Chakde Bangalore!

Underworked and underpaid, so when a free ticket came my way I wasn't one to say no. Took off on Friday to Bangalore, India, having convinced my manager to give me Monday off so that I had a nice long weekend of 4 days. It's been almost a year since I boarded a flight and I almost had forgotten how much I loved to fly. Travelling alone and finding myself sitting at BIA waiting for the boarding call, I quickly glanced around to check whether there were any RDs satisfying a kink for people watching, only soon to realize I was doing the same. Oh well.

So anyway an hour later I was in India. The last time I had been there was 8 years ago as a scrawny schoolboy on a (wait for it...ahem) cricket tour with the College junior team. At the time, I was rather proud of it and when people asked me where I was going, I'd turn my nose in the air and say "cricket tour" in a too-cool-for-school tone. Now I realize junior cricket tours are a dime a dozen. Egad! I digress.

So 8 years ago I was staying at the YMCA youth sports hostel, playing cricket on 4 of the 7 days we were there, having to tag along to saree shops with other kids' parents who were apparently coming as 'chaperones', much like the lot from the sports ministry who were planning on heading to japan to support our only athlete. So yes, 14 kids, 20 parents, a coach and 2 masters in charge did not help make the trip a delightful one. So yes, my impression of India was not a very good one.

8 years on I was stunned. People portray India to be a tough place to live in, and maybe it's true. But it's a great place to visit. The myth of the land is no myth at all on the faces of its people. Coming from Sri Lanka, I'm quite used to people dragging their feet. But in Bangalore, there was such a spring to their step. Brigade Road, which became my favourite hangout, reminded me of Oxford Street where you'd have people piling through each other while the biggest brands stare down upon them from their vantage points. Much like Oxford Street, people were laughing and chattering and walking with such purpose. It's greatly energetic and that energy is infectious.

I was introduced to this quaint little pub off Brigade Road named "Peckos" which is dark and mysterious and plays the best alt rock at just the right volume; not too loud to drown you out but not too soft for you to lose interest. The place has murals of the likes of Elvis Presley Jimi Hendrix on the walls and ceilings and what not. I hear the food is great there, but I didn't try it, although I can vouch for their lime soda. I could fall in love with a place like that. Maybe I have.

Just accross the street from Peckos is "Le Rock" where the preliminaries to Nokia I-Rock XXII were being held on Saturday night. Who am I to say no to a chance to see some bands. The show was kick started by After Burn, an outfit that was very grunge, very in-your-face and very damn good. The guitarist was fuckin kick arse! The next 2 bands were rather boring. I was told that one of them was the biggest band in Bangalore or something but it was a death metal band and there's only so much of a screaming grandmother with a sore throat i can take. But I must say, the musicians were great in all the bands. Sri Lanka has a long way to go, original music wise. But anyway, digressions apart, the last band was Caesar's Palace. By golly, I kid you not, they were magnificently incredibly awe inspiring. Comprising of an 18 year old drummer who is undoubtedly better than any drummer I have seen in Sri Lanka, a fatty on bass who, i'm sure, plays bass faster and with more precision than he would devour a plate of burgers, a fender strat clad guitarist who I'm told can play anything put before him and a super, yet down to earth, vocalist. Kishan, Kenny, Anurag and Unni certainly were not unknown to the crowd as I found myself in the midst of a swarm that knew all the words and all the breaks to all their songs. Simply scintillating. Reminded me a lot of Incubus. Great stuff

On Monday morning I headed to 'The Forum' to catch Ratatouille on the big screen. You wouldn't believe it, but at 9:30 in the morning i'm almost positive that at the cinema I saw as many teenagers you'd see in the whole of Sri Lanka! Ok maybe not that many. But too many to count surely! The movie itself was great too. Pixar has created an animation masterpiece! A must-watch.

So what struck me the most is the fact that young people in Bangalore are so lucky to have such a lively city. Although everything shuts down at 11:30pm as per state orders, until that time the city is still alive, the streets are full and the lights on. Colombo on the other hand is fast asleep by sunset, and please don't blame that on our island culture. I had a blast. 4 days was not long enough for me to get bored of Bangalore, but not short enough so that I'd miss the essentials. I shall write more about it as and when I remember. Pictures shall come up at some point too. It's definitely a place I'd visit again. But nehi diya tho?

6 musings:

~ I*R*O*M*I ~ said...

Haha super ! Nehi diya tho I believe. Don't forget chch and ssss.
And its PECOS not Peckos :)
Bangalore is missing your loud ways and old monk and golconda are missing you for sure :)

Antony said...

You lucky chap! Bangalore is the place to be, despite the awful congestion.

Most people here are caught in a time warp when India is mentioned... But that country has made some strides, while we have languished. Thankfully, we still have a better biodiversity, friendlier people and more orderly traffic!

Btw, where can I catch some good live rock music in Colombo?

Anonymous said...

"Colombo on the other hand is fast asleep by sunset"


do you go out at all? colombo clubs and pubs dont close down @ 11.30 pm like in bangolore

confab said...

iroms - chakde old monk. chakde golconda!
antony - i agree with you about us having friendlier people. now about orderly traffic i'm not so sure.
good live rock music in colombo is not a regular occurrance. once in a blue moon u will have a kick arse gig. gotta wait for those. but then again it also depends on ur musical taste.
anonymous - colombo IS asleep by sunset. just because a few hundred young ppl are seen at all of abt 3 places around town at night doesnt mean colombo is happening. b'lore may shut down at 11:30, but until then the shops and malls are open, there are ppl on the streets, there are lights everywhere and the buzz is from being amongst all this energy and not from some overpriced alcohol you get served.

Janus said...

yup, its a fun place. you missed all the food joints tho. should have checked out corner house for the ice cream and on the outskirts of Bengaluru you can try The Club. They open till late and they have the gals..

Anonymous said...

This post made me so damn homesick, I am almost in tears. But also pleased that you had such a blast there. You must go back sometime - if you are below 27 and Sri lankan continues its generous offer- maybe you can plan another long weekend to sample some more of the many delights of Bangalore. Its gtrue that the nightlife in Colombo is limited and contrived . But what really impresses me are the uniformly high standards of service at the resorts and restaurants. I have yet to have a bad experience anywhere. Here's to the ever courteous Sri Lankan service staff, hotel managers and administrators who give your island such a fine reputation as a place that's hospitable to outsiders.