Sunday, June 19, 2005

On Bangalore in a Scottish paper

There is an interesting article on Bangalore in today's Scottish paper Sunday Herald. Read the full article here.

Here are a few excerpts:

** With 80 rupees to the pound and, to take a random example, a lovely curry coming in at as little as 150 and a beer for 60, we’re talking a life of comfort here, if not exactly a new Raj.

** Not only is Bangalore India’s information technology capital, it also claims to be India’s garden city and pub city. I thought I would examine this latter category first. Especially in the light of my discovery of Kingfisher diet lager. I haven’t read the details on the bottle label, but with the word diet in big letters, it must be good for you....

** One of Bangalore’s watering holes is called the Scottish Pub. It does not sell whisky, only beer and a sugary pink wine which is quite Scottish really....

** Another possible Scottish influence is the item on the snack menu called green-peas fry. We would know it better as a hot-pea special, with hot as in spicy.

** Bangalore is full of young IT professionals, so there are plenty of supposedly trendy bars to match. .... Nasa... is a pub whose interior is a space shuttle. I persevered with the loud music and loads of blinking lights but, really, it’s not much fun being an old fart in a spacecraft...

** A kindly local pointed me in the direction of Koshy’s and advised me to try the palak paneer, which he translated as the "green cheese".

** Koshy’s turned out to be an oasis of cool and calm. In a previous life it was known as the Blighty Café. It still offers a wide selection of British dishes from fish and chips to plum pudding. Luckily, the menu also features North Indian, Korean and Chinese cooking. The green cheese turned out to an irresistible marriage of waxy white paneer with a spicy spinach stew.

** LIFE would not be harsh sitting with a soda and lime in Koshy’s. Or popping down to Higginbotham’s book shop to buy the latest Christopher Brookmyre satire. Or even going into Noble’s hosiery to see if you can escape with just buying a pair of socks. Indian hosiers think you should buy an entire wardrobe of shirts, ties, vests, socks, pants and pyjamas on each and every visit and seem mortally offended when you don’t.

** I like the Bangalore railway booking office where I can queue at a window catering specifically to freedom fighters, handicapped persons, senior citizens and foreign tourists. Even as a resident call centre worker, I hope I would still qualify under the category of freedom fighter.

** Buying a rail ticket involves filling in a wonderfully bureaucratic form. They want your name and address which is fine but then they ask your age, your sex and whether you are vegetarian. It was like registering with a dating agency.... It transpires the veg bit was to work out what you wanted for lunch. The age and sex was to help in allocations of bunks.

** The Bangalore folk in general are welcoming and curious. I am apparently related to hundreds of them, since they keep calling me uncle. They also ask without hesitation what age I am, how much money I earn and for full details of my offspring, presumably on the basis that they are cousins....

** The young IT folk can be a touch earnest, with a few of them coming across as a bit pleased with themselves. This is perhaps inevitable in a boom economy where even the less gifted can walk into jobs which pay two or three times the salary of a doctor.... Being IT professionals, they sometimes respond to a simple question by Googling a query on their GSM phone or even whipping out the laptop for a full search.


  1. What a delightful commentary on Bangalore!!! And the perpective of a 'foreigner' is quite refreshing as we tend to overlook quite a few factes about our city that he has noticed.

  2. This is a great read. Many thanks for posting this article here.

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  4. How appealing! If I ever have the opportunity to travel I will be coming to visit Bangalore.