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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

February 3, 2009
I wrote this piece in Aug 2006 after having returned from a short visit to Bangalore. Thanks to Subbu, my partner-in-crime of those erstwhile Satyam days, who had a copy of it and sent it today. Posting it (unchanged) for perusal.

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This is just one of those things that I felt like writing about and am using Outlook as my blog space since I don’t have net access….

Also, since today the servers are down I don’t have much (read as ‘any’) work., and if you feel that reading this is a waste of time, you are absolutely right since basically I am also just passing my time…..

I apologize for my casual style of writing and am sure that my views in the below narration are bound to raise minor objections, but this is just an opinion and not a judgement…..

At any point of time that you feel that the narrator is boring you with trivial details, feel free to abuse him……..

Well here goes……

On the verge of celebrating my first anniversary (8th Aug) alone in Hyderabad, I was tempted to air my views on this city and the differences I found with the city I have lived in for 20+ years. But faith so ordained it that before I had time to do so, I was made to visit a third city (Bangalore) and in the matter of 2 days, I realized how foolish it was of me to even think of comparing two cities without having had a feel of different cities.

The moment I stepped out of the train onto the City Junction station, I was impressed by the cleanliness that was very much perceivable. The air seemed to be cleaner; the traffic more organized and I even noticed that the auto-wala, who took me to my destination (Century Club – KR circle), had his license displayed inside the auto. All these observations had me quite impressed with the city and add to that the sprawling gardens and parks were quite refreshing to the eye.
Saturday and most of Sunday was busy spent with the marriage that I had come to attend and the rigmarole associated with it. Sunday evening I managed to escape the final ceremony, rationalizing with my parents that the venue was too far and I would surely miss my bus if I were to attend the function. So here I was all alone for one full evening in a city I knew nothing about but had heard a lot about.

The following details are for those who are aware of the topography of Bangalore and others can skip it if you want to:

Century Club is located inside a park called Cubbon Park. This park has many gates, one of them being at KR circle. (This gate also leads to the Club) After speaking to the watchman at the club gate I found out that if one wants to reach MG road one has to cross the park and reach the other gate which is about a 1 Km walk. (No autos are allowed inside the park, but other vehicles are allowed to use the park as a short cut)

My previous escapade at LPL had proved that my fitness levels were not quite up to the mark and I felt that a 1 Km walk would do no harm to it. After a brisk 20 min trudge I spotted the gate and heaved a sigh of relief. Suddenly a hoot (or something to that effect) coming from the left hand side startled me. I looked to the left and found myself looking at the face of a eunuch dressed in a salwar kameez half hiding behind a tree. I was dumbfounded. It was only 7:30 pm (A similar road is there in Hyd near Parade grounds (close to Paradise) and it is advised not to go onto that road after 10 pm since the ground is used as an open air brothel with the ground walls serving as protection from view) I quickly looked away and marched towards the gate. At the next signal I asked the way to M.G road and somehow managed to get there with no further hick-ups. I spent around half an hour at a net café and then felt it was about time to have a look at the much hyped Bangalore crowd. As I jostled my way toward Brigade road, I noticed that the crowd lives up to expectations. No doubt a FC road would beat it hands down and a KP road would impel surrender without a fight, but when one is used to Hyderabad Central for a year then one can’t complain. Bangalore has colour; not only the clothes but even the shops do not shirk from the iridescent. And it does remind you of Pune to a certain extent.
My bus was at 10 pm and it was getting to be 8:30 pm. Time to get back to my room. The first auto-wala refused, the second auto-wala refused, the third auto wala was a character:

Me: KR circle
He: You one people or two?

This question put me into a quandary. Was he a soothsayer in disguise able to see my future girlfriend and asking me this question or was he actually drunk and seeing things?

Me: me 1 person
He: Okay, how much you give?

This was weird, usually the auto wala gives you his estimation and then you bargain…

Me: Twenty rupees (I felt like a prostitute telling her latest client her ‘bhav’)
He: Okay you give 130/- rs and I ll take you

Me: 130/- for what?
He: Its Sunday night

Ya as if he was going to give me a special good night puppy after dropping me….

Me (smirking) : Dude I came walking from there
He (smirking harder) : then you go back also walking

I felt like giving him a ,,l,, but restrained myself and walked away mouthing expletives which I am sure he would not want to write home about…..

My walk back to the club turned into a jog and later into a sprint as not a single autowala was willing to take me to KR circle….
And my biggest fear was yet to come.
I had to walk through that park again…all alone

Opposite the gate I saw a poloiceman standing. I went up to him…

Me : Sir, KR circle ?
He : straight thru the park
Me (suffering from mild paranoia) : is it safe?
He : straight, KR circle straight

Damn this language problem

It was nearing 9:00 pm and I had no option but to go through the park else wait for a bus to take me there and risk missing my bus back to Hyd…..
I was reminded of Shyamalan’s “The Village” where the actress (I don’t kno her name but she s acting in his next movie too) has to cross a forest which is supposed to be filled with demons and devils… But here I was to cross a park infested with prostitutes and what not. And in the movie the actress had the added advantage of being blind. What was I supposed to do?
Nevertheless I mustered all the courage that was left and entered the park. I kept to the center of the road and kept looking back to see if any vehicle was coming to provide me with the much required light. I dint look right nor left and don’t know whether anything fishy was going on or no. I somehow reached the club and packed my bags and made my way to the bus stop.
By now I was desperate to get an auto and reach the bus stop with no more anxieties. But no way, again the autowalas’ reluctance to take me to my destinaton frusterated me. Another 1 Km walk on a lonely road and now with an additional baggage of 5 kilos. This was similar to the situation some years back where Gopal and team carted 2 Exide batteries from the gates of IIT powai to the the convocation center. But then we were in a group and there was the purpose of achieving something. Here was me, frail and batterred with injury limping towards the station all alone. (The infamous Hyd traffic has had the chance of giving my bike and me a tough time in the rainy season)
At the tailend of my walk, I saw a bus at the next signal. As I ran towards it, my shaving kit fell out of my bulging bag. I ran back picked it up and then jumped into the bus.

Me: M.G bus stand

The bus conductor (BC) eyed the packet in my hand as if it was a bomb.

B.C: hdiofgojgojgoa stand

Damn this language problem
I got out of the bus not wanting to risk reaching another stand.
As I saw the bus pass me, an empty auto wala zipped passed me.

Me: Rickshaw……. (please stop)
He (stopping) : Where??
Me: MGBS
He: ????
Me: Bus stand, big bus stand, main bus stand….
He: Kahan jaana hai???
Me (finally someone who knows can talk and understand the same language) Woh KSRTC ke buses jaate hai na… waha jaana hai
He: KSRTC stand bolo na… 30 rs/ lagenge
Me: Chaloooooooooooooo……..

I finally reached the stand with 10 minutes to spare but the ordeal that I had faced to get there was something I had never expected.

Well, it took me around 3 hours writing this and just wanted to say that in my opinion Pune is the easiest and safest place for any outsider to be in. Even a 5 year toddler would have no issues with being left alone on M.G road. (Pune) I know one evening is too small a time to pass judgements or offer opinions on a city, but of what I saw of Bangalore is that it is a two edged sword; a lot of colour and youth sprinkled with a touch of foreboding. And now it is no surprise to me that those call center mishaps happened; because the scope is very high for it. An epitome of this is M.G road (B’lore) where ones side is streamed with well-lit shops and thronged with people and the other side is hidden in the shadows of the trees behind which one is unaware of what evil is lying!!!

The servers are still not up…
Hail $@Ty@m …

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