Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Light Bangalore traffic on Airport Road Posted by Hello

The autorickshaw -- Bangalore's ubiquitous taxi. Posted by Hello

From the passenger seat of an autorickshaw. Posted by Hello

Monday, March 28, 2005

A nice surprise at the City Market. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Signatures, signatures

It's sometimes aaid that India learned -- even embraced -- bureaucracy under British rule. Now and again, you see evidence that this is true.

Today, I went to get a mobile phone for my wife, Diane, who will be joining me here in April.

I had to sign the application I was given in seven different places, including the passport-sized picture I was required to affix to the form.

My signatures included a section in which I declared that my income came from agriculture (I pointed this out, but they said sign it anyway. So I did).

I also had to provide:

-- A photocopy of my passport details page. I had to sign this and the signature had to match that on the nearly 10-year-old passport. The folks at the mobile phone office were surprised to hear that U.S. passports don't give your home address (which indicates that that's the case in India).

-- A photocopy of my New York state driver's license (Signed that, too).

-- A photocopy of my lease to confirm my address (Signed it).

-- A photocopy of my Indian visa, which is inside my passport (Signed that).

The visa photocopy caused a little excitement because it is due to expire on March 22. The young man checking my bona fides even took it into the manager's office (I could imagine him telling the manager, "Boss, we caught an illegal alien!").

Luckily, I had my passport with me and was able to show them the visa extension which is good until next fall. Whew.

To be fair, I would not be surprised to be asked to provide proof of address in the United States or Britain. But the total number of forms, photocopies, etc. was like nothing I've ever encountered before in getting a mobile.

The phone company says the government requires them to obtain this information.

And I did not encounter the worst part of any bureaucracy: being forced to wait a long time to get what I wanted or having to apply again. I got the SIM card for Diane's phone then and there.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

No spice

Picking up a ticket at the local British Airways office, I noticed this item on the list of things you can't take onto an airplane in your carry-on luggage or pockets:

Chili powder (spelled "chilli" here)

It might have been on the list before, and I just hadn't taken note of it. But chili powder is something that is more widespread here than in, say, parts of my country -- America -- where many of us still prefer our food on the less spicey side.

I can see how chili could easily be used as a weapon or a threat. It would hurt a lot if someone threw it into your eyes.

Or, maybe you could use it to make airline food taste better?

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk

I take The Hindu, which bills itself as "India's national newspaper" and has been around since 1878.

On Tuesday, I read this subheadline in a story on the latest developments in Nepal:

"Moists Torch Bus"

A typo, of course. It should have been "Maoists." There has been a Maoist insurgency in Nepal for years.

But, when I read that headline, I found myself picturing a band of men with butch haircuts saying, "Oh, a wise guy, eh?" as they attacked the bus. With a band of Curlys chanting, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Round-the-World-Phone Call

I called Citibank back in the States today to give them my change of address and to take care of some other business. I used their U.S. number.

During the call, I noticed that there was a lag when I asked the nice lady at the end of the line questions and when she answered. And she had an accent I could not quite place.

At the end of our conversation, I asked her where she was. She said, "India."

When I asked her where in India, she replied, "Bangalore."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


On the way home last night, I stopped off at the New Shanthi Sagar, a vegetarian restaurant off Airport Road with a bright neon sign and a nice look to it that had caught my eye.

I asked my waiter for recommendations, and he obliged. I started with dahli puri, which were open shells dusted with paprika and filled with and surrounded by sweet, liquidy yogurt. Small, sweet kernels of corn (at least that's what it looked like and tasted like) dotted the yogurt, which is called curd here.

The main course was that southern Indian mainstay, the dosa, a thin, crispy pancake made with rice flour. I had a masala dosa with cheese. The masala part consists of a mixture of gently spiced potato, onion and (I think) parsley. It's delicious.

Note to Bangaloreans and any other south Indians reading this: if I get anything wrong here, please make a comment and I'll correct.

Dessert was Anamica, an ice cream sundae made with vanilla, pistachio and strawberry ice cream with dried fruit, a kind of jelly and honey.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Bull Temple

I have been to the Bull Temple complex, which is a "must-see" in Bangalore and houses a large statue of -- a bull. I hope to post more fully in the not-so-distant future. The highlights include at least four temples -- the Bull Temple and three others -- and a nice garden with tall trees.

If you look up at the trees, you can see BIG BATS hanging from them. Very cool.

I'd like to post more, but I've had to spend a lot of time at the office AND I am trying to do what I can to set the apartment up for my family's arrival. And I'm doing taxes on three continents (really). That part is REAL fun (not).