Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Day lunch

Here's what was on the menu for lunch at my company cafeteria -- they call it a canteen here -- on Thanksgiving Day:

White rice
Mango rice
Jeera rice
Lobia gravy
Yem poriyal

For those of you who don't know South Indian food, a chapatti is a kind of bread, sambar is a sauce you pour over white rice to make it tastier and more nutritious, a papad is flat and crispy, almost like a giant tortilla chip; rasam is a spicy, nutrient-packed soup and curd is yogurt. Laddu is a ball-shaped dessert.

I'm not sure what yem poriyal is.

The menu above is typical for a cafeteria lunch. I did not and would not expect turkey with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving because there are very few Americans in the office and a large number of staffers are vegetarians.

However, there are enough Americans in Bangalore that at least two restaurants laid on special menus for the holiday.

Diane, Jay and I did have Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house. The turkey was killed and plucked that morning at the market.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holiday confusion ...

Some people at my office have signed up to sing Christmas carols and have begun practicing this week. And I can hear them. And it's very nice.

But yesterday was Thanksgiving. And working on Thanksgiving while hearing people sing "Joy to the World" and "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful" can be very confusing!

Oh well. The Christmas shopping season starts today in the States. From now on, when I hear the carolers, I'll close my eyes and pretend I'm in a shopping mall ...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


You won't see this at Waikiki: a bullock pays a visit to Goa's Arambol Beach. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Torpedo Away ...

Our time in Bangalore is drawing to a close (It was a one-year assignment). Diane will be leaving early next month, and I'll be heading out in mid-December.

We're spending time looking at New Jersey real estate Web sites, talking to movers, etc.

I'll be happy to go home after more than four years abroad. I've spent a lot of time away from friends and family.

I've learned a lot about other people and other places during my 3-1/2 years in London and my year in Bangalore. You can't help changing -- for the better. It's been good for my wife and son as well.

This is not my last post. I'll keep writing as long as I have something to say.

Crawling ...

I went on a pub crawl on Sunday night. The crawl -- which focused on the history of beer and beer and Bangalore -- was led by Arun Pai, the entertaining and informative impressario of Bangalore Walks. My friends and colleagues, Paul Bolding and Jane Young, also went along for the walk.

The crawl started at Koshy's, one of Bangalore's oldest and most atmospheric restaurants. Over glasses of Kingfisher and UB Export, Arun gave us a beer crossword to fill out, the first of a series of quizzes and games that made the walk a lot of fun.

With its ceiling fans and big white room, Koshy's makes you feel like you're in a 1940s movie -- Sidney Greenstreet and Humphrey Bogart could walk in any minute.

From there we went to Koshy's antithesis, 1912, the hip restaurant/nightclub. We had glasses of draft Kingfisher and had a look at antique bottles that contained marbles used to seal them and keep the beer fresh. They even used an old carbonation machine to make the beer even fizzier.

Next stop was the Museum Inn at a hotel on Museum Road. 1912 had been quiet and hardly anyone was there (it was relatively early in the evening). But Museum Inn was noisy and packed with young Indians having a good time. More draft beer for us.

We wound up at the ultra-trendy 13th Floor, a bar on the top floor of the Barton Center that looks out over the city. People were having a good time here, too.

I recommend the pub crawl highly, but I have one request for Arun: please do it on a Saturday night next time. It was REALLY hard getting out of bed to go to work on Monday :-)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Gone to Goa (and elsewhere)

The giant statue at Shravanabelagola

Just back from a week's holiday. We had planned to go to Pondicherry, then Goa, but the flooding that hit Bangalore also hit the roads to Pondicherry, so we had to drop that part of the trip.

So, I took a solo two-day trip to Halebid and Belur, two Karnataka towns that are home to some magnificent Hindu temples from the Hoysala Dynasty. They are covered with wonderful carvings and statues, and are very different in design from what I've seen elsewhere. My favorite was the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebid. Well worth the trip.

The trip included a visit to Shravanabelagola, a town that is home to two Jain temples on hills. One temple is home to a 57-foot statue of a Gommateshwara, who -- according to one Web site --- renounced his kingdom and left to lead a life of penance and meditation, attaining Nirvana.

On Wednesday, we flew to Goa. We stayed in the Fontainhas section of Panaji, the state capital. The neighborhood is one of the older sections of town and the Portuguese influence shows. Lots of tile roofs and painted buildings. Very nice and a pleasure to walk around.

Highlights of our Goa trip included a visit to Old Goa, the former capital (abandoned in 1843) whose sights include the body of St. Francis Xavier (in a glass-paneled coffin in the Basilica of Bom Jesus) and some other magnificent churces.

But our favorite day was a trip to the beach -- at a town called Arambol in northern Goa. We lounged on the sand and ate seafood pasta in an open-air shack with a palm thatch roof. Wonderful.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Diwali Parade ...

Last night, on the way to dinner, we stumbled on a Diwali parade. It was wonderful.

At the head of the procession was a brightly lit float depicting a temple. Behind were trucks carrying people dressed in bright robes and turbans. And at the rear of the parade was a "mobile orchestra," a small vehicle carrying a five-piece band that played with enthusiasm.

Others marching in the parade played drums or -- in two cases -- tubas. If I closed my eyes, the drums' rhythm would have made me think I was at a college football game back in the States.

The parade paused at Trinity Circle -- at the western end of M.G. Road, Bangalore's main road -- for a noisy, colorful fireworks display.

As part of Diwali -- the Festival of Lights -- much of Bangalore has been lit up like New York or London at Christmas. Last night's parade added to the Thanksgiving/Christmas feeling. Coming a day after Halloween on Oct. 31, it was a little confusing. But fun.