Monday, July 12

Nammooru Bangalooru

"Good morning! This is Radio City 91 on a cloudy chilly Friday morning"

Not in the US. This is Bangalore. I am tuned to the "Bangalore's best music station", a private FM channel, in my car.

Apun ka naam hai Sunaina
Apun ka show ka naam hai Josh 91
Apun ka station ka naam hai Radio City
Radio City 91 FM.

Bangalore has changed in the past 10 years. It has grown wider, taller and deeper too. Not just the Airtel ER Ad. Ring roads tell us Airport is now inside the city. The flyovers symbolise a leap forward. The underpasses thurst how deep is the passion.

It is not just three aspects that has grown. Just for example, it is tougher to drive now. Thankfully the ring roads are good. At a few places it looks like a freeway. With exits and entries. I don’t know if we can ever afford to have a complete freeway ever in India. But for what we have, I am sure we could do something to use them better. A little bit of care in driving. Tell people driving is not just a skill, but a knowledge. That helps. All cars come with power steering now. Why still go for a diagonal turn when you have to turn right? The amount of time I would spend, yielding to a through traffic, is only a small percentage of the total journey with all the jams. Why not yield? And enjoy Sunaina's Josh, Dorrius' Route 91 and the Mattinee with Sindhu on Radio City?

Todays Times of India talks about what it costs when Ambulances get stuck in jams. You will realise only when you are involved. But it need not be. You don’t have to burn your fingers to know fire means heat. And to realise heat can mean burn.

Then again, on a the beautiful ring roads, a bit more care in putting signboards. BDA knows they can make money using signboards by ads. Why not have them in plenty? With all the exits and junctions marked properly it would be just good. Driving could be a fun if we could route all the slow trucks on one lane. Now they span the entire road and people zip in between these trucks. Don’t blame the truck drivers. They are not privileged to have a good education, a good pay and still overlook all rules. Good that, I can see many people believing that lane changing is aided by indicators. And why on earth these bike riders feel they should be on the extreme right of the extreme right lane? Good or bad thing is that they don’t do a rash driving. They keep steady 40s!!!

BTS has changed name. Now called BMTC. They have changes colours. Now many flavours. Janapriya Vahini to Parisara Vahini - a lot of them. ( I can understand what a Janapriya vahini is. But what about a Parisara vahini? Someone said they take Parisara for a ride!!) Kutti vandis for small areas. Double length buses for some other. Theorotically. The road toward my apartment is narrow. But they have the normal buses running in these roads.

Lots and lots of money flowing into Bangalore day by day. The most dangerous if the BPO wave. Teens are getting 5 digit salaries. With money in Bangalore, easy to spoil yourself.

Mobile is nothing luxury here. If you want to show off, have those latest models with colour screens and multimedia stuff, odd (call innovative?) shapes and like that. My first haircut was interrupted twice .The barber's mobile rang twice. (Did it ring or sing?)

People here don’t bother there is a silent mode. In Japan it is a single button manner mode. Here in meetings, people get calls and they even asnwer sitting where they sit. Cool. A decade back, I remember our CDOT tea table talk - "People now assume everyone has a phone at home. They don’t ask you if you have a phone, they just ask your number". This is now true about mobile. That time 90% around that tea table did not have a phone where they lived. "Well, whats your cell number btw?"

Moving in to Bangalore was easier done. Got furniture from home. Arranged with the apartment watchman for a few people to get things moved up. All done. They happy with 200 bucks. Thankfully this is not Trivandrum. The relocation from Japan was pretty too. Door to door was executed with me getting involved in a few telephone calls. Very neat and clean till unpacking. Great job Interem. Phone, application form downloaded from the web and then the handed over to the concierge service at TI (outsourced by TI). Second day the instrument was in place and the third day it started ringing. I am talking about BSNL, the erstwhile DoT. If you don’t want them, there are other landlines like TATA, Reliance, Bharati. Or you can go for fixed wireless again from all these people.

(Ever thought wires will be thought of as hassles in India? Before we could realise a wired society, we have a better wireless society grooming. See all the reports. Instat or whatever. World is watching India on wireless.)

Gas - Just went and told them. They gave an application. Filled it up. The next day morning the guy was there installing the LPG.

Life is good too. Malloos have taken over Bangalore with the super market concept everywhere. Now things are all a phone call away. Groceries, Vegetables, Fish, Meat, anything you can order on phone and get them delivered free of charge. I am not referring to brands like These are local shops around.

Rents? I pay a rent of Rs.7600. I have not met anyone paying less than 6500. I have a colleague who pays 22000. Well, he has booked an apartment. He will get that in the late 2006. Good he says. He agreed to pay around 42 lakhs.

For car also it is actually quick. But thanks to TI car lease scheme, it took me more than a month to get it done. Anyway I never visited any car showrooms. At home evaluations. Home delivery. Thanks to Anoop who did this unbelievable service to happen in the non-service capital of India called Trivandrum. I followed it in the consumer city called Bangalore.

Talking about cars again, people are "driven" nowadays. They don’t drive. They have drivers. Someone was surprised last week "So you don’t have a driver?" A big problem for the new TI office location was that - the drivers have no space now. These are all personal drivers. Not for any directors or anyone. Just a man in the cubicle.

So much about the new Bangalore. But the old Bangalore is chugging along too. You can still spot many bullock carts in service. Something which you cannot see in Kerala. Garbages are the same old way. And they are handled in the same old way too. (I met a person, a driver for the garbage removal vehicle of the city, who has "outsourced" that job and he working as personal driver for someone else)

Well, this is my 90 days story in Bangalore. To start with. Now I am on the lookout to own or build a house. Many people are there to give me company. One difference - they are on the lookout for the second houses. The first for many are apartments. I am thinking of skipping that step. Second cars and second houses are not unusual here. Except for the guys who missed a part of the journey enjoying life in calm and cool places like Kerala and Japan!