Category Archives: Bangalore

Indian Coffee House, Bangalore


ICH is how Indian Coffee House is referred to by its patrons. Nestled in between the biggest names of the international restaurant business, its plain white name board is easy to miss. You either have been there before or you keep your eyes peeled for it right after you pass Ruby Tuesday on Church Street.

On my second visit here, the first thing I did was to open the Foursquare app and find out what this place was best known for. The most popular was coffee. Mutton cutlet and various preparations of scrambled egg followed. By the time I had salivated over all that, ten glasses of lime juice had already been ordered. Lime juice was not worth the sugar that was put in it, if at all there was any. Masala dosa came in when my ratings for this place was at the lowest. The chutney looked ignorable  but when the first bit of dosa, with the lightly flavored mashed potato filling touched down on the tongue, I closed my eyes in relish. I grew ignorant of the table side conversation and the fingers were licked clean each time they delivered a morsel. There was very little oil on the dosa when you compare it to what the MTR kitchens roll out.

Scrambled eggs couldn’t have been better. Recommend saving this place for the end of the month, when you are close to pauper-hood. And, before you troop down there you may want to check out their swanky website.

The fast car experience

I remember the last time I screamed along with a revving engine. It was 5 years ago in Kerala, in a stripped down Maruti Esteem, and by stripped down, I mean the rally-car way. Factory fitted seats replaced with 2 Sparco bucket seats and 4 way seat-belts, a roll cage, a free-flow exhaust and all that you need to generate enough torque in a 30 metre run-in enough for a decent drift.

For those fifteen minutes, we felt every pebble that the tires crushed, and all of that ended in a smooth 360 degree stop. If I had had a driving license or a fair amount of experience behind the wheel, I may have had a chance at that car.

That short trip down memory lane was a result of watching the Fast Five at the theatre yesterday. The grunt of the GT40 would be wasted on you if you don’t have theatrical sound. Boy, that was the beginning of a parade of muscle and beauty. The only places where better choices could have been made were the monster SUVs which The Rock arrived with and the silvery sissy looking car standing beside Vin Diesel’s beast towards the end. The SUVs seemed ill-designed and bulked up to match Rock’s physique. The rest of the cars have my approval.

Fast five is years ahead of Tokyo Drift (the third of the sequel) in entertainment value. That said, do not fly to the theatre if you sniff a good story here. If that’s what you are after, the trailer is enough. To put it in short, this could be the work of a director who has a Michael Bay’s craziness for trashing good lookin’ cars (but has a much better idea of how to) and a fetish for the Tarantino-Rodriguez style of bringing things down with a machete. I sometimes wish director Justin Lin would rope in an intelligent script writer suggested by Chris Nolan and then continue stealing vaults the way he did this time. I would love him for it.

It’s a must-watch if you don’t have a fast car or a car at all. Those who do can learn to drive during the movie. The best way to rob a bank is to rip out its vaults:

Onam pangs!

While I was in Delhi (eh, yeah), Onam was a word that rendered all the devout-Mallus feverishly excited (my parents included). I didn’t get the Onam fever even when I was in Kerala for four years, where I earned (yes!) my engineering degree. Out of a class of 44, I was one of the 4 or 5 who decided not to wear the white mundu. But I was the only one who would have liked to read some yellow-paged dog eared book tucked in the cosy bed at my hostel rooms. The other non-mundu wearing fellas fled instead for the feast.

Meanwhile, the intermittent trips to Dilli were turning into a check-if-Mallu-now loop. The first day at home, a starched mundu lay on the bed alongwith the other clothes I was supposed to change into. Only on the first day. I never put it on, so my parents usually got the message and it stopped finding itself starched and whiling its time away on the bed.

Today, I would do anything to get my hands on that Onam sadya, to feel the crunch of that papadam, the tangy taste of the inji pulli as it arouses a tongue smack, the countless curries that await your taste buds. By this time, the tongue is a victim of the the countless tastes that it cannot describe. Then begins the main course – featuring a mixture of matta rice, sambar and crushed papadams. This is the time all the talking around the table stops and people just focus on what’s served on the leaf.Gorging on lip-smacking food is a high in itself. And then there is always the onam payasam and the sharkara varettithu , saved for afterwards.

While the above lines were happening to me, I was chewing on a chicken puff, with a headache  as the aftermath of working a 12×3 weekend, and all I could feel was the taste of avial waltzing around my taste buds

Days on, I still can’t get over the Onam pangs. So I decide to put it down this way.

A better next Onam to me.

P.S: This wasn’t how I had imagined the great Onam weekend of Bengaluru to be!

On the weekend coming up to Onam, I wasted an hour before the gate-opening time and an hour after it, almost kneeling (in half-devotion and the other half because of the lactic acid awakening my lazy muscles) at the gates of the grounds where Avial was supposed to perform. This ground happened to be a little clearing just behind a cancer hospital, the irony of it all! Or may be not, may be the Catholic priests who run the institution believed in the ‘healing powers of good rock music’. Either way, we were gonna make the best of the concert.

Avial made it to the stage after the St. Johns College’s band, The Gig Bang Theory, failed to come close to banging anything, except our hopes of a good show. Five minutes of running sound checks and what not, the first evening-saving act stood there- in a green mundu, with a clean shaven head and “Nada Nada Nada”.

That song made me believe in universal brotherhood; I was surrounded by strong North Indian accents mouthing the absolutely correct Mallu lyrics. An entire album rolled by within a span of forty five minutes. Since then, this song of theirs has been on repeat, sometimes alone and sometimes with the rest of their album, for hours together without my ears complaining. Do check out their rest of the album, here if you havn’t.

mysore

This I thought, would be the most boring of all trips. Honestly. But I successfully convinced a guy blinded by a hangover to ride his Enfield Bullet to a place which was almost 130 kms away from Bangalore city- and that was an ego boost to my people-motivation skills.

Okay, ignoring the hour wasted in finding his house, then finally meeting up at a restaurant which was overflowing with more people fighting for good coffee than for better food,  and that too at eight fucking thirty on a Sunday morning, everything seemd perfect (keeping in mind that it was cloudy even at 9 that morning). To make matters worse,  Ashish called in with fever . Now, it was justthe Enfield guy and me, and we decided to do the trip for record’s sake.

A short 15 minute criss-cross through the morning traffic brought us onto the Nice road. And  does it live up to its name! A toll booth later, we were flying down the highway with me surprised by how the surroundings change – we were in a traffic jam a few minutes back and now, we were riding at heights more than that lush coconut tree groves with lakes of water in between.

Now, this is where I start lauding my Yamaha‘s performance. To begin with, it’s got a “feather light handlebar” which gives you the smoothness of a banking aircraft  on those long bends interrupted only by mangy mutts in the middle of such roads mulling on whether to cross or not.  Occasionally, you would come across carcasses of victimised dogs and crows playing relay races in a similar fashion. Another realization that hits you soon enough is that while the Karnataka government was planting speed breakers, it forgot to put warning signs in advance and sometimes, skipped them altogether. Poor mileage, though an issue, was pushed aside by breathtaking scenery,  and three hours later, I was at a  200 year old church.

A few minutes of stretching and soothing the side-B, I started the ride to the place where it all began – the Mysore campus. We revisited the old training rooms, food courts and libraries. The walk back to the hostel room from the training centre used to be a long one, taking 1-2 hrs, which included warm chocolate milk shakes, diaphragm exercises accompanying the accomplished guitarist, leg pulling, weekend planning … the problems of a simple mind which are now nowhere to be heard of.

I spent time recounting memories with all whom I could find from my training days and after I slept off the tiredness, witnessed a musical fountain dance to some (repetitive,) pop music with the glow of the enormous, second training centre for stagelight. Now, that building, is  money well spent. Our stomachs growled and a thought of the good ole masala buttermilk ran through our heads. Two years earlier, there used to be just one crowded punjaabi dhaaba with  finger-licking food. Now, there are many with bland food. We ordered butter nan, paneer bhurji and dal tadka , and got sweet dal, burnt nan, some bland paneer bhurji and this conversation: –                                                                               

 To the waiter,” Boss, isme(dal tadka) namak nahi hai!”
The spineless jellyfish(waiter) pointing at the salt-pepper dispenser,” Dal lo!”
Friend retorted:”Dal,pyaaz aur masala bhi de dete, khud hi banake kha lete!”

I don’t know what I should hold against him – the ‘best’ dhaaba around or the free movie that we missed by sleeping away at the dorm. I forgave him(had to, I was spending the night over at his place and he knows Kung-fu) and spent the night looking at a curtain thread swayed by the cool breeze. We turned around for Bangalore the next day at around five thirty in the morning and reached home in three-and-a-half hours – and that’s another place struck off and nostalgia shrugged off the shoulders.

woo hoo!!

India has very few places, where you would be coaxed to ride faster than you usually do.And the run-in period of the crotch rocket that you own(ignoring the manufacturer here) is one wrong time to be on the Electronic City “freeway”.It’s a wrong done to your self esteem.

You have in-your-face circular speed signs at regular intervals, with “80” pasted on them, encircled with paint from 3-inch wide brush .You look down and realize that you are doing a mere 55.Grandpa-interstate-buses that should rather be museum pieces overtake you.And what do you do?

You keep telling yourself – “Patience, my friend,patience.”

Till ‘that’ bus(overloaded and decked with garlands,final run??) overtakes you and a cheeky kid pops his head out and waves a mocking “bye-bye”. He could be Sreeshant’s replacement or even son, who knows?

And then, you lose it and do what Colin McRae does best i.e. “pedal to the metal”.The bus and its lifeforms are soon a fading nightmare in your rearview mirror and you say a Hi to the latest record on your virgin speedometer. 113kph!

%d bloggers like this: