Saturday, June 24, 2006

A bight of Bangalore

By far the most satisfying and enjoyable thing I am doing with my time in Bangalore is the teaching (English and sport, but OK largely playing) of disadvantaged children from the colossal slums of this city. At 3.30 though my day ends and evenings and especially weekends have been spent investigating what this city of "lounges" has to offer. Quite by accident this has lead to a head first dive into the expat scene here for all that is good and bad about it.

Dave and I have met up with volunteers, been chaperoned by spoilt local rich-kid brats, attended french techno nights and after parties (do you remember that Dave), been to ridiculous chiche hotel bars that make me laugh, watched footie in our local with large northern lads, listened to jazz at the Alliance Francaise, and I am even playing for the Refugees rugby team against Indian internationals and tomorrow the army (an expat team predictably and it is fair to say that I am not even the 7th biggest man in the pack).

All in all good fun. But in my last 2 minutes before this internet thing runs out I might mention a typical night - last night....

Start off going to lounge from last week.... too expensive... bail.... go back to good old pub world for a relaxed drink.... 93.3 FM something enter for Kingfisher night.... win downing competition... live on air get revenge at the Bombay Taj Hotel "At the Taj in Bombay they beat us up for being gay" or something like that.... much more piss take of the awful radio... bail... meet some volunteers at silly ladies night at some awful chiche place... dance silly...have fun...taken to VIP area of some silly super rich very average not buy silly priced drinks... raced across city by idiot guy who wants to show us how rich his family are... not impressed... he makes his excuses and looks small... tells how he made his money from renting out stuff... ask where he gets property...parents....even more impressed... ask him if he can help me do the same thing only using my main asset - uni debt...uuuggghh....hmmmmmm... back to where we were meant to go... try to impress us some more by buying loads of rubbish... oh forgot drove like boy racers... told off.... arranged tonight.... sleep....head.....oh people coming round in half an hour...........

...then more rugby in the morning!!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Shooting Some Roots: Bangalore

After 2 truly manic but generally hilarious weeks of travel from Calcutta to Bangalore (nearly 3 figures of hours on Indian trains etc) I am very slowly getting used to the notion of doing 2 things that I have grown unaccustomed to over the past year:

1. Staying stationary
2. Working

Yes, I will be in one place (barring weekend adventures) for a good three weeks while working for the Parikrma foundation as of manana en la manana. I am not exactly sure what to expect but am looking forward to learning about an organisation that was recommended so highly by Steffi and am happy that no middle-man UK organisation is getting rich from the application. I believe other people working with us will have paid hundreds of pounds for the same opportunity.

So it looks like a bit of settling down is in order. The city so famed for its night life in India is not quite as you might expect as (a) it is in India where nightlife is not a shining quality of the country and (b) the new police chief decided a few months back that too many out-sourced IT hours were being lost to hangovers and hence no fun allowed after 11pm. I know that should be familiar to a Brit with our slowly repealing draconian licencing laws, but here they seem to really mean it.

Therefore a few weeks of watching England progress gloriously through the World Cup (hmmm last nights performance did not worry me at all....honest), becoming a local in pub for said purpose, exploring what the city has to offer, maybe catching up a bit on this blog, and most importantly hopefully being of some assistance to the slum children foundation await.

Aaaaaah, I have all my life to settle down but after 9 months of running around a bit like a happy-headless chicken I am satisfied at a small stationary prospect. I will report on this mega-city of millions, IT wealth, slums, famed medical treatment, congestion and Americanisation in due course.

(The picture shows our front garden - sort of the Oxford Street of Bangalore but with "NO FUN ALLOWED" after 11.30pm grrrrrrghh!)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bombay Bolly-Bashing Bouncers

I thought the way my first day in Bombay unfurled was worth a couple of lines while waiting for a train down to Goa. Where to start...

...Oh yes, arriving off a 30 hour train ride at first light after barely any sleep in 2 days in 40 degree temps. Having a deserved shower, walking out for breakfast, jumping in a car across the city to take part as an extra dancing in a Bollywood film, laughing my head off at the hilarity of the whole event, having to jump cars in a successful attempt to bail, rushing around the city being shopped for so to be allowed into clubs, hitting the beers with Dave and Sarah (American chica), going to one of the best restaurants in Bombay in a vest and thongs (not the underwear variety for you non-Aussies out there), and some interesting bottles of Indian wine and some spillage later going on to a good nightclub until close before the crowning event of the day at perhaps the top hotel in India - The Taj Mahal. On finding non-couples were double charged for entry at the incredibly snobby nightclub downstairs, Dave announced we were a "gay couple!" and therefore should not have to pay more. This joke escalated into a protest as many bouncers shoved, dragged and pushed us out of the building proclaiming no gay rights in India. The reaction to our non-violent protest was that we were thrown about and eventually Dave hit in the nose (only poncy shot no real damage). I have to say the crowd was generally as pretentious as they come but it gave some satisfaction when the people behind us agreed with the protest and said they were happy to wait.....etc...etc... had to console Sarah who was quite taken aback by the whole thing while Dave went into the main reception of the uber-posh hotel and with his hands behind his back announced to the guests that he had been assaulted by hotel staff for being gay. Some of these same staff then thought about going for him but were called off as the situation became clear.....sitting on the steps of the Gateway to India, brooding and thinking of what could have been and was as the bay lapped up against our feet... off home to bed..... wake up with a couple of bruises, scratches and a mission to denounce the name of an international hotel that is so homophobic (even if neither Dave nor I have such tendencies)... decide Bombay is a great city and plan to come back here for more time before leaving India. Maybe another night at the Taj...

Off to monsoon soaked Goa where I may extrapolate.
(P.s.Bollywood is really really funny!!!)