Brigade Road, Bangalore

Are Bangalore Days Over?

In February this year, I sent out a mail to my team in office which was somewhat on these lines:

We are all allowed to work from home once in a while but it is getting out of hands. I suggest that we get disciplined and work from home, at max, for 2 days in a Month and not more than once a week. That too, only if it is really necessary.

me, trying to act bossy

Heh, where are the days gone when you could actually feel embarrassed in public?

Most of the people whom I call as Friends or Colleagues or Relatives who used to live (in rented houses) in Bangalore have now left the city and have returned to their home towns. They all plan to stay there and work remotely till the pandemic gets over and their employers allow work from home. Some say that this would be allowed at least till December 2020. Some say it would go on till July 2021. Some even say that Bangalore Days are over as now the Internet is good enough all over the country that it is not really important to stay and work in the same city. The traffic and the hustle bustle in the city is not the same anymore. Office spaces on everyday are as vacant as the office spaces on Weekends. Most Restaurants have shut down. Food Delivery guys, who used to drive as fast as the F1 Cars, now just stroll their way to deliver food to a lone introvert stranger who is oblivious to the pandemic or may be understands that food is not the primary source of infection. The number of cases are breaking records every day and the overall morale of the place is duller than mood on pre-covid Monday mornings.

James Altucher, a famous blogger and entrepreneur, wrote something similar about New York City. He gave detailed stats of rent coming down, people actually moving permanently to other cities, and remote working is going to be the norm.

There won’t be business opportunities for years. Businesses move on. People move on. It will be cheaper for businesses to function more remotely and bandwidth is only getting faster. 

Wait for events and conferences and even meetings and maybe even office spaces to start happening in virtual realities once everyone is spread out from midtown Manhattan to all over the country. 

NYC IS DEAD FOREVER. HERE’S WHY

His views have some weight and it is not all wrong. However, he got a strong rebuttal from someone who is a New Yorker and takes pride in it. In fact, he is someone who usually won’t really speak out on each and every public related issue. But, this NYC Dead thingy hit him hard.

World Famous Comedian Jerry Seinfeld wrote,

Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines. That’s the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don’t they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn’t work, that’s why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again.

Jerry Seinfeld: So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’
(It’s not.)

I had myself left the city on 14th July and went to my home town. I thought may be I would also stay there for a long time. Return to the city where my friends and colleagues aren’t there is not really fruitful, in fact, dangerous if you know what I mean.

But I returned back on August 16th, 2020 for several reasons, including my wife working in Bangalore at a place where work from home isn’t really allowed. Here is my opinion on whether the Silicon Valley of India is now a thing of the past:

No, Bangalore days are not over. Working from Home is not same as Working in Office. In fact, working from home, even from your hometown is not the same as working from your home in Bangalore. The feel is not there. Like Jerry Seinfeld said, some places stand out because of the Energy. I am not in a die-hard fan of Bangalore the city as such because it can certainly do better in a lot of aspects but I absolutely love working here. I really miss working in office, meeting people, discussing ideas, talking about weather and traffic even when there is always a love-hate relationship, having tea road-side, and in generally sitting at my desk in office. I have no qualms in saying that whoever, I know, has moved out of Bangalore has always complained about how the Bangalore work culture is perhaps the best there is and other cities are not the same. Since I have not really worked elsewhere in last decade (except small stints in Hyderabad and Jaipur), I don’t know that. But there is certainly something which makes a place worth living. Of course, without people, the soul is not there. Even if some politicians and their stooges do drama by Hindi-Hate-Mongering every few months, but there are still many sane people around care about better things and solve problems and not create them. There might be 1000 wrong things here but which place doesn’t? I have spent 10 years here and it has shaped my personality, I think, in a positive way. It has made me more accepting, more open and more optimistic. I want to stay an optimist, even if I am missing out on spending a long time with my family unlike many other folks. I’ve just stated about Bangalore but every city in the world is special for its own reason and you might have some reasons about it yourself.

I feel that once this is over, and this will be over soon, it would take just a week or so for normalcy to return. And not just Bangalore, every city around the world will rise up again. There might still be some people who will have FOGO (Fear of Going Out, h/t: Mark Manson) and might not return to office. May be, masks wearing will stay for another year. But I am sure, most people who really want to work and are ambitious, will return to the cities, and the offices will be swarming with people again. Humans are stubborn. These viruses and all might scare us for sometime. But, we will return to work and crib about how bad the traffic is and why can’t the government do something about it. We will return to work and go to the cafeteria and eat the tasteless food. Your favorite restaurants will be back serving your favorite overpriced meal. We will still use Zoom and all, but we will also meet people in person. The dullness in the air will transform back to the energetic vibe which makes us believe that tomorrow is going to be better.


https://unsplash.com/@nichu_avva

10 Years A Bangalorean

I know that real Bangaloreans won’t still call me a Bangalorean but today I completed a decade in Bangalore or Bengaluru or Namma, you get the drift. In 2010, I had thought that maybe I will move back home or probably NCR in the next 5 years. But here we are, still…

I remember the day clearly. Approaching Bangalore around 6 AM with a temperature of around 20 or 22 degree Celsius, the gray clouds almost hugging the greenery and a mixed sigh of relief donning my face as I said a bittersweet goodbye to a hot and sweltering Hyderabad (which is a fine city by the way), I finally reached ‘Majestic’. I was at Hyderabad from the last 3 months undergoing bloody entree level IT job training. I, along with my colleagues who had ‘chosen’ Bangalore as their preferred work location reached. I was received by a cousin who then took me in with him at his apartment which had views like these.

Iggalur
Iggalur

Neither my colleagues, nor my cousin live in Bangalore anymore.

I had arrived in Bangalore as a Software Engineer and became the part of the IT crowd.

I spent my first 6 years in BTM, the then North Indian part of the city. (Now we are everywhere). Needless to say, it was a great time there. At a time, there were almost 10 of my college-mates living in BTM. Those times, colleagues and friends were sorts of synonyms too. We earned less but enjoyed more, as they say. During those 6 years, I would have traveled to every nook and corner of the city in the quintessential BMTC and Autos. Then I am living near the CBD now and find it easy to go anywhere without any hassle. I have been here when one had to wait for a lonely Bus at Chandapura and I have been here when Uber had launched.

I have worked in the Electronic City as well the Outer Ring Road / Whitefield area. I have crossed Silk Board more number of times than the times people have called it the most conjusted area traffic wise.

It took me 8 years but I officially learned Kannada in 2018. That didn’t make much of a difference but I felt obligated to. I am yet to watch a proper Kannada movie, except a few seen in the TN buses which go from Silk Board to Hosur.

I have been a part of a movie shot in Bangalore. I have seen a Cricket Match at Chinnaswamy. I have been to Lalbagh and have taken people to Lalbagh and then Chikpet as a tourist guide. I have got stuck in rains for hours here and have driven in 2 feet deep sludge on the track which used to be a road. I have bought a Royal Enfield Electra in Bangalore and I have spent a lot of money on Idlis at breakfast, daily.

I have eaten Dosa at Vidhyarthi Bhavan or CTR just once but it is okay. I have been to Nandi Hills an uncountable number of times and switched from ‘What is this? There’s nothing here’ to ‘Let’s go to Nandi Hills! It has been ages!’.

A lot has changed as well. Many shops, restaurants, eateries opened up and got shut down. I have met so many folks who were colleagues, became friends, stayed together, left the city, went on to do great things, went on to have families, went on to different countries, took risks, succeeded, failed, lived, passed away, and so on. Some left an imprint, some left without any trace.

I became an independent person in Bangalore. I got married when I was in Bangalore. The last 2 sentences are not intended. I have had quarrels here. I have had romance.

I have enjoyed real late nights in Bangalore. I have stayed indoors for months in Bangalore.

After spending 10 years here, it has grown on me. Although now, I don’t brag about the weather or show frustration about the traffic. It is here and we know it so what’s there to say! 10 years have literally swooshed past because I still remember my first day pretty clearly.

I am here for some more. Bring it on.


Some of my older writings involving Bangalore

Q: What advice would you give to a new grad software engineer who’s moving to Bangalore from elsewhere (in India) in terms of where to live and where not to, places to hang out and not to hang out, and ways to save money?

A: https://qr.ae/pNKr2K

Featured Photo by https://unsplash.com/@nichu_avva

Bookstores of Bangalore

Did I tell you, I always wanted to own a Stationary Shop which also sold books?

I have always wanted to read more and more books. But like everyone else, I end up reading less and less. There are some phases when I do read 2-3 books in very less time. But those times come like Halley’s Comet if people still remember that thing. Not digressing, this post is about book stores. It is not an exhaustive post about Bangalore’s Book Stores but just a few pictures of the bookstores I have been to.

Disclaimer: I own a Kindle since last few years. And that has rather helped me read more. But still, there is a charm in real printed books and book shops. Whenever I get a chance, I do visit book stores and get a feel of reality (and feel intellectual). Also, I am a keen observer of Book Covers. I don’t usually buy books but I always feel the guilt that I should.

So last weekend, I was roaming around on Church Street, Bengaluru. As many folks would know, it is famous for the Blossoms Book Store. I found another one very next to it called The Bookworm. Very close by, on MG Road, there is Higginbothams’ too. Do visit.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkxrwD-HSPG/
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwe57rxB-yE/
https://www.instagram.com/p/BdrcGS3Dob-/

So as they say, when you desire something, you do get signs. So, I found this today. Please watch this. This post was mostly written to share this video.

Hardly Surprising: Thoughts on Bengaluru's Apparent Night of Horror

What else do you expect to happen to a girl (or say girls) surrounded by 1000s of men on road at Midnight?

Do you expect grown up Indian men to behave well in Public? Haha. Seriously?

If you are reading this, and you are a girl, may I ask your expectations from Bangalore? (Or any other city in India for that matter) You thoughts things would be better after 2012 December? You must be living under a rock.

How can people even expect mobs in India to not indulge in unruly behavior? I mean, where were you all these years (since forever). When were we good to women, is all I want to ask? Was it during the time, some RSS folks might argue, before invaders came from up North/West/Central Asia? If yes, that time has passed long back. And I am pretty sure, that even then we were the same. If I can remember, I am sure that Indian men (#YesAllMen) have never sympathized nor empathized with what women face daily. Some people are tweeting incessantly sharing what their friends faces. As if that would help. Nopes. This is not cynical. This is real.

Just because TV News is paying attention to it for 3–4 days, doesn’t mean that it is going to get solved.

And how come Bengaluru is treated as if this is some special part of the country where people are extra mannered and cultured. Hehe, no, Bangalore is same as rest of India. Now at least I can feel, how Delhi people must be feeling.

Zombingaloroo-uuu-u

(Kindly read this in a heavy whispering voice. No, heavier, yes, you can do it.)

Year: 2019
Place: Looroouuu (Speak this word slow and with wheezing in your voice)

It has been more than 418 days since the Sun came out, here in Looroouuu. Yes, 418 days without Sun in Looroouuu. A 1000 or so years ago, this was called Bendakaluru. Then it became Bangalore 200 odd years ago under British rule and then it stayed the same for some years after British left. Then it became Bengalooroo few years ago and then it became Bengalooroouuu. Similar additions of oouuu and removal of other useless alphabets have resulted in the current name and eventually it will become just U*.

*If this city survives. If not even the U will disappear into oblivion.

Anyways, that’s not the point. Point is that this place which was a bustling city overflowing with people young and old (and making world a better place through innovation and servicing the Information Technology industry of the world), till some couple of years ago has now become a deserted place with only a handful of entities left. Since the outbreak of the virus Zombola 2 years ago somewhere in the country called USA, it took away life and life out of property with it. Bangalore was the worst hit of the all because people downloaded the viruses through torrents and injected themselves with it using the pen drive injection iCrack* (which was Apple’s most innovative product since their last most innovative product which was bigger, better and thinner) which then lead to disastrous results. Yes, the virus which was originated as a computer code eventually got mixed with the human genome code and made the people Half-Human-Half-Zombie.

(You can now stop whispering but keep the tone heavier, for dramatic effects which this post needs but doesn’t deserve)

About 418 days ago, Zombola spreaded like Wild Fire in this city. Everyone got affected. (Dramatic Pause) Everyone. Govt. officials who had already evacuated (not sure why), then quarantined the city. Half-Human-Half-Zombie people had got no clue whatsoever but they had been trapped, left on their own on that day. Nobody could go out, nobody could come in. People didn’t know that they have been converted to something beyond their beliefs. They had been zombified. The only good thing which happened because of this was the return of Awesome Bangalore Weather, which had gone extinct somewhere in the 2010s due to excessive jinxing by tweeting. The Half-Human-Half-Zombies didn’t realize that the disappearance of Sun would be even more fatal for them eventually, as now they didn’t know whether it was day or night. Because the office they worked in, always had lights on and windows closed, the only source of their Vitamin D had been blocked by the clouds. In this precarious situation, Half-Human-Half-Zombie people went into a weird limbo. Where they thought, everything was fine, but nothing was. This new species was termed PeopleZ (People + Zombies) because there was no one left to think of any better name, as they were all ill.

PeopleZ facial features now resembled Zombies but they all wore formals. Even on Fridays. They roamed all around the roads shouting ‘Appraisals! Appraisals’ but in horrific and deafening and coarse voices. Their only source of food was HID cards which they still wore with their companies tag. But they still had half of their brains left which made them realize that if they chew off their HID cards, they will die. So they just sucked it. The City roads had become more frightening than ever because the traffic had cleared off, which was like a shock to the people who had already been shocked many times over due to the recent events. PeopleZ thought that this meant they could easily roam around and reach respective offices on time but such thoughts were short-lived because the Autorickshaw Drivers had gotten infected more. Auto Rickshaws appeared on the road out of nowhere and they could hit you from any directions possible if you stood near the road, even on footpaths. The hit carcass was then harassed by the driver zombies by asking for 20 more Rupees extra on the meter. Sigh.

The main cause of all of this predicament was iCrack. Probably this is what Apple founder Steve Jobs always wanted i.e. mix people, computer and make them high, but we will never know. Status-Quo has been maintained since all these days. Well, you forgot to ask but this is a memoir being written by me. The only human survivor (I think, I wish I had someone else with me too to repopulate the city but all in vain) who has survived the onslaught by hiding under the Silk Board Bridge and not buying the iDevices in first place. Also, even the PeopleZ can’t come near Silk Board even now where light is still Red. This is a win win situation for me which has helped me survive as well, I must add. I am still waiting the light to turn green but observing the city from close proxmities by hiding and surviving. Let’s see how long I can hold on to dear life. Over & Out.

PeopleZ

Diary of an Auto-Driver

“All I asked was just 20 Rupees extra on the meter but she gave me an exasperated stare and walked away. Arey, at least I agreed to go by meter!”.

I am just an Autorickshaw-Driver, nothing fancy about it. Is that the way to treat me? She came to me, I didn’t go to her. Well anyways, this is how my day goes usually. I thought, why not jot down some of my feelings and day-to-day experiences, which might make the customers, understand my plight before giving me a flight. Thus, I have asked one of my customers to lend me his blog so that I can share a bit about my life because I don’t get time to blog owing to my extremely busy schedule.

As I was sleeping in my Auto, (Trivia: people of Mumbai call it Rick, people of Hyderabad call it Aeto) very early in the morning at around 9 AM, 2 guys came to me and woke me up. Without any decency they asked me if I would go to MG Road? Rubbing my eyes and yawning simultaneously, I nodded my head in negation nonchalantly. Who wants to go there in the peak time anyways! I shooed them away and went to sleep again. It was so hot and sleeping in an Auto is not a comfortable thing I tell you. You have to crouch to fit on the back seat and then place your legs over the driver’s seat to ease.

After 10 odd minutes, another guy in formals like Karan Thapar and a face as sophisticated as Yogendra Yadav approached and asked me if I was willing to go to Whitefield. This guy looked liked an IT guy so I told him ‘Alright, 150 Rupees only’. He said, ‘No no, it costs only 60’. Now, firstly, everyone knows that these IT guys are mighty rich. They can spend 1000s in just half an hour drinking at posh pubs. Can’t they even spare such meager amount on Travel? ‘Tch tch what saar, so much traffic there and no sawaari from there back to here’, I told him. He didn’t look like the bargaining ones so he readily agreed. We started and after a super fast extent of 10 seconds, came to a standstill thanks to a traffic jam. It took 20 minutes to move 100 m and technically I should’ve asked for 500 Rupees from him but since I agreed to take him for a ride in just 150, I couldn’t ask for more. So I told him that because of this headache of a jam, I would take 20 more and drive faster further. He said he was okay with it but insisted to avoid driving like Rajinikanth. We eventually reached his destination safe and sound as I had promised.

And to everyone’s surprise, there was no returning sawaari at all for at least a Kilometer. After which I found a lady walking with an umbrella in the hot sun. I thought I should help her and asked if she wanted to go somewhere. Reluctantly she said she was heading towards KR Puram but she will go only by meter. I agreed because I couldn’t see her walking, panting and cursing Awesome Bangalore Weather in the summer. We started peacefully but the peace was soon shattered when she took out her phone and started discussion her daily chores with someone on phone. I don’t think she even paused for breath but was continuously blabbering her office live issues, her daily life issues, her shopping woes, her husband’s excuses and lies and even her cat’s tantrums. I could have written her biography if she has continued the transcription. I even stared at her through the mirror overhead so that she could distract but there was no stopping. As soon as I dropped her and took a sigh of relief, I found another elderly gentleman who wanted to go Marathalli. It felt like the day was going smooth but as soon as we reached a flyover, the auto broke down. Hmpfh. I had checked everything just a night ago and everything was working top notch. Unfortunately I had to ask the old man to get down and pay 50 Rupees so that I could push the auto myself till the next service station. He was infuriated but couldn’t do anything. At least I didn’t ask him to help me push the auto. He should have looked at his age for God’s sake.

Well, this is how my day usually goes by. People consider us inhumane, I consider people inhumane. Each and every day we help people reach their destinations come what may rain and thunderstorm but people don’t appreciate that. We ask for some extra money because it is bloody tough out there. Fighting Inflation and regularly bribing police personnel is not a child’s play. So I hope next time you aboard another auto, think of me. Thanks to the blogger for letting me use his blog. See you.

Enjoy this till then.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43397805″>FOR HIRE! – BANGALORE RICKSHAW</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/xylophon”>Xaver Xylophon</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Bangalore Literature Festival 2013 Pictures

Here are some pictures from Day 2 of Bangalore Literature Festival 2013. I was just happy to witness Gulzar Sahab speaking and attending my 2nd Literature Fest after attending Jaipur’s 2012 edition.

Aao phir nazm kahein  with Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi

Aao phir nazm kahein
with Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi

Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi

Gular and Prasson Joshi

Literati, Marginalia et al. – The Anatomy of Literature Festivals William Dalrymple, Anjum Katyal and Nirmala Lakshman Moderator: Vikram Sampath

The Anatomy of Literature Festivals
William Dalrymple, Anjum Katyal and Nirmala Lakshman
Moderator: Vikram Sampath

Bangalore Lit. Fest. 2013  - 1

BLF

Bangalore Lit. Fest. 2013  - 2

BLF

Book Signing by Gulzar Sa'ab

Book Signing by Gulzar Sa’ab

BLF 2013

BLF

Ashwin Sanghi

Ashwin Sanghi

From Screen to Page: Writing on Indian Cinema Baradwaj Rangan, Sidharth Bhatia, M. K. Raghavendra and Nasreen Munni Kabir Moderator: Sharmistha Gooptu

Writing on Indian Cinema
Baradwaj Rangan, Sidharth Bhatia, M. K. Raghavendra and Nasreen Munni Kabir
Moderator: Sharmistha Gooptu

Kids

Kids