25 August 2008

Last few days in my native land

After all this eating and meeting I had to do some shopping. Comm Street ki Jai ho! No Orchard Street can compare to Indian market experience. Be it Commercial St in Bangalore, Lajpat Nagar in Delhi, Laxmi Road in Pune, T-Nagar in Chennai, Gariahat in Kolkatta, or any other market in any other city in the native land. The colours, the noise, the people, the smells, the prices, the deals, the merchandise, the merchants, the people, the food, ... (Never ignore the food in an Indian market).

Indian markets are like a bhelpuri of all aforementioned things - the good and the bad - all mixed, tossed, and served up with dhania and sev on top. थोड़ा खट्टा, थोड़ा मीठा, थोड़ा crunchy and थोड़ा chewy. Am lovving it!

So on Thrusday I shopped in beloved Comm St buying 100 rupee to 2000 rupee chappals all morning. In fact I got so carried away with my chappals that shopkeepers started offering me business deals - they thought I buying all these chappals to set up a shop abroad! Aghast, I quickly dived into Shiv Sagar to lagao a juice and चाट and restore my composure.

Did Dalam or pomegranate juice (which is YUM there) and decided to do one chat... which somehow got followed by the Shiv Sagar Thali. Replete with all this I rolled off next door to visit Mecca Stores - a book library, a ladies fancy item shop, and a household fancy items shop - all in one. This place has been around for ages, ‘cause everyone remembers it being there for as long as they can remember. It’s not changed an iota, expect for the sorry demise of the elderly gent presiding over the shop, but his son is running the show and its business as usual.

The ladies fancy item section (1/2 part of the entrance), according to me, has the best collection of earrings, hair clips, hair bands, and other sundry ladies fancy items, in all of Commercial Street. Their general fancy store section (one wall and 1/4 of the entrance) has an inexpensive fast moving collection of ceramic vases, cookie jar sets, flower vases, and other time pass glass and ceramic items. Bought my essential earrings, hair bands, scrunchies, a vase, a jar, borrowed a few books, chitted and chatted a bit, and this is what being in Bangalore for me is all about.

Next stop was to the temple of creativity. A visit to my best friend in Comm St. namely Vijay - my trusted and much harassed tailor. Pleaded with him to make time for me and make me some new apparels, the moment he gave in, off I rushed to Pooja Collections, Shoba Collection, New Choice Collections, Lal's Collection, Mysore Udyog Collections etc. to collect materials for skirts, tops, dresses and dumped it all on Vijay for him to do his magic and to turn them into wonderful creations, which I must say, he miraculously does.

The sun was beginning to set and it was time for the Bangalore Night to take over. The spot for this night was a very घर पे बना हुआ place; it was such a made-at-home a place that I've even forgotten its name. Its a karaoke bar, very Bangalore Cantt owners, very Bangalore Cantt crowd - which should have been really charming and fun and hospitable but... Anyway we were in a mood to belt out songs and had a pretty decent time but made it an early night as the food was just about passable, the management nasty, and the service god-awful.

The next day I had pretty much the same schedule, took one last look into all the shops to ensure I'd not missed anything. Lunch was with Chint at Tiger Bay, which I must say, does a very decent Non-Veg Thali for lunch. Of course, the added bonus to eating in Tiger Bay is that one needs no excuse to browse through Bombay Stores. While I am the most ardent believer of retail therapy, and practice it most religiously, shopping in Bombay Stores is a double therapy. One, which of course is retail, the other is an almost Zen-like soothing and relaxing atmosphere of the shop. Browsing through their multi-mid-level floors, little niches, very pretty desi uber chi-chi merchandise, quite ambience, and nearly empty shop (yikes! not a good thing for them is it?) I feel as great a calm as having done half hours mediation. Rested, refreshed, and completely at peace. Bombay Stores - you ought to bottle and sell this!

Dinner was at friend's favorite restaurant - Paparazzi. Allegedly, 'One of the World's 82 Best' restaurants. Set on top of Central Park Hotel (now called Royal Orchid Central, I think) it offers nice food and a great view of Cubbon Road. Must have is the 'Bread Basket with Multiple Dips' I totally love it. The rest is kinda pendulum type - the chef can be very good to disappointing, the service can range from very attentive to I'm-so-totally-ignoring-you. Royal Orchid Central people - you've really got something good going - please be consistent, stock up your bar, your cellar, or wine cooler, or whatever and train your staff. I'd love to patronize you more, give me a little more reason.

Saturday, my last weekend started with breakfast at Vidhyarthi Bhawan - really nice dosas, but everyone complains that they were better - well I didn't find anything missing. Post dosa went to pay my respects to Dodda Ganesha and Dodda Basavanna at the Bull Temple.

Basavanagudi is super quaint and charming. With shops selling pooja samagri, snacks like congress kadle, ready-to-cook food like fresh hand-made idiappams, a huge vegetable market, and traditional Indian flower shops selling loose flowers and elaborate flower garlands. All this right in a austral heart of cosmopolitan, almost-metropolitan Bangalore. Travellers, if you want to see the 'real' old Hindu Bangalore, do make a visit here. After making one full round from VB to Bull Temple, to all the shops and back, we were ready for one more dosa at VB. Glutton, that me! Finished that off perfectly with a post breakfast snooze.....Zzzzz....

Saturday night I was lucky to attend a very dear friend's father's 65th birthday bash. As with everything uncle does, this was also in grand style. Lovely Manglorean people, with their great food, and their great music, fun and laughter. One of the most hospitable people and man do they like to party! It was a great ending to a lovely Bangalore holiday.

Sunday was spent with mom and dad, eating (again!) home food, chatting, finishing packing, weighting the suitcase a 100 times, removing stuff, weighting again, adding stuff, weighing again and you get the drift. All that done, I chilled in my room in Bangalore for one last time, for a long time to come. Come evening I was off to the airport.

Ah! another update on the airport, so it was well organised, there are weighting machines to weight your luggage outside so you can remove stuff from your bag if it’s too heavy and give it to the relatives who have come to see you off, the terminals were well lit and everything looked clean and tidy. But then there were 4 terminals for check-in and only 2 working, resulting a long and serpentine queue. There were not enough seats for people/kids to sit, and the loo had the most MAJOR surly cleaner who refused to speak in any language and resisted all entreaties' to be even remotely helpful. Also, considering there was no seating space outside, people occupied the toilet seats and refused to vacate! No! I am serious.

All this endured, there was some time left for a little browsing in the few upgraded duty free stores, got a beer at the sports bar, munched on the goodies mommy packed for the flight. Boarded the flight at 12; a 4-hour-flight-that-seemed-like-10-hours, no sleep, and landed bright and early on the shores of Singapura Monday morning and am sure I don't need to spell out the hue of this Monday morning blue.


Anonymous said...

Somebody had a swell time in Bangalore!

Oh gawd! reading your post made me miss Bangalore so much! can't wait to get back there!

Mannina Maga said...

Seems like you had a swell time in b'lore, nice easy paced writing :)...not fair i know but am planning on visiting singapore next month, any particular places that you can suggest for good shopping for wife :) cheers

gugiinsingapore said...

anonymous (think i know who u r) - get back soon and here's hoping u have a great time :)

mannina maga - singapore is a haven for shopping! well there is orchard road which is the best bet IMHO. from seriously branded stuff to 3 for 10 (lucky plaza) u get everything there! happy times to u in sing :)

Bikerdude said...

Lovely men.

The cantt restaurant with the apalling management and poor service is called Upbeat. Shudder.

Beta hello- where was I when VB masala dosa was consumed?

farrokh said...

and WHO, pray tell is yr friend who loves paparazzi? is it me? is it me? i LOVED the one time i was there. because the company was fantastic. and it was raining and the street light were making designs on cubbon road. and yes we had the assorted breads with the assortment of dippies.

Nishita Kumar said...

Loved your post, and I love Mecca Stores too ... mostly for borrowing / buying second-hand books.

Hadn't seen that old man the last couple of times. I didn't know he had passed away.

So sad !

Rash said...

came here through a search for Mecca Stores. Love your Shelfari bookshelf. Mine is almost the same :)

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Jo said...

hi gugi,

i read this article featured in bangalore mirror dated 16-09

lovelt t'wz.

Jo said...


oops, lovely 'twz