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My first year at Bangalore!
A short walk to Levi's showroom at Brigade road on Saturday evening led to somewhat funny sequence of events. On my way back, I spotted a new restaurant specializing in Andhra cuisine - being the culinary connoisseur I am, I decided to give it a shot. The restaurant itself is at the second floor of a corner building, while the small ground floor lobby serves as an improvised seating area for people waiting to carry away their orders. So there I was at the second floor, the meal though elaborate did not last long. Within 30 minutes I was there at the lobby, all ready to walk back home except for the fact that the sudden downpour wouldn't let me. It has been a year since I've moved to Bangalore. An umbrella has become one of the crucial objects that I take inventory of before stepping out in the open. Its ubiquitous. Its there very next to wallet, apartment keys, handkerchief. On this particular evening however, due to other preoccupations my mind was indulging in, I forgot to carry it along. The rain Gods it seemed were mocking my absent-mindedness. I rested myself on the sofa and tried wandering into my thoughts, buying time to see the rains away. I was soon joined by three men, who like me, had no intentions of getting drenched in the rain at 9:00 in the night. As a gesture of courtesy I shrunk to the far corner of the couch making room for two of them. This kind move was reciprocated somewhat inappropriately when all three of them forced themselves into space which was barely enough for two. Disgusted at being squeezed around and at the unwanted physical contact, I abandoned my space and stood in a corner. In no time there was a deluge of people from restaurant above. Husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, kids - everyone seemed to have finished their dinner at that very precise moment. Those who had their cars parked near-by, braved the showers while others either stood there chatting or invented impromptu skull caps using their polythene shopping bags which they snugly slipped on their heads and darted out.

The cozy, somewhat inviting lobby now resembled coach of a train in which ruffians without tickets had forcefully barged in. The muffled chat growing to the bustle of a busy cafeteria - intermittent cacophonic beeping of cellphones; shrill, hoarse yells of kids - clamoring for their parents' attention, Loud guffaw at some stale joke which had ceased to be object of humor for me at least 10 years ago. Unable to bear the commotion I stepped out into what was now reduced to a gentle drizzle - or perhaps it was my 10 year old heart that on this occasion took precedence over the 26 year old brain.

While I was fine facing the rains, it dawned on me that my expensive, new cellphone might have different views on the subject. So after dashing for about 200 meters or so I took refuge in the Java City outlet down the street. I knew that taking shelter in a cafeteria would almost certainly translate into a cup of cappuccino - a thought which is otherwise welcome, is not very pleasant at 10:00 at night, simply because coffee in any of its myriad manifestations interferes with my somewhat sensitive sleep cycle. The second problem concerns itself with the brew served at Java City... It's a trifle too bitter for my liking. Granted that coffee by its very nature is bitter, but we are talking about a different league of bitterness here - something more to the tune of unpleasant "medicine-bitter". When caught between the devil and the Dead Sea, the eternal optimist in me chose the sea, for seas usually have beaches and I for one absolutely adore them! Upset sleep implies additional time for blogging and so I relented into ordering a cup for myself. A good downpour brings with it erratic power cuts and tonight was no exception. I had barely enjoyed two sips of my coffee that a sudden pall of darkness descended unannounced. Everyone sitting in the cafe seemed keen to tackle darkness in his own heroic way. Some pulled out their cigarette lighters, while others raised their glowing cellphone screens or turned on their wrist watches - total strangers united by their common crusade against darkness. Very soon the Java City employees carried the power-generator set - raising it like one carries a wounded soldier on a stretcher. The genset, despite valiant efforts by two, seemed reluctant to start. It coughed, sputtered, spewed black smoke as if emulating a teenager having his first smoke and suddenly but adamantly roared to life. The lights gradually came on and I quickly gulped down the lukewarm coffee, cringing at the bitter-sweet last sip. The drizzle came to a gradual halt, and hence spared me the agony of another cappuccino at Java City. What a way to start my second year in the city that is so much a part of me!
posted: 5.10.03

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