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Airlines Hotel
The last week in Bangalore was bright and sunny. On days like these it’s a pleasure to have lunch at this outdoor restaurant near our office (Lavelle Road) with a somewhat unusual moniker - Airlines Hotel. The restaurant gives you an impression of a place that grew ‘organically’. As you enter, you’ll see in a far corner, the restaurant’s indoor section of two cavernous, dingy, poorly lit rooms that you must avoid at all costs. Right outside is a small parking lot that leads you to an open area where you’ll see rows of tables with white rectangular marble tabletops, each surrounded by grubby blue molded plastic chairs. Dense, verdant canopies of tens of old trees shade the entire area - and this very aspect of the place makes it worthy of repeated visits.

The main indoor kitchen is reserved for serving typical south Indian fare – dosas, idlis, vadas, bese bele bhaat and so on. In addition, there are three improvised tin-shed outdoor kitchens. Of these, the largest one specializes in juices, aaloo paranthas, chaats and other greasy Indian dishes. One serves sandwiches and ‘imported’ french-fries, while the smallest one doles out dainty, hot, honey-laced jalebis.

One side of this place is overlooked by a tall ungainly chrome building (run of the mill glass-concrete structure). The high ten-foot stone wall that marks one of the restaurant’s perimeters feels as if it is zealously keeping the monster of progress (purported) on the other side in check. An old banyan close to this wall supports a steel drinking water tank and a white ceramic wash-basin.

When I first visited the restaurant several months ago, I was taken aback by seemingly rude behavior of the waiters. Several of them (in their scruffy, begrimed, white liveries) marched right past me nonchalantly - without taking my order or showing me the menu - as if I were a piece of tattered, useless furniture. When no amount of gesticulation helped matters either, it dawned upon me that their behavior was guided by custom not intention – the waiters are assigned a row each which they steadfastly stick to. Once you’ve managed to grab the attention of your designated waiter, the service is reasonably prompt and the food reasonably good value for money. But the dance of sunrays filtering through the shimmering mosaic of countless leaves comes gratis.

posted: 14.10.04


Ha! As I read this piece, I tried to figure out the motive behind writing it - Deepak's reviewing a restaurant he likes, Deepak's lashing out at the increasing concretisation of structures in Bglr...aha...now I know, it's all got to do with the pic! ;-)

By Blogger Geetanjali, at 14.10.04  

i hope you have eaten the Channa batoora at Airlines ... its their best Dish... woth a try...


By Blogger suraj, at 14.10.04  

Hi Suraj! Yup I have tried it! At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer dimensions of the bhatoora (which is roughly the size of an americal football), but once I got down to the actual business of eating it, it vanished in no time :-)

By Blogger Deepak, at 14.10.04  

Hi Deepak,

I wonder how you manage to remember all the details ? do you write them down while you're there or somehow remember it and write it down later ? I've also found myself thinking about events/things I observe but later on when I sit down to write it, the details are lost and without details the whole writing exercise is not that fun.

The only reading I do is related to tech, but every now and then, I treat myself to some non-tech rants on your blog. I enjoy it a lot.

Richard Hsu.

By Blogger Richard Hsu, at 17.10.04  

Hi Richard,

If you visit the same restaurant for lunch - 2-3 days out of a 5 day work-week for 2 years, you'll also remember all the details down to the stain on the left pocket on the white shirt of the waiter serving you ;-).

That said, I have been told that when I am outdoors, I am bit of a lost soul. I could attribute it to my predilection for observing, cataloging and organizing trivial details in my head :-)

Thanks for reading!


By Blogger Deepak, at 17.10.04  

Your knowledge of western classical music is quite impressive to say the least.

Though I don't know much and have just started listening to some Chopin, would like to know what you think of the soundtrack from the Roman Polanski movie "The Pianist"? I dunno if you may have heard them in a different collection. I especially love the "Grande Polonaise for Piano and Orchestra" which plays with the end titles in the movie ... fingers moving on piano keys as deftly as that make for the most beautiful sight in the world wont you agree? :) other favs being Ballade No. 1 in G minor and the Andante spianato in G Major. Most beautiful!

By Blogger Avis, at 18.10.04  

Hi Avis!

Western classical is indeed a genre that I enjoy the most. I have the soundtrack for The Pianist and is indeed an excellent compilation of Chopin's works. My favorite is the C# Minor Nocturne (the piece which Adrien Brody plays in the opening scene of the movie). I also love the Ballade and the A minor Waltz.

Outside of this soundrack, my favorite Chopin works are his Nocturnes (I'll recommend them highly) and his first Piano Concerto (if you like the Grand Polonaise, you'll like this too!). Right now I am exploring his Waltzes, Barcarolle and Mazurkas - an old 1950 recording by Dinu Lipatti.


By Blogger Deepak, at 18.10.04  

Though I have walked by Airlines Hotel on numerous occasions, not once have I thought of stepping in for lunch or snacks! Been to Rice Bowl and Java City on Lavalle Road (which are on either side of Airlines Hotel, if I am not mistaken.)

I see that you have beautifully built up the context of the picture to the post! ;)

By Blogger Manjusha, at 18.10.04  


It does deserve at least one try! I find it relaxing to eat there sitting in the open air with ample natural light. I've been to the Java City and Rice Bowl as well. The extremely dim lighting at Rice Bowl is a big turn off for me [and on at least a couple of occasions their carpets were smelly :(]. And if you happen to be at Airlines on a Monday evening, do ask for "Maddur Vada"!

The picture is mentioned in Airline Hotel's context because it was taken there :-)

By Blogger Deepak, at 18.10.04  

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