Saturday, June 27, 2009

Memories of Bangalore

It’s been one year since I left Bangalore and been in Delhi. However I still miss Bangalore every now and then. It’s really strange that I have these feelings now as I used to complain a lot about the city when I was living there. Although I have always considered that Pune is the best city for me to live and settle down, the three years which I spent in Bangalore while working in an IT company, have created a lasting impression on my mind and gifted me with some wonderful memories which I will cherish forever. However in hindsight, I can see that Bangalore came into my life as a rude shock. After joining TCS as a fresh engineering grad, I had fantastic 2 month induction programme at Thiruvananthapuram. I had great time there, roaming around the place and watching the splendid natural beauty of God’s own country. But one day, all of sudden, our batch was summoned to assemble in a hall and each one was told about his/her posting location by HR, without asking for our preferences. Everyone was thrown out of their comfort zones and was left feeling like a fish out of water. Only a handful of people were lucky to get location of their choice. Unfortunately I was not one of them. I was clearly disappointed to know that I have been kicked to Bangalore.

As a youngster born and brought up in Maharashtra, I had many preconceived scary notions about south Indian cities with regard to food, weather, language, costumes blah blah. However, Bangalore proved them to be wrong. The city has a pleasant and salubrious weather throughout the year. This green city of gardens and parks receives rains for almost half of the year and its always a drizzle through the day J. The mercury hovers between 20 and 35 Degrees C. If you are in Bangalore, be assured that you will never get parched in hot and dry summer sun. Also you will not be frozen to death in chilly winter days. After getting royally pampered by awesome weather of Bangalore for 3 years, I am struggling hard to adjust myself to extreme weather conditions in Delhi.

The best thing which happened to me in Bangalore is my room mates, a bunch of 5 guys who became my best buddies for life and with whom I had superb time there. Each one of them being different and special to me. Let me talk about them here. Let me begin with Jatin. He was an odd ball amongst us. A typical Delhi guy who was not an engineer and who did not understand Marathi. Poor fellow used to get irritated a lot when rest of us used to talk in Marathi. I would say he tried to come across as a strong and tough guy. But I always knew that like a coconut, he appears tough from outside but is actually tender and vulnerable from inside. He is a straight talking, no nonsense guy who has always been warm and friendly with me. He always has plans for his life and he makes sure that they come true. Contrary to the predictions made by our so called astrologer friend Tushar, he got married this year itself. He was the only non drinking guy amongst us who still used to accompany us on binge drink parties for the sheer pleasure of watching drunkards in the act J .

Bangalore transformed me from an occasional drinker into a connoisseur. The city deserves to be declared not only the IT capital but also the boozing capital of India. No where else will you find so many watering holes mushroomed all over the city. The young IT and BPO crowd who wants to relax and unwind themselves on weekend after slogging their butts off in the office on weekdays has led to opening of so many pubs and discos across the city. The brigade road, M.G. Road and Koramangala are the favourite hang out destinations for these youngsters. I have explored the city in search of new drinking venues several times. Going for drinks on every Friday night was kind of my hobby in Bangalore and waiting for the next weekend was my favourite time pass thereJ. I have been to almost every boozing spot in and around Brigade road. Be it The Pub World, NASA, Stykes, Night watchman, Hard rock café, Mojo, Flames or Purple Haze. Now this indulgence did come with its own price. It used to create a deep hole in my pocket when I used to pay my credit card bills every month. But I was a careless young chap then who used to get a decent pay in the hay days of IT industry and was ready to splurge all my money.

When it comes to boozing in Bangalore, I have to talk about Subhash, the leading tippler of our groupJ. Whenever you are with this guy, you will never get bored. This quintessential Kolhapuri Marathi Manoos with his characteristic humour and language has made a big transformation within him. In his journey from junk stuff working techie sitting in the corner cubicle of an IT company to the Mechanics lab of IIT, he has not only changed his profession but also his personality, habits and even his drinking acts. He is now restraining himself from not indulging into drinking more than once in a month or so. That is unbelievable for me! But as you know old habits die hard. So even now whenever we are having drinks together, we discussion gets carried away to the topic of women. We talk a lot about them, from the college crushes to the Bollywood heartthrobs, no one is spared! I still remember our silly argument about who would be a better wife? Madhuri or Urmila J . I don’t know how and when we started calling him Bhava (Bro! in Marathi), but he deserves to be called so !

The only guy in our group who had a girl in his life before coming to Bangalore was Idris. Well he had found the love of his life and we all have been witness to his Pyaar ke side effects, from the round about trips to Akola via Pune and huge cell phone bills despite subscribing to all schemes, we have seen it all. This guy has potential to shock and surprise you every time with his ideas. He will demonstrate his extraordinary genius with a superb idea now and then spoil it all with an equally dumb one in the next moment. He lives his life on his own terms and makes the most of every moment. He is always there to help you if you are lucky to have a friend like him J.

My first lessons in managing customers began well before I joined MBA course and my tutor was the tiffin guy in Bangalore, Mr. Arjun. He always had a smile on his face, never lost his temper and would do sweet talking to cajole us to make advance payments every month. He always used to employ his out of the box thinking to come up with very imaginative yet realistic excuses to cover serious lapses in his service. He would never miss on a single opportunity to make money. He was the carpenter, electrician, plumber and painter, all packed in one. The ultimate solution provider to all your house keeping problems !

Along with Jatin, Swapnil was the other member of Sarna House who was in my batch of ILP (Initial Learning Programme) of TCS in Thiruvananthapuram. Within a couple of weeks of ILP, we had become fast friends. We always use to go out together for eating, shopping, movies etc etc. He is a smart and hardworking guy who was more disciplined among Sarna house members. Not to mention his cooking skills. You got to eat poha and tea made by him in the breakfast to believe me. I still remember that in one of ice breaking sessions, he had introduced himself as Samajhdar Swapnil. He is just like that! But as they say men will always be men and this guy is also no exception. When it comes to Females, his intelligent mind is overtaken by emotional heart and he can do all stupid things in lifeJ. For example, he has changed his look forever from the day when one of the eye candy teachers in ILP complemented him about his French cut beard look. Now the complement has becomes more than 4 years old, but the beard still stays on meticulously carved out and well maintained J .

There are lots of tourist destinations and weekend trip spots near Bangalore. I have seen some of them like Mysore, Coorg, Udupi etc. But the biggest of them all , at 10 hours road journey distance is Goa ! It is famous for wine and sea. But I was fascinated by the calm, soothing, laid back life in Goa which helps you get rid of all your tensions and worries in life. Go for walk on the beach in the morning and evening, have Goan food delicacies for lunch, enjoy water sports during the day and go to the disco at night. Not to forget, drinking whiskey and beer every now and then. What a life that was! We were staying on a secluded beach, Vagatur Beach, far from the crowded ones, with an old fort nearby and lot of hippie whites around us. While strolling through small lanes of nearby market in the evening, I could see them playing guitar and singing songs, having beer and smoking grass, gambling to test their luck with slot machines and playing cards. Goa provides you an awesome experience, next to achieving nirvana J. Ask me any day for Goa and I would come jumping all over !

In Sarna House, there was a bat that would be awake till late night watching movies on TV, even if its 100th repeat telecast. His name is Tushar. A brainy and lazy bump, who have varied interests such as Astrology, Films, cricket blah blah. I chose to call him bat for one more reason, which is his fetish for black colour clothes. I have went for shopping with him so many times and have always seen him buying Jeans and T shirts with shades of black and gray. I know him from my engineering college days. He is a nice, warm, sensitive and friendly guy. He is ambitious and confident of himself. He is quite serious and committed to the work. It might take some time for you to be friend with him. But once the bond is in place, it will last forever. During my last six months in Bangalore, We used to go for drinks almost every weekend to nearby Goguras and Madhuri Grand hotels. There we used to discuss anything and everything under the sun. Not only our hotels but our orders were also kind of fixed, either whisky or vodka with masala peanuts and finger chips. What a great time we had together in those days!

Now you might be thinking that I am so much smitten with Bangalore that I seem to perceive it as the perfect city of an ideal world. But that is not the case. Not everything is hunky dory over there. The city’s infrastructure is inadequate and not able to cope up with its exponential growth. The biggest issue is of traffic. Once you get stuck in a jam, you don’t have any other option but to pray to god to clear it soon. There are no alternate roads. The public transport is also not good enough. It’s ironic that the city which has flourished due to growth of service sector industry, gives you extremely poor services. Auto drivers are very adamant and rude. They will charge you extra fares anytime. If you go to a hotel , you will be at the mercy of waiter to take and bring your order and there is no use of protesting about delays and food quality.

Pheww..This is the longest blog post I have written so far, consisting of almost 2000 words. If you happen to read it till here, you might have been bored and pissed off…or you may have like it (am I being over optimistic ?). Whatever it is, just let me know. Let me stop testing your patience further and stop it here…Byee!

P.S: Well, I have not written abt the place and people with whom I spent my maximum time in Bangalore. The place is my Office there in Whitefield and the people are my office friends Pradeep, Sumesh, Sindhu, Hari and Kishore. All of us had joined the same project as freshers at the beginning of the project itself. During first few months, we were all trained in CAD/CAM and later put into different work groups. But there was always the common thread joining us together. And yeah, as rightly mentioned by Pradeep in the comment, I spent the maxium amount of time with him in the project. This guy, with a smile on his face, is a chatter box who can do non stop bakaar all the time. But he really makes you feel comfortable with him. Thanks to him, I used to take atleast 3-4 smoking breaks in a day even without lighting a single cigarette in office :) He is a funny and humorus guy. But, at the same time he takes his work seriously. We had amazing work co-ordination between ourselves. Many times we have seen movies together by bunking office after lunch. But then, a lot more times, we have also slogged through nights to complete project deliveries . I am lucky that from my Bangalore connexion team, along with Subhash and Jatin, Pardya (aka Pradeep) is also there in Delhi. Looking forward to meet you soon buddy !