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Askew: Where going forward resembles going backward


While reading about the debate/discussions about proposed SteelFlyover in Bangalore from Chalukya Hotel to Hebbal, I stumbled upon an article in NewsMinute - How Bangalore went from cosy town to an urban nightmare. The article which was actually an excerpt from the book Askew: A Short Biography of Bangalore by T. J. S. George concluded with following the lines.
It used to be a city in peace with itself. It was now a bundle of contradictions, a battleground of competing constituencies, where going forward resembles going backward.
The lines struck the right chord in my mind was very relevant to the ongoing discussions. Without any second thoughts and I bought the kindle version of the book well before the official launch of the hardcover version. The biography weaves multiple amusing stories which have made unique value-system of the city and also led to the deterioration of the same. It discusses city's history, personalities, culture, novel enterprises, IT boom and many more things. The author expresses concern about the new type of virtual plague which is close to inevitable and primarily happening due to the greed of elected representatives and bureaucrats.

Some of the key highlights of the narrative are:
  • Bangalore is following the same pattern of development as other deteriorated cities - which is build and enjoy, overbuild and suffer, collapse and complain, and then become argumentative of what happened. 
  • The city made its mark on the word map thru IT revolution and it changed the name of city from a noun to a verb. This overnight transformation coupled with myopic policies of elected representatives has made the city unbearable. In contrast, Silicon Valley and Boston didn't lose its charm while adopting modern enterprises. 
  • The builders of the city in yesteryears were selfless to the core. Lakshman Rao who had architected Jayanagar, died in 2005 without owning a house or site in Bengaluru. The cost per sqft was only one rupee when the best neighborhood in Asia was laid out in 1948. Just imagine how much assets he could have made just by hoarding parcels of land created by him ?
  • There used to be an orderly development of thru live-where-you-work principle followed by PSUs. IT tore this system apart by building fancy ivory towers without giving a thought on living and commuting needs of employees.
  • Within the boundaries of tradition there's a scope for innovation and enterprise - this has been beautifully narrated thru the story South Indian restaurants (i.e. MTR, Vidhyarthi Bhavan etc) set-up by Udupi Brahmins.
  • Amusing story of R Prabhakar, a consumer activist and guide/mentor behind the Darshini model low-brow eat-outs starting from Cafe Darshinis to latest being Bye-two coffee set-up by Raghvendra Padukone.
  • There's a big question mark on the scope for fresh enterprises in the city. The heirs of billionaires Rohan Murthy, Siddharth Mallya have managed find their green pasture elsewhere. 
There are more such interesting things which make the book an engrossing read ! Do order your copy at Amazon.


Monsoon trip to Nandi Hills

Landscape view besides Yoga Nadeeshwara Temple

It was a trip to mark 10 years of blogging and by reiterating the same trip which had led to my very first blog post. For several reasons, I had a lot of things to compare and contrast between the two trips  - mentioned in my anniversary post. We started from the city in relaxed manner post 12 noon and as expected the traffic towards our destination was very lean. Within no time we managed reached the airport interchange toll booth that too driving with conservative speed.

Lunch at India Paratha House:

India Paratha House

As per our plan, we had a stopover for lunch at India Paratha House which comes after Devanahalli town junction. The eat-out or rather hangout place was brimming with all genres of people - youngsters, families etc. The wooden structure and rot-iron/wooden furniture made up a unique ambiance which was blending perfectly with surrounding environment. The menu comprised various types of stuff parathas,  q-parathas and pizza like parantzas. The parathas, chai and lassis filled our stomach optimally and kept us energized for rest of the day.

Getting to the Top:
After taking a deviation at Nandi Cross we continued our journey to the top. The stretch from the highway to the base of the hill is longer a countryside. There are several real estate developments or being planned. Not sure if we need a golf course, so many layouts and villas at green belt which has soil ideally suited for growing fruits. It's unfortunate to see developers encashing on disposable income of people without valuing the ecology of the sensitive area which is the source of 3 rivers - Arkavathy, Palar and Pennar.

At the top:
We entered into the Nandi Hills by paying Rs. 100 parking and entry fee. Immediately after the parking our car in front of Gandhi Nilaya, one of the monkeys jumped on the top of our car and started licking the top and glass panes. The parking attendant mentioned that due to scarcity of fresh water bodies on the monkey was desperate to consume the droplets :)

Monkey licking water drops

A hill with many attractions:
Since I was visiting Nandi Hills after a lot of years, was very keen to experience of catching the glimpse of downhills landscape from sky decks which were constructed in recent times. After clicking a few photographs from the deck, we had a stroll towards Gandhi Nilaya, the rest house where Gandhiji had stayed during his visit to Bangalore. Further ahead, we came across a small temple dedicated to Nandi(Nellikai Basavanna). Besides that there was an ashrama where some swami had meditated for a year. It started raining for a brief spell of time, since we had equipped ourselves pretty well, didn't face any issues during sightseeing.


Cubbon House - Nehru Nilaya
One of the major landmarks on the hills is Cubbon House - a guest house constructed in 19th century by Mark Cubbon, where he used to stay during summers. Post Independence, this house was renamed as Nehuru Nilaya and was the venue for SAARC summit in 1989.

Yoga Nandeeshwara Temple:
We offered prayers at Yoga Nadeeshwara Temple which is close to Tippu drop. While buying some fancy items inside the temple, we struck an interesting conversation with one of pujaris of the temple. Conversation revolved around philosophical discussions such as : 'Why we have so many gods ?', 'What is this supreme power' etc. Later we came to know that he is native of Mangalore and has been staying at Nandi hills close to 45 years. Previously, he was managing the Mayura Hotel and later when the government took over the hotel, he moved on to pujari's job at the temple.

Hill Station Experience:
Post 5 pm it suddenly turned very misty. It provided us an experience at typical hill station like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Coorg and Chickmagalur.

Engulfed in Mist
To Conclude:
We started our downhill journey around 6 pm. Due to time constraints we could not explore a few landmarks but will ensure to cover it in our next trip. 

The trip which was planned to be an obligatory visit to the hills, surprisingly turned out to be very fruitful experience. Also, felt sorry to witness unwanted real estate development around ecologically and historically significant place close to Bangalore. Hope the sanity prevails and the place is preserved for generations to witness !

A decade to Cherish !

It's been exactly 10 years since I have been sharing my experiences and thoughts on this platform. The journey has been amusing with  a lot of things happening in life w.r.t. personal and professional front and not to mention about endeavours related to travel and photography !

Screenshot of my first blog post
For last one month, I was contemplating on how to celebrate this accomplishment. Many thoughts ran through. Whether I should post cliched a blog-post with a birthday cake or post some statistics or do some retrospect. In the process, while going through my old archives I just had a glance at my very first post which was about a trip to Nandi Hills. Then an idea struck - why not visit Nandi Hills to celebrate the moment and also it would be good to share by comparing and contrasting the experience of visiting the same place 10 years back.

Key Observations:
  • The routes to Nandi Hills from Bangalore has changed drastically.  In 2006, there wasn't an elevated expressway or expressways. The main reason can be attributed to the development of Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli. I guess in 2006, the construction of the airport was still in progress we hardly knew Bangalore beyond Hebbal flyover.
  • With the shifting in epi-center of the city, it was disheartening to see multiple high rises around Hebbal flyover. In 2006, there were only two promiment structure around the flyover: One was Godrej apartment and other was 'clone of petronas tower' at a fair distance. Now the every inch of available land has been constructed or under constructed.
  • There were no decent restaurants enroute to the destination. In 2006, we had breakfast at a hotel next to Devanahalli bus-stand and only other decent option was Mayura pine-top at the Nandi Hills. Now there are 'n' options to choose.
  • There are several developments atop Nandi Hills as well, the sky decks at various corners of Nandi Hills is one of the significant addition.
The comparisons continued flashing back to memories of the trip 10 years back and to the real time experiences. More about my latest trip in my next post.

Experience of Reliance Jio 4G

Reliance Jio is soon to be launched LTE 4g service in India. The official launch of the service is still months away, however the network is live and Reliance employees have been using it for last 6 months and recently they made it made open to outside through invite only system. I grabbed the opportunity of promotional offer through my friend On Ali who works at Reliance Jio.

Key Observations:
  • I have using the service for over a month. The network connectivity so good I have never bothered to connect the phone to home WiFi.
  • Voice calls which works on VoLTE is decent. But sometimes when the network connection is jittery the calling app fails.
  • Major minus point is that you can use the network only on LYF+ smartphones. There have been occasional crashes. But it is pretty decent phone.

Instances where the service was truly a boon
  • One day in evening, I was all set to leave office and was planning to catch up 2nd innings of IPL qualifier match between RCB and Gujarat Lions. Suddenly, I get a call from one of directors that there is some escalation on a deliverable and we are supposed to have an urgent fire fighting call with a WebEx session. I had to stay back in office itself by projecting my screen on WebEx. I didn't have room to see latest scores in Cricinfo :). But the hotstar app on my LYF Jio came for rescue and I was able to witness the ultimate chase led by AB deviliers on my mobile in the meeting room !
  • Recently when we shifted our home, the broadband FTTH from ACT took more than a week to be set-up and 4-5 days to reactivate. The Jio connection with mobile hotspot turned out be back-up connection at home
  • Due to delay in shifting of DTH connection, I used to play the TV channels thru Jio play on mobile and cast the content on home TV thru Chromecast. I ensured that my mother doesn't miss out her daily soap serials.

Looking forward:
  • Speed of the Connection: Currently I am getting around 20 Mbps (sometimes 30 Mbps) speed at stationary location. Not sure this speed can be sustained post public launch when more number of users will be alive on the network.
  • How the pricing will be post the public launch. I currently have two months to experience complementary service.
  • Experience of buying new connection: I felt the executives at Reliance Digital didn't look that prepared for handling customer avaling new connection. There were quite a few tedious things to be done on Reliance's enterprise apps before activating a connection.

Screenshot of the network speed through Netvelocity



Note: This entire blog post was composed and published on LYF+ phone on jio connection.

U-Turn by Pawan Kumar

After critical acclaim and commercial success of Lucia, the young creative director from Kannada Film Industry is back in business with latest flick U-turn. Initially, his venture post Lucia was supposed to do on a theme related to Nicotone. Due to lack of funding, the director decided to do a literal U-turn and decided to make this movie. 

The story of the movie is based on acts of people on Bengaluru's most in famous flyover connecting Double Road, Lalbagh Road, Richmond Road and Residency Road. The flyover is hopelessly designed to an extent that Bengaluru traffic police had to introduce a traffic signal atop to make it operational !

Google map screen shot of the flyover :)
I was among the first set of audience to watch this movie at premiere show at Cineopolis, Meenakshi Mall on 20th May. Had got the ticket thru online contest conducted by United Square who're official sellers of T-shirt merchandiser of the film.

The following things are noteworthy in the film:
  • Initial credit sequence with inverted frame and Karma background score.
  • Cinematography through Drones: Top shot of the flyover during interval. I guess this should be made by folks from Topshot.
  • Roger Narayan: Hollywood actor playing the role of an inspector. He dominates the screen with his natural performance. The actor who had spent his formative years in Bangalore had acted as a child artiste in films like Akasmika and SP Sangliana. [source]
  • Last but not the least - the message from the movie. It would make lot of difference even if 10-20% people avoid breaking traffic rules on road.
Things which didn't work for me:
  • Climax: I felt something was missing in it. It could have been made more believable. But after discussing with blogging buddy Raveesh, I felt super-natural option was logical for the script and going by natural route would have made the story-line more complex. Do read review of Raveesh at U-Turn: Simple and Thrilling and QnA session organized by Pawan in the embedded video below where he answers lot of queries on the climax :)

  Video Q and A Organized by Pawan Kumar:



 
Trailer of the film:

 
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