Home Outgrown

On our way to the airport, for what would be one of our shortest trips to Kerala, I told D that I didn’t see myself making this journey a decade from now. At least not framed in the way we do it these days – a trip home. I was wrong – it happened way sooner than a decade.

It wasn’t a comment made lightly – after all, to borrow a phrase, I was referring to a city which had all the places that made up a couple of decades of my life.

What does one go home for? The obvious answer is easy – to spend time with people who matter in one’s life. To note – even that changes during one’s lifetime. But if I have to dig a bit deeper, Rana Dasgupta’s words make sense – when one becomes homesick, it is not a place that one seeks, but oneself, back in time. And when one does that, the props matter. The places, the faces, all reminders of different phases. When they no longer exist, the place is no longer a cure for homesickness. More

The Smoke Co.

During our last couple of visits to Koramangala, we had noticed a Windmills Craftworks – like structure coming up on the Koramangala Club road. Once I even thought I saw vats, and assumed a microbrewery. Alas, it wasn’t, turned out to be The Smoke Co. But then again, among Bangalore’s big picture problems, the reduction of eateries serving beef is a graver issue than the number of microbreweries per sq km. So good news it is.

We had been postponing the visit because visits to Koramangala these days meant carrying trunks – both the traveling accessory and the swimwear. The first for the traffic and the second for the rains! But during the Diwali weekend when Bangalore got itself an 80s throwback and the rain gods were taking the week off, we landed up for lunch, with B & N for company. ‘Blackboard’ specials meet high ceilings meet rich brown decor elements to create a classy and contemporary feel. The scaffolding and tarpaulin are hopefully temporary “accessories”. A zesty amuse-bouche was offered while we decided on what we would eat, and drink.

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Things That Can and Cannot Be Said

Arundhati Roy, John Cusack

Given that Ms.Roy is one of the authors, it is only fair to expect a fair amount of radical thought in the book. In just over a hundred pages, it does just that, helped by John Cusack, Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg, who is described as the Snowden of the 60s.

The content is in the form of observations and conversations with one another. Arundhati Roy is in great form as she articulates thoughts that are not only profound but also vastly out of line with the propaganda that we are so familiar with. After all, even the resistance, as she says, has been quite domesticated. I found some of her observations quite astute. e.g. how “non violence is radical political theatre” and effective only when there is an audience. Or how “human rights are fundamental rights” and should be our minimum expectation, but they have become the maximum, whereas the goal really should be justice! My favourite though was on patriotism – how a country is just really an administrative unit but we end up giving it an esoteric meaning and protecting it with nuclear bombs!  More

The Gatekeepers

To quote Robert Wright from Non Zero: 

To stay strong, a society must adopt new technologies. In particular, it must reap the non-zero-sum fruits they offer. Yet new technologies often redistribute power within societies. (They often do this precisely because they raise non-zero-sumness- because they expand the number of people who profit from the system and so wield power within it.) And if there is one opinion common to all ruling classes everywhere, it is that power is not in urgent need of redistributing. Hence the Hobson’s choice for the governing elite: accept valuable technologies that may erode your power, or resist them so well that you may find yourself with nothing to govern.  

I consider the ruling class as gatekeepers because they control the access of the remaining populace to prosperity. Across time, different entities have played the role of gatekeeper by controlling different facets that can change society’s general prosperity. To name a few, religion by controlling behaviour, government (aristocracy to democracy) by controlling the central currency and freedom of all sorts, media by controlling information,  and the wealthy, by the sheer ability to control deployment of capital, and thereby job creation.   More

Chin Chin

One Sunday, when we wanted to visit a new place but also wanted the comfort of a regular haunt, and were wondering how to reconcile the two, lo and behold, the answer arrived – Chin Chin. No, that isn’t a sound effect, it’s the name of The Biere Club’s new endeavour in place of Mustard & Cress. The seat covers have changed, and so obviously has the menu. The decor has been modified, but everything else remains unchanged.

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Homo Deus

Yuval Noah Harari

The follow up to Sapiens, and therefore it arrived with huge expectations. To begin with, while this is a progression from the earlier work, it is also a standalone work. The book has three parts which I would broadly classify as past, present and future. The author spends the first third of the book summarising what he wrote in Sapiens, and if you have read that book, especially recently, you might find yourself muttering “Why doesn’t he get on with it?” :)
To be fair, he outlines his broad premise right at the beginning – having (relatively) conquered hunger, disease and war, humanity’s next agenda would be to master happiness, immortality and divinity. The path to that is what Yuval Noah Harari slowly but surely proceeds to elaborate on.

The second part of the book is where Harari sets the premise and context for the future by analysing the present. As is his wont, he goes about dissecting the origins of our current belief systems and the occurrences that have led us to what he calls humanism, and our collective belief in man’s central role in the scheme of things. More

Red Rhino

The last time I visited the part of the world called Seegehalli, Uber made it seem like it was a rural heartland and therefore not a place it would operate in. That’s one of the reasons why we delayed the visit. That, and the fact that their brewery took a while to start. During the long weekend in the beginning of October, we felt adventurous and Uber was in a cooperative mood, and we finally decided to make the trip. There’s something about late Saturday lunches and craft brew that’s very appealing! :)

Red Rhino is perched on top of MK Retail (map), taking up a couple of floors. Very tastefully done, with lots of wood furniture and decor, a stage for live music, and an alfresco section, the place gave us a sense of comfort very quickly. It helped that that it wasn’t very crowded. We sat on the upper floor with a fantastic view of ‘rural’ Whitefield. :)

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Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore

Manu S Pillai

Absolutely fantastic, and the strange thing is, if you had asked me when I was even at about page 400 (out of 555) I probably would have used milder adjectives. I also wouldn’t have thought (at that point) that I was likely to change my opinion later because knowing the direction, I didn’t think the last 100 or so pages would even be interesting to me. But while they’re not really the focus of the book, and more an inevitable ending, it (to me) is what delivered the texture that mattered most.

But let’s begin at the beginning. The focus of the book is definitely Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, who was the Regent of Travancore from 1924-31, but the author spends the first section of the book in setting the context. The canvas is vaster than Travancore itself and everything from the fall of the Zamorin and the entry of Europeans to the evolution of the intricacies that decide the ruler of the land and the prevalent socio cultural setting sets the stage for the reign of the Senior Maharani.  More

Pablo’s Gastrobar

That, I thought, was the best way to celebrate the release of Narcos Season 3. And that’s when we landed there, on a rainy Bangalore night, after having passed it a few times on our way back from Phoenix Market City. Pablo’s is right next to Biergarten. (map)

After slushing our way in, thanks to the rain, we realised that the interior resembled that of the swimming pool next door! To be fair, it was heavily raining, and I think the high, tiled roof was under heavy pressure from the evening on. Anyway, it was easy to find a dry place since there were only a few tables occupied. The place is relatively huge, and the seating is actually just benches and bright chairs. The ubiquitous giant screen also exists.

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