So, I haven’t done my usual recap-the-year post as yet, and considering it’s half-written and in draft-mode for the last 10 days, I should try and finish it while I still have some retrospective steam left in me. BUT, I have to interject to tell you the new year has started off well! Because week 1 of 2015 had me dashing off to Bangalore, rather suddenly. I know, I know, I didn’t think I’d ever say anything has started well in the same sentence that I tell you about a trip to Bangalore, but OMG you gaiiiz, I had a tiny window of opportunity to rub noses with a little bit of winter goodness. And I grabbed it.
It’s entirely possible that all the good weather has clouded my judgement. I had Bangalore peeps pipe in to tell me it really wasn’t the best of the winter they’ve had because it apparently got hot the few days I was there. Pshaw! I really can’t complain about temperatures rising from the low twenties to mid-twenties and causing a mild sweat. The skies were mostly blue-grey, cloudless, and that crisp, cool air hung around, even though the sun shone pretty bright during the day. The temperatures stayed in the pleasant low 20s and dropped even lower at night. Which means I needed a jacket post sundown, and needed a thick razai in bed. Winter WIN! as far as I’m concerned.
Such fabulous weather, I wanted to bottle it and bring it back. Evidently I’ve sung praises of this kind before, and lamented many-a-missed winter. But apart from the weather, last week featured all the usual suspects that make any trip back home memorable for me.
Family — because I went home to see my folks and help my father out with a little project. And the sister happened to be around. Of course there were cuddles and giggles and instances of unnecessary bed-sharing.
This time around, thanks to the project I went to Bangalore for, I had the privilege to watch my dad walk within the spaces he helped birth, tell me stories of how ideas germinate in his mind, tales of all the trials and tribulations in fighting for them, and finally seeing it all take form in brick and mortar.
Walking around what I think is one of his best projects thus far, was illuminating in a way that revealed another dimension and face to the father I have known all my life. It was quite a trip to have my dad talk shop because despite being slightly in awe of his skill and talent, I’ve never really taken the trouble to get to know the whys and hows of he works.
Music — going home is like getting a tiny shot of the music I don’t give myself enough of when I’m in Goa. I’m always grateful for the music that seems to buzz at home, even when it’s not playing.
My mother breathes and lives music, with her daily routine being dictated and sufficiently punctuated by her own riaz and teaching schedules. I am always amazed by how she manages everything like clockwork, juggling teaching students of all ages, varying proficiency, even across continents on Skype (!!) and she does it all without the home falling apart. This time around, she’s reclaimed the kitchen after fifteen+ years of having full-time kitchen help and dished out the best, simple, homemade meals for ensuring some of my favourites like anna-saaru-palya and avalakki-dosa were definitely covered.
Idlies — I MISS IDLIES. I MISS DARSHINIS. I MISS IT ALL. There, I said it. Apart from filter coffee and winter, I MISS IDLIES.
Idlies are an institution in Malleswaram. Nothing can wake you up quite like a visit to your favourite darshini in the morning, jostling around enthusiastic breakfasting people from the neighbourhood, all crowded around a tiny hole in the wall, dishing out steaming hot pillowy idlies, minty coriander chutney and hot coffee.
If you’re lucky, like I was, there will be some khara bhaath too. You’ll wake up and smell it. And your day will be made. Like mine was.
Friends — Bangalore always gives me the chance to play catch up with a select few old friends, and in this case, make new ones by putting faces to twitter and instagram handles. This trip I was incredibly lucky to meet Shilpa, TRQ and Monika over keylime pie, filter coffee, more coffee, way too much coffee that kept me up all night, and freshly brewed beer. Not all at once, but over a few outings, which is also nice because I rediscovered an old haunt in the Ambara Cafe which had these beautiful eye-popping cacti on sale. I spent some time trying to figure a safe way to transport a few back home to Goa. I decided I couldn’t because they’re essentially sharp, pointy objects that might be a threat as per airport security guidelines, no?
Meeting Shilpa and TRQ was the kind of outing where new friends meet, some for the first time ever, but conversation flows like its between people who you have known forever. I spent way too much time either nodding my head vigorously in agreement with them and playing an OMG-me-too! loop in my head. Early evening coffee turned to late evening coffee and the evening threatened to never end, much like the conversation did. How do people who meet for the first time have so much to talk about? And so much to agree about? How? It was a wonderfully happy evening and I came away with a happy vibe, yet again affirming the fact that I have met some of the nicest, most genuine human beings thanks to the Internet.
Meeting Monika helped me tick off another must-do from my Bangalore list — freshly brewed beer. Okay, that’s another thing I miss in Goa. Microbreweries. I am quite over bottled beer and much prefer the fresher, crisper variant straight off the tap. Toit didn’t have my usual favourite — Basmati Blonde — so I settled for a something-I-can’t-remember which was deeper, more golden and full-bodied. Win, win — I got to try a new beer I might not have tried otherwise, as we shoveled in this gigantic plate of really good nachos topped with sour cream and bacon bits.
Of course we talked food, food blogging, baking business and what lies ahead for all of us bumbling bloggers. Of course conversation veered around to the state of Bangalore and how my heart bleeds every time I’m back home. This, I realise is inevitable when you meet people who have lived and experienced the good old Bangalore. There was also a lot of loud guffawing and of course a selfie to call it a day.
I’m glad we could make the time to catch up, because there’s nothing like finding a tiny hint of a kindred spirit in someone you’ve only known from behind the facade of a weblog.
Other highlights from the trip:
– Almost completely evading troublesome auto drivers and haggling with them, because I used the spanking new OLA cab app that lets you pick a cab almost instantly, wherever-whenever
– Vashi’s Jean Shack — my old, old, old and only source of all things pants that had shut down briefly, braking my heart and making me wonder where I’ll ever buy pants again (it’s the only place I’ve ever bought pants in, since I was 15), has reopened! And since I haven’t bought me a good pair of jeans since 2008, and since I am now back to feeling fit enough to deserve a new pair, I paid them a visit.
– Corner House may have got its mojo back. After being deeply disappointed with the Hot Chocolate Fudge there the last two times I visited, I really enjoyed the cake fudge I had there the last night before I left. It was warm, gooey, sweet enough to kick the sleep out of my eyes and it totally hit the spot. Bundled in my jacket and muffler in the outdoor section of Airlines digging into the hot fudge gave me that much-needed comfort of nostalgia I needed.
– I decided before I landed in Bangalore, that I was going to avoid focusing on the monstrous traffic and the complete breakdown of all systems that I feel has engulfed the city. This is usually a cause for much angst and potentially ruins large parts of my visit, so I decided it was a reality I had to just face head-on and find a way around. Funnily, it worked. I ditched the autos, took cabs where I could, drove where I could, spent the rest of my time at home.
I came back with a full mind and heart. Full of ideas for work I should do and must get cracking with, renewed optimism of the kind only family-time and group hugs can give, happiness from meeting new people and everything else that made the trip memorable for me.
By Saturday I was ready to go home. Because I had these monkeys, newly grow-ed up plants and a fairly well-maintained home (props to VC!) waiting up for me.
Bangalore, you were good to me. Thanks macha!