28 April 2013
In today's edition of The Hindu, V.R. Devika asks some pertinent questions: Why are non-Hindus not allowed into temples? Also, how do you recognize a Hindu?
I've been to many, many temples across South India and wasn't able to enter the sanctums of most. At the Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa, non-Hindus are not even allowed to enter the temple complex!
However, I have non-Hindu friends who have entered Hindu temples which are supposed to be out of bounds for them. How is it that they were able to enter these holier-than-holy places and not I? Simply because they're Indian and therefore are assumed to be Hindu.
As V.R. Devika points out, the rule seems to only apply to "well known non-Hindus or white skinned people".
Read the article here.
05 April 2013
Have you heard of Bangalore’s cardboard cop? Chances are that you have. The cardboard cop has been making news all over the world and has been featured in The Telegraph UK, ABC Australia, The Huffington Post, the BBC, and even a website called Weird Asia News, to name only a few.
This cardboard avatar of a traffic cop is the Bangalore Traffic Police’s way of multiplying their presence on the city’s roads and getting motorists to follow traffic rules. This cop is indefatigable, available 24/7 and bribe-proof. But will this cardboard replica make a difference?
After reading about him in the paper one morning, I had my first encounter with the cardboard cop when I rode past him in an auto-rickshaw on Raj Bhavan Road. There he was, standing with his arms crossed, peering into traffic. Since I had read about him only a day or two before, I knew this was the fake cop, and anyway his two-dimensional appearance was not very convincing and gave him away almost immediately.
Of course once you’ve seen him you won’t be fooled twice. Apparently the police have already foreseen this and plan to replace them from time to time with real policemen.
I wanted to take a photo of the cardboard cop on Raj Bhavan Road for this blog post but when I went there on Sunday, he was no longer around. Has he already been posted to another part of the city? Or was he one of the cutout cops who was stolen, after only two weeks on the job?
Click on 'play' on the image above to see a TV report about the cardboard cop!
28 March 2013
When I first moved to Bangalore over 6 years ago, there were supermarkets opening all over the place. I had wondered in this post what would happen to the neighbourhood markets and walking vegetable vendors. Would they lose their business to these big chains?
I have the impression that markets are still thriving and that many people still go to markets because they know the vendors and because they have the opportunity to bargain.
The same vendors still walk up and down my street several times a day with their pushcarts full of vegetables and many of my neighbours buy from them because they conveniently stop at their door and because they’ve been buying from them for years. A friend pointed out that if she ever needs some special vegetable she can always ask her regular vendor to pick it up for her and he’ll be sure to deliver it to her door the next day. You can’t beat that for convenience.
Last time it was the ‘puncher man’ I had featured in a previous post inspired by The Hindu’s “I am” column. Today I take a glimpse into the life of a market vendor, again courtesy of The Hindu.
The column by Deepa Ganesh tells the story of Lakshmamma, who’s been selling fruits and vegetables for the past 40 years at different markets across Bangalore. She works for almost 16 hours a day, leaving home at 4am to go to the wholesale market at Yelahanka. She then travels with the bags of vegetables she’s bought by bus, not an easy task, all the way to the Income Tax Office where she sells her produce on the pavement. She gets home only after 8:30pm. In the article she also gives some interesting observations on the city and how it’s changed over the years. You can read the column here.
Meet some of the market ladies of Bangalore:
20 March 2013
The next trip was to Lepakshi, which is just over the border in Andhra Pradesh. Lepakshi has been on my ‘list’ for a while. It’s an important pilgrimage place because of its magnificent Veerabhadra temple.
We took the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway which must be the best highway I’ve taken in India. The road was in excellent condition, there was no traffic, and the scenery was beautiful. There was even a Kamat restaurant on the way where we could stop to have ragi dosas – a favourite with both of us. We reached Lepakshi quickly.
The Veerabhadra temple is perched on a rocky outcrop and was built in the 16th century during the Vijayanagar empire.
One thing which is unique about this temples is the beautiful fresco paintings in vibrant colours which adorn the ceiling of the kalyan mantapa. This one depicts the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
Take a walk through Veerabhadra temple…
14 March 2013
This is an Indian expression I love which is unique to India.
Timepass is ‘passing the time’. Or it can refer to an activity that’s used to ‘pass the time’.
A few months ago, I was on the train in Andhra Pradesh travelling from Visakhapatnam to the Araku Valley. A newspaper vendor was passing through the car. Instead of calling out ‘newspaper’ to attract potential buyers, he said: ‘Timepass!’.
Reading the newspaper is an example of ‘timepass’. Other popular timepass activities are watching TV, eating or sleeping.
Timepass can also be used to refer to a hobby, one which helps pass the time.
“Wasting or whiling away time. Transliteration possibly of Kannada phrase "Kaala kaleyavudu" meaning "losing time," which has the same meaning. Also means doing something for leisure but with no intention of accomplishing anything.”
Timepass seems to be a fine art!
04 March 2013
Walk down any street in Bangalore and you’re sure to come across a ‘puncher shop’. This may be an actual small shop or just a dedicated space on the sidewalk. Instead of someone wearing boxing gloves, you’ll find a man repairing bicycle tires. For some reason, ‘puncture’ is systematically misspelt; that’s just one of the quirky quirks of India.
Cars, trucks, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, pushcarts all have rubber tires which get invariably punctured at some point or other. The ‘puncher shops’ provide a handy roadside service, anywhere, and almost anytime.
The Hindu has an interesting weekly column called “I am” which features “men and women who make Bangalore what it is.” I enjoy reading these little personal vignettes about ordinary people doing ordinary jobs like vegetable vendor, paper collector, brick maker and yes, puncture repairer.
Recently the column featured T. Balasubramanyam, a puncture repairer with his own shop in Malleswaram. He reveals a few details about his daily job. He keeps busy from morning to night, repairing up to 20 flat tires a day. You can read more about him and what goes on in a ‘puncher shop’ here.