Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Last Christmas

Life is uncertain but the way it is going right now, it might very well be a long time before I come to Bangalore during Christmas... Hence, the title of this piece... No relation to George Michael whatsoever!

Now that I assumed 2012 Christmas to be the last one in the city, I made sure I had a grand one, and this time, luck co-operated with me.

Every year, Bangalore is decked-up during Christmas and New Year. It is a treat to see the city at this time of the year, almost every shop displaying a Christmas tree, sometimes a Santa in a mall distributing sweets, and Brigade Road looks especially fabulous with the entire street lit up for Christmas and New Year.

Brigade Road during evenings
December is one of my favourite months of the year. It is that time of year when I look back and think of the year that passed, and thank god that it passed! Now I have the next year to be wiser and more tolerant!

This thought, coupled with Christmas and New Year celebrations, calls for lots of special treatment to my year-long complaining belly. So, I treat it well. And so I began by feasting at one of my "want-to-visit restaurant", Bangalore's Bistro.

Even during peak dinner-time, the restaurant was not crowded, which might have led me to other conclusions if I had not been assured by the countless reviews about this place.

The decor itself is like that of a Bistro with fountains, fences, paintings, wrought-iron chairs and mosaic tables, shrubbery and an outdoorsy terrace section. It's nothing to brag about; it's a nice, decent ambiance and one that I settled to quite easily.

Chicken VOL-en-VENTS

I must warn, the ambiance is quite conducive to female-chatter. We chatted away the hours, lazily eating our dinner with not a care for the world.

Bistro Chicken Steak


We didn't order much, but whatever we ordered turned out to be delicious.

Also, I must mention their impeccable service. We were two girls and as girls do, taking turn to photograph one another. We thought we would ask a waiter for a photo of us. Before we could ask, a waiter politely stepped forward and asked if we would like a photo together. Well, it is hard to find sensible waiters... we were pleasantly surprised.

St. Patrick's

With our tummies purring with pleasure, we went to St. Patrick's Church for the midnight mass... my first-ever.

The Service

The service was prompt and efficient. The decor was pretty. The crowd was co-operating. And the sound of the choir at midnight was a beautiful experience.

I am glad my friend persuaded me to join her. I could not believe I was a part of a 1000+ strong crowd, gathered at midnight, celebrating the birth of Christ.

Well, what can I say! It was my last Christmas in Bangalore and it was definitely my best!

Thank you, Bangalore!

To all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Tea House

The Tea Party

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me. 

-Jessica Nelson North

Tea is more of a companion to me. I drink the black when dark clouds hover above me. I drink the sugary milky concoction in the hours of noon when things are slow. I drink with honey on days when I feel indulgent. I drink it ice-cold during summer lunches. Tea has always been there. And since I moved away from home, tea is that one link that instantly connects me home.

Many a times, the distinct aroma of tea reminded me of my home: the constant boiling of tea leaves in the kettle, morning newspaper over tea, breaking of siesta with tea, laughter and adda with neighbours over  tea. No wonder, I am partial to tea than any other drink in the world.

So to find a nice little tea-place in a city famous for its coffee, makes me giddy with delight. I had to share this place I came across a couple of months ago and which I re-visited last weekend. It's aptly named "My Tea House". 

Of course, the most famous tea-serving  restaurant is Infinitea at Cunningham Road, where they have specialised brews from all over the world. It is also quite a hit. But My Tea House is in my neighbourhood and is a more modest place than Infinitea. It has none of Infinitea's cosy ambience and continental menu, nonetheless, My Tea House (MTH) has a charm of its own.

The tea menu is endless; the options are many. Food-wise, it has a decent menu with sandwiches and burgers, but I never went there with an intention to eat. It was solely the crave for a good tea that attracted me. And usually, a sponge cake accompanied it. 

This time around, my eyes caught the 'Nilgiris Tea' section. Though I live so near the Nilgiris, I have never tasted their brew. Continuous supply of Assam Tea might be the culprit; I never had the need to 'buy' tea. Assam Tea is always abundantly available, free, direct from a tea estate of people back home. So, at MTH, I gave the Nilgiris Tea a chance, and I had something called 'Orange Pekoe'. Of course, with it was a Dates-cake. It was served black, and man! what an aroma... It had a subtle fruity flavour too. I had it like a purist, no sweetener. The cake gave me good company. The fruity flavour still lingers in my mind. I have to go back soon to taste it again, or maybe next time for the first time, I will BUY Nilgiris tea.

For all tea-drinker around Bangalore, you can try this one next time you have a crave for good tea.

My Tea House is situated near the Deve Gowda Petrol Bunk, Banashankari 3rd stage, on the 100 ft. Ring Road.

You can gather more information at http://www.myteahouse.in/

Let it brew!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Facebook and your copyright


Image from  http://www.savagechickens.com/
For a few months now, I have been seeing my FB friends posting statuses announcing their IP rights over their content on FB. Being a lawyer that delves in IP on a miniscule level, these statuses raised my eyebrows... 

Different versions of similar "Data Privacy Notice" statuses floated around FB, but this is the recent one I have come across:

"In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Long message! Phew! Big words too!

First thing first, the premise on which this status update is built is wrong. Public entity (or any entity, for that matter) has nothing to do with copyright laws. Also, UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 is irrelevant here, it is usually incorrectly used believing that citing it in a notice would confer one to invoke extraordinary legal rights.  

The immediate questions that popped in my head was :

If you agreed to the 'Data Use' terms and conditions of the agreement while you signed up on FB, would a status message help? It sounds a 'fragile' attempt, at best.

And secondly, what exactly does the FB agreement say?

Truly, like all normal people (lawyers are pretty normal), I don't bother reading agreements (I read enough at work!). But like most websites, FB is transparent enough to let us see the T&C at any time.

So, what exactly are the new Facebook guidelines? I don't know.What I do know is the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that you signed with FB, that has been last revised on June 08, 2012... Sure, we don't read those long agreements before clicking the 'I accept' button, but let's back-track... the same can be found here.

Accordingly, Clause 2, at first, says : "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook"

Very well. That translates that I am the owner of my content and I can use it in any way I want! 

But beware of what follows:

Clause 2.1:

"For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."

Hahah! FB caught you off-guard! Though you are owner of your artistic and literary work, as soon as you post it on FB, you give them permission to use in whatsoever way they want. Unfortunately, I cannot fathom what "use" will comprise of, it's too broad a term, but it would certainly include sharing your data with third party, for example, FB selling info to advertisers.

Now, I know sharing your info to third parties without you knowing it sounds immoral but don't take it too hard. I see it as a win-win situation. Okay, agreed, FB is in a slightly better position with this clause in place, but you also gain by posting your work on a social media platform this huge. You reach out better to people, your work is seen, heard and appreciated. You would agree that FB makes life easier for us artists. It gives us a good platform to show-case. Whether it is clicking photographs or uploading a painting or just a note like this one, you would agree FB is a powerful tool to reach out. And, best part: it's free!!

Of course, with some gain come some losses. Here, the loss might be that you are at risk of FB using your creations in any way and not giving you a penny as royalty, but dude, YOU signed the agreement! It is assumed you read the risks, understood and then accepted the agreement. 

Good news is: FB has not asked you to waive off your moral rights. Simply put, moral rights (Article 6bis, Berne Convention) are your (1) Right to claim authorship of your work and (2) Right against distortion, modification or mutilation of your work such that it prejudices your reputation.

So, people, the ball’s really on your court. You cannot change the agreement you signed retrospectively by putting up status updates on your copyright. If you value your creativity to the extent that you sign Confidential Agreements to every second party, then FB is not right for you.

Or, you wait till the policy change. Many times, FB allows public to put forward their opinions before implementing new policies, maybe you can participate in such polls.

You may delete the account, but that doesn’t really make much sense since FB says it retains the data for reasonable period of time even after the account is deleted.

Or the best simple solution, don't post! ;) :D

So, here I shed some light. Don’t fall for such hoax.

Also, a nice little piece I found on this topic can be read here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Free! Free! Free!

As the famous saying goes, "The best things in life are free", the last weekend has been a very good weekend made better with freebies!

First, a free lunch by a friend who dropped in for a weekend in Bangalore and second, a free music concert.

The last time my dear friend, Nilutpal, came to town, I had to 'treat' him for numerous reasons that he had summed up. This time around, it was payback time and he had no respite! He has recently ventured into business and he has been seeing good results. Cheers to that! and off we went to this restaurant that I had been meaning to visit but for some or the other reason couldn't make it: Pizzeria Romano.

I had read rave reviews of the restaurant and it was on my list of "want-to-visit" places for nearly a year and a half. When I finally went there, I was not at all disappointed.

Neat and Nice
I totally absorbed their interiors, especially the posters of films and portraits of artists on the walls surrounding the staircase. If you are a movie buff or a music buff, you will love it. And if you are a foodie, you might wanna marry the chef.

We ordered two mocktails: watermelon and strawberry based: and both turned out delicious. We also order a pork rib steak that was very juicy. The texture of the mashed potatoes was unlike any mashed potatoes ever tasted, different and full of flavour.

Pork-Ribs Steak... yum!

We also ordered a Four Seasons Pizza which was hand-stretched into a thin crust. A few slices of it and we were so full that we packed the rest of it.

Hand-stretched Pizza

Lunching with Slash and Elvis... no big deal!

On the walls of the staircase... good utilisation of space

Good thing we packed that pizza! When our friends arrived at the concert venue in the evening, they were more than happy to hog!

By the way, this concert, named 'Sadbhavana concert' was organised by North East Welfare Association of Karnataka and Bangalore City Police to foster peace and ... music 'course! I think the passes were free; in any case, mine were taken care of by my friends.

The Adugodi police grounds, undertaken for the concert, was huge and the turnout was pretty decent. The atmosphere was that of fun. Laughter and music, people of all ages, music of different genre, friends!

In the beginning, a tribute was paid to the Lt.Dr.Bhupen Hazarika which was a good start. Then, Joi Barua performed songs in Hindi, English and Assamese, there was also Jankee Parekh who performed 'Iktara' (Wake-up Sid) and then, there was Lucky Ali!

Joi Barua and Janki Parekh

Lucky Ali onstage
Lucky Ali songs are reminiscent of teenage years and it was a very nostalgic feeling to listen to them after years, live. I surprised myself, I remember many of his songs and lyrics even though I have never consciously listened to Lucky Ali since the end of high-school.

As I say, unplanned plans are the best plans. This Sunday was one such days when everything went perfect. And two things that I longed to do in Bangalore in this final year was ticked off:
  • Went to Pizzeria Romano
  • Went to a Music Concert

To that, I can add:
  • Eating Pizza on a Police Parade Ground
  • Singing aloud while the cop nearby slightly head-bangs!

Bangalore, Thank you for such 'free' days! 

Dance like no-one's watching

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Adjudged Best Puja: Puja at Sluice Gate

We went to this Puja in Phatisil Ambari on Ashtami at 2am in the morning in an effort to beat the rush. We didn't succeed. But then, if a Puja is adjudged winner in multiple categories, the rush is very much expected and one has to  brace herself with an extra dose of bravery.

The awards won
The peculiarity of this Pandal (made in inspiration of a temple) was the fact that it was made entirely of Plume Grass or what we call in Assamese, kohua-bonn.

Board providing information on Plume Grass

 The decor inside looked that of a magnificent wooden palace, complete with art on the walls and ceilings and a huge chandelier in the middle.

Inside the temple
Against the warm wooden colors stood the idols in regal attire with a backdrop of the Himalayas. It was simple, brilliant.

I should not forget to mention that it had some pretty weird stuff in the playground, like the dancing skeleton, the Frankenstein-lookalike monster coming out of his grave with a shrill laugh and a podium with moving 'statues' of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (which looked anything but Dr. Hazarika) and his crew singing (re:blaring) his evergreen hits.

What was weirder was the arrangement of sorts in the nearby Pragjyotish College dedicated to '100 years of Titanic' (seriously?!). And if a moving toy-ship hitting an ice-berg with dialogues of the Captain, Jack and Rose in Hindi is not enough, they played Celine Dion's My Heart will go on during intervals! It was jam-packed. Apparently, people still dig Titanic. I fled from the scene. Hence, no photos!

What I did click was a galli-ka-puja (on the way to Phatasil Ambari) wherein the people dressed up like gods and stood on stage for 5mins every 15mins! It was an amateurish attempt but I enjoyed. The Ganesh with his trunk and Mahishashur with his grey painted body was real, but what fascinated me was the lion... that was also a man in costume!... and you know the lion did a good job when your mom is astonished at its mention and gasps, "What! There was a man in there?! I didn't notice!"

Is that owl real?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Durga Puja 2012: Pandal-hopping in Guwahati: in photos

I love Guwahati during Durga Puja, the city has a buzz during this time of the year. Every street is lit up till late in the night, people dress up, balloons and food everywhere and then there is the mad pandal-hopping!

I am in Guwahati for Durga Puja after seven long years and I am soaking this city's spirits, filling up my quota of pandal-hopping. Cumulatively, till now, i have visited around 10 pandals. Here I'm putting up photos from some of the best pandals I have visited so far for all the Guwahatians who could not make it to home for Durga Puja. Enjoy!

Ganeshguri Puja (BK Towers):

The Ganeshguri Puja (more often than not) has been one of the winners for best sculpted deity year after year. Now you know why!

Maa Durga

Ganeshguri puja

Nimki, Khoja, Jalebis..!

Jalebi b(h)ai
Nepali Mandir Puja:

Check the ornaments on the deity, it's made of pure gold! The pandal was decorated by pots of various shape and sizes. Pretty innovative decor.

From the outside

On the platform
The ornaments on Maa Durga, made of real gold
Who thought pots could make such an impressive decor!
Race Camp Puja:

Battling through the traffic at 1am in the morning, we reached Race Camp Puja. It was a huge affair with melas of the sort wherein there were carousel rides, stalls selling knick-knacks from jewelry to toys to porcelain, street food of no bounds and a cultural program. A fun environment, definitely!

The entrance to Race Camp Puja
Cultural show 
The Pandal from outside, made of bamboo husk

The deities

Maa Durga

Chana-chur time!

Of many colors

Ghosh Brother's Puja:

It's a pity I do not know the name of the place where this pandal was, but it was a Ghosh Brother's Puja. We discovered it on our way from the  Race Camp Puja going towards Nayantara Puja and halted without much thought. We weren't disappointed.

This pandal had a very impressive decor. On the way to the deity, the entire pathway had beautiful modern art pieces in bright, warm colors. And contrasting the bright colors of the ambiance were the deities, in pure white. It was a modern pandal, and definitely a shift in the right direction.

Art adorns the walls on this pandal

The pandal walls with lovely art pieces
Leading to the platform

The deities

Maa Durga's idol at the Ghosh Brother's puja

Gita Mandir Puja:

The Gita Mandir Durga Puja temple took inspiration from the Indian Parliament, no less! We went there not only to see the Pandal but also to eat the tasty ghugni that my friend was craving for!

Parliamentary Pandal

The Deities

Maa Durga

Carousel Ride infront of Parliament
Latasil Puja:

For the kid in you to come out in all its glory, I recommend visiting the Latasil Puja. Too many distractions. Really, too many! Infact, so immersed was I with the sights of the stalls and rides, I forgot to click a picture of the pandal!

Here are some I clicked minus the pandal (which was in the shape of a boat)

Latasil Puja

Nayantara Puja:

Saving the best for the last, I present to you the Nayantara Puja. Designed by Mr. Nooruddin Ahmed, a family friend, this puja wins hands down on its creativity, lighting and for its beautifully sculpted idols. I am not being partial to a family friend! And you can see through these photos how magnificent the pandal is. The theme was based on Chinese lines.

Captivating Lights

Chinese lamps guiding the way
Outside, the dragon guards
In the style of Chinese architecture

The absolutely breathtaking idols

So, that was a round-up of the best pujas I have witnessed till now. As and when I see more, I shall share. Happy Durga Puja everyone!

For the Puja adjudged Best Puja, Best Idol along with a host of other awards, continue reading here

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