Monday, April 26, 2010

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa

There is Indian Idol and then there is Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, which is the Indian equivalent of "do re mi fa so" and is also a television singing competition.

Sid, a TV show/movie producer and "A"'s bff, was helping with the production of the Karnataka finals (the state where Bangalore is located) for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, and he invited us over for the shoot. Of course, none of us understood Kannada (the official language of Karnataka), but we thought it would've made an interesting evening anyway.

To convince Sid's bosses and clients that we were not just some random people off the street, "A" and his parents were posing as local musicians and producers and I was to be a popular singer from China, which is funny considering how I have never been to China and the only phrase I know in Mandarin is "woh pu huey jiang hua yu", which translates to "I don't know how to speak Mandarin".

The event was held at one of Bangalore University's halls. Sid gave us a tour of the production room backstage.

Contestants prepping for the contest.

View from backstage

The audience. We were seated on the first row from the stage.

The host started the show off with a song. We later found out she was lip-syncing.

One of the contestants. Check out the four drummers and their drum sets. Pretty elaborate, huh?

The experience: too shockingly loud both from the volume of the music and the random firecracker explosions in front of the stage. Two hours later, after the fifth and final contestant had sung, I thought it would be a good time to leave. On our way out, Sid said that that was only Round 1 out of 5 for each contestant for the night. I think you have to be a fanatic to stick around for that long. I'll leave that to the local Kannadigas to enjoy the show. It was interesting to see the "other side" of Bangalore though.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It was the weekend and "A" noticed instantly that I was getting ants in my pants. He suggested we take a short trip out of town to a place called Hessaraghatta, which is about 30 Km from Bangalore and is well known for its Indian classical dance village (or school) Nrityagram. Unfortunately, when we got there, the dance school was closed for a few months because the whole company is on tour. Note to self: always call before the start of a road trip.

Just opposite of the school is the Taj Kuteeram, a rustic and charming lodge, once owned by Nrityagram but has now been turned into a high-end hotel by the Taj.
Taj Kuteeram

Taj Kuteeram

Taj Kuteeram
Buildings are surrounded by trees and flowers.

Taj Kuteeram - yoga room
Yoga building - depending on where you stand in this room, you can hear sounds in different tones.

Taj Kuteeram
Rooms at the Taj Kuteeram

About 3 km away, across a vast empty field (“A” called this The End of the World), is Our Native Village.

Our Native Village

Our Native Village

Our Native Village is entirely ecofriendly. The resort generates its own power using solar panels, harvests rainwater and reuses all its waste.

Our Native Village - swimming pool
The "natural" pool at Our Native Village - combo of a swimming pool and a pond. The pond part of the pool naturally cleanse and filters the water. No chlorine added.

Our Native Village
Rooms at Our Native Village. Paintings on the wall is done by local artists. In fact, everything in this resort is done by a local someone.

Our Native Village
Every brick used to build this place is made of the soil that has been dug from the land below it. I think the whole concept of this place is very cool except there is a lack of design in everything, so the place looks a bit bare and a tad hospital-like.

Bullock cart drive
They also offer bullock cart driving lessons, if you are a guest at the hotel.

It would’ve been nice to spend a night at the Taj Kuteeram and then a night at Our Native Village except I didn’t bring my toiletries so went back to Bangalore instead.

Monday, April 12, 2010

IPL Cricket

You can’t be in India this time of the year without being stuck in conversations about the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket matches. I don’t know a single Indian who isn’t watching it on TV or streaming it live on Youtube. In my latest attempt to fit in, I agreed to get in on the bet with “A” and his friends and put my rupees on the Rajasthani team. I, of course, know nothing about the game or the team and I merely picked them because I loved visiting Rajasthan.

I’ve lived in the US for 10 years and I might have been to maybe six or seven baseball games but have never successfully learned the rules of the game. A month ago, “A” got us IPL tickets and on our drive to the Chinnaswamy Stadium, “A” gave me a 15 minutes crash course on cricket. The stadium, as expected, was too crowded, and so were its surroundings. Walking towards the stadium was an experience by itself. In the midst of the thousands of people who were trying to get into the stadium and the heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic, there were vendors, who would try to sell cricket team shirts, nimboo pani (sweet lime juice), roasted peanuts and face paints.

That was last month.

Last week, a good friend of “A” scored some really good tickets from work. We arrived at the same stadium 30 minutes late but instead of waiting on a long queue to enter, we were escorted to our seats, in the executive lounge, which I found out later costs Rs2500 (US$55) a piece.

View from our seats. We were seated so close to the field, I could almost see the expressions on the cricket players.

Cheerleaders imported from Australia.

We also had access to a buffet table with yummy Indian food beautifully laid out with unlimited amounts of Kingfisher beers, all available to us in the air-conditioned lounge.

Apart from the few drunken rowdy men, the crowd here was pretty tame compared to the noisy mass on the other side of the stadium.

Take a pic with the cheerleaders. Cheese!

Post-match. Hyderabad beat Bangalore by 7 wickets.

We didn't eat much and didn't get invitations to the after party, so we ended up here after the match.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Sindhi Wedding in Goa

Since my last Indian wedding post, I must have attended (and been involved in) at least 2 more Indian weddings. This one was a destination wedding, Sindhi-style, most events were held in Goa and then a reception in Bangalore. It was done so grandly, I sometimes felt like I was in a Bollywood film.

Day One: The Pool Party
Performers at the pool party
The bride's family arranged for some performers at the pool party.

Poolside party
Guests enjoying the show.

Day Two: The Mehendi and Sangeet
The Bride
The bride

Area where henna was done.
An outdoor area where mehendi was done.

Area where henna was done.
"A" won't keep his hands off any musical instruments.

Entrance to an open air area where the Sangeet was held
In the evening, a sangeet was held in an open air area on top of a hill. This is the entrance to the party.

A sangeet performance by friends of the bride.

Day Three: The Wedding
Putting on a turban
Guys were required to wear turbans. The groom's family hired a professional turban-tier.

Groom's boys in turban
Friends of the groom in turban and Indian outfits.

On a horse to wed the bride
Groom on a horse, about to meet his soon-to-be bride.

Trumpets as the groom comes in on his horse
The band plays while the groom enters in a horse.

Here comes the bride...
Here comes the bride...

The wedding
The wedding ceremony

Day Four: The Bangalore Reception
At the reception
I didn't get a chance to take shots of the newlyweds, but here's one with my soon-to-be family.