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Showing posts from 2006

Bangalore Day 3 - Google and Dakshin

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I haven't written much about Google Bangalore, partly because I can't say much about it and partly because it's not that different from what I do for Google Mountain View. The office is in a nice building in a posh part of town, but not in one of the "Special Economic Zones" (SEZs). We walk there each morning from the hotel, Debbie does internet stuff for a while and sometimes we have lunch there.

The lunches are quite different from Google in Mountain View, not too surprisingly. For one thing, while we get Indian food in Mountain View. It's nothing like this! There is a choice of from six to eight hot dishes, two kinds of rice, one or two kinds of bread, fresh fruits, salad and dessert - and that's just the "Indian" side of the lunch. We also have a more "Western" style lunch with prepared salads, a salad bar, and various prepared sandwiches. Google also provided breakfast and dinner. I haven't yet tried the dinner, but breakfast w…

Bangalore Day 2 - Dinner at Sikander

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For dinner tonight we went to "Sikander" a nice restaurant in Garuda Mall. The concept is foods from all the places that Alexander the Great conquered. An admirable goal but evidently Alexander only drank light pilsners. Finding a good beer in India may be a challenge. So far all the beers have been lagers, whats more they've been light pilsners. This is no country for an ale drinker.

We started in Turkey with Adana Seek, a ground meat formed around a skewer and grilled. We've had this in San Francisco, and this version was neither much better or much worse than we've had before. We also had Diwani Handi (fresh vegetable dish in browned onions and almonds) and Murgh Dum Biryani a Persian inspired dish of chicken and spiced rice.

Bangalore Day 2 - afternoon

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Bangalore is an almost overwhelming maelstrom of impressions. There are women wearing beautiful saris carrying large budens on their heads past barefood sewer workers blithely carrying on in the middle of traffic rushing by on both sides of them as they work.

The sidewalk is cut stone slabs laid on kerb stones, but in places have fallen through or broken exposing the trench beneath. In some places it smells of urine, in most places it is dusty or dirty, often there is no sidewalk at all, and you share the road with traffic.

There are exquisite small shops in almost every block where local people shop and enjoy their daily lives, but as yet despite my curiosity I haven't had a chance to try them. I'm sure we'll get our chance.

Besides the small stores, there are also street food vendors selling all sorts of foods. Roasted peanuts, chaat, snacks of all sorts that I don't yet even have names for. Our local friends tell us not to eat at the street carts, but I'm sure we&…

Bangalore Day 2 - First Impressions

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Today I got up and walked with Debbie to Google. Spent the morning doing various work things, then left at midday to meet with our friend of a friend (Suku) of a friend (Scott) Mohan. We spent a long time asking questions about living in India (he lived for many years in the US, moved there as a child and returned to India as an adult - so he has a lot of the culture shock information we want.) After chatting for a while about the relative merits of flats versus detached houses, how to hire a driver and deal with domestic help, the best brand of house water purifier to get and other esoterica, we all went off to lunch.

Debbie (and I) had been pining for dosas for a while, so we mentioned this to Mohan. He suggested the restaurant at the St. Marks, and off we went. It turns out that for lunch they have a buffet, but after some skillful negotiating by Mohan they agreed to make us dosas. We were very pleased.

Bangalore Day 1 - Hotel, Google, Dinner

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We arrived safely in Bangalore - at 5:40am local time. Customs and immigration formalities were just that, a formality, and in no time we were standing looking around for our driver surrounded by dozens of drivers holding up little white signs with names on them. We only got accosted by a few taxi drivers anxious for our business, and finally Debbie found our driver in the crowd.

We loaded our bags into the car (well actually a couple of volunteer porters did the loading for us) and I apologetically informed them I had no rupees. They cheerfully replied that they would take any currency, so I gave them my last GBP small change - 30p. That worked out to about Rs 26 which is about right. Whew.

The ride to the hotel was exotic and interesting and bewildering for us, though looking back on it knowing what we know now it was actually very quiet and uneventful. Well except that the driver took us to the wrong Chancery Hotel... We went in to check in and they could find no record of our reserv…

London day 4 - off to Bangalore

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We spent a leisurely morning wandered over to Harrods 102 to pick up food for the trip as well as have a little breakfast. Normally I would run screaming from a place that had sushi boats on one end, a convenience store in the middle, a cafe on the other end, and a dry cleaner in the back, but it was convenient and I had a sort of morbid curiosity about the place.

I had a berry smoothie, a latte and a pain au chocolate. Debbie had an espresso and a pear tart. Both were decent but as Debbie says "it was no Bluebottle." (My god, am I one of those tiresome people always complaining about how something or other just isn't as good as back home? I'll try to keep the whining to a minimum.)

After that it was off to Heathrow! We just hopped on the Piccadilly line at Knightsbridge skipped the first train because it was going to Uxbridge instead of Heathrow caught the next train with the cheerful "Heathrow 1,2,3" on it and were on our way.

Sadly the cheerful sign was a l…

London day 3 - Caffe Concerto, Tate Modern, Pierino, The Bunch of Grapes

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We started off this morning from our cozy little B&B and visited Caffe Concerto an Italian cafe and bakery on Brompton Road. Debbie had two cafe macchiati with a millefeuille while I had a macchiato and double espresso with an apricot danish.

Breakfast done we took the tube back to the Tate Modern to visit their two special exhibits. "Fischli & Weiss: Flowers & Questions. A Retrospective " and "David Smith: A Centennial."

The Fischli and Weiss exhibit was charming, amusing, and provocative - an excellent combination. They produce what seem to be light witty pieces, very contemporary, but pieces that prick at you at the same time.
We especially liked Suddenly this Overview, a collection of small unfired clay sculptures that illustrate various themes both profound and mundane.

Next we visited the David Smith exhibit across the hall. I had only a passing familiarity with his work before this, but after seeing it as a collection, especially having just seen t…

London day 2 - Borough Market and the Tate Modern

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We're staying at a cute little B&B in Knightsbridge, just around the corner from the retail madness that is Harrods in christmas time. We had a nice little breakfast of yoghurt, croissants, coffee and fruit then walked to the tube. The nearest tube stop is Knightsbridge just a few blocks away and is directly opposite Harrods's entrance.

Our first destination was the Borough Market in Southwark ("sutherk"). This was originally a working wholesale fruit and vegetable market under the mainline train tracks right near London Bridge. We took the tube to the London Bridge station using our shiny new Oyster cards (after adding money to them... ahem. See previous post.) While it is still a working fruit and vegetable market in the wee hours of the night, that's not why we wanted to go. On weekends it turns into one of the biggest and most popular food markets in London.

The Borough Market has everything. If you've ever been to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farme…

Dublin Day 6 - The Queen of Tarts (and London!)

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This morning we got up early to try a bakery we'd heard was one the best in Dublin, "The Queen of Tarts." Across the street from city hall, it's a feast for the eyes as well as taste. Debbie tried a raspberry scone, while I had to try the almond raspberry danish. The scone was great, a well executed example of the art, but the danish was astonishing. Like no other danish I've ever had, it was a flaky yeast dough around a warm soft center.

We accompanied our pastries with a decent lavazza cappucino, but don't go to Queen of Tarts for the coffee - go for the array of tempting pastries and baked goods. They had raspberry cheesecakes on display that made me regret that I didn't have all day to spend here.

We later went across the river and tried Panem, which was decent, run by friendly people, and had good coffee, but Panem seems more like a lunch and food place, while Queen of Tarts is a bakery.

After Panem, I went to work while Debbie hung out, logged in, boug…