Saturday, September 30

Brijesh Patel Coaching Academy

Brijesh Pursuram Patel played in 21 Test matches from 1974 to 1977 with a batting average of 29.45, and a career-best of 115 not out from the Port of Spain Test of 1976, where he put on a doughty 5th-wicket parthership with Sunil Gavaskar. He was a sharp fielder normally covering point. He was also a bowler, but never asked to deliver his right-arm off breaks at the Test level. His international career does not do justice to his stylish batting -- he is considered one of the greats of the Indian domestic circuit with 37 hundreds and over 11000 runs; he held for many years the record for the highest number of centuries (26) in the Ranji trophy, which earned him the title "Ranji Raja."

After his playing days he became a shrewd cricket administrator (belonging to the 'Dalmiya Camp'), till heart ailments and bypass surgery reduced him to running a coaching camp for boys -- BPCA or Brijesh Patel Coaching Academy -- at the grounds of his alma mater Bishop Cotton Boys School, which happens to lie behind my guest house.

From a 2003 article:

An open gunny sack lay behind the table. As each new boy paid his fee, the man behind the desk tossed it into the sack without even counting the money! By the time the registrations for the summer cricket camp closed, the sack was full with uncounted and unaccounted money!

Patel's camp costs, say some students who have joined this year, Rs 3,500 per person. Patel himself told that he charges Rs 2,500 per student. "Not everyone is a paying student, though," he clarifies quickly. "We charge them based on their financial abilities, and we waive the fees of highly motivated but poor boys."

There are also several lesser-known cricketers and coaches who run summer cricket camps all over Bangalore, at far lower prices like Rs 1,000 or Rs 1,250 a month. These are not conducted in prime locations around the city.

However, the advantage in going to the better known summer camps is that the boys then have an opportunity to fit into the year-long training at regular cricket academies run by these players.

All this certainly proves that you need not be a star cricketer on the Indian eleven to rake in the money. Any association, past or present players, involved with the game at any level, is to ensure you some good cash from it.

Thursday, September 28


The monsoon retreats after farewell downpours.

Wednesday, September 27

Rain, Kolkata

Went to Kolkata for the weekend, feeling like a mess-inhabitant out of a Bengali novel who takes the Naihati-local on Saturday to go back to 'bari' from 'basa.' A Bay of Bengal depression was on the rampage in eastern India, so I had to sit out the worst on the tarmac at Hyderabad; when I finally got to Dum Dum the pre-paid taxi counter had a handwritten notice 'closed due to torrential rain', and no transport was in evidence. I was once stranded like this in Foz de Iguacu. As there, a hotel car eventually came to the rescue; the off-duty driver who agreed to give me a ride negotiated the fallen trees and freshly-opened potholes on the EM Bypass with a remarkable aplomb. When I finally reached home in the wee hours, a very thin pratipada moon was beginning to look out from a break in the clouds to cautiously survey the bedraggled havoc below.

Monday, September 25

P.G. D'Souza Layout

It would not always seem to be so, but Bangalore has a history of town planning. The earliest zoning regulations in the City covered the very locations on which the most problematic commercial building is being proposed in these days.

The regulations -- initially targeted towards Sidney Road, now called Kasturba Road, but not specific to it -- came into force on July 2, 1892, sponsored by Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, Dewan of Mysore and Sir T.R.A. Thumboochetty, Chief Judge. Since there was no separate law on town planning those days, it was decided that the regulations should be written into the Mysore Revenue Manual, that bible for the babus. These manuals thence carried a section "Locations in Bangalore City Where House Building Is Prohibited" (767-8-RF 55-92 d 2nd July, 1892). The boundaries within which erection of buildings, sinking of wells, or extensive excavations for any purpose whatsoever were prohibited in the City is as follows:

I. From the police station near the Yelahanka Gate of the City along the Pete Road upto the Civil and Military Station boundary stone XII and thence along the Civil and Military Station boundary passing along portions of the Pete, St. Mark's Road and Sidney Roads upto Civil and Military Station boundary stone XV along Sidney Road to the Cenotaph and to the police station near the Yelahanka Gate of the City.

II. From the Madras railway level crossing at the Palace South Gate along the Madras boundary where it meets Miller's Road. Thence along Miller's Road where it meets Cunningham Road to where it meets the Avenue Road and thence along the Avenue Road to the Madras railway level crossing at the Palace south gate.

III. On lands assigned for public purposes whether within or without the boundaries described in the preceding paragraphs new buildings or extensions of existing ones should not be erected without the express sanction of Government.

The edict was reissued with every revision of the revenue manual, by Revenue Commissioners such as Sir T. Ananda Row, B. Ramaswamaiya, C.S. Balasundaram Iyer, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, and P.G. D'Souza.

I am put up in a guest house inside a private layout named after P.G. D'Souza at the entrance of Vittal Mallya Road (formerly Grant Road) down Kasturba Road. Across the street, a chaotic construction of United Breweries City brings you back forcefully to the BDA of today. Inside, it is old-style spacious, and breezy.

Wednesday, September 20


Between 11pm and midnight, the Bangalore City Police Traffic Wing deploys near popular watering holes. The dragnet is targeted towards the young motorcyclist (seldom a car driver, who belongs to a different social stratum), who's wet his whistle at an establishment likely named the Windsor Pub or the Flagstaff Arms. Riders are randomly pulled over. At some point the department had gotten funds to purchase breathalysers, but who knows what terrible fate has befallen those? A more muscular solution is available in the form of a large and hirsute constable, who sticks his face in front of the suspect's mouth. 'Breathe out', he thunders, even as the offender's stomach churns at the blast of onion and garlic from the constable's lunch. Like a connoisseur sampling the boquet of a Chateau Perayne, he asks the rider to give it to his face again and again. At last the diagnosis -- Aha! a Khoday's from Chelsea Club! Ayyy hero, license dikha!

Monday, September 18

As a followup to the easlier post on the Great Chinese Firewall, the Tibetans in Bangalore and Dharamsala are not at all happy about the 'collusion' between the 'Internet search engine giant' and the People's Paradise:

Bangalore Redux

The kids always know everything. The bunch let out of Bishop Cotton Boy's School know all about the Google office next door; some of them are planning to do the annual code jam there, and they point and chatter excitedly as they pass. The Hon'ble Education Minister, on the other hand, has not heard of 'Goggle', someone from Google India who went to meet the minister and the Delhi ministry babus recounts being beaten up by security.

Sunday, September 17

Right to Assembly

The elegantly produced menu of my Singapore Airlines flight sports a piece of blue and cream abstract art by some European artist based in Washington. The IMF must be in town. Meanwhile it turns out the Singapore has no right to assembly; if more than four people gather they need permission from the police. As the IMF delegates arrived, some half a dozen 'activists' wearing 'dangerous' T-shirts tried to wave placards at a remote park, and were arrested under unlawful assembly rules.

In the Orchid Garden at Changi Terminal 2, self-satisfied sleek fat koi swim unending figures-of-8 in their little pool.

China Eastern

It used to be that on descending into the old airport at Hong Kong, you would see arrayed below you the 747s wearing the liveries of BOAC or Cathay Pacific or Panam.The descent into the new one is less hairy, and the panoply of colors below is now gone; what I see today is stacked row after row of the red-yellow-blue stripes of China Eastern Airlines.

Tuesday, September 12

The Golden Spike

May 10, 1869 -- two railroad companies, Union Pacific and Central Pacific, joined 1,776 miles of rail at Promontory Summit of the then Utah Territory. Leland Stanford (of Stanford University fame), president of the Central Pacific, missed hitting the alloy spike (pure gold would have been too soft for the sledgehammer anyway), but that did not prevent the telegraphs flashing 'DONE' all the way across the USA.

Sunday, September 10

Yellowstone, and Spiral Jetty

Some pictures from a Labor Day trip. More Yellowstone and Spiral Jetty photos here.

Saturday, September 9

The Great Chinese Firewall

Exhibit A: Search on for Tibet from inside China

Exhibit B: Click on homepage of Tibetan Govt in Exile (5th search hit.)

Exhibit C: Search on Baidu for Tibet from inside China, self-censored results

Exhibit D: Google Search results for Falun Gong

Exhibit E: Baidu Search results for Falun Gong

Exhibit F: Trying to reach