10 Ways to spot a true Bangalorean


ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY, better known as her radio avatars Miss Lingo Leela/Sister Stella, paint an irreverent image of the true blue resident of Bengaluru  

Habit_Eating with two spoons

1. Eats idli vada with two spoons and sometimes dosa with fork and knife
A typical India Coffee House trait, the practice has permeated to darshinis (stand-up South Indian eatery). Old Bangaloreans take their table manners seriously – there are quarter plates (for snacks – and you thought one plate serves all?), marrow spoons (what, gnash and gnaw a bone like a dog?), serviettes (napkins to the gauche) and doilies (to cover glasses). Only meals and mudde may be consumed by hand while coffee and tea between friends is always ‘One by Two’.

Windmills Craftworks Beer

2. Believes if it comes out of a bottle it ain’t beer
To the rest of India, a cold draught is something that comes in through a window or under a door. In Bengaluru, it is what the bartender smacks down on the counter. Long before the world discovered microbreweries, Pecos was serving draught and issuing tab cards for a free pint after ten cumulative pints. Today, every restaurant worth its hops makes its own beer. Understandably, there are over a dozen microbreweries in town – Toit, Prost, Geist, Arbor, Barleyz, The Biere Club, District 6, Big Brewsky, Big Pitcher, U4iA (alphanumeric for Euphoria in case you’re wondering), Murphy’s Brewhouse, but the best brews can be found at Windmills Craftworks in Whitefield.

NH-7 Weekender Bangalore IMG_5920

3. Knows its Carnatic from its Cannibal Corpse
Unlike Delhi, where burly boys shout ‘Oye November Rain’ at Deep Purple concerts, Bangalore is quite aware musically. From music shows at Chowdiah Memorial Hall to mouthing lyrics at a rock concert at Palace Grounds, a true Bangalorean will drive miles into the wilderness to attend dusk to dawn gigs with fireflies for company. Be it blues and jazz to all the sub-genres of electronica and metal, the city features on the itinerary of every international act coming to India. Jazz legend Ahmad Jamal to Baul minstrel Paban Das Baul, metal gods Opeth and Lamb of God to house trio Dirty Vegas; some of the biggest names in music have descended onto the Bengaluru stage – Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Bryan Adams, Scorpions, Sting, Aerosmith, Elton John, Guns n Roses, Santana, Megadeth, Metallica, Prodigy… the list goes on!

Old MG Road

4. Laments about the good ole days…
Old time residents of the city are suckers for nostalgia. Sigh… the lakes, the bungalows, single-screen theatres, tree-lined avenues and daily showers every morning and evening. When Mekhri Circle was actually a circle and Victoria was not a mall but a shaded restaurant with mosquito coils in beer bottles under the table. But no matter when you were in Bengaluru, it was always better before that. If you went to Freedom Jam, there was Music Strip in the 80s, if you attended Music Strip, there was disco and day-parties in the 70s and thumbing a nose to that was the Bandstand in the 60s! As they say, even nostalgia isn’t what it used to be…

Priya Ganapathy aka Lingo Leela in Radio City studio

5. Runs on a totally different phraseology
In Bengaluru, recess (pronounced rhesus) means ‘piss’, tiffan is ‘brekker’ and distance is still indicated in ‘furlongs’. The average Bangalorean liberally punctuates his/her sentences with unique slang words and one would require the help of local radio icon Lingo Leela’s slanguage improvement classes to understand – bombatt (fantabulous), chilrey (loose change or two-bit), sakkath (solid or fantabulous), bakasura/bakapakshi (one with gargantuan appetite), dadhiya (fatso), drabay (slow on the uptake) or dogalayrama (shoddily dressed in baggy clothes).

Scientific colonies of Bangalore

6. Takes pride in its scientific temperament
Around the time JN Tata conceived the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at the turn of the century, the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam was constructed by Sir M Visvesaraya, which led to Bangalore becoming the first city in India (and Asia) to get electricity in 1906. Many believe this paved the way for the city’s rise as a scientific and academic hub. Long before the Wipro-Infosys brigade, everyone knew someone who worked at HAL, BHEL, DRDO or some scientific institution of repute. Here, retired gentlemen stay in housing layouts that has at least one acronym in the address – UAS (University of Agricultural Sciences), NTI (National Tuberculosis Institute), AECS (Aeronautical Employees Co-Operative Society), CIL (Central Inspectorate of Electricals and Electronics), NGEF (New Government Electrical Factory) or XXX (Insert Scientific Acronym here). If there’s a branch of study, chances are there will be a scientific institute for it. Where else but in Bangalore can you find the NBAII (National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects) or NBSS&LUP (National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning)!


Photo courtesy: Akshita Anil Kumar 

7. Loves the Yezdi/Jawa as much as the Bullet (if not more)
The Royal Enfield may have its legions of fans, but Bengaluru runs on Jawa (both the bike and the brew). Here, the roads resound with the distinct loud throttle of the 250 cc Road King. An uncomplicated motorcycle perfect for the highway, it can be push started, repaired by any roadside mechanic if it breaks down, and some swear even rides in reverse! Loyalists insist that if the Bullet is an elephant, Yezdi is a cheetah. Even its classic design suggests so!

8. Sucks at street fights
A Bangalorean can argue for hours, mouthing yenu, yenu (what, what?), doing that thumb thing (an aggressive posture with an upturned thumb pointing at oneself), but will never really get physical. In a first hand account, we chanced upon the following exchange between two motorists on Old Airport Road. It was a scene of utter devastation. Headlights and taillights had smashed like bones into smithereens and green engine oil and fuel lay spilt like blood… In Delhi, a similar scenario would have resulted in a full-blown gang war, yet in genial genteel Bengaluru all we overheard was ‘Why you did that?’ ‘Aye, don’t tell lies…’

Bangalore Traffic Rules

9. Has an in-built GPS
For a city with a proclivity to change a road from a ‘two-way’ to a ‘one way’ with whimsical frequency or divert traffic for some reason, a true Bangalorean is pre-programmed to know exactly which route to take. Anyone else facing a similar situation could very well be bewildered, get lost or exasperatedly run around in circles. While newcomers to the city get stranded and cuss at Bengaluru’s legendary traffic jams, locals know precisely when to sneak into the hidden bylanes and get out through a maze of alleys to avoid snarls during peak hours. And if all else fails, there’s always the pavement…

Davangere Benne Dosa

10. Knows all the food secrets of the city
From the best idli vada coffee joints to mudde-mamsa (ragi balls with mutton curry) in Gandhi Bazaar, Maratha style ‘donne’ biryanis in Balepet (served in leaf containers), camel meat near Russell Market and where to eat at Mosque Road during Ramzan…he knows it all! In fact, the true Bangalorean has mastered the art of procuring the most scrumptious Davangere benne dosas, the softest Bidadi thatte idlis, ghee-soaked Mysore Pak and delicious Dharwad Pedas without leaving the confines of the city. From Brahmin Messes, Iyengar Bakeries and Hindu Military Hotels to eateries from Kerala, Andhra and Chettinad, such obsession with appetite has also endowed locals with special powers. Like the ability to decode dishes, be it Jilli (Chilli) Beef or Gopi Manjuri; after all the humble Gobi Manchurian is to Bengaluru what CTM (Chicken Tikka Masala) is to London.

Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This is an unabridged version of the article that appeared on 1 Oct 2014 in Conde Nast Traveller online. Read the story here: http://www.cntraveller.in/story/10-ways-spot-true-bangalorean


16 responses »

  1. You missed out on “Swalpa Adjust Madkoli”. It is very typical of the Bengalurean, whether in a bus, or under a shelter waiting for rain to subside. It is the same spirit with which we Bengalureans have made Bengaluru truly COSMOPOLITAN! 😀

    • Hey Vish n Raghu…Thanks for writing in. True about the omnipresent and definitive Bengaluru phrase! In fact, we’ve written an entire piece called ‘Swalpa Adjusht Maadi’ for Outlook Traveller’s 52Weekend Breaks from Bangalore and thought we’d would be ‘overdoing’ it:) So please, swalpa adjusht maadi, that it isn’t in this piece. 🙂 cheers!

  2. draught beer is comparatively recent. perhaps twenty five years at the most! that is when pubs first started. downtown pub next to galaxy. sherlock holmes pub for us in fraser town. recently reopened. going back fifty years when i tasted my first beer it was just ub export lager for 755 ps a 750 ml. bottle. i still think it is unparalleled! if i’m not mistaken even kingfisher brand beer came later. and pint sizes came in too only a decade or two ago. cans were introduced only in the early eighties. but bangalore is ub city alright and my grandparents’ home, ‘oorgaum house’, was opp. the mallya home. at 22 grant rd. (now vittal mallya rd.) – the p.g. d’souzas with 17 children…..

    • Hi Jacqueline!
      Wow! What a ton of memories you’ve shared:) Thanks so much. Bangalore holds so many little delightful secrets. Every time we drive around Fraser Town, we get nostalgic about the lovely bungalows with gabled roofs that have vanished or are vanishing! But despite everything, it still knows how to give people a good time and thank heavens for that! Draught, pint, lager… et all:) Cheers!

  3. Nice one guys!

    One thing i did not understand is eating Dosa with fork! Do we do it? We love our fingers!

    Two other traits of Bengalureans are

    a) the immense patience we have. We don’t get enraged or rather don’t care much. It is live and let live for us!

    b) The evening tiffin culture – Bonda with Coffee or Churmuri or Bele Masala or any small snacks before the late dinner!

    • Thanks P&B! The dosa with fork and knife is definitely an India Coffee House trait. When we used to hang out there earlier, it was crazy to watch old gentlemen cut their dosa and cutlets into neat little pieces. Haven’t seen it anywhere else or the idli-vada with 2 spoons, so thought we have to add it to the culinary craziness. Patience is exemplary (except for rash driving ‘hooligans’). And yes, there’ll be war at home if snacks like bajjis, chow chow, et al aren’t served with evening tea. Meet up sometime over chai n snacks? Cheers, A/P

  4. that is a lovely piece on Bengaluru.
    Vidhyarthi Bhavan for Dosas and MTR for their great Rava Idli continue from those days! While talking about those companies, ITI, HMT, Kirloskars , Mysore lamps, Mysore ceramics ( taken over subsequently by BHEL who also took over REMCO) were the major employers.

    • Thank you Srinath. In this fast changing landscape, thankfully, some things still remain whether it’s VB’s dosas or MTR’s rava idlis and all the other iconic food joints! Still remember how the employees in their sober uniforms would diligently wait in the morning for the factory buses like obedient school children… Cheers, A/P

    • Hey thanks Red Dee! We had a blast writing it. Didn’t have space to add a few more quirks – like two-wheelers waiting before a railway bridge for the train to pass (lest someone pooped from above) or idling your vehicle much before the traffic signal because of the shade of a tree. Think it’s time to do a Part II! Have fun in Oakland. Muah from A/P.

  5. It used to be browsing in Premier book shop followed by ICH..there used to be casa picola and Indiana fast foods …
    Koshys and the old location of British council library which to me was the most morning place on earth … C grade movies at the bed bug infested opera and the teaser movies at Imperial. Tons of fried rice at the Rice Bowl on Brigade’s

    • Can never forget the gravity defying stacks of books in Premier, the sloppy beef burgers with mayo at Indiana, the chicken casseroles at Casa Picola, the mandatory kulfi at Bowring’s and the familiar old faces at Koshy’s and ICH. All those landmarks are gone, everyone seems like a stranger or a newbie and sometimes we almost feel alienated in our own city!

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