Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Day Trip to Bangalore

Had to meet Hari Rao my old friend who is down with a stroke, attend Piyush Jha's session at the Times Lit Fest. Alos had to meet Dr Ramaiah for an interview. I asked Vasu if he was game - I was going anyway - and he said he was. So off we went by the 730 flight. I picked up Vasu at his Banjara Hills house and we headed to the airport. Vasu seemed to know exactly where to go, the shortest places, fastest lines etc and we were quickly inside the airport.
Thriller authors! - Piyush at far left and Ashwin Sanghi at far right
At Bangalore we tucked into some heavy breakfast at the lovely food court outside the airport - I ate an omelette and he tried a panini sandwich. Then a Uber to Hesargatta. Met Dr Ramaiah for a couple of hours and ate lunch with him.
Piyush, Richa Chadda and Priyanka
Then we went to the Times Lit fest and hung around. Vasu had a first-hand account of how Lit Fests work and we attended a session on writing thrillers with Piyush Jha, Ashwin Sanghi, Sudeep Nagarkar and Vineta Coelho. It was boring - everyone said they wanted the audience to turn the pages. Ashwin Sanghi was busy on his phone while the discussion was on. The highlight to me was George coming over and we had a coffee and some banter before heading off to Piyush's book launch. George gave me his independently produced Graphic novel 'Halahala' which he gifted for Anjali and I gave him a pack of Osmania biscuits.  We also met Ram, George's documentary filmmaker friend from Chennai who made a film on surfing in Cochin and voila there were two connections - Vasu surfs in Lanka!
A friend, Ram and George posing with the Osmania biscuits! 
Piyush launched his book 'Girls of Mumbaistan' - which has three thrilling novellas of love and revenge. Richa Chadda was the celebrity launcher. The session was moderated by Priyanka Sinha Jha, Piyush's wife, and also the editor of Screen. It was a conflict-ridden session - and fun. Nisha and Rajesh joined us for a bit and we had some coffee again.
Hari and Hari!
After the session, we met Piyush and Priyanka briefly and then Vasu and I took off to meet Hari Rao at his house. Hari is an incredible person - was my senior at MBA. He was the national taekwondo champion then, played brilliant carroms, table tennis and was an irrepressible spirit. He even played cricket for ou college team and helped us win a match we almost lost - on sheer will power and spirit. His 49 against Dharmavanth College will never be forgotten. Then a job with the Indian Airlines, a career in the Income Tax where he rose to the post of Additional Commissioner before he resigned. In between, he found a passion for cooking and opened a restaurant called Dum which served fabulous biryani. His research into making the best biryani in the world led him to discover a stove which saves 50% LPG and he was now an energy efficient man winning awards from the Government of India, the UN and all those. His company Agnisumukh is doing very well.

Six months ago he suffered a stroke while playing table tennis - a game which he upskilled to the level where he wanted to play for India. He hired a coach and practised intensely and became very good at it too - and that's Hari for you. Dive in deep without holding back anything in all that he does. And that is what struck me as missing when I met him - he seemed unsure for the first time ever. He seemed to be holding back as if doubting his old method.

Hari is now able to walk with a walker which is a huge improvement from the paralysis he suffered on the left side six months ago. We spent a couple of hours with him and left. It was good to meet him and listen to him express his fears, understanding of his situation as he gradually began to speak.

A quick visit to Vasu's aunt and cousins closeby and we headed to a Oyo Townhouse close to the airport. It was brilliant! At 1300 bucks, a total steal. Another brilliant thing was the mini tiffin at A2B for dinner and we were off.

Morning flight to Hyd, drive to Sarvi for chai and biscuit and back home.

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