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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Java City - for those Saturdays and Sundays

Thought I'd write something about some great places to visit in Bangalore - far away from the malls and the usual visiting places that a new-comer to the city might have heard of.
Java City is a coffee place on Church Street. Church Street where?!! Church Street is the narrow lane that branches off Brigade Road on its right side, as you come down from MG Road. Part of the old world of Bangalore, it still, though only in bits and pieces, retains some of its erstwhile charm. The lane is also home to Blossoms, the book shop for old books and other celebrated eat-outs like KC Das. Koshy's, on St. Mark's Road is only a stone's throw away from any of these places. More about these places later.
Java City is a place for some great music and coffee. Adorning the walls are frescoes in sepia of Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and some of the best Ponappa comic strips that I've seen. Even the overblown cartoon strips are a reflection of the state of the city currently. Come Saturday or Sunday and bang at 5 o'clock in the evening, just when birds from the neighbouring parks decide its time to head home eastward, Lester and co. pick up their guitars, drum kit, keyboards and trumpets and start off into the mike, to the 30 odd folks gathered. Some great coffee and something to go by with and 3 blissful hours begin. What drew me most to the place is the passion that these guys on the stage come out with. I'm sure they have day jobs somewhere and play gospel music with the same instruments at Sunday church. But I'm sure that none of them would be able to go to sleep happily over the weekend if they didn't spend those 3 hours playing to an eager and involved audience.
They may not be the greatest of Jazz players that the city has to offer, but I'm sure the heady mix of coffee and jazz, makes up for it all.
If you're in the groove to sing something or play one of the instruments, the band is more than willing to let you experiment and the audience will surely give you a supporting hand. Requests are also entertained.
Give this place a shot and let me know what you'll think of it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Project Gutenberg and World Book Fair

For all you bookophiles out there, there's some great news! If you haven't heard it by now, Project Gutenberg and the World Book Fair are coming together to put online close to a million books for free. Yes! Absolutely free for downloads. They don't even ask you to get registered like the other 'free' sites do.
These two organizations are non-profit ones and along with the likes of google and yahoo are waging wars against the publishing world, to get expensive and not-so-easily-available books straight to your desktop. So don't let go off the opportunity. The reference sites are here
1. Project Gutenberg - www.gutenberg.org
2. World Book Fair - www.worldbookfair.com
If any of you are the kinds who use PDAs or any other fancy instruments, downloads into these are also supported.
I'm not one to really read books online. Half the magic in reading a book, according to me, is in holding down those pages, smelling them as one flips through them, and going back to lines that suddenly hit you after your well past reading them. That magic cannot be replicated by technology no matter what. Its the same reason why I never watch a movie if I can read the book form of it. Inevitably, in a cause-effect relation, books would be the cause and movies the effect, with rare exceptions. The only 3 books converted to movies, that I have watched and liked are
1. Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson did a job that would put most of our imaginations to shame, and the locales!!!)
2. One flew over the Cuckoo's nest (Sheer brilliance of Jack Nicholson)
3. Godfather
I have vowed to never watch the movie 'Hitchhiker's guide..' after a friend who watched me told me that Zaphod Beeblebrox has just one head in the movie. Sigh!

Two cribs about the two sites mentioned above.
First - bad interface. The search boxes aren't right up front and neither is the keyword 'search' used on gutenberg. Though catalog is the word book-lovers would more associate with, when you put them online, you got to act like you're online too. What was that about being in Rome and acting like one.
Second - Some of the all time greats are not available. I haven't checked the world book fair site though, since it wasn't up at the point of posting this blog. But Gutenberg did not have any Garcia on it. That considering that his 'One hundred years of solitude' was listed in the top 10 of most 'Top 100' lists at the end of the last century.

Happy reading folks!