Bangalore International Airport: Compare And Contrast

I did this blog entry before (writing from the airport in Bangalore), in early August when I last traveled to India. Once again, I'm sitting in the lounge of Gate 1 at BLR, the Bangalore International Airport. Things have changed for the better though, even since August.

For one thing, there's free WiFi access. I haven't figured out what sense of "free" the sponsor (Airtel) means yet, because when I try to get access to the Internet, Airtel's web site keeps intercepting me and trying to tell me how to pay for Internet service. Last I heard, paying and free weren't synonyms but my English is admittedly old-school.

The other thing that's immediately noticeable as a change for the better in the airport. Last time, a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie was s playing and man was it awful. This time, the movie playing is "The Insider". Not that I'm watching it, but I feel that even being in the presence of good cinema, I'm getting more cultured. That doesn't stop me from wanting to unplug the TV and plug in my notebook computer to suck down some power, though. Airports really need to put more power outlets in boarding areas.

The first segment of my return flight (Bangalore to Frankfurt) is slightly delayed, from the original wheels-up time of 2:30AM (yes, you read that right: two-freaking-thirty in the ever-blessed stillness of night) to 2:45AM. There was a sign in the check-in line stating the delay; here's what it looked like to my tired eyes:

"We regret that there will be a slight delay in the departure of Lufthansa flight 755 from --- CAN YOU BELIEVE WE'RE TELLING YOU THIS WITH A STRAIGHT, GERMAN FACE?! --- the middle of the night to exactly the middle of the night."

Oh well, it gives me more time to write this blog entry, unless of course people are so glued to the movie in the lounge that they'll rise against me when I go to plug my notebook computer into the TV's wall socket because I'm running the Java Desktop System and it practices power management like a Hummer H2 practices fuel efficiency.

My Host

It would be rude of me not to thank Tara Krishnaswamy for being such a great host for me while I was there. We had some good partner visits together, and she was nice enough to show me some interesting sites in Chennai, some of which I've written about in this forum.

Tara and Adya in the airport

Here's a photo of Tara and her daughter. One of them enjoys teasing me by calling me "George Bush". The other runs Sun's partner operations for Asia South, Australia, and New Zealand. Oh, and one is slightly shorter than the other.

A Few Words About Indian Phrases

I'm high over Germany right now (no, they don't serve hashish on Lufthansa, though the beer is free) and am trying to find a way to wrap up my description of this latest trip to India. I think I'll close with a few Indian words and phrases that continue to catch my attention and tickle my brain.

First item: "Tell me". It's often enough the first thing somebody will say to you when you call them (huh, just noticed something: it's a phone thing! It doesn't happen face-to-face that I can recall, only by phone). Here's an example: I call the travel agent in Bangalore to get help with my return flight. The conversation goes like this:

Agent: [ring, ring] Hello? (imagine that said with a pleasing accent)
George: Hello, my name is George Drapeau and I...
Agent: Tell me!

Here's another example, from the United States:

Vidhya: [ring, ring] Hello?
George: Hey Vidhya, it's George.
Vidhya: Tell me! (you could substitute Srini for Vidhya here; both have done exactly this)

Second item: the use of the word "only" in a sentence, as in "Mr. George, I am taking you back to the hotel only." It's not as if the driver was defining the limits of his work; he's just saying, I think, that he's taking me back to the hotel and right now it's his total focus. Or something like that.

Third item: the use of the word "itself" in a sentence. Example: In on of our business meetings, an IT professional spoke this sentence: "We are thinking about these features now itself." It's usually the last word in a sentence, and to me, it doesn't really go with the rest, but is used to emphasize, uh, something.

Isn't language fun? I think so. Good night, folks. I'll be here all week; be sure to tip your waitresses.

Comments:

Thank you for your wonderful blog of your experiences in India. I really enjoyed reading it, having lived in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai at various times. The key to understanding the unique English phrases you encountered is to recognize that few in India talk to you in English; they are really talking to you in their native language, but with runtime translation into English. Most phrases that appear amusing in English are essentially vernacular native language constructs. This translation process also accounts for the lilting accents and the tendency to 'join words', mimicing the way the phrases are spoken in the native language itself.

Posted by Suraj on February 25, 2005 at 04:42 AM PST #

Second item: the use of the word "only" in a sentence, as in "Mr. George, I am taking you back to the hotel only."
George, we Indians humor ourselves on that peculiarity of speech (and out trademark) by saying that "We are like this only" :)</br>

Posted by Umang Kumar on February 26, 2005 at 08:33 AM PST #

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