Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, Bangalore, December 2012

Was at Dr L.Subramaniam’s annual fusion music festival last night. He started with a real foot stomper called ‘Indian Express’ (poetic justice indeed, since the festival itself is sponsored by the Times of India) and ended the evening with Don’t Leave Me. In between were pieces by  his wife Kavita Krishnamurthy, their kids and two other musicians. Except for the odd flash I pretty much forgot HolidayIQ for over 2 hours; evidently the music was absorbing.

A small regret – I would have liked the two global musicians to have got a bit more of play time. Froy Aagre from Norway on the Sax & Chris Rhyne from LA on the keyboards.

Techie Foodie

sixtyfour

(the Artists’ Corner at Sixtyfour)

Bangalore is for obvious reasons flooded with techies. What is interesting is that a clear sub-genus, the ‘techie foodie’, is emerging. And many of them are starting restaurants.

I was in one such place over the weekend. Sixtyfour is a smallish place describing itself as “a bistro & bar featuring great food and music”. Started by 4 techies in a converted Koramangala house, it is intimate and relaxed and yes, actually has pretty decent food – effectively it is everything most lounge bars in Bangalore are not.  Vijesh (my photographer-friend Nagesh’s brother) teamed up with Sameer (who set up a software company, sold it to Mindtree and worked for sometime there), an entrepreneurial IIM – Cal  alumnus via Gulbarga & Ratlam whose name I forget and another techie from Delhi to set up Sixtyfour.

Another such instance I am aware of is Shiok the pan-asian cuisine restaurant on Inner Ring Road near Embassy Golf Links. Madhu, the patron-saint of the place is another techie who forsake the world of bits & bytes to dig deep into ‘makaan’ of east asia.

As our techies travel far & wide across the world, the food enthusiasts among them bring back pieces of the globe to this city. May their tribe grow.

Travelocity India

Travelocity is coming through (and not just by buying up Indian companies) – looks like they have some of the better flight deals in the region. I recently found a Bangalore – Singapore return (economy of course) on Singapore Airlines for Rs 11,200. And a Bangkok return for 13,600. Both of which are better than the normal fares offered by m0st travel Agents.

So, if you have the time (or the necessity!) to do research f0r good flight deals, I suggest Travelocity India.

The star tourism product for karnataka

Recently, my friend Rohit Hangal posed an interesting question on one of the Tourism Groups on Linked In. His question was:

If we had to chose among one ‘attraction/destination’ in ‘Bangalore/Karnataka’, what would that be and the reasons for it – Scouting for that one ‘Star Tourism Product’.

I love the question, because I believe the bane of Indian tourism is trying to ‘sell’ too many things at the same time.

Therefore, let me attempt an answer:

I don’t think I know Karnataka well enough to pop up all of the options. But having spent too many years in Management Consulting, I cannot avoid the temptation to develop a framework to find an answer. So, here is my 2-bit on this.

It should be:

- Relevant – relevant to the target market. If we assume the target market is the 25 to 45 year old India urban-dweller, then we better make sure s/he is truly interested in what we come up with. if we assume that the market is 60+ year Caucasians, that is another story.

- Defensible – we must be able to able to ‘defend’ it from other competing offerings. that is, there should be no threat of it becoming a ‘me-too” product. Would any World heritage work? Unlikely, since many other states also have ‘world heritage sites’

- Desirable – the people of Bangalore / karnataka (ie. the ‘owners’ of the attraction) must feel that this is a ‘desirable’ facet to promote. If ordinary folks are in some way not quite convinced, all of the effort will go in vain. For, every time the tourist comes into contact with the real product, there will be a strong possibility of disappointment.

- ready – the product must be ready for sale. Which means, a reasonable amount of necessary infrastructure (both core & tourism infrastructure) should already be in place

Any ideas?

Do not fly Paramount Airways

Rumour had it that Paramount airways was good on service, so I decided to desert Jet Airways for once on my trip to Chennai. Bad idea. I got a call late at night from Paramount airways saying that my next morning’s flight to Chennai was ‘cancelled for commercial reasons’, which all of us know means they did not get enough passengers for them to feel obliged to operate the flight.

So, I dug a bit deeper. Seems this is a frequent occurrence. Many people I know in Chennai now tell me that the on-board service in Paramount is good – provided, you are lucky enough for the flight to actually operate.

For an airline that says it focuses on the business traveller, this seems a pretty rough reputation to acquire. Avoid it, if you need to defintely get to your destination on the date/time planned. If you are flying for a lark, it is of course a different matter.

Home Alone

The last few days in Bangalore have been wonderful, especially since I was running around various parts of India for about 10 days before that. Its been overcast for every one of these days; a little rain every evening and generally very cool & pleasant. Life continues on its curious Indian urban rhythm.

Page 3 types here have been shouting themselves hoarse (with the usual support of the Bangalore Times) about the lack of night-life in Bangalore. As you would expect, everyone in Bangalore thinks it is a shame that restaurants close at 11.30 pm here. What happens if you are single & have a night-shift job that demands you look for a restaurant after 11.30 pm? This is a hard-working, 24×7 city and such restrictions are of no help to anyone.

I am of the opinion that this rule has not got changed for only one reason – because of the loud support it has got from the Page 3 crowd here. Bangalore is a city of serious achievers and hard-working citiziens. We have some of India’s leading & most respected business people here – Azim Premji, Narayana Murthy & VIjay Mallya are just the obvious names. The creme of India’s scientific community live here – for instance, the leading lights of the Indian Institute of Science, Indian Space research organisation & the DRDO to name just a few. We have our share of prominent sports-persons too. From Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble to Pankaj Advani & Anju Bobby George there is a veritable phalanx. In such a city, the Page 3 types – mostly superannuated hotel managers, socialising matrons & similar hangers-on – are for obvious reasons, generally held in benign contempt. And it is the very prominence of these light-weights in the movement to keep restaurants open that is seriously harming the ’cause’. Girish Karnad, the movie director took part in a rally last week and spoke for the ’cause’ and for a day, it seemed the Powers would wobble. But another day of strident sound-bytes from the city’s social butterflies put paid to that hope. So, restaurants stay closed after 11.30 pm and God help you if you need to eat out after that. ‘Go Home’ says the sign.

Maybe it is high time some real people asked the government why this nonsense continues in Bangalore.

In the meantime, the great weather goes on & I flit between strong cups of Mysore coffee and hot, crispy Dosas. At home, obviously.

Weekend getaways from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata and 10 other Indian cities

HolidayIQ has just revamped its weekend getaway section. Now one can find weekend getaway destinations as well as weekend getaway resorts/hotels by distance from each of the top 17 Indian cities.

Click here to see the new pages:

Weekend getaways from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata

Weekend getaways from all 17 cities