Hunger illa … at Hungrilla!

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Not many eating houses in Bangalore can provide acceptable vegetarian fare for delicate palates like mine.  This is especially true of Kanakapura road, well known for its cut-rate bars and dubious hotels.

Hungrilla, a newly opened vegetarian bistro near the Art of Living ashram off Kanakapura road, comes as a relief for those who like their grilled sandwiches. The name is a Kannada-English pun, and nicely appropriate. The grilled sandwich menu here is a delight for the most finicky vegetarians.

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Vishnu and Lakshmi, the young couple that owns the place, are both practising Ayurvedic doctors and active AOLites. For the uninitiated, this means that they are with the Art of Living ashram and disciples of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. For the hungry customer, this means that their fare is strictly vegetarian, clean, healthy and cruelty-free.

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The sauces are hand-made and vegan. The kitchen is squeaky clean. The hands that make the food are cleaner. There’s no garlic used anywhere. And onion is used only if you want it.

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The decor is unpretentious, breezy and made entirely from recycled wood and other eco-responsible material. And it’s DIY, hand-made by the owners and volunteers from AOL. You get a nice 360-degree view of Kanakapura road and the surrounding greenery. There’s even a nook for children to play board games, and a little library for those who like to read while they eat or vice-versa.

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Food portions are generous indeed, believe me. I was hard-pressed to finish my grilled sandwich. Their grilled menu is quite varied. I’d recommend the Bombay masala grilled, or the Rajma masala grilled. My personal favorite – Alu cheese. And take a look at their cold beverages and shakes.

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Birders like me are a hungry lot, and after a hard day’s birding in the hot sun, we’re always on the lookout for safe, clean places to rest and feed. Hungrilla fits the bill just right. Large portions, clean veggy fare, airy decor, and reasonably priced.

Payment, for now, is via Paytm or cash. And they provide home delivery within a radius of five km. Although, I’d say grilled sandwiches are best enjoyed straight off the grill and piping hot.

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The bistro is brand-new, and a start-up venture by first-time entrepreneurs. A few rough edges here and there to be smoothed over. They’ve got off to an impressive start though, and they’ve got the most important factors right – the location, the quality of the food and the price they charge for it.

A hefty meal for two with a large glass of cold coffee, will cost about Rs. 350/-.

Location: Just off Kanakapura road, about 500 meters after the AOL ashram, and adjacent to the main gate of Soudamini apartments. On the right, as you drive down from JP Nagar towards Kanakapura.

Bottom-line: Solid value for money. Just go, and bindaas khao.

Cheers … Srini.

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In your taps soon … Sandaas ka pani.

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See this river of stinking foam? This is Byramangala. One of the largest water sources in Bangalore.

To say that Byramangala is polluted is a gross understatement. Filled with industrial effluents, delicately spiced with sewage from India’s “Garden” city, and with tons of garbage added for good measure, the waters of Byramangala are not polluted – those waters are lethal.

This water is used for irrigation by all the villages around. This water is used to grow the “organic” vegetables and rice that you feed yourself and your children every day. Pay a visit to Byramangala reservoir. Stand there for more than five minutes and you will puke or faint. The vegetables and rice grown here are filled with deadly toxins, worms, bacteria and heavy metals. Farmers are fed up, livestock is dying, consumers (like you) get sick.

Across India’s silicon valley, every single lake, every stream, every source of water is in the same state.

But hey, don’t worry. The scientists are busy doing their research. Sticking their probes everywhere they can. Producing impressive Sankey diagrams and awe-inspiring Powerpoint presentations, attending international workshops on your money, publishing research papers, accepting awards – while also accepting funding from the same industries that poison your water.

And all that hard work and “science” has paid off. The “scientific” solution to our water crisis is apparently quite simple.

No need to stop those industries that merrily dump effluents in our water. No need to arrest the mafia that dumps garbage in our lakes. No need to arrest those illegal developers and builders.

Just “recycle” all that poisoned water and send it back to you. Simple. This is the “master plan” concocted by the scientists your taxes pay for and the government you elect.

No need to make even a token attempt to decongest the city. Instead, let more and more people and corporates come rushing in. By 2030, the population of Bangalore will be 20 million. That’s the population of Australia, by the way.

I’m not joking. Wastewater usage for Bangalore is almost official policy. It’s not enough that Bangalore’s garbage is dumped on surrounding villages. They are forced to use Bangalore’s foul water as well. That toxic water is in turn used to grow the food that you eat. And your own sewage water comes back to you in your own taps.

Yeah, shit happens. Your own shit.

Whose fault is it? Yours.

You had it coming to you. You do not question the scientists who influence policy. And you do not question the government that makes policy. The “scientists” bamboozle you with science. The government deceives you with promises.

Between the two, the bigger culprits are the scientists. I’ve been dealing with them through my career, and I know just how they think. Not all of those ecology scientists are dishonest. A few of them do have the right answers. But they are throttled by those whose primary interest is not in solutions, but in personal glory – and in funding.

During a recent water workshop, I saw those scientists and their cronies in action. I had to accept that what I had suspected all along was unfortunately, true.

Bangalore is doomed.

Crores of rupees spent on research, on all those foreign-trained, award-winning scientists. And their astonishingly simple solution for Bangalore’s water woes – use your own sewage.

Yeah. Science to Man’s rescue. Drink sandaas ka pani.

SKSrinivas

Bangalore fights back … the story of Puttenahalli lake.

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Puttenahalli lake today.

Twenty five years in Bangalore have made me a hardened cynic and a prophet of doom. I’ve seen this city deteriorate from a beautiful, innocent little hamlet into one of the filthiest, overcrowded, screwed up cities in the world.

I remember when this was a nice little town for pedestrians and pensioners. Now it’s a shithole filled with stray dogs and thugs. There were trees and parks lining every avenue here once. Now there are malls and brothels.

There were lakes and ponds filled with clear water once. Now there are open-air toilets and slums. Once there were flowers and birds everywhere. Now there are dogs, dogs, dogs, everywhere. Roads with more potholes in them than tar. People defecating in public view. Hooligans driving two-wheelers on pavements. And hawkers squatting on what’s left of those pavements.

Bangalore’s demise is inevitable. Investing in this urban nightmare would be a remarkably foolish business decision. But still, there are determined citizens who have chosen to fight back. And there are some victories.

Puttenahalli lake is one such. Once a delightful waterbody tucked away inside Puttenahalli villlage, on the southern outskirts of the city, the lake suffered the same fate as all other lakes across Bangalore. Encroached, surrounded by concrete condos, filled with garbage and human waste, infested with mosquitoes, vermin and local goons.

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The lake was written off, waiting to be swallowed by land-sharks and politicians. A small group of locals decided to do something about it. The Puttenahalli neighborhood improvement trust came into being about seven years ago, with the single-minded objective of reviving the dead lake.

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It took them a great deal of hard work, and a considerable amount of their own money. But today, Puttenahalli lake is a thriving waterbody, filled with clean water, a home to fifty species of birds and all kinds of flora and fauna. It’s not out of the woods yet, there is still a slum to be removed, but I’d say the worst is over.

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To a large extent, the battle is won, and Puttenahalli is now officially known as a “saved” lake. Considering what it used to be, this is a major achievement by any means. And across the city, other citizen groups have taken up the fight to save their local waterbodies.

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For a city that has been destroyed by political greed and corporate thuggery, and is in imminent danger of death, Puttenahalli lake is a small beacon of inspiration and hope.

As long as there is hope, I think Bangalore city still has a chance to survive, however slim that chance may be.

Take a look at my Puttenahalli collection.

Cheers … Srini.