Ladies’ Coupé is a lot like the very subject it touches; very quiet like the stereotypical Indian woman. Hardly the fast-paced fare for people like me bred on Jeffery Archers in his youth; but an excellent transition book into the world of intellectualism.
Anita Nair puts 5 women in a ladies’ coupe of a train going to Kanyakumari. For Akhila, short for Akhilandeshwari, it is nothing but an escape from the restrictive life she has grown tired of living, of the rules she is not obliged to follow, but does anyway, because it is the easier way out.
For the others, that night is when the reflect on their lives, and think hard – Who have they lived their lives for?
Each one pours her heart out to the others, bringing out the different nuances of every Indian woman’s life – from the blissful life of a rich man’s wife to the hellish state of existence of a woman ravaged by a drunk.
For Nair, the novel is merely a device, a framework, within which she puts together the jigsaw pieces of these 5 women’s lives; and tries to answer the question that is the theme of this novel: Can a woman stay single and be happy at the same time, or does a woman need a man to feel complete?
Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was the first record taken out by Virgin Records. Of course, since then Virgin Records has seen much more action. But Tubular Bells still has a certain British charm to it that is found probably only in Pink Floyd‘s Division Bell or Shine On You Crazy Diamonds.
I can’t make out whether Mike used an orchestra or not; to me, it sounds a lot like the synthesiser, but then again, don’t go by me, I am as tone-deaf as they come. At the risk of coming to the point, Oldfield, whatever he has used, has pieced it together quite nicely, infact the entire album is actually one piece, just divided into different sections by names, as abstract as Sunjammer.
This again reminds me of Pink Floyd; and funnily enough even the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. All were just one piece of artistic work, divided into parts probably by the record company/publisher’s demands. (Speaking of H2G2, this chap has made a game too, something that Douglas Adams did too for H2G2)
Of course, the key piece where the album climaxes is Tubular Bells itself, where Mike Oldfield introduces each instrument he plays – with a deep, echoing voice, which sometimes leaves you with a niggling doubt, would he have been a good singer?
One of the things that does turn up after you listen to the album is that Oldfield is the king of mix; the different instruments blend so well with each other that after listening to it for a couple of hours, you don’t notice the change in the instruments: which makes it a good candidate for piped music. Which is why I think Mike finally speaks up in Tubular Bells.
All in all, Tubular Bells is very reminiscent of the 70s and the 80s, and it would be in my playlists for a long time to come.
Corner House is one place that definitely doesn’t need a review, most definitely not from a two-time customer like me.
But for people who haven’t been here yet, this is one place you cannot afford to miss in Bangalore because of one unique thing about this place: I heard about Corner House, even before I knew I’d ever come to this place! Vix, after visiting his sister, was still drunk on Death By Chocolate, which is by far their most popular item on the menu (The reason for which eludes me, because there are many other items on the menu, that are, if not better, just as good. Maybe it is the morbidity attached to the name and the skeptical jokes that people who haven’t attempted to finish the famed DBC crack: “Hehe, how can chocolate kill you? hehe, I love chocolate, I could eat tons of it!” Trust me on this one: if any of you greenhorns attempt to do the DBC all by yourself, please call me along. Atleast I can call the ambulance for you, if you don’t let me have a bite.)
Oh but the raving bit, its quite universal among their clientele. It takes either of the 2 forms: Incredulous, reserved for people staying in Bangalore or frequent visitors of Bangalore (“You still haven’t been there??!”) or salivating (“Vivek, you just have to go there.. you’ll love it, I am telling you… you’ll love it… just be careful of the DBC. They have put the death in the name for a reason.”)
If all this wasn’t enough, let me describe the Death by Chocolate: It consists of generous dollops of vanilla icecream nestled between scrumptioulsy delicious soft as ever, chocolate brownies and cake topped with chocolate bits and sauce, all packed into a small plastic tub.
Corner House, also seems to have got somebody over from McDonald’s, because there is this one chap at the cash-register, who yells out orders every 3 minutes. The poor chaps, preparing the dishes, have to be ready for the next barrage quite instantaneously, which is good for you.
Oh yes, but the sweetener (no pun intended), is the prices! These tubs range from Rs. 45 to 75 only! Some of them go upto Rs. 100 but they pack quite a punch as compared to the Baskin Robbins in town (which is also quite good but that is another story.). And they have got something for everybody, from sinful mousses and tirmasus to cream-topped fruit-salads for the calorie conscious. 🙂
Corner House is on Residency Road, I don’t know exactly where. There is another place in Jayanagar also, and I definitely don’t where that one is. (You will be better of asking directions from some other Bangalore veteran. :P)