Sonali Desai

‘Meals ready’ at Basavanagudi police station

In Features on July 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm

It is the first police station in the city to have a kitchen of its own, say the proud officials  

Sarmistha Acharya

Knuckle sandwiches are no longer the only dish served by police stations in the city. The next time you enter Basavanagudi police station, whether as complainant or suspect, you just might be treated to a hot meal, freshly made by the cops themselves.

While there is no concept of a kitchen in any of the police stations in Bengaluru, the Basavanagudi police station has set up what they say is the first of its kind kitchen in the city. Apart from tea and snacks, this kitchen also serves a lunch, consisting of rice, dal, sambar, rasam etc. And somewhat unusually for a police station, only vegetarian items are cooked here.

Mohammed Aslam, the police inspector in charge here whose idea it was, says that it was an idea he had had for many years, but could never implement before. “I first thought of it after repeatedly I noticed while sanctioning leave for other officers that most of the time they requested leave because of amoebic dysentery, diarrhea, food poisoning, stomach upset etc. These officers tend to get stomach related problems because they eat food outside which is not hygienic,” he says.

So when Aslam found in Basavangudi police station an unused room, he got it cleaned up and converted it to a kitchen. He even has a philosophy behind his police kitchen, which he says can help create a sense of togetherness that is as important as hygienic food. “Since the officials spend maximum of their time in the station, they should consider the police station as their second home and there is a saying that ‘the family that eats together stays together.’ I wanted the same kind of togetherness at the work place, and that was one more reason for setting up a kitchen,” says Aslam.

The fund for constructing the kitchen and purchasing vessels and appliances were pooled in by the staff, with the bulk of the share coming from Aslam himself. The daily expenditure for the food is shared equally by the staff.
Interestingly, apart from the staff, the meals for the suspects in the lock-up – who are not held for more than 48 hours – too are cooked in-house. Aslam explains, “Earlier the food for those in the lock-up was being brought from outside, but now we provide it from our kitchen. It also helps avoid the security problem of someone possibly mixing something in their food.

Buransav Nadaf, an ex-serviceman who is currently a constable in Basavanagudi police station, voluntarily took the responsibility to cook the food and prepare tea. “Every day, about 20 to 22 people have lunch which is cooked in the station. To do this, I am helped by other officers,” said Nadaf.  
Manjunath G Killedar, a police constable in Basvangudi police station said that the staff was pleased with the fact that they are getting healthy food of their choice since the kitchen was started.  “It was simply a waste of time earlier, when we were having lunch outside. Even after spending money, we never used to get healthy food, but the kitchen has solved that,” said Killedar.


Biopic: rivals slam Yeddy & buddies

In News on July 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Excise minister MP Renukacharya recently created a flutter when he announce his plan to make a biopic on BS Yeddyurappa. Expectedly, the CM’s political rivals have a different take on this reel-life drama.

Manju Shettar

Political circles as well as Sandalwood were sent into a tizzy when excise minister Renukacharya announced his plans to make a biopic on his mentor, chief minister BS Yeddyurappa. The expectation is palpable on both sides, that of the CM and his supporters as well among his political opponents, who insist that the film should convey the reality of Yeddyurappa’s life, and not just provide a glorified picture.

The would-be producer of the film Renukacharya says that he was inspired by the veteran politician’s guts and confidence in facing the problems that confronted him, but added that the film is currently only at the discussion stage. “The script is yet to be finalized, but I have spoken to director SV Rajendrasingh Babu about directing the movie. I will also be discussing it with the CM himself, and the star cast and everything else will be decided after that.”
Rajendrasingh Babu admitted that he had been approached by Renukacharya for a movie based on Yeddyurappa’s political career, but added, “I plan to discuss this with the CM soon. Only if the CM agrees to do the movie will I do it.” Sandalwood insiders had identified actor cum politician Jaggesh as the producer’s choice to play the CM, but when City Buzz contacted him he said that he is not aware of any such decision, and did not want to comment on it until he knew something about it.

Yeddyurappa’s political opponents, however were scathing in their views on the proposed biopic on their arch-enemy. Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said, “I don’t think that the script would deal with real-life incidents and if it is to be realistic, they should depict the death of Yeddyurappa’s wife and show how it happened. And since Renukacharya is the producer, the film should have his own character along with others like nurse Jayalkshmi in it, which will be one of the highlights of the movie.”

Further, Kumaraswamy suggested that Yeddyrappa should act as himself in his life story, which would be better than finding another actor for the role. When asked if he would like act in the film himself, Kumaraswamy had this to say, “I don’t want to act in this film because being a producer I have not acted in my own productions so far,” adding, “I’m not bothered about how they will portray the opposition party leaders.”

Opposition party leader Siddaramaiah too did not mince his words when he said, “It is complete nonsense and stupidity what Renukacharya wants to do. He is one of the sycophants of the CM and besides, what is his qualification? He compares Yeddyurappa to Basavanna. This is nothing but bullshit, does Renukacharya even know about Basavanna or read about him?”
When asked if he would act as himself if offered the role, Siddaramaiah said, “I have a better work to do than to act in his film. I don’t even know what the real intention of the cinema is.”

G Parameshwar, president of KPCC, said, “This movie will not help people in any way, and they are already disgusted with his recent dramas so I don’t want to comment more on this.”

RV Deshapande, former KPCC president said, “I think there is no need to make a movie about the CM since his current politics itself is like a movie which people are watching, and they already know the star cast.”

Karnataka politicians on screen
Avasthe (1987) directed by Krishna Masadi was based on late politician Shantaveri Gopalagouda and was produced after his death. It deals with his social concern and political career, and was based on a novel written by UR Ananthamurthy.

Mukyamantri I Love You (2009) was directed by journalist Ravi Belagere, and portrayed the romance between former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and actress Radhika. It’s release was prevented by a High Court order after Kumaraswamy’s father, former Prime Minister HD Devegowda filed a defamation suit against it.  

Politician Tejaswini Ramesh, who was also a journalist, had announced a movie about her twin careers, which she was supposed to script, direct and act in. The project was later shelved.

RAVE – the party goes on

In Editions on July 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Rave parties make news only when they are busted, but Sarmistha Acharya finds that this underground party culture is alive and well in Bengaluru, and discovers some unexpected raver hotspots elsewhere in the state. As this report goes to press, the Electric Daisy Carnival — an event with a reputation for heavy drug use and considered ‘the world’s biggest rave party’– is underway in faraway Las Vegas, attended by a crowd of more than 150,000. Closer home, a rave party held at Khalapur off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway made it to the headlines last week after it was busted by the police, the party-goers detained, and “every kind of drug” (according to police) recovered from them. The rave party is an extended dance party usually held at some isolated or scenic location to the accompaniment of electronic or trance music, psychedelic lighting, and fuelled by large supplies of drugs and alcohol. Bengaluru is no stranger to rave culture, especially at private farmhouses on the outskirts that regularly host dos that attract weekend ravers by the hundreds.

Despite the barrage of anti-drug laws like the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act backing the authorities, rave party culture continues to thrive in the city at some rather unexpected locations elsewhere in the state. This should hardly be surprising – after all, it’s their very illegality that gives rave parties their thrilling air, and makes them the sought-after affairs they are for weekend ravers, who often take much trouble to reach the remote venues.

City Buzz met up with a number of ravers, party organizers and police officials to find out what the rave scene is really like in the city. Long and short Party-goers City Buzz spoke to say that the season for rave parties starts from September and lasts till March and even April, when the city enjoys the best weather. Vishnu (name changed), an advertising professional and a fixture on the rave circuit, says: “The peak season for raves is December and January because of the weather and also because of New Year celebrations. Parties are also held in the rainy season, but in fewer numbers.” He is quick to point to out that earlier farmhouse rave parties used to be held in the city every weekend, but now they happen once in three or four months.

According to those like Vishnu, the average weekend rave party tends to start late in the evening and goes on till four or five in the morning. Occasionally, there are ‘special’ dos that go on for two or three days continuously. These are often held in remote open spaces on full moon nights to avoid the use of lights. Says regular party-goer Amit (name changed), “People usually start pouring in after midnight. Most of them wait for two to three hours to see whether it is safe, and then inform their friends. They keep coming till two or three in the morning. The number of people varies from party to party. In some parties there are about 100 or 200 people, but sometimes there are as many as 500 people. It all depends on the organisers. If the organiser has pulled off two or three parties safely, then people trust him and turn up in large numbers.” Insiders reveal that people who attend rave parties could be aged anywhere between 20 and 45, and the majority are from the IT & BT sectors since they are the most cash rich among the younger crowd.

The other big contingent apparently is students, especially engineering students. Many of the party-goers are couples. Sometimes foreign visitors and expatriates also attend these parties, their numbers varying according to the location. “If the party is in Mangalore, the number of foreigners will be more; if it’s at Yelahanka then there will be no foreigners, and if the party is at Goa then there will be only foreigners! In general, five out of every hundred ravers attending a party in the city will be foreigners,” is how Vishnu puts it.

Keeping it secret According to Amit , regular ravers are informed about forthcoming parties through sms, e-mail or through social networking sites, although, given the need for secrecy, word-of-mouth publicity is still preferred. Jeet, another regular at raves, reveals that many of the established organisers maintain a database of people who frequent rave parties, constantly updating them with new entries after every party. Organisers often provide party-goers with ‘secret codes’ to separate their preferred guests from unwanted ones. Amit says, “Sometimes many new people come to the parties, so while regulars are allowed in freely, others are given code words which they must tell the security guards to be allowed inside.

Sometimes, codes are also given to help party-goers find the location. They will be informed by organisers to tell something in code to a particular person waiting in a particular place. Only then would they be given the route and direction to the venue.” He further adds that the party dress itself is used as a code, and only guests who turn up in the ‘right’ attire are allowed in to the party. Rural rave If you thought rave parties were held only in the metros and in hotspots like Goa or Manali, it only means that the ravers have done a good job of covering up some rather unexpected choices of party locations.

For instance, who would have thought that sleepy Hoskote, just outside Bengaluru, would be playing host to wild parties? Or even Shimoga or Mysore? Says Vishnu, “Apart from Gokarna and Hampi which are favourite rave spots especially for foreigners, Mysore and Shimoga too host parties. Near the city, Yelahanka and Hoskote are popular choices because of the isolated locations they offer to party-goers.” He also names popular party spots near Big Banyan Tree, Hebbal, Kanakpura road, Lumbini Gardens and Bannerghatta road.

Prashant, another rave partygoer, said nowadays the trend is for people to organise smaller-scale rave parties in individual houses which are sound-proofed and where one can have a DJ performing without disturbing anyone. Swarup, an engineering student and rave party organiser, said that before organising a party in a private apartment or house inside the city, they visit the place twice or thrice to ensure that it’s safe. “We visit with friends and hang around a few times and see whether it is safe or not and whether anyone complains, and only then do we organise a party there,” he explains.

According to party organisers like Swarup, an organiser needs to have a good network of party-goers as well as drug peddlers, DJs, light and sound technicians and good knowledge of the party venue and surrounding areas. They say that most of the major party organisers have good political connections to bail them out of trouble, and it is not uncommon for the police to know about parties and yet stay away from them. Police version D Devaraj, assistant commissioner of police, Cubbon Park police station, busted two rave parties — at Manchanbele Dam and Big Banyan Tree in 2008 and 2009.

Recalling the scene at the party he busted, Devaraj said, “I have seen people lying on the ground unconscious in scanty clothes, a bunch of condoms lying all around, and so on. But even though we busted the party early, we did not permit the media in until after 11 am; not wanting the kids to be unnecessarily harassed.” He said that 2008 was the peak for luxurious rave parties, and now there are fewer such parties being organised. SV Guled, assistant commissioner of Police in the narcotics wing of CCB (Central Crime Branch) said, “All kind of drugs like charas, ganja, cocaine, heroin, brown sugar, opium, LSD, marijuana etc are available at rave parties.

The cost of the drugs varies from time to time and place to place. Some of these are grown or manufactured in the country, while others are brought in from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other foreign countries.” In Devaraj’s view, rave parties are considered illegal because they go on until late hours, playing loud music past midnight, party-goers are often dressed in scanty clothes, liquor served without permit, and above all due to the availability of drugs banned under NDPS Act. He revealed that the police regularly collect intelligence on rave parties, often monitoring the activities of regular organisers and party-goers, including on internet forums.

While monitoring by the police, and busts like the recent one in Khalapur, might effectively curtail large scale rave parties from being organised, it needs to be remembered that such parties are only one aspect of rave culture, an underground subculture that thrives in private gatherings and online forums, often beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.