... in bangalore

Hand-built fortune telling robot

21 Nov 2005 | 132 words | robots bangalore technology india

Every sunday there is a guy with fortune telling robot on the place opposite of the main entrance of russell market in Bangalore. Apparently (the guy does not really speak english) the robot is about 5 years old, was built by someone from ‘down south’ who also supplies the tapes with the fortunes on them. Against a small contribution the robot will tell fortunes in one of four 4 different languages (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada & Telgu) through headphones that are attached to its body.

I could not find out more about the function of the clock that is attached to the body of the robot. the owner just told me that it is a clock and ‘tells the time’ which makes it a truly multi purpose robot: telling both fortune and time)

World Information City TV

18 Nov 2005 | 83 words | bangalore india media art urbanism technology work waag

If you happen to live in Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore and you get your cable tv from Devya Satellite Vision you can watch the first installment of world information city tv tonight from 1830h to 2100h IST. World Information City TV is a project of Bombay based artist Shaina Anand and is part of the World Information City event. Apparently they have made a movie out of my camera misfortune a couple of days ago.

watching WIC-TV at A1 auto consultants on Shivaji Road

Elgin talkies cinema hall

15 Nov 2005 | 506 words | photos cinema bangalore india

One of the works shown as part of the World-Information City exhibition is ‘Change of State’ by Ashok Sukumaran. It is a simple but effective installation of power switches, lights garlands, a cassette recorder and a couple of other electric devices on the facade of the Elgin Talkies cinema hall on Shivaji Street. During yesterdays opening a couple of us had the opportunity to get into the projection room in the rear of this oldest cinema hall in town.

If something like the magic of cinema exists then it probably does here. the projectionists is one of the most impressive rooms i have ever seen, two old hot, oil dripping dust and light emitting projectors that are operated by two small men with an careful dedication dominate the barely lit room. The combination of sound, smell, temperature and light creates a very special atmosphere. The place has a truly analogue feel to it something that i have not been able to appreciate for a long time. Further proof that there is a world beyond bit-torrent…

More photos on flickr.com

Here is a bit of historic background information about Elgin Talkies that i dug up from the depths of the internets:

If you ever want to savour the past, the City still has the oldest entertainment house-turned-cinema – Elgin Talkies. Though it didn’t start out that way, it came to be called a Talkies.

Elgin Talkies beginning coincided with the birth of cinema in India – in 1896 – when the Lumiere Brothers presented their year-old invention for the first time to an astonished audience in Bombay at the Watson Hotel. Tents followed and after 1907 came the cinema houses. There are many cinema houses of the early 20th century vintage. But I doubt if any of them is exactly as it was originally built.

The Elgin (which takes its name from Lord Elgin who ruled India) was built in 1896 – when India woke up to magical cinema – brick by brick exactly as it was designed. Even today it follows strict segregation of the sexes – booking, entrance and seating! Thus it becomes the oldest building remaining unchanged in every aspect since 1896, now serving as a cinema house.

It started as a variety entertainment hall, but records of the Elgin are available only after its switch to cinema around the end of World War I. The exhibitor those days was a showman. He dressed for the occasion, received higher class audiences, held forth on the merits and demerits of the film and was usually an expert on public taste. This tradition continued till the late ’50s.

The Elgin exhibitor’s son, the grandfather of the present owner, was by the celluloid bug, ran away from home and came back with a projector to convert the Elgin into a cinema hall.

The Elgin has now completed 109 years of uninterrupted “entertainment”, which richly qualifies it to be declared a heritage building and preserved by the State in tribute to the grand cinemas of the last century.

For my dad

14 Nov 2005 | 27 words | india bangalore

Government Work is God's Work - inscription on the facade of ‘Vidhana Souda’ building in Bangalore which houses the State Legislative Assembly of the State of Karnataka.

Having fun in Shivaji Nager

13 Nov 2005 | 91 words | traffic india bangalore travel cycling

Check out this video [mp4 file – 20mb] of me and my bike having fun in Shivaji Nager / Russel Market in central Bangalore. Traffic has gotten worse every time i have come here. cycling is actually the fastest (and probably most dangerous) way to get around town even though one cannot run red lights like at home. In fact most of the time you do not even get to the red light as even cycles can’t navigate through the snarls of vehicles that pile up in front of traffic lights…

Born again camera

Among other things i dropped my camera (a canon powershot pro1) today. I had dropped it once before and nothing had happened then but today it broke. The 30 cm fall from a table on a stone floor resulted in parts of the casing coming of the body and the trigger casing being broken so that the trigger did not work anymore. (no pictures of the damage here as the camera is broken). Of course it sucks if you are far away from home and have 10 more days to explore the back alleys of Bangalore. But then the same back alleys can give new life to almost any piece of electronic equipment:

For the sake of comparison we first went to the official canon service center form digital cameras somewhere in the vast northwestern extensions of Bangalore city and there i got exactly the treatment i expected. They told me that my camera was broken and needed to be fixed and that they could not do that themselves but had to send it to Delhi which would at least take a week (knowing Canon, that means 6 weeks or more – my last experience with their service in europe concerned getting a replacement battery charger and that would have taken them 6 weeks even though it was a shipping model!). They also could not tell me how much it would cost but they were sure that the entire body needed to be replaced (read: will be very expensive). But as i said we only went to canon for comparison and after this everything else could only be better.

Next we went to national market which is your location in Bangalore if you want to get anything electronic and/or digital. From the latest Nokia phone to last week’s hollywood release on dvd (or last month’s bollywood release as the pirates respect the national entertainment industry slightly more than hollywood and give them a month or so of exclusivity for their theatrical releases). Lawrence had told me about a stall that where it should be possible to get the camera repaired, but the guy only sold cameras. he did however pointed me to a stall in another market around the corner where someone would be able to fix my camera.

At this stall there were two gentlemen sitting in the middle of a pile of cameras in all states of disassembly (and a framed picture of someone in a suit that was obviously taken during the middle of the last century but according to them it was nevertheless ‘the inventor of the camera’). Unfortunately they were to busy to repair my camera before monday but assured me that come monday morning i would get it repaired for rs. 250 and that it would take no more than two hours.

Ajith Camera Repair

We went back to national market in order to buy some DVDs but on the way back i noticed a sign stating ‘Ajith Camera Repair at the end of a narrow dark hallway. So went to see Ajith who was sitting in a 2 square meter room that was filled with cameras and other electronic equipment in advanced stages of disassembly. Nothing in the room looked like it had been produced in the 21st century, but Ajith was confident that he could fix my camera in 15 minutes for a ‘simple price’. So i left my Camera with him and in exchange he gave us a little booklet ‘Why you must be Born Again’ by Edmonds Owhorode. Shaina asked him if he was a Born Again Christian which he confirmed and i knew my camera would be born again to. Actually it took my camera 3 times 15 minutes to rise from the ashes but the price was indeed simple: a mere 200 rupees which is less than 4 euros.


Why you must be born again

update (12.11): Lawrence told me today that a friend of his has actually been commissioned a while back by a camera manufacturer to research why the cameras sold in India had fewer defects than the cameras sold elsewhere. They concluded that from the fact that the percentage of cameras brought in for repair is significantly lower than in other countries. I guess this is simply due to the fact that nobody brings them to the authorized service centers because they suck.

Infantry road, Bangalore

04 Jan 2005 | 11 words | india traffic cities bangalore

Transporting mirrors South-Indian-style (see here for the backside view):

Moped mirror

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: