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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chin Lung: The Worst Bar in Bangalore

The night hadn't gotten off to a very good start. Though I would later find out that it was called 'Chin Lung Bar' - supposedly a Chinese restaurant - I had been told over the phone to come to meet a couple of friends at "Chillum Bar". So as dusk fell, I walked up and down Brigade Road in Bangalore asking various people for "Chillum... Bar?". To my immense irritation at the time, most shop keepers and strangers waved me away with scowls of incredulity. Only now do I realise just how shady I must have sounded: going around asking strangers for a pipe and a drinking hole.

When I finally discovered that I had in fact been called to Chin Lung Bar, I almost wished I didn't. The outside of the 3 story bar and restaurant was shabby and tattered to say the least. The entrance was dark and dingy and filled with the sort of people you steer clear off down dark alleys. Waiters wiped dirty tables with dirty clothes - a restaurant manifestation of the ancient Indian art of dust-moving, that one sees on roads outside. The carpets on the landing of each floor were wet and the walls were stained and cracking. It was hell.

I got to the terrace and was heartened to see the friends I had come to visit. But they were with a larger group of people who I didn't really know. To my horror, we were the oldest among a group of kids from Bangalore International School  - known more for its drugs consumption than it's academics. You know, 'bad kids'. Suddenly 'Chillum Bar' didn't sound so far fetched. Curly haired 15 year olds smoked weed and hash that they pulled out from the pockets of their shorts. Here I was dressed for a night out. Pointy shoes and everything.

The booze was cheap and the food was bad. But at least the booze was cheap. The terrace wasn't well lit - pretty much the only light around was the neon that made it way across the smoky roads from buildings opposite. There were plastic white tables and chairs - now stained and broken from overuse - strewn haphazardly. It was cramped and waiters contorted into all sorts of shapes to get from one table to another. I settled down and started talking to someone. A cold Kingfisher Premium was a cold Kingfisher Premium no matter where you went.

All off a sudden, everyone on the table jolted out of their plastic white chairs and jumped back. Everyone except one guy who had his eyes closed and swayed uneasily in his seat. It was only when I saw the state of this guy that I too jumped back a few yards from the plastic white table. A single, long strand of saliva lowered itself from his half open mouth and dangled around in the breeze. You could just about make out the whites of his eyes - he was in a state between being conscious and passing out. The Rum and Coke twilight zone. I could smell his stupor from across the table. He was going to blow any second.

It happened almost in slow motion. The way in which none of his friends came to his aid and ushered him to the bathroom was remarkable. Is it every man for himself after 8pm? At first only a little came out. By now all the tables around us had also gotten to their feet and moved a few steps back. It was so sad: like walking away from a guy with a bomb strapped to his chest and leaving him to face the music. His unfocused eyes seemed to call for help but I was not going to be a hero. He gagged a bit and the noise made me almost throw up myself.

"Macha he's gone macha. Yuck." said a 'friend' of his with a certain amount of disdain. People were still watching him, cigarette in hand, as this all went on. As if he was some bizarre exhibit at a circus. I couldn't watch any longer. Seeing this made me wonder what else in this place had been puked upon and I went to the bathroom to wash my hands before leaving.

Let it be said that my tolerance for dirty bathrooms is high. I get on my tiptoes, take a deep breath and do my business. "Out of sight, out of mind", or 'smell' in this case. But this was different. It was like the bathroom in Trainspotting. The urinal stank like nothing I'd encountered before. It was as if hundreds of artists had left this mark on this canvas. Something didn't feel right. In the dingy red light you could barely see where you were aiming but I knew I was hitting the target. And then to my horror I realised why the drainage was, ahem, so efficient. There was no pipe connected to the bottom of the marble urinal. Just a hole and my shoes below it. For a second, I was pissing on my pointy shoes. And one cannot simply press pause in the midst of a good pee so I had to spread my feet as far apart as possible. And so for the remainder of my time in that nightmare, I took up the 'power stance' of a lead guitarist in an 80s rock band.

At least the people at the poorest local bars for daily wage earners are friendly. This place was an attack on every sense. The light was murky, the patrons were spiteful and the place was filthy. It was without a doubt the worst place I had ever been to. On the way home I wondered what a sitcom version of this place would be - you know, the Brigade Road version of 'Cheers'. Ted Danson would be played by Manju Srinivas KS.

"Where nobody knows your naaaame,
And you don't know why you caaaame".

So there you have it. The worst bar in Bangalore. No one should ever have a reason to go there. If you want to get puked on by 14 year old kids who are going to fail their GCSEs then maybe it's the place for you. It sums up the pathetic dinginess of Brigade Road actually. The fake cigarette vendors, the 9th grade kids, the plumes of exhaust fumes and the unceasing chaotic heat. Hell.


Vijay Bhat said...

I've been to so many bars like this in my college days, that I'm surprised things haven't improved in 30 years! Perhaps you should also post something about 'The Best Bar In Bangalore' just to balance things out? Dad

Sai Grandhi said...

dont insult my home u son of a bitch

dilip kumar said...

Idk why so many people go there, its a stupid local place

dilip kumar said...

Yes of course that place sucks, its just a local bar where people who have less money go and booze there.

Abraham Kollamkulam said...

I'd like to start off by saying that, if you want great lighting, great toilets, great seating, great food, then go to a great place goddamnit! You can't go to a cheap place and expect grand architecture. You go to a cheap bar for cheap booze. Also, when you go to a cheap bar, hash and pot are pretty standard. So grow up and get accustomed to it. Or, or, Go to a great place goddamnit! Apart from your encounter with a bunch of kids, I'd say the crowd there is pretty awesome. I studied in Joseph's a minute away and you'd find half the crowd over there from the college. So I think you're over exaggerating about finding kids. Also, you go to any goddamn place, whether a nice place or a cheap bar, you're going to find drunk kids. I have to agree with bad urinals but you'd have to be partially blind to find the lighting so damn 'dim' as stated by you. Ok, the food does suck, but then again, when you go to a cheap bar, you order standard stuff like fries, masala peanuts, etc and these are pretty standard across all bars including Chin Lung.

And if you didn't like the waiters, you were probably rude to them yourself. another thing you should know about ALL bars, dim lighting is characteristic. Maybe you should lower your standards of a cheap bar or drink at the leela every time you'd like to get a drink.

I'd vouch for chin lung always for its cheap booze, friendly crowd(there's always the occasional asshole in every bar), the open air seating and the friendly waiters and I can assure you that there are a huge number of bangaloreans that would share my opinion.

such a harsh review of a place you've been to once would be unfair to the place.

So once again, go to a goddamn great bar to drink going forward for the outstanding food, great seating etc.

Disclaimer : all of this is in reference to the terrace seating.

Dick said...

This review is what made me go to Chin Lung's, now my favorite bar in the city. Thank you.

Prajwal Lokesh said...

Dear Shravan,
Humble request , please take out this blog , I'm not sure if you are aware , the entire management and the place has got a massive makeover and this is going to set a bad precedent to my potential customers. I'm not here to debate on the veracity of the above article but Im appealing you to see reason.