What effect will extending the deadline of pubs & restaurants to 1.30am have on the image of Bangalore as a global city? BT asks expats and hospitality pros.

It's been discussed, considered and rejected before. But Bangaloreans are hopeful this time the decision to extend deadlines will be carried through, and that pubs, clubs and restaurants in the city will stay open till 1.30 am or 2 am.

But how does a simple deadline extension affect the city's image or make it more international? Simple, says area director and general manager of a five star hotel, PK Mohankumar.

"For the city to be an international metro, there must be nightlife as well as responsible drinking. Bangalore is already regarded as a global centre, and city rules must keep up," he says.

Deadlines have recently gone 24 hours in England, giving pub owners the option to stay open as long as they like, and that's worked out well, says British expat Phil Woodward, "The government wanted to reduce the spill of people onto the streets at closing hour and also reduce binge drinking," he says.

Many conservative thinkers there too had felt it would lead to drunken debauchery, but that's not happened, he adds.

"Earlier, people would go out at 8 pm and cram drinks to finish by 11 pm, now many go out later, and drink at a more relaxed pace."

Extending the deadline certainly makes the city more attractive to foreigners, he adds. Most foreign visitors enjoy socialising in a comfortable, safe environment, says Mohankumar, and many don't go beyond a second drink.

"They drink after dinner, and it's social drinking, not to get drunk. Many like discussing work or networking in a relaxed environment. Mumbai and Delhi too are open till 1.30 am. The crime rates there haven't risen."

Agrees Swedish expat Lena Falk, who is used to a lot more freedom in her home country, "The 11.30 pm deadline does seem too early. And it's not nice to be treated like an irresponsible child by the police enforcing the deadline. The fact is, evenings start very late in Bangalore because of work and travel time and there's just not enough time to have a good evening."

But she's not sure whether brand Bangalore will gain points with extended deadlines. "The expat and international community will come here on work whatever the case. But yes, they will be happier with extended hours, because they are used to that," she says.

Senior BPO executive Mark Samuel who inducts and orients foreigners moving to Bangalore on work, says, "The first question most people ask me on landing here is if I know any place that's open after midnight where they can get dinner and a few beers. I have to answer in the negative. These people who live in serviced apartments and company guest houses eat out where they can meet other expats and interact with locals. That's not possible because of the deadline. So invariably, they're frustrated through the week and on weekends they head out to Coorg or Gokharna to chill."

Says Woodward, "In the three years I've been here, I've been at pubs which have been raided at 11.30 pm. That doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. It must be quite a strain on police resources."

Samuel feels Bangalore's brand will certainly get a a boost if deadlines are extended, because it's going to see more foreigners flocking to the city, he adds.

"We don't want them taking their business to China, just because the Chinese offer a better nightlife, do we?" If you have to grow, you can't think static, says Mohankumar.

"You must have vision. If the crime rate is higher today than it was 20 years ago, it's because the city's grown, not because of drunkenness."
Source:Times of India May 2, 2007
Visit www.findbangalore.com for some pictures of Bangalore