My job takes me all over the world, and when I get a trip itinerary I’m always anxious to see where I’m going. It’s exciting when the destinations listed are new to me, or when the locations are ones considered exotic. Frankly, I’m not usually excited by Indian locations. While the Subcontinent certainly has alluring locations and rich history, it also has some of the most abject poverty I have ever seen and sports several strains of Malaria. Being that I’m a paranoid white guy from California, I always take Malaria meds when I visit India and they never seem to agree with me. Between the meds and the food (which is delicious by the way) most of us end up feeling pretty ill after a few days in India. (It’s called Delhi Belly for a good reason.)
Anyway, I had been to Bangalore before and wasn’t particularly excited about visiting the destination again. Even with my predisposed poor attitude, I ended up having a great trip to Bangalore.
When one arrives in India from afar, he or she is usually pretty well thrashed from a long flight, and the airport/customs experience is no picnic. The next item on the agenda - the dreaded drive from the airport to the hotel - can be pretty shocking. Poor roads, beggars at every traffic stop, livestock walking down the middle of the road and gazillions of scooters and motorcycles weaving everywhere with absolutely no lane discipline can be a shock to a fresh Westerner. I was a bit freaked out the first time I experienced this drive, now it is more familiar and I enjoy watching new visitors experience the trip for the first time.
In India it is common to see cows interspersed with traffic on busy streets.
India can be a land of contrasts. Bangalore isn't all poverty, in fact it hosts a growing middle class. Opulent glass buildings have popped up around poor run down buildings. Bangalore Palace below is an an example of a nicer part of the city.
Sadly, while the above palace is a great example of a more affluent India, not far away I took the picture below:
While I'm sure it's handy to have dry cleaning and tailoring facilities close by (I wonder if they offer Martinizing?) it's easy to see what I mean by a "land of contrasts."
On this trip, we had two nights in Banaglore - so we were able to enjoy a full day. (The is pretty rare, most of our trips only have one night at each destination.
We arranged a tour of Bangalore from our hotel and spent some time a local park. Here we found women moving dirt from one area to another. The guy would fill one of the bowls with the red dirt, help lift it onto the women's heads and then they would walk them to where it needed to be deposited.
An interesting tidbit about India is that almost everybody speaks English. As a foreigner traveling within the country, I was able to communicate well, and the signs were for the most part readable. Here are a couple other shots from the park:
For some reason I loved this gate..
The Hindu architecture is interesting and fairly unique. Buildings/temples such as below are commonplace.
I love the guy on the wall above. I'm trying to talk my wife into adding him to the outside of our house.
We did do a little bit of shopping while we were there. Textiles are an important export for India.
As shopping tends to make me hungry, thankfully there was a fruit merchant nearby.
I wish I had taken more images of the food, which is fantastic. Normally I'm not much of an "adventure eater" and often enough my goal when abroad is just not to get sick. However, I LOVE the food in India and I tried a bunch of the local Indian fare at every meal. That leads me to an Important Safety Tip. If you find yourself in India, and you see the following container near the buffet table:
and if you start adding the above "Gun Powder" to your already spicy authentic Indian food and the local Indian guy looks you up and down and says, "Ahhh, you might want to be careful with that stuff.." I URGE you to follow his sage advice.....
That's about all I have for Bangalore, India. I hope I didn't give the impression that the country is all poverty and squalor. While those do exist with a massively high in-your-face contingent, it isn’t hard to find beauty. I found the Indian people to be proud, friendly, and often wearing smiles. Obsessed with the sport of Cricket, if you can get into a conversation about the local team with an Indian they will go on and on about the virtues of their favorite players. You could be talking to a business owner, or somebody who lives on the street – the same pride exists. If you find yourself scheduled to visit the Subcontinent, look past the initial sense-assaulting scenes and find the timeless beauty that is surely just around the corner.