Thursday, April 14, 2011

India Trip: Part 1, Bangalore

 The first stop of my 'big trip' came after 33 hours in transit.  I chose Bangalore as my first destination in India because of it's location in the south and in-part influenced by the city's drinking reputation.  I arrived late in the night but was lucky enough to share a taxi from the airport with a local man and arrived at my dingy but cost effective hotel easily although exhausted and had yet to form a first impression of India as all I had seen was through the window of a taxi.

I set out from my hotel on the first morning and found that the traffic and hustle and bustle was exactly as everyone had told (warned) me to expect. If there are any traffic rules nobody follows them. Swerving around cows, dogs and people in addition to the other vehicles is the norm and people even drive with their side mirrors folded in so that they can get through even smaller gaps in the traffic. While the traffic is hectic it it's not something I haven't seen before in Jakarta or Saigon and I have been able to navigate the street injury free (so far).
Dosas. A great post-bar snack.
I've walked around the city a lot only taken auto rickshaws when totally necessary and sees some sights like the botanical gardens (Bngalore is nicknamed the 'Garden City') and old colonial neighborhoods but just wandering around the city has been exciting and interesting enough on it's own. I went to the central market a couple days ago which was an awesome experience but the crowds and smells were somewhat overwhelming and I was happy to get out of there in the end.

I came to India with low expectations of the nightlife although Bangalore is also nicknamed the 'Pub City' as it was the first city in the country to have draught beer. I'd have to say it lived up to it's name well. On my second night here a local guy whom I'd met at the airport agreed to introduce me to the City's pub scene.
The pub where we met was a real 'locals' bar. The entire time there I was the only non-Indian in the place.  Hanging out with locals at the bar, I was surprised how often English is language of choice although everyone knows about 5 other languages. I was invited to an after-party when the bars closed which involved picking up some bootleg alcohol en route and hanging out drinking till early into the morning.
The following morning was the Cricket World cup final and everyone in India loves cricket so I knew it would be a big night. The cricket starts at 2:30 and goes until about 10 at night so the drinking that day started early. Prior to the drinking I was invited by a fellow from the party to have lunch at his families home. I got to each rice with my hands for the first time which is pretty damn challenging. I feel really lucky to have been invited to eat in a local's home and the meal was delicious.
During the run of the cricket match we went to 7 different bars and 2 peoples home's and when it finally ended in very exciting fashion (with a win for India!) we went out for the street party. The street party was very rowdy the enthusiasm was certainly contagious. I spent the rest of the night dancing around in the street and chanting INDIA, INDIA!!!

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