(First: I should note that my blog has not been in sync with my actual location for weeks. I’m about 1.5-2 weeks behind at this point; I was in Bangalore from July 18-20. Currently I’m in the wonderful, wonderful state of Kerala and due to leave India [sad] in just 4 days, on Aug. 4. I’m in a lovely hill station called Munnar traipsing around with a pair of French tourists, getting rained on and seeing tons of spice and tea plantations.)
It’s amazing how much your impression of a place depends on your expectations. If you’re promised a 5 star hotel and you get Motel 8, you’re gonna be disappointed.
Conversely, I had pretty low expectations for Bangalore — based on Indians’ and foreigners’ descriptions, I imagined it to be a clean but sterile and uninteresting place.
Which is why I enjoyed it a lot. Because in some ways, it was indeed a little sterile. In many other ways, however, it was not.
For example, there was a ton of secular public art — something that, apart from large gold-plated statues of Gandhi, you don’t see much of in India:
For having a reputation as the software/IT capital of Asia, Bangalore is also surprisingly green. I asked a Mumbaiker on the train ride down what she thinks the difference is between Mumbai and Bangalore. She replied, “More trees in Bangalore.” She was absolutely right. The heart of the city is a wonderfully kept collection of lush green spaces called Cubbon Park:
Cubbon Park is studded with a good set of museums, including an endearing 40-tank aquarium:
Downtown there was also a hoppin’ bazaar where I bought some vada, or fried donuts:
Like all of India, Bangalore is a mishmash of the commercial and the spiritual. Near the bazaar, there was a mosque sporting a Coca-Cola advertisement:
And a few kilometers away, there was a collection of temples that housed one of the largest Nandi (Shiva’s bull) statues in all of India:
Of course, my adventures in Bangalore were improved by the arrival of my friend Erin from DC. We went on an adventure to a great art museum at a university…
…and then had some hilarious adventures driving around Bangalore with a funny rickshaw driver named Joseph, who had totally decked out his rickshaw and drove us around blasting Venga Boys. It was comedic gold.