It took me a while to decide whether or not to share this story here, but as it was fading out on facebook, I thought I’d keep it at hand for those who want to check out some pictures. It’s a business trip story. Or is it?
It’s been 3 weeks well spent in Bangalore, enough to get a little glimpse of what India can be, and convinced there are way better places, as well as way worse. Most questions I’ve been asked: did you like it? (enough to) want to go back? Well, it’s certainly a tough one. I didn’t dislike it enough, but I wouldn’t go back to the cities. I’d probably look for some nature and wildlife, if there is a next time.
So here goes the story, as told more or less on a daily basis. With some extra pictures and explanations.
Hotel check-in: Because the ‘proper’ trip to India starts with the wrong foot, just so you get to tell the story of how you made it right (hopefully). When in India, don’t use Booking.com – they always call to verify if you come, and they have no problem in cancelling your trip. I had too find myself another place to stay, but at least I was lucky they had a free room for the night.
Day #1. #nojudging
Well, I left the hotel at noon full of positive energy and willing to explore the city of Bangalore, or at least to get a feel of its vibe. As I took the first steps, my heart was screaming ‘I’m in Indiaaaa’.
I certainly felt a lot of other things by the (premature) end of the day.
Taking the first steps in friendly blaring car horns. It’s ok, I think to myself, I’ll get used to it. They can’t keep lanes. Full stop. Their mirrors are for… Fun? But at least they use the horn to let you know they’re approaching.
Some of the local fauna
I ran into this very colorful temple with funky naked god statues
…holy fauna wandering the streets
Stenchy river is full of trash,
but at least there are flowers too.
I think I was walking through a neighborhood of not so rich people, because these views are very common. I was thinking about all the lucky families who had a scooter.
I took it as a pun, because this land was behind d fence
Walk-in laundromat. Quite common. I’ve seen a few.
That was surely a house, but maybe the church tower was for the area around it.
More local, domesticated fauna. Keep in mind this is in the somewhat geographic center of the city.
This is the most expensive fast food they had in that mall. I walked in for a coffee and this is what I found. Only 190czk,including a 1L drink
Oh, and every here and there you see a peaceful corner s this one, people talking, chillin, as if the mountains of trash surrounding you are invisible
I liked this one, as it marks the end of the district. As I passed by, those two kids simply ran up to the rooftop and started to wave their hands up in the air. For no reason
Day #2, moving
It’s been a full day with few notable successes:
-moved to a new place
-bought toothpaste, shower gel, SIM card
-rode as passenger on a 200cc bike, holding the GPS and trying not to touch other cars (thanks Sandeep). The helmet fit – yay!
Some minor observations:
-Uber doesn’t work here as expected. 30min later the car was still in the same place. Guess who paid the cancelation fee.
-I found myself walking again. For almost 2h. Some call it exercising. Here it should be called “lung-poisoning”. No wonder I am the only one walking and people stare at me like I’m the crazy one. They must know something!
Here’s where I landed. As I walked out the door, I could barely hold back the YMCA dance mooves
I could Google what this is… I bet it’s the smaller Indian equivalent of the Romanian “casa poporului”
And who said they don’t use renewable energy?
Blending in. I’m also waiting to cross the street (2min later, a short sprint and I survived)
Found another mall, too fancy even for me. But I gorged on a chicken cajun pizza, soothed down by a glass of sangria and one of some melon/guava…something. All while enjoying a gentle ‘seaside’ breeze and a soft background music: Despaaaaaaciiiito!
He stopped to ask me about a road. He did. I said no. We both started laughing!
Day #3 #newcountrynewhelmet
Just bought a gorgeous motorcycle helmet. From the shop (must be specified, otherwise you’d think I bought a multi-purpose construction one from the side of the road). Guess where I am ‘royally’ going with that!
And no, I will not buy a motorcycle too, even if these bikes are quite appealing
For the moment, nowhere. I just discovered the Metro. Clean, not crowded in rush hour, and high above ground, like in another city very dear to me, in Colombia (guess!)
But I might get one of these… I’d be very cool. I’m certain of it!
Day #4 My throat is faling.
And no, it’s not the lousy craft beer served in a hipster place.
You probably guessed: I chewed up too much city air. Now I get why people say a 30min commute is far. It’s beyond the survivability of the throat mucus.
Highlights of the day:
- fussbal is on the wave. On company premises! With 3 balls at the same time. One fast game and your brain is mush. Glad I could keep up
- I get a very wide range of prices for public transport for the same distance. From the same app. Very confusing (as a side-note: traffic lights are for pussies).
- In this total chaos, I feel confident that I can easily handle driving. It’s probably the Romanian experience.
- cycle polo is an ancient thing here. There are championships and federations. Almost like bike polo and also nobody heard of this sport = I get to tell a nice story and end up playing badminton (that’s trending now)
- lunch at work (fancy ‘office’ eatery) = pay 155czk (~6Euro) to feed 3 people,drinks included. That’s about the price of a daily menu in CZ. It’s a wonder if I don’t gain weight
Did I tell you about the food?
Well, first it’s delicious, and hilariously cheap. So this full meal, bought in an ‘office’ restaurant costs 55czk, ~2Euros. Plus the juice, the extra naan, and desert, maybe 3Euros.
Go figure the street food price is measured in cents for a menu. Unfortunately I didn’t find a street food place that at least looks clean enough to try the food. Plus it’s cooked on the side of the dusty road. While I wholeheartedly enjoyed the tacos at every street corner in Mexico, I can tell there’s a big difference, even in the aspect. Also possibly because eating by a pile of trash is not very healthy. And then again, this is only a small part of Bangalore. Maybe some other areas are better 🙂
PS: mildly pressured by my lovely colleagues, who were afraid I won’t enjoy India if I only stay in this city, I have booked a flight to #Goa next weekend
It may look small, but I could barely roll over back to the office, and only ate 3/4 of it (the curries whose name I won’t remember, the bread, the chicken, and the mashed sweet carrots). The airan-like juice was too sour and with too much curry that I couldn’t have it. Plus I preferred the mildly burning mouth
These sweet wonders are called “gulab jamun”. They are so delicious that I remembered their name. Don’t want to know how they’re done, just feeeeeed meeee moooore!
This is for my friends in Czechia… Should I buy you something? A pair of shoes maybe, as souvenir? â€” at Mg Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001, India.
Day #6: military exercises, fans, RE
I caught a cold. Just like everyone else in the office. Uncertain who was first, but now we all have it. And yet nobody blows their noses as loud as czech people, and try to be as discrete as possible.
My day started with fighting screams at 7am and lots of chatter. Turns out there is a field behind my hotel where these folks were training. Or swishing around.
I watched them carefully for 10min. They marched together with hands completely out of sync, like doing the floss dance moves. Not sure if that was the point, to confuse the enemy. Then I watched how an order got transmitted verbally from their ‘boss’ to their ‘mini-boss’ and further to all the minions. It took about 5min, enough to realize I must wake up
I often get some looks on the streets, but this morning’s fan beat them all. Not sure though if I was in his focus, but he stared at me for 2 traffic ligths. My #1 fan, and I didn’t even ask for his name.
This made me grin like an idiot. “Follow lane discipline”? Who is “Lane”? There’s no such thing. Not even trying to line up with anything. Bikes, scooters, cars, buses, and sometimes pedestrians, all sharing the same road. One thing I learned by noticing the traffic: if you’re one a bike and want to turn right, you must be on the left lane and go around the corner cutting over the car on your right. Same applies for left turns. Traffic lights in some intersections are manually operated by a guy in a booth. On some roads there are completely irrelevant (still working) traffic lights that everyone ignores. Placed in no intersection or before a zebra crossing. #random
And finally getting the much expected ride AND revenge. RE, Royal Enfield. Locally called ‘bullet’. This is a superbike! (all over 250cc are superbikes). And it proves once again the mirrors are useless here: can’t see anything in them. Revenge, you ask? Guess who is an expert now in using the motherflickin’ horn! Yaaaaa!
Otherwise… A big scooter, for people who don’t need to know much about gears. If you want to drive 50 = 1st gear, until the engine dies. With 2nd, you may go 70, and so on. At 90 you must spread your wings – the vibrator is on! The noise is normal, like a bigger scooter, and it’s so short you feel like riding a hopping stick. But it has a loud horn! Mwahahaha!
1st weekend – ridin’ bikes
2 days, ~600km ride, mono-cylinder bikes. I’m all shook up.
Had a real blast visiting a couple of wonderful places I will never tell you their names. You’ll have to read them for yourselves!
And I have Deepak to thank for this trip. He’s been a great guide. With a bit of luck he’ll be moving to Prague soon.
Short Saturday ride on a Royal enfield on Nandi hills!
A bit shaky, but that’s how you know it only has one cylinder!
So if you ask what’s with that video link… well, that’s how I woke up on Saturday morning at 5am. The sports court behind my hotel was hosting a marathon (with music). And this is the first place we visited in the morning. Nandi hills at Nandi Hills Banglore.
Here we sit atop of the hill, and watch the clouds pass by, hear some recorded monks praying, and enjoying the sun
The fog didn’t clear before we left, but we didn’t wait too much anyway
Mission: Spot all the monkeys!
Before this day I had no idea that monkeys climb cacti! (for whatever reason)
This is the inside courtyard of a bigger temple in the area. It is amazing how all these stones were sculpted with minuscule detail in mind. Definitely aliens – in Lepakshi.
With my trustful guide, Deepak in Chilamatturu, Andhra Pradesh, India.
The feeling you get on such temples is amazing. I can’t think of people in their right minds to build such things nowadays. To carve all that stone into something that lasts generations must be a huge unrewarded ordeal! And to what purpose?
I know this is something small compared to other temples, but still impressive! â€” at Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi.
And because the Saturday marathon was not enough, this is Sunday morning sports crew, playing baseball (of sorts, with a weird bat). Who said my hotel is far away, overrated, and low-range?! I have morning shows and fresh air. Handpicked! Proudly! 😀
Too bad we weren’t allowed to go down there or bathe.
At some point, the path down-there was open.
Still an unexpectedly sight within reach from Bangalore – at Barachukki Falls,Karnataka.
I took this picture to remember the name. No other reasons! 🙂
That was an impressive work, and I’m sure this narrow stone bridge served its purpose for a very long time. Each pillar is a single block of stone, carved. Too bad it got damaged. – in Kollegalam, Karnataka, India.
It’s been a lovely ride through the fields… and roads with no traffic (until we got back)
Cows, birds, jungle, and the freedom of the open road!
Freedom baby! ‘muricaaa! mhm… Indiaaaa! – with Deepak Girimaji in Malavalli.
Small as it may seem, this is not a kid’s motorcycle. It can go as fast as 120km/h if you pray enough. And it’s solid and heavy as a tank, as brakes can confirm, yet fun to ride and very nimble.
I liked the grace of these animals. Ther horns are amazing! (the animals without helmet in this picture)
You can’t have just one. Butter Dosa #2
I’m probably covering with my head the largest stone bull in the world – Lepakshi Nandi Hh (Google). But the ride was cool
Evening chill with a pitcher of the only beer that tastes like beer (and not water)
Sunday rides. I started with the Royal Enfield Himalayan, so excited to have a bike that can. Well, it’s underpowered and uncomfortable, with very smooth power delivey and almost no braking power. At least it had new tires and was only crashed once.
The smaller one, a classic 350 Bullet, can do more than the big one. Still a mono-cylinder, but the accelleration is better. I ended up riding this on the way back. Much better.
Some details about the prices:
– rental price (~1800 INR/570czk/22Eur) per day, 300-350km limit + 1000 INR deposit. 200 INR jacket, 100INR gloves
– gas price (paid 1000INR for the whole day. Some was left)
Brief stop for sugar cane juice on the side of the road.
He just sat there, feeling important. We passed by him and didn’t even flinch. He knows his posture and important role in the society!
I guess this is a lake on Kaveri river, but it’s the first large body of water that resembles a lake. And clean water, not full of trash like small city rivers.
And Sunday ride could not be complete without a beer! First kingfisher since I’m in India! Probably the last too.
Took me 20min to find out the name of the neighborhood where my hotel is (Google maps sucks at this). I needed this to order laundry pick-up. They never showed up. I fell asleep and forgot the name of the neighborhood anyway. The online tools are generally good and tolerated, can often be helpful, but soo many people can’t use them, or ignore their importance. Often Uber and Ola (another taxi-oredring app) drivers are accepting rides they never plan to honor. So you end up waiting for 30min like me for a car to move. And reading Google maps and directions is another difficult topic. Why would you think you’d pick a better route when maps show a huge bottleneck there? Not that one would pay more here for time spent in traffic.
After yesterday’s failure to get the laundry done, I decided it’s time to ask why my room is not getting cleaned. Apparently you have to ask for it. So I did, expecting nothing more than an empty trash bin, fresh towel and toiletries, and maybe a floor swipe. And what happened?
Trash bin missing, same towel, new sheets. Still no toilet paper, but I understand it’s not popular here. Will try again tomorrow. Today I’m happy and not stressed: had a good time shopping for sweets and for clothes, before ending the evening with a drink in good company!
Can’t wait to wear my short kurta tomorrow!
So many cookies to try, so little time #cookiemonster
With small exceptions, most taste like sugar. Different textures, moisture levels, but still sugar-syrup flavor is dominant #dinnertime
(There are few I didn’t like at all, which is unexpected)
Good motto for a “gift store”. There are so many nice colorful things that it’s hard not to want them all. Did I say cheap too?
This is a very tough decision. Saree, the traditional women’s costume, in 4 materials: cotton, cotton-silk, silk-cotton, and pure silk. Each material has its own pattern collection. Can’t like one in cotton and ask for it in silk. At least they’re “one size fits all”. And as a very ‘experienced’ clothes shopper, I found out today that silk is actually rough and not pleasant to touch or wear, not to mention more expensive. I was going to get some nice silky clothes even for myself, but I was disappointed by the feel. In my mind “silk” was a synonym to a very soft fibre. Now I know it’s not, but it has other benefits. #youliveyoulearn
Posting with delay because I was really annoyed last night and I thought it will pass. Yesterday was a holiday: day of the prophet (of sorts). I had to wait for the laundry pick-up service, which… never showed up after 5 calls to them. But that was somewhat expected. What was unexpected was the intense constant raging and growling of these guys. I thought they’re practicing their war screams or get ready to invade some country. I have no idea what they were raging about, so I might be wrong, when in fact they spoke about love with a very wrongly percepted harsh tone. What I surely know is the disaster and mountains of trash they left behind.
Badminton – first sport I play here. Good to have sporty colleagues and flexible schedule
Kurta – I wore it today for the first time. I blended in so well, that a rickshaw driver asked me for directions, instead of asking a nearby colleague.
Nailed it! Oh, and I got some other heads twisted in admiration on the streets.
Laundry – it takes 3 days and costs like in CZ. I’d rant about finding a place once again.. But I can conclude: Google maps and google results are in veery early stages here (laundry with over 20reviews,not even in the neighborhood, nobody heard of it)
Got a haircut and a shave. 100czk/4 euros, in a luxurious men saloon, with black walls and golden decorations. I got exactly how much I paid for. I could have done a better job with the scissors.
Went shopping for clean clothes for the weekend. Got 2 Converse tshirts, socks, underwear, and a long sleeved shirt from Levi, for a total of 600czk/24Euro. Not bad. And to explain the picture:
Ya ya ya the burgundi not! Tired and all. Jungle boogie 😀
2nd weekend – Goa
Good morning, Goa!
I’ve got the best welcoming ever (beer, weed, and a drunk and extremely friendly guitar player), but all in all I believe this place is well overrated.
At least where I’ve been to – beaches of Candolim/Calangute/Baga. Maybe it was the wrong season, the wrong beaches, or the wrong time of day.
The GoaN stress is different: everyone tries to sell you something. Because I’m white, they all spoke Russian to me.
Later I was told by a seller that this is actually the second language there, after the local one.
And no surprise, besides the 80% locals, there’s 19% russian tourists in their late 50s or more, and 1% random tourists like me.
I even got greeted in Russian by a guy who was walking on the beach. I did my best and replied in Czech: “dobry den”!
And I got a round of applause for free, with “good Russian, man!”
Highlight of the trip: good swimming water, cheap fruits, juices, and… I got sunburnt 🙁
Maybe the night clubs would tell a different story, but didn’t care to listen.
“the wheels of love”
Alex Chiru is in Shiroli Pulachi.
November 24 at 7:49 AM Â·
Just checking in… In acest sat minunat! (must be a romanian thing)
day #next (14?)
Laundry is done: each piece packed in a neat plastic bag, with pins and with supporting cardboard. Including the jeans. Excellent packing, 1kg of wasted plastic, 1 full trash bin, 30min wasted time on my side to unwrap all. Minor stains still present.
Shopping time! Buying clothes is fun here. Once you reach a certain value threshold you get the ‘prince’ treatment. Asking me to sit down, if I want a sandwich, water, tea, and gifting me with stuff. And I didn’t pass 150Euros worth.
Onion kachoori, and an excellent piece of pastry with vegetables. Ice-cream for desert.
That’s what I call dinner today. Where are these foods when you’re sick of Zabka/Tesco/Albert pastry?
Today I celebrated my birthday. Again. With my colleagues, good food (both grill and cakes) and… Birthday cake. After a funny-kinda-weird birthday song, gracefully performed by the employees, I got to make a wish, blow the candle, get cream on my face. It was an awesome birthday celebration, except… It was not my birthday! Crazeee! Can’t wait to see the group pictures!
To make up for the calories intake, I got to play a few games of badminton in the morning, with few other great colleagues. It already feels like weekend here! Where is that bottle of “Feni”?
With some of the lovely colleagus from my team at work. Selfie before the food came. No pictures of the food, unfortunately. It was too good to stop chewing and take pictures. In spite of the specific of the restaurant “barbeque nation”, the highlight for me were some baked potato slices sprinkled with mashed garlic and dipped in hot-chili-mayo gravy. â€” with Athira Cp and Anvita Singh.
I have received the “special birthday treatment” 😀 😀
and got away easily…
Tea, because India lives on tea
Shopping, because return time is near #nothingfancy
Last days in India… Christmas lights are on, and carols are blasting from downstairs. Merry Christmas!
Last days here had to be celebrated. So I was taken (not against my will) to a great Korean restaurant (thanks Athira, Deepak). Because my stomach couldn’t be strong till the end, it had to fail on Friday after some delicious biryani, so I had to take a break from long walks and spicy foods. But I surely recovered this morning with a 2E breakfast and a walk through a nearby park, carrying about 2kg of edible goodies.
So many little snacks, such a delicious grill! And Soju was not bad at all. Neither good though. It was a really nice experience
The Metro actually goes underground too, not only high above the streets. And it’s far more spacious than other metro stations in ‘famous’ countries. Cleaner too. Reminds me of MedellÃn and their Metro system. People here blame the Metro for the air polution, situation that got worse in the past 5years,after cutting the trees along the Metro route. But if you look from above, there are many areas still completely covered with large trees, hiding houses, stores, and… daily life
The 2Euro breakfast I was talking about. Probably the first average coffee since I got here. Good I’m not an expert in coffee. And this was cappuccino
This kind of trees! Magnificent how much they spread and barely grow taller. Bamboo grows way taller than these
Home away from home, as a friend says. He’s refering to the Harley-Davidson home, but it seems that we’re close neighbors here too, Bill
Stuff I will surely miss about India – That little “shower” present on the left side of every toilet (no, it’s not a real shower, d’oh). I wonder why this didn’t catch here in Europe….