Monday, April 21, 2008

I've been in Bangalore for about 3 weeks now, so it's time for the inevitable "First impressions" post. Here we go.

1. Any Taxiwalla - be it a taxi from the hotel or the office cab, has a mobile phone, supposedly so you can call him up if he's late. In practice, though, if you're late and you call him, there's only one catch-all explanation: "Junction par hoon, sir", followed by "Lane ke andar turn kara raha hoon." Never mind that he actually trundles into the parking about half an hour after he's "turned into the lane", or that he never really says which junction he's at. I had the illuminating experience of my taxiwalla answering a phone from his sister, and replying to her with a cheerful "Junction par hoon", when he'd only just picked me up from the office and there was atleast a 20 minute drive ahead before we reached the hotel.

2. When you drive along any of the main roads, you inevitably cross some shops that look interesting - Chocolate shops and Bakeries for me, and clothes shops for my wife. Bangalore roads and traffic, however, conspire to make sure you can never stop suddenly while driving. There are no gaps in the traffic to ease into and stop, there's no vehicles parked anywhere nearby where you can add you own mount. And if the shop happens to be on the other side of the road, it would mean a kilometre's drive ahead searching for a break in the divider, so you just give up right there.

3. Continuing from the last one, there are waaaayy more interesting shops here in Bangalore than there were in Pune.

4. Nearly all of the out-of-towners who arrive here have no interest whatsoever in learning about the place, the language, the food, or the sights. I suppose that's true for any place, which is why you have Maharashtra Mandals in every city, and India Clubs in every town in the Bay Area. Still, it's a little disheartening to hear Hindi-speaking folks dismiss Andhra/Udipi/Kerala restaurants entirely and focus on finding 'authentic' Punjabi food, and to find out that none of my friends had heard of MTR, Kunda, or Girish Kasaravalli. But again, maybe that's just me.

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