This city is much more metropolitan than Chennai. We were very happy to discover that our hotel was within walking distance of the central of the commercial, clubbing part of the city. MG Rd and Brigade Rd are within about 15 minutes from The Pride Hotel on Richmond Rd. On those two streets we found masses of people shopping, bargaining and peddling goods and services. You want snake? You want helicopter? Sometimes they would follow us all the way down the block even if we said “no” over and over again. Brad draws in the beggars like nobody’s business, and one lady followed him for at least five minutes slapping her stomach and saying “please sir” in her soft, creepy voice. These beggars train their children to chase us down pretending to be hungry, when I heard from the locals that there is very good support and they are on the streets because they choose to do so. I imagine it would be a pretty lucrative business, especially on MG and Brigade Road purely because there are so many different people, some drunk and many with shopping money. The city shuts down around 11 pm, which is early on Friday and Saturdays, but which also apparently means people can party and shop every day of the week. There were plenty of people out on Sunday night when we went to The Only Place for some delicious steaks.
Some of the rickshaw (or tuk-tuks as we’re calling them now) drivers were so fantastic that we gave them more than initially bartered for. One kind man drove us to the Shiva temple and pointed out important landmarks along the way while missing all the potholes. Andy found the ride so relaxing that he took a little nap, which is more incredible than I can describe in words read by Americans, but it’s a very special tuk-tuk ride if you can relax and close your eyes.
The sightseeing we did was a visit to the Shiva Temple, as seen in the Bangalore wiki. At every turn they were asking for money, to check your shoes (which we carried in our bags, and the guy still tried to charge us for shoe tickets), to walk through the fake mountains, to buy coins to put in wish bowls, to buy milk to pour over a little statue. As these were religious ceremonies that we didn’t know anything about, we skipped all of the pay options and wound up seeing the giant idol for free, which was unexpected. We also hit the mall before leaving the old Airport Rd area, which wasn’t particularly impressive but the biggest shopping area/building we’d seen. More like WalMart and home than anywhere else we’ve visited.
Everyone I interacted with in Bangalore was very friendly, and even waiting on the train platform I wound up in a discussion about Obama and Jesus with a 52-year old maintenance man. He called Chennai shitty and Bangalore more hygienic, which I’m not so sure about, but I do agree with him that the people are kind and helpful along every turn. Bangalore isn’t any cleaner than Chennai though, with trash piles along the road and sewage running under the sidewalks. The most notable differences between the two cities are a) people (including women) wear jeans and other western-style clothing, b) the temperature is perfect as opposed to humid and horribly hot, and c) bars and clubs are MUCH more common. I enjoyed our trip, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to get to know the girls who work in the lab at IIT, as it’s tough to only talk to the same three people for 10 days, and important to expand ones horizons.