Published: April 25th 2007April 25th 2007
This stunning building house the local state parliament. Puts SA to shame... mind you this state alone has 6 million people
Bangalore is an interesting city; due to an IT boom in the 80s that made it the second biggest software producing place in the WORLD (ANZ is moving its offices to Bangalore, Rachel informs us) it would be pretty safe to say that it is the West in the East
. When I say that, I mean it has taken most of the things I dislike about the West (designer, expensive clothing, fast food, big cars) and kept only the things that piss you off about India (mostly criminal inefficiency).
Having said that, after the two long days of conference, Ana and I were starving but too tired to leave our room. So we pandered to western decadence and... ordered a pizza from Dominos! I swear it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. But I felt guilty for two reasons: 1, why come to India to eat pizza? and 2, I have broken my fast food boycott. But I was weak! Please forgive.
The upshot of all this food is that Ana is eating as only Ana can again. As she finds spicy food difficult (and everything in India is spicy), she was mainly living
Bangalore was known as the city of gardens, the only remnant of which is the quite beautiful and peaceful Cubbon Park. If only it wasn't used as a rubbish tip as well
off naan, delicious mangos and bananas and curd with honey (yoghurt for foreigners). (Ana: I am trying food here, it's just that I don't eat a lot of it!).
Ana tells me that I am too negative about stuff on this blog, but please indulge me here. We went shopping in Bangalore on Monday and also had Tuesday off. By Tuesday, we found that there was nothing left to do in Bangalore at all other than shop and eat. We were stuck in a capitalist hellhole called Garuda mall, sitting on a bench staring at a wall for about 20 minutes before we were rescued by a new friend called Gian. Some of my negativity may stem from the fact that it was 35 and incredibly humid and we had no energy at all. (Ana: Although you do get sick of it quite quickly, I have to say that I got very excited when I found the first shoe store!).
To prove that there is nothing to do in Bangalore, on Thursday we decided to be good and go to the museum. Please consider this photo of one of the exhibits in this wonderful establishment. If you cannot
read the card in front of the item, it reads "Brick". A one-word card was as much information given on everything in the museum so the auspicious origins of the brick were never revealed to us.
Anyway, Gian took us to the Bangalore Club. This is one of those wonderful remnants of colonial times (like the Adelaide club) where you have to dress up and have drinks on the lawn. But we had great kebabs and met some wonderful people. Gian had female friends who were comfortable relating to men which was great. Ana has also been liberated because in Bangalore she can wear short sleeves and a skirt. This now means she has more than two outfits!
We met this amazing guy called Ryan who is a doco filmmaker for national geographic and was in Afganistan a few weeks ago, armed with assault rifles and getting shot at, covering the war situation there. He has also been beaten up trying to uncover child prostitution in Delhi. Also, he was incredibly funny. All up: my hero.
However, Tuesday night back in our room was another matter. Let it be said that the cockroach crawling on my back
Ana in the Park
Not observing the sign I see
while asleep on Monday night was nothing. (Ana here: We must be quite attractive for cockroaches, because back in Madurai, I had one crawl up my leg whilst I was having a shower. I didn't have my contacts or glasses on, and am quite blind without, so it took me some time to work out what it was! Icky icky icky!!!!).
We got back slightly tipsy (Ana is drinking beer now!) As it was so hot we turned the fan on. Then the power went out. We fell asleep for about an hour due to exhaustion. We woke up drenched in sweat. Had a cold shower in the dying torch-light. When we returned to bed, we discover that there was an army of quick, aggressive mosquitos in the room that were no longer being kept at bay by the fan. I tried to get to sleep but this was difficult as kind-hearted Ana spent about 20 mins sitting beside me and slapping the mossies on me. When the torch died, she too had to go to bed. We spent the next hour trying to sleep under sheets (sweating in the incredible heat) and slapping ourselves literally every 20 seconds.
NO PLAYING IN THE ONLY PARK IN THE ENTIRE CITY! AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT!
No exaggeration! When the electricity came back on we had an Hallelujah moment. Our prayers had been answered. With the light back on we saw the remnants of 40 mosquitos squished into our sheets. But we didnt care! We were so happy that we went to sleep and it was such good sleep that we did not feel tired the next day at work.
Another funny story that relates to a previous blog. Sex remains a wonderful taboo. I went to buy condoms and it felt like I was 14. The guy hid them under the counter when other customers came up. No wonder sex ed and safe sex are such issues here when buying condoms is such a sordid affair. Anyway, they come in packs of three so I bought 10 (stop sniggering it's our honeymoon). Ana has asked why I am telling you the quantity but it is important as the transparent plastic bag was too bulky to fit in my pocket. I then went to a bathroom and while waiting the attendant looked at my bag and said: 'Having a good time sir?' We both collapsed in a fit of giggles and I told him it
The wonderful post office
The most ornate shell for the most inefficient organisations
was ok, I was not some white sexual demon and was married. He congratulated me, but told me to put them in my pocket as he could tell what they were at first glance. We then discussed OZ and the world cup (common discussion here). A refreshingly surreal incident in this wonderful country of extremes.
In terms of inefficiency: wanted to send a post card to Oz. The post office is the most amazing building, so ornate and huge. The antechamber is filled with desks and equipment. Oh, and only three employees. We lined up at one counter, were told to go to another where 20 people were waiting to buy stamps. I went back to the original counter and was told that it was the right one all along. We handed over the letter but the envelope had no glue and there was no sticky tape. He told us he could not send an unsealed letter. So we had waited in three lines only to be denied because he could not be bothered to lend us some sticky tape. We then went grumpily to the in house stationary shop where there was another line. Why, you might ask?
Because all packages in Bangalore apparently have to be put into white fabric bags and hand-stitched shut!
We fled in frustration. When you get this postcard, you lucky recipient, it will be three weeks late for your birthday but we have gone through hell to send it. We wish you all the best.
All up, we are having a great time workwise here and the people are so fantastic. Everyone smiles and everyone asks you whether you have eaten. Especially Ana... can't think why. But we will tell you more about it next blog. I do not mean to be so negative; the food and drinking culture here have been extremely refreshing. In Madurai, there are only certain places that serve beer and when they bring it out to you, they serve it in a glass wrapped in a serviette. It's kind of the equivalent of buying a bottle and having it in a brown paper bag.
We leave tomorrow to Mysore. Talk to you later.
Ana and Chas
There are more photos below