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Published: November 9th 2007
...with no photos attached. Bangalore may be IT Central if you're in the know, and I'm not. These are not good Internet centres I'm finding!
Still, life is very good. I arrived at 4.30 yesterday morning, just as you lot in the UK were tucking yourselves up. And that's how I lost a night's sleep. Way too excited too sleep all day. Bangalore for me vaccilates between being stimulating beyond belief, and, er, overstimulating.
I loved arriving early. The dawn was breaking, and dawn chorus Bangalore style was a series of exultant yelps and squawks from various unidentified birds of the large variety. My hotel, luckily, is in a quiet corner, and I can tell you there aren't many of those here. From early till late, all you can hear is the irritated honking of horns as auto-rickshaws, motorbikes, laden bicycles, flash cars, very unflash buses, occasional random cows, all jostle for the same space (today, in an auto rickshaw, I counted 6 vehicles, ours was one of them, lined up across the lanes designed for 2. I've learned to jay walk with the best of them. There is no alternative. Really, there isn't. Despite the warning posters saying how many people have died in the last year on the roads, and the slightly lower number of fatalities. Eh?
I'm converted to Indian breakfasts. Up on the roof terace of my hotel, I enjoyed their crispy rice pancakes which, because they're cooked in a curved pan, puddle into a soft light sponge in the centre. 2 spicy dipping sauces, one based on coconut, the other lentils, and the undivided attention of 3 members of staff...this by the way is only a mid-range hotel, nothing fancy at all.
Other early impressions: dozens of women beautifully dressed in saris, in the early morning, crouching in the already busy roads, sweeping and sweeping with handleless brooms.
Cows tethered to lamp posts on busy junctions, eating the weeds round the lamp posts.
Security guards at virtually every building. Not I'm sure because of a crime wave, but because labour is cheap.
Only time to tell you about part of yesterday. When I finally set off with the intention of exploring for the morning, I hadn't gone too far when I was picked up by an autorickshaw driver. Well, he could see 'Arrived from England this morning' tattooed across my forehead, I'm sure. He offered to show me round for Rs. 10. I didn't believe it then, and nor did it happen, but I WAS exhausted and it wasn't an unattractive proposition. It was such fun! He proved an amiable guide, whose English, while obviously hugely better than my Kannada, often led to mutual incomprehension. Still, he hared round a variety of sites ('This is my Parliament building. This is my national bird. This is my Rajah's Palace', which I found quite endearing). He waited while I 'did' Bengalaru Palace, one of the homes of the Rajah Wodeyar. As the Lonely Planet says, you are personally shown round by an aged retainer who is rather keener to show you fly-blown pictures of the royal family than the quirky furniture and fittings. Seedy but fun. And it's not often you see cows grazing in royal gardens.
As suspected, he had shops in mind. He took me to a place selling bedspreads. The sales pitches are stunningly good.. 'Today, Diwali, is above all the day to buy, because everyone's feeling so generous...' I was determined not to buy, but somehow ended up with a fab bedspread for one of the readers of this blog (no, not YOU silly). I don't care, it is lovely, and a good price, certainly by our standards. And it turns out I CAN bargain after all. I genuinely turn away, and truthfully say that I have no intentions of buying at this stage in the holiday....and down comes the price. A drag to lug around, but there you are. At least I didn't buy a carpet. My new friend gave me his number and urged me to ring him whenever I wanted a rickshaw. I greatly enjoyed this ramshackle mode of transport. He's had his rick 15 years, and I see no reason why he won't have it 15 more.
However, just now I was astonished, on coming back from Lalbagh Gardens, Bangalore's answer to Kew (maybe), to have to ask 7 drivers before I got a ride, because nobody recognised my address, and even then I had to settle for 'Where MG crosses with Brigade Road', which turned out to be good because I found thios internet Cafe which has computers that actually work, unlike the one near the hotel.
This evening I meet my companions for the next 10 days. I'd thought I would walk to the restaurant where we're meeting, but no, it'll be a rickshaw as usual because I really am extremely tired still, and my power walking companions will be relieved to hear that I'm certainly keeping up the mileage.
Let's see if I can include a photo or two next time. You may have to wait for 'My Holiday Snaps' when I come back
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