Arriving in Bangalore really strikes you. It's a lot like you read in any other travel blog: there's nowhere you look you won't find people. Lots of them. So this gives the place a lively and dynamic atmosphere. I'm loving it!
We were soon directed to the hotel shuttle and got there in about 40 minutes. On the way, I learned about Monday's nation-wide bandh (strike) against the prices rise, including fuel. Schools, autorickshaws, shops - except for some public transportation - will not open/working. Can you imagine that? For a moment I thought I would have a day off (hehe) but I was proved wrong when I read the papers. It stated all IT, bank and transportation segment would not be affected by it. What a shame (lol).
Anyway, here I am at the hotel. Checked in, got to my room and didn't have any energy left to think of the next step. I had a lot of unpacking to do. Guys from the office decided to go to a sushi bar, but I passed. In a couple of hours I was really hungry and decided to order in. I had dosa and fatoush salad... hmmmm just what
I needed. I gotta tell you this hotel service rocks - I didn't have much money to pay in rupees, so the hotel service was kind enough to put up with me: not finding the menu, calling couple of times about paying in cash, then asking to pay in dollars, getting change in rupees... what can I say, I was so tired I couldn't order the thoughts in my head.
After some sleep, I got up with a splitting headache... C'mon!! what's wrong with me? Here I am in India for the first time and I'm wasting time with a headache. After some aspirin, shower and organising the room, I was off for breakfast. There was some sort of "International" standard buffet along with Indian buffet. I looked around and got started with an idly (little cake made of rice) and another dosa (Indian pancake), mango juice (which was fantastic btw). I had to have some pork and chicken sausage and grilled tomato too.
Now I was fueled, I headed to the front desk and asked about city tours. I was offered a 6-hours individual trip to wherever I wanted for Rs.9000. I was suggested some popular touristy
destinations. I said I'd give it a thought (although I was already clear it was a no-no). I really felt I needed to have a first experience by myself. Then I got back to my room so I could study the map.
Looking at the map, I realised I was about 3 blocks away from Cubbon park. Why not look around and have a nice walk!? I took precautions on not carrying a map around and look touristic stupid. Silly me. How come would I not look like a tourist? I got the feeling I was an alien (ET one) when walking on the streets. At first it bothered me a bit, but I pretended it did not. I was shocked by the number of autorickshaw drivers who would approach me offering to take me shopping. I only said firm NOs, even though they kept walking along. One of them asked "so where are you going?" and I said "nowhere, just walking". He said "mam, don't go this way... there is nothing there to see. The other way is really dangerous." That, added to weird looks I got from a bunch of guys coming my way made me panic
a little, but I kept my cool (I'm a carioca, afterall). They were only passing by and looked at me for obvious reasons. Turning the next corner confirmed what the man said - there was nothing but a long empty street and very high walls. The hotel is located near the only cricket stadium of Bangalore.
I decided to go back to the hotel. I remembered that the opposite way the man referred to as dangerous was in fact impossible to cross on foot due to some metro work. I felt I failed my first mission. As the same man saw me crossing the street again, he had a smile on his face. And told me "mam, I offer good service. Where you want to go?" Then I asked how much he'd charge to take me to Cubbon park. He said Rs.100 promising to take me everywhere, to any shop I wanted, for 2 or 3 hours. I said thank you and walked away, and he followed me. Again. Then he said he'd do it for Rs.50. I said that I had to think about it and he still followed me! I told him "Look, all I want is
that you drop me off at Cubbon park." He finally agreed on Rs.20. Gosh, bargaining is really exhausting!
I finally got to Cubbon park and realized it wasn't as big as I had imagined. As I stopped for some pictures, there were two boys visiting the place too who timidly asked to take a picture with me. I found the situation funny and gladly accepted.
I was so impressed by women's attire in the streets - they wear their beautiful coloured saris - men having their arms around another men's neck - the intense traffic - fruit kiosks in street corners... Everything that should be ordinary seemed so extra-ordinary. I visited couple of touristy spots, then some shops (this man was decided on get me spending money so he could get his commission). I bought some pashminas and he seemed happy. I finally asked to stop at a grocery store, and bought some little things to have at the hotel such as water, juice, tea and fruit. I got back after about 4 1/2 hours!
Now that's what I call getting things done. It was an interesting day, but frustrating to some extent. Frustrating because I don't feel
free to go wherever I want on my own. If I hadn't gone out and looked outside, I'd probably had spent a lot more on the hotel transportation offer. However, I'm decided to overcome that and get more comfortable with the ways one can get around.
I'm hoping to dine out tonight, so I'll be calling the office guys and see what the plans are... See you next time! Tomorrow: first day at work (in Bangalore). 😊
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