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Published: January 30th 2010
(I *just* realised how much my title sounds like a bad porno, and reckon this post will be read ten times more than any other, but it makes me laugh, so I'm not changing it!)
I arrived in Bangalore at about 5.30 in the morning, and got ripped off by the cabbie, who charged me double the standard rate. I was so tired, I didn't care, and managed to get a room at the cheapest place in the city because I'd got in his taxi so quick. Bangalore is a really big I.T. city, and lots of businessmen with too much money, so a room for less than twenty quid a night is hard to find. I managed to get one for about 7, and after I'd paid, some girls who I'd seen in my train carriage came and asked if there was a room, and there was none left, so I got pretty lucky. The hotel had a room that is now a restaurant, but fifty years ago, had been Winston Churchill's smoking room when he visited Bangalore, I went there for breakfast and got stared at by all the waiters because I was eating wrongly with my hands. It was really early so there weren't many other customers to stare at, and they watched me eat, unsuccessfully with my hands, and then not much better after they'd given me a spoon. I do think curry for breakfast is a good idea though. Half way through my meal, I realised why I loved India so much, when a man in an orange wrap and bare chest came into the room, with incense and chanting. He prayed at the picture of a God on the wall, and then blessed all the waiters as they were working. The waiters took the blessing and then went about their work as if nothing had happened at all. Then I went to bed for a nap.
When I woke up six hours later, (good nap) I went for a walk, and got stared at more than I had done in Hampi, and decided to buy some long trousers, which I'd been putting off for a while due to my intense hatred of shopping and bargaining and pushing and shoving and giving people my cash. I preceded the shopping with a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe which was just down the road from me. The Gods were on my side, and I was just in time for happy hour. I was surprised to have to go through a metal detector and have my bag searched, but I was pleased to see that the bouncer was a big sleazy looking Indian guy with a terrible leather jacket, and a cheap diamante earring, and that bouncers allover the world look the same! I'd bought my first copy of Vogue India (Matt Hallsworth would be proud!) and sat down to drink and read it. Incidentally, I'm surprised eating disorders aren't a national crisis in India, that magazine is terrible for Indian girls self confidence, basically telling them all that they're too fat and too dark and should make ever effort to be lighter (in both senses of the word.) Anyway, Hard Rock wasn't too expensive by UK standards, and seemed to be entirely staffed by boys. I'm pretty sure no one else got served for 2 hours while they all came up and had their turn talking to me, which took a while as there was about twenty of them. They're the kind of odds I like, but after half an hour, I couldn't tell the difference between most of them. The music was good, reminded me of being sixteen, but there was a distinct lack of Hindi music, which made me sad.
It seems the Gods were determined to get me drunk, and once Happy Hour finished (shopping went out the window after a few rums) it became Ladies Night! Wooo!! Ladies Night!! I got two free drink coupons off some of the waiters (no idea which ones) and watched all the rich locals drink. I noticed that groups of boys and girls go out, but rarely together, and that most men in their mid thirties seem to think it's acceptable to wear a schoolboy's rucksack, even though they're wearing suits and drinking cocktails. (Note: it is not.)
I was about to leave, after more drinks and a bigger bar bill than I had anticipated when a huge American sent over a glass of wine. I was too tired to bother talking to him, so I didn't, until he sent over the third glass, at which point I'd woken up slightly and also felt like a bit of a rude bitch, so couldn't say no when he asked if he could sit down. I don't know if maybe he thought three was enough for me to like him but obviously, he didn't know I was from Hull, fool.
So then I found myself talking to ANOTHER foreigner who spends tons of time in India complaining about Indians. His company was building the new Bangalore Ritz-Carlton, and he said that it takes 5 Indians to do a job that one man could do in the USA, and that Indians were lazy. I have to say, I think if I was earning less than a pound a day for serious manual labour, especially in this heat, I'd be a bit lazy too! He only ever ate Western food, because he'd had trouble with his stomach when he arrived, and had been in India 16 months, but never left Bangalore. But still, he bought me a bottle of wine, so I tolerated him for a little while before making my excuses and getting out of there. Highlight of the night on the way home was a small beggar girl thinking it was hilarious, when I wouldn't give her any cash, to reach up and grab my boob!
I met up with one of the Hard Rock waiters the next day, although I wasn't sure which one until I saw him. I had breakfast with him and his crazy Thai friend who paid for everything and had enough make up on to look like a very bad geisha. I finally went shopping for clothes, and found a shop without bargaining, so bought some trousers that were nice, but didn't fit. (And now I have to find a tailor, which is twice as hard as shopping!) Got begged a couple of times, but realised I have no heart as it really doesn't effect me in any way, aside from mild annoyance. I bought a handbag with a zip as I was a little bit paranoid about been pickpocketed. Everyone had laughed at my handbag I was carrying, and the handbag shop man told me it's because my bag was made from rice bag material. I thought it was a cool bag.
Found an Indian McDonalds, an adidas store and an iStore in a mall. I went to the loo in the mall, and couldn't work out how to flush it (I really did try!) and when I gave up, the very old attendant lady pushed me back in the cubicle to make me do it, shouting, "push harder!" until I'd managed to work out how to do it. It's fair enough, I mean, everyone likes a clean toilet, but I think I nearly sprained my wrist doing it! She then snatched away my 1R coin, and I had flashbacks to angry old Chinese women looking at me like I was trying to kill their firstborn.
Bangalore's a funny city, I seemed to walk around for hours and hours, and then would suddenly be ten minutes from where I started. I think what I described as a homing instinct, it actually an inability to walk in a straight line. Got laughed at for eating a dosa wrong. Again. I found a foreign food supermarket where they sold quiche. Terrible quiche, but bad quiche is better than no quiche. I was supposed to meet up with Ranga (the Hard Rock boy) again but I slept through his phone calls. I also went to a restaurant where they had the Hull City vs Man United match on, and was the only one watching it in the whole place. I also noticed how no matter what I eat (roast lamb, onion bhaji, anything) I always get ketchup with it, and Indians don't. I think waiters must assume English people love ketchup. And if I eat a western style meal, it always comes with bread and butter. This is something I approve of.
I printed out my bank details for the past 5 months and realised I'd spent more than double what I was supposed to, so decided to try not to spend any more money. Ever. On Anything. I walked around some more and found a mall that had Armani and Louis Vuitton. I thought it was ironic, in a not so good way, that the builders who were building the new road outside of Louis Vuitton didn't have any shoes on. I thought about the American complaining about his lazy builders. I realised that although they had no shoes on, they did have hard hats. I wonder which they would prefer? I also noticed that street dogs in Bangalore are surprisingly healthy looking. More so than the people some times. This shouldn't please me, but it does. I hate to see scabby dogs.
I ended up back at Hard Rock again one day, primarily because I was scared to cross the six lane road, and it was once more, conveniently during Happy Hour. I met a boy from Delhi called Amit who'd just moved to Bangalore that day, and who wasn't very good at eating with his hands either. We went for Andrah Pradesh food, and he told me all about his parents arranged marriage. Most of the time when I talk about this with locals, they seem to think their parents fell in love after they got married. I find it odd, but they seem to think it's okay. There is an advert at the minute in India for platinum & diamond rings, and although my Hindi is pretty rusty, I'm fairly sure the advert is saying that when you marry a woman, she'll love you if you spend enough money on these rings. I think thats great, and should adopted worldwide.
I met up with the Hard Rock waiter the next day, who'd been very jealous when I left with the Delhi boy, which made me laugh. It was Republic Day, and in Delhi, there were military parades and great TV everywhere else. The national India song has been re-done this year by Amitabh Bachan, the most famous guy in Bollywood and it sounds amazing. Me and Ranga, and his cute little friend who could barely speak English but just sat and drank with us all day, went to a hotel bar which was all men, and when two loud, giggly Indian women walked in, most of the men moved to the other side of the bar to get away from them. Because of politics, there's a midnight curfew in Bangalore, and weird alcohol restrictions which is why we had to go to a hotel to drink, and then to a pub in a shopping mall. In the mall, the womens toilets were being renovated, and every time I had to pee, the manager had to go in, tell the builders to stop grouting for a minute, and make them queue up outside while I went in and did my thing.
We went to see a Bollywood film called Chance pe Dance (Chance to Dance) which was like Save the Last Dance meets X Factor. (Except that sounds amazing, and this film was actually a bit lame) but the dancing and singing was SO cool. We went for more Andrah Pradesh food and after I told Ranga that I liked spicy food, he ordered everything Indian-spicy. I was fine with it all, and Ranga couldn't believe it, so ordered the hottest chicken on the menu, which was crazy spicy and even he couldn't eat it. I had been drinking for more or less 8 hours straight by then, and when Ranga suggested a ride on his motorbike, I couldn't think of any reason not to. Although I did make him give me his helmet. We rode for maybe 20kms, and then stopped. Ranga asked if I wanted to ride to Mysore, a hill station 150kms from Bangalore(in the same state, but only just) I hadn't done any real touristy things yet, and it seemed like a good idea. By the time we arrived, it was almost 3am, and SOOOO cold on the bike. We were both freezing our arses off, and poor Ranga's eyes were bright red cos he didn't have a helmet and had caught all the wind. We found a hotel, after waking up the security guard, and paid for our rooms. Twenty minutes later, the owner came and said that because I didn't have my passport and couldn't register officially, we had to leave, and he couldn't give us a refund!! Ranga kicked off a little bit, and I threatened to call the police and we got our cash back. We left (I stole the soap) and found somewhere nicer that was cheaper up the road, where they even made us tea for our numb, frozen hands.
The next day, after sleeping most of the day (and Ranga taking his first sick day in over three years) and still feeling terrible, we went to see the Mysore Palace. Ranga tried to convince the ticket man that I was Indian, which failed, obviously, and I had to pay 200R whereas Ranga only had to pay 20R. I didn't mind though, because it meant we could queue jump and didn't have to wait with the 100-strong group of Indian men (men, only. Again) all crammed into a little waiting area. We had to take our shoes off, and leave my camera outside, so I didn't take any photos inside, but the Palace used to host Royal weddings. There was an amazing wedding room, which had a stained glass ceiling made in Glasgow, beautiful Sandalwood doors and pictures of Royals (including George V of the home country) and gods everywhere. There was a pure silver door that was cool, and a 750kg pure gold chair that we couldn't see because it was only for special occasions. It made me very excited to see the Taj Mahal, I like Indian architecture, it reminds me of a cross between British and Arab stuff; fancy and big. It was nice walking around barefoot, and I like the fact that shoes aren't a necessity in India. Although I don't know if I would want to walk around the streets without them. Ranga thought it was hilarious that all the sellers outside the palace came running over to try and sell me things, and just ignored him completely. We saw a man who was begging and had two little monkeys on strings with him. Kind of the equivalent of beggars in the UK who have dogs on string, but cuter. (Actually, I'm not sure which is cuter, monkeys or dogs?? Thats a close one, I would not like to be given than decision to make.)
On the way home, we saw an amazing temple made all of gold, with elephants statues everywhere. Riding home was 100% scarier because there was ten times more traffic, and I was ten times more sober. The roads are crazy, but outside the city, they're not that bad, and I think I might rent a moped for a few weeks when I come back next year. By the time we got back to Bangalore, I was filthy, covered in black soot from the traffic fumes and had to take two showers to get clean. I had to pack for my train journey to Chennai that night, and was soooo tired. I tried Hindu McDonalds (no beef) which was, understandably, a bit shit, and I won't be going again. If someone had thrown the veggie burger at my head, I'd have suffered serious brain damage, it weighed a ton!
I went to the station early, and sat in front of a train for forty minutes, before realising that it was my train. There was a newborn baby in my carriage who cried the whole way, and even with earplugs I could hear it enough to keep me well awake for a long time. Although I hate children making noise, this one was really, almost brand new, and shouldn't have been on an air-conditioned carriage I don't think, let alone a train at all, so most of my tired rage was focused on the family and not the actual child. This meant I was almost dead when I arrived in Chennai the next morning, but it was fine.
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wow, there's a temple of gold? it is probably from post-british era otherwise the brits would've stolen it for sure seeing as thats what they had come to india for!!
This is sandy from chennai...If u r coming down here I would like to meet u up(I know thats a rip off)... mail me if interested...firstname.lastname@example.org