Saturday, February 14, 2009

India 1: Bangalore

On January 18, we flew Tiger Air from Singapore to Bangalore. This was my first-ever trip to India, and I excitedly waited for all of my preconceptions to be either shattered or confirmed.

We arrived at Bangalore's spiffy new airport late at night, went through immigration and security (the first time I'd ever had to go through security after a flight) and soon ourselves in the van of a guy who offered to take us to MG road downtown for 1,200 rupees. Which is about twice what the guy we asked at the airport said it should have cost. Jenna (an old India hand) objected, we removed our luggage from the van, and walked away. The guy didn't even try to haggle with us. Amazing.

We took a cab with a meter (the fare came to around 600 rupees) and arrived at the hotel sometime after midnight. All eating establishments in the area were closed, so we lived with our hunger until the following morning, when I had my Official First Authentic Meal in India in our hotel restaurant. I recall it was idli and masala dosa, and it was delicious.

For a fairly well-known city, Bangalore isn't terribly high on anyone's list of tourist destinations. MG road, where our hotel is located, and Cubbon Park form the focal point of the central city, which is where Jenna and I spent the bulk of the day wandering about on various errands. I'd briefly been introduced to a few other large cities in developing countries (Cebu, Philippines and Padang, Indonesia) so I was not completely put off by the glorious mess of central Bangalore's traffic. I saw neither cattle nor monkeys yet, but the streets were full of rickshaws and motorbikes.

This is MG Road. That's an elevated rail line being built above the road. Good thing, too - one thing Bangalore could use is more mass transit.

That evening we met Jenna's friend Hemant at Pecos, a bar near MG Road that served the following range of alcoholic drinks, in full:

- Kingfisher by the bottle
- Kingfisher on tap

Pecos also serves an impressive range of food, including a surprisingly large number of beef dishes.

Hemant took us to a nearby restaurant that serves Hyderabad-style biryani dishes. I wasn't terribly hungry when I entered the restaurant - I'd been snacking all day - and I was worried I'd end up picking at my food. I need not have worried. I ended up gobbling mutton biryani so good I spent the next few days wondering when I'd get to go to Hyderabad so I could have more of it. (And I never order the biryani when I'm at an Indian restaurant outside of India.)

We left Bangalore that evening on a sleeper train for Hampi...

No comments: