My arrival into India this trip was relatively quiet. After an orderly passage through Customs and Immigration, I was relieved (at about 2.00am) to see a sign bearing my name. Following the driver out to the car, even the taxi ranks were orderly at this time of the morning. Driving into the city (about an hour’s drive) was also pretty calm – few sounds on the horn from anybody and apart from a few truck either stopped or going extremely slowly in the middle of the road without rear lights, virtually without incidence/incidents. A far cry from my entrance into Chennai a few years ago, which seemed totally chaotic and full of noise.
The Taj Gateway Hotel – where I am staying – is a quite small business hotel. It does not really cater for tourists, with no real helpdesk in sight. There have been the almost expected negotiations with the hotel manager about internet and laundry etc, but I am assured that everything now is as I was told it should be……we shall see in the weekend when I ask for the bill for the first week Still the hotel has quite a nice breakfast cafe and a gym and pool. Everything a sedentary music examiner requires. My room is partially obscured by the tree at the left. One nice thing about it is the fact that I can open my windows and do not have to use the aircon – which has not been used since some time on Saturday once I realised the windows would open.
I was going to go and sit beside the pool for a swim on Sunday afternoon, but as I looked out over the pool, I saw a cloud above me – a swarm of angry wasps. Do not adjust your computer screen below. The little dead pixels you might see in the photo on the left you can see are wasps – there were lots of them. I decided that it was better to find some other time to go for a dip and finally went later in the day after the hotel personnel had finished spraying and smoking out the wasps. I joined the pigeons for a dip in the pool.
Saturday morning – just a few hours after I arrived – I decided to venture forth into this “City of Gardens”. The hotel manager warned me that everything was closed for a Bundh or general strike day (over water going to the Tamil state). he did not really want me to go out at all. However I stepped out into the noise and traffic to find……..nothing! there was nothing open at all. Have you ever seen a McDonalds restaurant closed and looking out mournfully on a late Saturday morning?
Incidentally my computer just picked up the fact that I spelt McDonalds as Mcdonalds…only an american spellchecker!!
Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road and the surrounding area was almost totally empty. A few touts offering to take one up to some market that was open today…..yeah right….No shops open at all. Security men (often many of them) lounging or even sleeping outside
There were motorway mobs riding around the city, ensuring that nobody was able to work or open. Several buses were stoned, so the authorities took them off the road and they even stormed the ticket office at the MG metro station (in photos below) when they saw the metro was running. The metro was promptly shut down until 6.00pm. I did see one of the mobs up by the cricket stadium, but stayed very much apart from it all.
I did manage to see one small roadside temple. These are places where people quickly enter and make their obeisance to the God of the temple (or presumably their own god). There are three temples here – each with a different god/goddess
Sunday was still relatively quiet. Traffic was quite heavy, but nothing like the traffic since. There are FOUR lanes of traffic completely filling the TWO lanes of Residency Road (where my hotel is). Horns are “de rigeur” – no driving is possible here without a loud and frequently sounded horn. Even at about 9.00 this evening returning to the hotel after my vastly expensive (80 rupee – NZ$2) evening curry and roti, crossing the road means taking your life in your hands and expecting to be hooted at, splashed etc as tuk-tuks, motorcycles, bicycles and cars truck and buses rush headlong towards and hopefully past you.
The place where I am examining is a haven of peace in this frenetic atmosphere. I shall talk about the convent more later, but this is a photo of the science lab inside which I am examining for the first three weeks of this tour. A concrete jungle, inside which you sometimes can listen to the echo rather than the actual performance as it is incredibly resonant. Talking to a candidate from further than about 4 or 5 metres is impossible as they are unable to hear anything.
A blog episode from me would not be complete without a photo of flora or fauna. Here is a butterfly that I was able to chase and finally capture in my camera. I have seen plenty of beautiful brightly coloured flowers, but they can wait. I am still to snap what I thought were chipmunks, but are “apparently” Indian squirrels. Don’t hold your breath waiting in anticipation, but I shall endeavour to while I am here.
And food….well it is ….indian….with much chilli and very fragrant and beautifully cooked so far. With the other examiner here, I went to the hotel “Indian” buffet. Ridiculously priced for India ( about 1000rupees – NZ$25), this included a free beer (Kingfisher of course) and a wonderfully varied assortment of taste tantalising temptations (ah such alliteration! – couldn’t resist it sorry…you know me…no will power). For a while we were the only two in the restaurant ( this was the Saturday night of the bundh), so the chef appeared and proceeded to dazzle us with little starters and introduced us to some wonderful dishes. We also went to a local restaurant on Monday and had a wonderful Paneer Tandoor (Indian oven baked Paneer – like firm cottage cheese) and chick pea curry soup. this was an extravagant meal costing 130 rupees – about NZ$3.20. No photos …yet
Suffice it to say that life in Bangalore is going well. I hope this little introduction to the first few days here may tempt you into trying something new and also that you have enjoyed seeing a new angle on Bangalore.