Mysore Eyesore

My trip to Mysore began with a train journey to which I was not looking forward. I can see some of you smiling even now as you think of how little I enjoy travel. So travel within India? – well we have all heard the stories….

So imagine my satisfaction when I sat down in a largely unpopulated carriage in a window seat in front of my two “minders”. The window had a large crack in it with lines radiating outwards, however I at least had a seat….

Train-carriage

At just about the scheduled time of departure, we were given a little cup of tomato soup and two sticks of bread with margarine (if you were so inclined). I wasn’t, but used the bread to dip into the soup. At precisely the scheduled time, the train pulled out of the station – while I was still waiting for all the passengers to embark! More punctual than in the UK!…and as for in NZ…well where? who?

I noticed that the railway tracks are not ‘sacred ground’ as they are in NZ. They were the playground for innumerable children (and older). Also there were many places where little rubbish dumps had been created. By the time I took that in, the worst of them were past but I did snap a couple of photos.

Train-rubbish-1  Train-rubbish-2

So into the countryside. At every level crossing, there were at least 6 or 7 vehicles – cars, motorbikes, tuk-tuks – waiting when our carriage went past. This was in the middle of the country with very little around except the rice and sugarcane fields. A few little villages with people that often waved out to the train as it went by, and some impressive hills.

On arrival at Mysore, I checked in at the hotel and went to explore the precincts and in particular the Mysore Palace. The Maharajah’s Palace is a well known attraction in Mysore. I walked along the road beside it and tried to get into one of the gates, but two rather unfriendly security men turned me away. they didn’t like it when I started to take out my camera, so I waited until I was far enough away and snapped them from afar – nothing escapes technology  Smile

Mysore-Palace-security

The Palace itself is huge – a large Palace in “Indo-Saracenic” style, it embodies Hindu, Muslin and gothic styles into one impressive building. It is surrounded by gardens (no visitors allowed to enter these) and Hindu Temples.

The most impressive time to go there however is Sunday evening when the Palace is illuminated. It is rather like the first rush of fireworks when the lights go on. There is light on the Palace anyway, but once lit up, it is like a huge Christmas Tree

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Mysore itself is a ‘heritage’ city, with lots of protected buildings. I really enjoyed the sign in front of this building which talked about the Roman and Ionian columns and the Indo-Saracenic style – with all these style it makes it into sort of a “mongrel” building. Indeed one can have too much of a good thing in Indo-Saracenic…..

Mysore-College

Walking about Mysore there were many other interesting buildings and monuments. India is a colourful and interesting place – often tiring and hot, it is full of interesting sights and places. Mysore is indeed no exception. It is indeed no Mysore Eysore!

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In the jam at Bangalore

I am not long back from a car journey here in Bangalore and I think I must journal this before I forget the impact (almost literally) of car travel within India.

280px-Hindustan_AmbassadorI was picked up this morning in a beautiful blue Indian ambassador car – the type they use for taxis here. (The photo here is not mine. It is taken from Wikipedia adn shows the normal white colour of the taxis). When the car pulled up, I had to blink twice, because these cars are based on the old Morris Oxford cars – one of which we had when I was young –  a grey colour…ah nostalgia….

The car this morning was a beautiful example, with striped black and gold seats and golden cushions in  the rear. No seatbelts in the rear. It had aircon and new horn buttons set into the steering wheel (an absolute necessity in India) and indicators (Why? Nobody bothers to use them!!). This was a beautiful car, though I did notice when it started up for the return journey home, the amount of blue smoke it blew out the exhaust system (mostly into my face….)

First of all, let me say that I have not travelled throughout all of India, but I can’t remember seeing a Give Way or a Stop sign anywhere. I doubt they exist.  The rule of the road appears to be that “If I get my car there slightly before you, I have the right of way”…the same concept applies at traffic islands as well

Also there is not any true concept of lanes on the road. Yes there are lanes marked, but the average driver seems impervious to whatever meaning they might have. The idea seems to be that people inch and crawl their way to put their car centimetres in front of the neighbouring car or cars and then proceed to take the right of way and cut them off or find another small hole in the traffic into which to push part of their car’s anatomy. Most main road s have at least one or more lanes of traffic on them than marked on the road. Outside my hotel there are two lanes marked on the road, but it is rare to see fewer than four actual lanes of traffic.

Traffic lights!! Now I notice this as well when I am walking back to the hotel. Red lights here do not seem to mean STOP. They appear to mean that you should speed up to see if you can get your car through at least part of the intersection before an opposing car or pedestrian claims their right to the road. This should be accompanied by a blare on the car horn. On the other hand, people who come up to the lights once traffic has finally stopped, burrow their way as near to the intersection as possible – including motorbikes and tuk-tuks, who are infinitely more aggressive than in New Zealand ready to take off BEFORE the lights turn green. Many intersections have seconds counting down to make this even more exciting as about 5 seconds or so before they are due to go, drivers are already gunning their engines ready to take off in a cloud of rubber smoke!…or moving off…

Off they go – with horns sounding from behind by those people silly enough to think that they can make quick progress in downtown Bangalore traffic. As they make for the opposite side of the intersection there is a competition for lanes and space – any space which again can have part of your car in front of neighbouring cars (see above). People literally weave their way – hands sitting on the horn button with the largest or most indestructible generally winning the battle for position.

Having survived the intersection, then the driver decides that he wants to turn right from the left lane (having already crossed a lane or two to get into the left lane because it gets the car about a metre closer than the lane he was already in). This is one of the busiest intersections in Bangalore. Without any apparent thought of an indicator (Maybe they are only used to light up the car for Diwali in a couple of weeks), he then proceeds to cut across not ONE lane of traffic but FOUR lanes of traffic to the tune of car horns – his and the others – before driving off into the wilderness of MG Road with far less traffic and therefore cars parked behind already parked cars in the left hand lane of the road.

Oh did I mention potholes?……..they have taken on a new meaning in India. You can get lost in the potholes here! Careful though not to walk in them as you never know what might be lurking in them – or where they came from…They are of course dangerous to cars – especially old Ambassador cars, which give you bone shattering rides at the best of times. So of course there is no need to slow down for potholes, you merely drive round them. Never mind the vehicle right beside you. If your bonnet is in front of theirs, they will merely sound their horn from mere millimetres away and you carry on without a care in the world – apart from looking for the best way forward of course. If you look at the photo of the Ambassador above you will notice there are no useful side mirrors, only a very small rear view mirror and two small objects that LOOK like mirrors towards the front of the car, but they are so small as to be virtually unusable…and we all know that ‘objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are’ – so go on like a ‘Bat out of Hell’ and don’t look back….

One last small thing….the rule about turning right….there isn’t one ….? Well not that I can see. as far as I can make out. The car going straight ahead at an intersection has to apply brakes (sometimes very squeakily hard) while the car travelling towards you and turning right in front of you proceeds to go ahead with sometimes flashing headlights (they have to be useful for something!) or even better, does a complete U-turn in front of you causing the traffic behind and around you to hastily push ahead of you and then proceed to cut you off.

This was a phenomenon I remember from Chennai. When we pulled out of the hotel, we had to do a U-turn at the opposite end of the bridge from the hotel. I think in nine weeks there, the driver only stopped once. Every morning, the driver would simply do the U-turn and proceed onwards having sounded the horn to warn everybody that he considered he had the right of way and then to answer those that sounded their horns back at him. After about a week there – by which time I was becoming used to taking my life in my hands every morning –  a new examiner arrived and I suggested he sit in the front as I had been there for a week and had seen the sights. When we arrived at the centre (5 minutes?), he alighted from the car looking a pasty white colour and said to me “Bastard!” I used to walk home…and still am able to in Bangalore.

Anyway such is life in the jam of Bangalore…..

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Bangalore meanderings

India – the land of spices and fragrant smells wafting on the tropical breeze, with men and women dressed in brightly coloured clothes – a spiritual country with smiling happy people. This is the often held view of particularly the erstwhile British colonialists.

Bangalore-Street-entertaine

The more real view – in the cities at least – is one of constant noise, traffic, perpetually sounding horns, touts trying to sell tourists anything from a woman (or man) to sandalwood chess sets. I mean, how many Pashmina scarves does a person want? – or is this like women with their affection for many pairs of shoes….mmmhhhh…can’t talk myself …  Smile

On Saturday I set out to walk to the Planetarium and the Indira Ghandi Park, which are opposite each other …..about 30 minutes walk away from my hotel. As I set out, I couldn’t help but notice the many places in the pavements where there were gaping holes or mini Mt Everests to disturb the composure of the pedestrians. No wonder that so many people walk along the road. The pavements can be full of accidents waiting to happen, or puddles that nobody in their right mind would want to walk in. Sometimes piles of rubbish and cows take pride of place. The thing I dislike the most however are the dogs. They roam  – sometimes in packs – as wild dogs. I would have to be bitten by one of them – and they can become very territorial at times…..I have not even wanted to take a photo of them!

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So up past Cubbon Park – Park I said? Well more a basin of red earth, with concrete risers either side. Cubbon Road itself is closer to the political centre, so the roads are wider, the pavements cleaner and the views nicer. Lots of trees here with branches coming out at improbably angles – a paradise for anybody who wants to sit out of the bustle and watch the world pass by.

Bangalore-Cubbons-Park  Bangalore-pavement-3

Past the M. Chinnaswamy cricket stadium, home to the Bangalore Royal Challengers and then a detour around the newly emerging metro system that is currently being expanded at a huge rate – long lengths of concrete scars upon the surface of the earth – I suspect going underground around the embassies and houses of parliament….which BTW I was not able to get close to – “unless you have an official reason to go there….” More on security in India another day…..

Bangalore-cricket-stadium

So I arrived at what I thought was the Indira Ghandi park – only to find it is TWO parks – go in one gate and you are in the Military park. you can just see the two identical gates on each side of this photo.

Bangalore-two-parks

India is a country at a stand-off with China over the northern parts of its borders and the bombing in Mumbai a few years ago by Pakistan is still a fresh wound in the side of the country. The military presence is a necessity here in India – lots of advertisements to ‘join the army’

Bangalore-military-park1  Bangalore-military-park-2

Go in the next door gate and you are on the Indira Ghandi Park. No way of telling where one begins and the other ends. In the end you realise they would be unlikely to have missiles and tanks etc inside the Indira Ghandi Park – in fact I think it is an unfortunate side-by-side setting. I doubt that the Ghandi family would be impressed that the two parks are so close in proximity. I did go and look at the musical fountain that plays in the evening, but it looks somewhat less than impressive in the ‘warm’ hard light of day.

Bangalore-Ghandi-park-bougaBangalore-fountainBangalore-Ghandi-park-tree

Across the road from these parks is the Planetarium and the Science Park. I did not feel the urge to go into the Planetarium as there was quite a massive queue of people at the time.

Bangalore-planetarium

I spent some time wandering around the Science Park though. it was full of people – mostly adults pretending to teach their youngsters, while in reality playing on the activities there for themselves. A really interesting hands-on experience, which may look a little old-fashioned in some respects, but still a most enjoyable experience. it was great to see so many families out enjoying themselves as a family –  and no touts trying to sell me something. The Kaleidoscope was particularly interesting. So here are some photos for you science boffins.

However it was soon out into the real world and the walk back to the hotel. Returning a different way, I eventually needed my phone GPS to find myself as I wandered somewhat randomly through a myriad of little streets – mostly full of the dogs and rubbish and cows.

Bangalore-street-rubbish  Bangalore-Street-rubbish-2

I did see a couple of temples and was asked eternally by Tuk-tuk drivers if I wanted a ride…..what’s so difficult to understand about the word no…!??

bangalore-temple-2  Bangalore-temple-3

I also saw St Andrews Church and the ‘Army School’ to where no doubt many people would like to send their children – behind high fences and locked gates.

Bangalore-army-School  Bangalore-St-Andrews

After nearly five hours, I arrived back at my hotel and rested for a while before noticing the crepuscular moon gazing down upon my room – a warm tropical evening with the spicy aromas of Indian food wafting into my room….a good way to end my Bangalore meanderings.

Bangalore-moon

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City of Gardens

A visit to Lalbagh Gardens here in Bangalore has served to increase my enjoyment of this city. One of several gardens in the city, Lalbagh Gardens is probably the largest and best known of the gardens.

After a short (and very expensive!!) hotel taxi ride to the Gardens – over 600 rupees for somewhere where I would think I could walk to if necessary – the approach to the Gardens was a captivating walk under multi-coloured Bougainvillea arched walkways, rather like ones I saw in Brisbane a few years ago, but so much more fecund and colourful.

Lalbagh-entryLalbagh-entry-pathLalbagh-bougainvillea

The Gardens are dominated by a large Peninsular Gneiss (rock!), and perched at the apex of this stone hillock is a watchtower with mainly blue decorations on two adjoining sides and mainly pink on the other two. I doubt this is regarded as a male/female thing in India, but I am sure it has some significance. This watchtower was originally placed at a spot where it was felt Bangalore would eventually extend to…LOL….they certainly got that wrong! This is a thriving and large city, constantly bedevilled with outstanding traffic jams and full of life – far larger than the watchtowers would have us believe.

Lalbagh-view-watchtower

After a walk down the first side garden, under trees – escaping from the sun, then it was time to explore the precincts. A saunter down to the “glasshouse”, fountain and the bandstand persuaded me that it was probably better to avoid the sun – yes I had a hat and sunblock! By the time I put on my sunglasses I must have looked a true tourist – or was it that I was only one of the “Mad dogs and englishmen” that  “go out in the midday sun”…..

I got as close as I dared to a wasps nest attached to a trunk of a tree and then noticed a flower growing out of the tree – rather like a red succulent flower. there were some very nice picnic areas – filled up rather more later in the day.

Lalbagh-flower-on-treeLalbagh-1Lalbagh-wasp-nest

Lalbagh-squirrel-2

A rather swampy beginning with some herons – the blue one looks peculiarly like a New Zealand Pukeko – and then it was onto a tree-lined path around the quite large lake. This was a lovely walk with tree branches entwined above contrasting with the red soil beneath. A dog resting beside the path provided a moment of mirth – a couple of butterflies provided some exercise as they flittered almost unceasingly in their search for whatever one seeks in a life of only a few days.

An Egret stood “fishing” for a long time – peering intently into the murky depths of water – there is nothing that I would like to eat in that colour of water…

Lalbagh-Egret

At the far end of the lake was one of the world’s largest Kapok trees (Cotton Silk tree) and a topiary garden full of plants in tortuous shapes – I have not included a photo of such dubious pleasures.

Lalbagh-Kapok-tree

Back from the walk – back into the full heat of the sun, it was time to shinny up the great rock, look out on the city of Bangalore and then down out of the sun and into a Tuktuk for a much cheaper, and more exciting, trip back to the centre of the City of Gardens.

Lalbagh-watch-towerLalbagh-exit-from-rockLalbagh-watchtower-closeLalbagh-flower

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The Primitive Side of Bangalore

An early start in the morning and a lengthy trip through traffic to the town of Bannerghatta – which seemed to consists of stalls and various temples – and the “Biological Gardens” there at the Bannerghatta National Park. Disappointed not to see a wild elephant on the way as has happened to other travellers. We did have to stop and wait for several cows however – they are regarded as gods in India, so people are very reverent concerning them. Our driver – from the convent – drove at a suitably religious (read ‘slow”) pace all the way.

Once arrived, our driver showed us through the ticket-buying process and in through the gates. Once inside there was……red sand and green hillocks….

Into the zoo section for a few minutes and a quick look at the monkeys that wander around live. I did see one that reminded me of my friend Sean. It looks as if it was smiling at me, however a minute or so earlier it had tripped over my foot and then turned towards me as if to attack. I backed away hurriedly (discretion being the better option!). I think in this photo it is actually warning me to stay away from its family rather than smiling. I did take a few shots of other monkeys scavenging the swinging rubbish bins which they would tip to eat whatever they could find and even put some back into the bin after. I hate to think how they were trained to do this. They seemed to wander freely around the park, but had disappeared later when there were a few thousand more people present.

Bannerghatta-monkey-smileBannerghatta-monkey-at-binbannerghatta-monkey

So to the bus – which left only 28 minutes late – they had to wait for it to fill up I think. The safari we went on was a little like a return to Jurassic Park. We went through several “canal lock” gates as the tour progressed – one gate opens, go into the cage, the gate shuts behind you and the other gate in front opens and then you proceed through.

Bannerghatta-Safari-gates

To continue on the film theme, the bus trip reminded me a little of those in the Indiana Jones films (no pun intended here). The bus seemed to roll precariously round corners despite having a speed governor, tree branches occasionally gave a percussive accompaniment to the roof and the road hardly seemed wide enough for our bus, let alone any vehicle unfortunate to come in the opposite direction! By the way I see that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has been made an american icon film….yes I know…..what a non sequitur! Blame my peculiar brain neurons.

We saw an assortment of animals. Many of them are roaming (or sleeping!) freely in the terrain. We were also taken past some caged animals – presumably to ensure that you did see all the animals. The bus would stop to allow us to take photos of animals – leading to a few moments of jockeying for position – much more orderly than I had expected after the frantic rushing I have experienced here in India. I missed a good shot of black bears, because they were always sleeping quite far from the road and looked a little like a large elephant dropping rather than an animal. The one close to the road was too close to the bus to be able to photograph it through the barred windows. So there were spotted deer, bison, lions, tigers (Striped and white) and elephants. All these in an hour of holding onto the seat in front and not daring to stand in case there was a sudden swerve or pothole in the road. All in all a fine adventure and an experience to treasure – rather along the lines of the Singapore Night Safari Zoo – which is inevitably much more organised….Even better, considering that I was not able to manage the safari tours in South Africa a couple of years ago – apart from one memorable day in an elephant park.

After the tour we wandered around the zoo section. Here we were able to see many other animals including the ‘Indian Squirrel’, which looks remarkably a chipmunk to me…..

I found the zoo itself not as good. I felt the animals here did not have nearly enough space to be happy. Indeed many of them looked as if they were trying to find a way out of their cages, trudging endlessly up and down a track which they had marked inside their cage. Still it was good to see some animals more or less in their own environment. I felt so sorry for the hippopotami  Smile that I could not put photos of them here. No ‘glorious mud’ for them, merely a very cramped pool – too small for one let alone three!

There was a rare example of an ‘examinator trinitus’ to be seen by a waterfall  in the zoo. I thought it looked a little like a possum caught in car headlights, but these overseas “aliens” are rare creatures indeed!

Bannerghatta-David-at-water

Bannerghatta-sugar-caneSo back through the crowds and the stallholders (here is a man pressing fresh sugar cane) to our driver and the trip back to the centre of Bangalore. By now, the Indians had finished their church services and were thronging along the road. There were many family groups having picnics at the zoo and a lengthy queue to get in. We did spy one car that raced several hundred metres up the wrong side of the road to push into the queue just before the gate – probably saved themselves about 20 minutes…? Driving in India seems to have few rules. Mostly the vehicle that is turning goes ahead slowly, endures the horns and just keeps going as if they have the right of way and everybody waits…. the video here is a small example. Every time I took my camera out to video, the traffic seemed to behave itself. This example is relatively quiet. Outside the hotel the car horns are seemingly incessant as four lanes of traffic tries to fit into where two lanes can go…..

Traffic in Bangalore

Maybe this is the primitive side of Bangalore….?

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A New Angle on Bangalore

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.

Bangalore-Gateway-hotel-poolBangalore-gateway-room

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.

Bangalore-gateway-waspsBangalore-Gateway-pool-pigeons

Bangalore-closed-McDonaldsSaturday 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!!  Sad smile

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

Bangalore-empty-MG-roadBangalore-empty-residency-rBangalore-closed-shop

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.

Bangalore-motorcycle-mobBangalore-motorcycle-mob-2

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

Bangalore-temple

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.

Bangalore-examination-room

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.

Bangalore-butterfly

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  Smile

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.

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KL FF

FF – double forte……..equals very loud in musical terms. In KL it is many things – first the noise of the environment. Whether it is the constant buzz of the air-conditioning, the noise of the people or the traffic noise, it is a quite constant barrage of sound.

In the shopping Malls, the various shops and displays fight with every decibel of sound to attract attention – or in my case to send me away. there are people everywhere – at all times. This mall is open until 10 at night even during the week. While it can be relatively empty during the day, in the evening it is quite full. In weekends….well let us not go there….

The traffic noise intrudes into the outdoor environment. Even sitting at my “peaceful” spot by the swimming pool at lunchtime, where I am well above ground level, the traffic noise is more than a distant rumble of tyres and occasional squeal of brakes.

KL---pool-lunch

FF – fast and furious……the pace of life in KL?   Well yes and no…Some people do rush and there are certainly the rude people that will push in front of you  – especially if you are a foreigner. However the pace of life here is similar to the fairly laidback lifestyle of New Zealand. While shops and restaurants stay open until late in the evening, there is not the opulent night life of some big cities around the world. Much less alcohol – no doubt the influence of this being a largely Muslim state – and therefore not the nightclub scene as some people would expect. Instead, expect to be entertained at a hotel by a singer ( or two or three) – often accompanied by an electronic keyboard or ( at better hotels) a small rhythm section. No rap here, the music is reminiscent of the late last century cabarets.

FF – fast forward….not if you are travelling around KL! I watched the traffic on Sunday mid-afternoon at a standstill outside the hotel. I am told the daily traffic is best avoided from about 4.00 until 8.00 every night. There are several motorways around KL. They are inevitably crowded. Traffic in suburban Malaysia is just as bad. It can take an hour to travel somewhere on car, when you could walk it in less. True! I walked to the Curve in 15 – 20 minutes. An examiner staying there claimed that it took almost an hour to get there by car…..

FF – fanatical fitness….well not strictly me, however I admit to having spent some time in the well outfitted gym that the hotel has here. It opens at 6am and closes after 10 at night. there are always people there. I took this photo about 1.30 one lunch hour

KL---gym

FF – Friendly folk…..all the people I met while working here. However not all the people i Malaysia are friendly. I had words with one grumpy old fellow, who  told me to “Go Home!”  Possibly the only English he knew…LOL…well he did not say anything else….My response? (with a smile….) …. “No”   Smile

It is true that English is often spoken in the cities, however it is not universally understood nor spoken by many as their first language. I think that Malay and Mandarin would come quite well ahead of it now.

However the vast majority of people were friendly and welcoming.

FF – Flowers and food! Yes of course. I will mostly let them speak for themselves. Here are two albums – one taken in  my second visit to the rooftop garden (this time minus the thunderstorm) and the others of some of the delightful dishes that I have been lucky to be able to enjoy in the last week

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