Zombies in Bangalore –
It is 11:41pm Monday in India and 1:13pm on Sunday in NY. Yesterday was our big group tour of Bangalore. After a traditional Indian breakfast and a nap I was in full on zombie state. We shuffled onto the bus and our first stop was Bull Temple. It is a Hindu temple and our guide started with a great, short recap of the Hindu religion and important elements. I remember basically nothing. Religious history and no sleep just don’t mix well. The bull is the transportation for a god. Not sure who. It was really interesting and my favorite part of the day. There were tons of little temples and then the Bull Temple was the big attraction. There were people there on their pilgrimage which was cool to see. They don’t wear shoes and are fed by the temples. All Hindus have to welcome pilgrims into their homes. The bull was impressive and on my way out the religious person – monk? priest? I’m not sure – put a dot on my forehead. The dot and the color meant something but again.. I can’t remember! The temple was also surrounded by monkeys and a few cows that people used to bless themselves. It feels a bit weird to be a tourist at someone’s holy site but I guess we do that with beautiful churches as well.
Next we went to a summer palace that was packed with tourists. I think we were the only non-Indians there though. The palace was interesting, the grounds were nice but not overly spectacular. It was interesting to see a Muslim grand home built next to a Hindu temple ground. Muslims and Hindus were not always at odds in India.
From there we headed out to the Bangalore Botanical Gardens. Bangalore is the garden city of India. The gardens were a HUGE park. You went through a gate past busy cars, pollution and honking into a very peaceful environment. There were tons of families just having an afternoon in the park. I felt like it was way more populated than parks in the states. It was interesting to see that while Indians clearly enjoy nature and respect it from a religious perspective that they throw their garbage everywhere and anywhere. Even with trash can shaped like trees they still wouldn’t throw things away.
After the garden our guide took us to a silk shop. It was super obvious that he was getting a kick back from the store. The prices were all really high and anytime you even glanced at something you had 3 people trying to sell it to you. “Madam, madam!” Especially when you’re tried, it got old quick.
At that point it was only about 4:30pm but we needed to eat before returning to our hotel. In the supposed restaurant district NOTHING was open. We tried lots of places. In the end my first meal out in India happened at a Hard Rock Cafe. Oh hey, culture experience! I tried the Indian beer – King Fisher. We’ve decided it’s basically Miller Lite. I got a Mediterranean pasta that ended up being quite spicy.
After dinner we had our first ride in the Auto Rickshaws. Scary but fun! The driving here is INSANE. Just put your life in the hands of some man who doesn’t speak English and will gladly tell you that yes, he knows where the Pride Hotel is when he actually has no idea and hope for the best! It really wasn’t a bad ride in my opinion. Tight with 3 people but doable for a 10 minute ride. The 10 minutes cost less than $2 for all 3 people.
I got home and passed out… hard. I woke up at about 5am, damn you jet lag! My first day was ok, Bangalore is very sleepy on Sundays and I was very sleepy myself. Our hotel is really nice but not in a very central area. Also I was super bummed to realize that my fully charged camera battery was dead so I couldn’t take any pictures. Thankfully everyone else took a million and we are having a shared flicker site that I will post to shortly. Meg and Pete loaned me their flip cam so I took bunch of short videos. I’m not sure how to post those but hopefully I will get some up soon. This morning when I looked at my camera again I realized the battery was in upside down, not dead. I really cannot function without sleep.
Today (Monday) was a great day and I have officially experienced the India I thought existed. Loud, dirty, lively and spicy! I am beat so I’ll write that up later.