So much to catch up on! We got to Mumbai this morning and had an amazing afternoon of touring. Bangalore and Mumbai are like night and day. I am so glad we started in Bangalore so we were able to appreciate everything it had to offer before moving on to Mumbai and all it’s glory! I only have 20 minutes of internet available right now so here goes with the catch-up.
Our business visits in Bangalore were actually amazing. The companies and individuals we spoke with were so obviously proud to host us. We spoke with all Partners or Senior level executives. Our first day was a meeting in our hotel which was actually really great except for the icebox that was our conference room. The table cloths were basically boiled wool material and by the end I had unpinned my table cloth to use a blanket. Thankfully the guys in the group are all gentlemen and agreed to switch places so I could get away from the arctic blast that was the AC vent. We heard from someone on logistics and how infrastructure basically does not exist in India. It feels like a poor man pays twice kind of thing. They are not willing to invest in doing things efficiently but rather just doing things for a quick product. Then we heard from the American Chamber of Commerce who brought an extremely well spoken Partner from Ernst and Young. Apparently accountants are also hard to find in Bangalore because everyone wants to be software engineers. Then we heard from a guy from PB (can’t remember the name), a company that did mostly high speed trains. They are also in Baltimore but I wasn’t too into that. He was very nice though.
For the more interesting things… after the presentations the girls of the group went shopping. We went to this amazing middle class market and shopped till we dropped. First we went down the street to a bank but in order to get to the bank we had to cross the street. The thing is that Bangalore has insane traffic, few if any traffic lights and no traffic lanes. The line of cars, 2 wheelers and auto rickshaws may be 5 wide or 20 wide at any given moment. Literally rubbing elbows while driving. The locals just weave through traffic like they have nothing to lose. We hesitated until we couldn’t wait any longer and then kind of leap frogged across an insanely busy road. This usually ended up with some screaming. The drivers are encouraging – honking but also shouting “don’t panic!” Easier said then done. Anyway, we eventually crossed the street and didn’t die. Auto rickshaws take a max of 3 people but we were 4 and they won’t say no so we just piled in. I basically sat with my ass hanging out the “window”/”door” whatever you want to call it. Turns out it was at least a 20 minute ride. In general you are taking a risk but with 4 people it is redic. We made it to the market where we were the only non-Indians out of 1000s of people. We haggled. We bought lots of things. It was great. The markets were packed.. it was loud with horns, “madam, madam!” being called and attempts at haggling.
The sidewalks are out of this world. GIANT trees grow out of nowhere, the foot paths abruptly end and starts up again half way down the road. It’s crazy. Add night time and rolling black outs. We were quite impressed we made it!
There are very few restaurants in Bangalore. I think that may be because women cook the meals for their families at home. They just don’t eat out much. We finally, after a few hours, found a restaurant. It was great. Instead of plates we had a banana leaves. We had no idea what we were ordering. I got the chicken special of the day which came out covered in a burgundy red sauce. I had the tiniest taste with rice and my mouth was hot for 25-30 minutes. We had enough rice to feed an army but after that little taste the only thing I could eat was white rice with yogurt! My tastes for spicy foods have evolved but that was just too much. I have photos but I won’t be able to post them until I return home.
Time’s up.. more to come later!