Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What to do in Bengaluru/Bangalore?

I reach Bengaluru at 7 am in the morning. I was here for three days and decided to stay at a friend's house. He was in college now. Most of my friends were in college, except for me. But his family had a home in Bengaluru. His mother agreed to bear me for two days. His house was quite far away from the main station. I wanted to see the city. I was on the train for a good 24 hours. I did not want to sit on another mode of transportation again at least for the next 7-8 hours. Going to my friends home at the other end of the city, meant another 2 hour bus ride. So I decide to not go directly to my friend’s home.

I keep my bag at the train station. There is a room at the station, where you can keep your bag. You can then collect it later, but you need to show them your train ticket. I hate it when they have such requirement. I am very careless, with my tickets. If you tell me to take care of anything beyond my phone and wallet, I am always a little skeptical. I am in my head most of the time. Taking care of things is not my foray. But I find my train ticket, in my back pocket, and I am allowed to store my bags at the school. Now how do I go around the city? Should I book a cab? Maybe a bus. I don't know how to use the buses. I don't know where they go. Hmm. I should have thought about this before depositing my bag. How stupid of me. 

Fortunately, as I turn around to get my bags, I notice a sign saying, 'Bangalore Darshan'. Ah! that sounds interesting. That is exactly what I need. Most Indian cities, have subsidized full city tours, that start from the main bus stations of the city. They cover most prominent sights in the city. So I buy a ticket, and wait for my bus. At the waiting space, there are people from all kinds of age groups. There are two elderly ladies that seem like best friends. There is a young couple. There is a mother with her two kids. There will be a lot of noise on the bus. But that is alright. India is noisy fun. We visit several interesting places during the day like:

The ISKCON temple
The bull temple
The Tipu palace,
The Lalbagh Garden
The Musical fountain,
The Birthplace of the Tamil superstar Rajnikanth.

New Friends in the City
It surely was a tiring day. But the highlight of the day was definitely, the two new friends that I had made during the trip. Sapna, was a mother and housewife from Hyderabad. She was in the city to visit a friend. She wanted to go around the city for quite some time, but her friend’s family was always quite busy. Eventually she did some of her own research and found out about this daily bus tour around the city. She decided she would find a way to tour the city on her own and that is why she was on that Bus that day. the other friend I made, was a father of a young engineering graduate from Haryana. His son had just got a new job in the city, and he was here to drop him off. Sapna told me about her daughter. She described how her daughter was really good at school work, but was quite uncomfortable in social situations. It was also hard for her at home. Her husband did not want her to work after marriage. 

But I thought she was one of the most interesting people, I met on this journey up to now. We spoke about so many different things like food in both our cities, childhood stories, life in India, favorite films and books and more. One of my favorite sites in Bangalore was the beautiful and spacious Lalbagh gardens. This was a botanical garden and there was a diverse variety of trees and flowers. I also got to drink some cold grape juice at the park. For lunch we had dosas. Eventually this wonder trip came to an end. The people I met on this bangalore darshan trip were more interesting than the places I got to visit. We return to the Kempegowda bus station. I jump onto a bus that was headed to my friends house. Then I realize I left my bag at the station. I jump out as the bus was leaving the station. I was lucky. All my luggage was in that bag. I got my bag back and took another bus directly to my friends house. I reach home late that night. I thought about the city on my ride back home and the myths and stories I heard about it growing up. I had read an article once that had this passage about the city:

'Bangalore has a large number of firms specializing in Research and Development, and electronics and software production. R.K Baliga, who was the chairman of the Karnatake State Electronics Development Corporation first proposed the idea of the creation of an electronic city in the 1970's. They purchased 335 kilometers of land, 18 km's south of Bangalore for the creation of an electronics city. Today companies like Infosys Limited, Wipro Technologies, Tata Consultancy Service, General Electric, and 3M India among others have made it their home. There are over thirty world class educational institutions located in the same region as well. Over the last few decades, Bangalore has further developed as an IT Hub for India as a nation. Somebody once told me that the chinese premier, on one of his recent trips to India visited Bangalore first over Delhi for investment and business interests. With the advent of the knowledge age, the world has shifted its focus back to Bangalore to not only be a research and development and it out-sourcing hub of the world, but also to develop original enterprise ideas that can be exported to the rest of the world.'

No wonder they called this place the IT Hub of the country.

I woke up early on my second day in Bengaluru. I had a few friends, I could meet here. But I was little tired. My friend stayed quite far away from the centre of the city. So I did not have the option of just going to mall nearby. Also there is no very efficient way of travelling in this city. The rickshaw always overcharge you even for short distances. 

I saw a bookshelf in the room I was staying in. There was Aravind Adiga's booker prize winning book, 'The White Tiger' among several other books there. I decided to stay back at home for the whole day and just read. Such a joy. To read for one full day and then to get up the next day and read again. How romantic! At this point in my life, if I stumbled onto a fortune, I would retire early and spend the rest of my life, in a cottage filled with books for the rest of my life. Maybe even start a school there. Thoughts and more thoughts run through my head, as I read, 'The White Tiger'. I traversed so many different worlds through the actions and behavior of the main character Balram Hawai. I take a long walk later in the evening, reflecting on what I have read. I have dinner at the mall nearby. It was one of those near perfect days. I was to leave Bangalore the next day. It was time to explore another south indian city.


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