back in bangalore

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, although I won’t be able to post it till Monday morning at work because after about 40 minutes of trying to get the hotel’s internet connection to hook up I can’t get it to work, so I’ve given up.

Anyway, I’m here in Bangalore for the second time in six months. It’s kind of strange to be back. It’s certainly nice to have warm sunny weather in February, and it’s quite nice to smell the semi-tropical smells of plants and flowers. Also I feel a little more confident about being here, and going out and about. However maybe the semi-familiarity makes this feel a bit less of an adventure than last time and more of a schlep. Plus I’m going to be here for a week and a half so I’m missing Emma and Toby very much. I spoke with Em after I arrived last night, and contrary to our expectations, Toby had slept all night in his bed again, which makes six nights in a row. Each night he manages to do it he gets a sticker on his calendar, and when he gets ten stickers he’ll get an as yet unspecified treat. I hope he keeps this going.

The journey was very long indeed. I left the house just after 1pm, to check in for a 3:30 flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, where I arrived at 5pm. It was a bit of a race across O’Hare airport to make the 6:30 departure of the flight to Frankfurt, but I made it just fine. It was the first time I flew United in ages, and I was very impressed. Very friendly, good food, including fresh mixed salad leaves and fruit, and a nice plane with individual monitors for each seat. I saw Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and also Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash story, both of which were really good, in quite different ways, and passed the 8 and a quarter hours nicely. We had an hour and a half in Frankfurt airport, the on to the 8 and a half hour Lufthansa flight to Bangalore. This was on a great big Airbus plane, which was much quieter than the United Boeing 777, but a little more cramped, certainly way in the back where I was sitting. Food was OK – less good than on United – and the movie was the rather sappy but quite fun Elizabethtown, after which they showed some really cheesy Indian music videos and a movie, so I used my DVD player to watch The Big Lebowski. Then at Bangalore airport all the passport control, customs, drive to the hotel, check in (where they weren’t expecting me till two days later, but fortunately had a room), shower, call home and spend another hour trying to get to sleep. I think it was about 24 hours total travel time.

This morning, Kamal (a work colleague who is here at the same time as me) and I thought we should go and get some air and sunshine to help with the time change. She arranged for a hotel car to take us around, and we set out about 11:30. The driver took us to a smallish palace, then to the Bull Temple, then to the government buildings which are seriously impressive. Then of course he took us to a fancy shop – all the drivers get commission on bringing tourists round to the stores – where I got a couple of wee things for home. Unfortunately Kamal didn’t tell me till afterwards that it was a few times more expensive there than it would have been on Commercial Street. Speaking of which, the entrance fee to the palace we saw was 5 rupees for Indians, 100 rupees for foreigners. It’s about 45 rupees to the dollar, so still not very expensive, but that’s quite a price difference.

We weren’t very hungry, even by 2:30 in the afternoon and even though I didn’t eat much breakfast, but we went to a restaurant the driver encouraged us to go to, where the waiter seemed to think we were rather strange for just having lentil soup and naan bread. Even though it wasn’t much, it was just right for what I needed. The sunshine helped while we were out too – it’s a beautiful day around 27C (80F or so), mild in the shade and warm in the sunshine. There’s the usual non-stop racket of cars and honking horns, and the smell of the traffic fumes, but I suppose that’s all part of the atmosphere. I think it’s good for someone from northern wintery climes to go somewhere warm in the middle of winter – I did the same thing years ago when I went on a Christmas trip to Israel with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus. Great to see palm trees and all the exotic flowers. I hope it’s going to make it easier to get through the rest of winter.

Tomorrow is the start of a very packed work week. I’m looking forward to finding out how everyone’s doing in the team I hired last time I was here – I’ll be doing some teambuilding and training and interviewing to hire more folks.

Leave a Reply