Welcome to my first attempt at a blog! I figured now is as good a time as any, having moved halfway around the world to Hubli. While I didn't know anyone on day one, I've since met many wonderful people, both those who have come from out of the country as I have as well as those who are native to India and have been teaching me a lot.

The plan is to update the blog somewhat regularly so that none of the posts get too lengthy (which is the case with the first several, as they were originally mass emails). We'll see how well I do at keeping up. Miss you guys!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bangalore, baby!

Last Friday was a holiday – Independence Day, which wasn’t nearly as evident in the streets as are the religious holidays – so a group of us decided to take the weekend to explore Bangalore.

From the moment we arrived, we were in shock (or heaven, maybe both). Those who knew Mumbai were surprised at Bangalore’s cleanliness, and the rest of us were just giddy about being in a real city. It was (relatively) clean, moder
n and packed with things we can’t get here in Hubli (for one, see Exhibit A: Rebecca and Noelle shopping at FabIndia for oh-so-soft blankets. The only reason I didn't buy one, I'm sure you'll be delighted to hear, is the possibility that it may grow mold between now and October, as have some of my other personal items. Golly, I love monsoon season).

Our hotel was on MG Road, the main drag, but toward one end. We had bucket showers but hot water, so I was more than content. Security at the hotel was typical, but everywhere else (by that I mean the mall, the movie theater, boutiques off the street) we walked through metal detectors, had our bags searched and had our bodies wanded. In fact, I was at least twenty minutes late for Batman (yes, Batman!!! In English!!!) because they refused to let me take in my digital camera, even if I gave them my batteries, forcing me to place it in a locker. This required me to wait for a manager, go down four floors, ask every pers
on I saw about the locker room, leave the building, round the corner, search for at least 5 minutes and finally buy a cubby. Hmph.

Metered ricks are more common in Bangalore, so we rode around all weekend according to the little machine, which was much more pleasant and probably cheaper than negotiation. After settling into our humble abode we spent Friday afternoon at the mall (might as well been straight out of Cincinnati), where I made my big purchase of the day: Levis. We hung around until the movie and had dinner in the food court (which we were more than happy to do).

Saturday and Sunday mornings I ran around Bangalore and was once again thrilled that I could run in shorts without gawkers. There were pretty much no street signs, which made navigation a little tricky, so I stuck to running out and back on the same route – no attempts at loops for me. Saturday was spent doing more shopping and wandering, and a few of us (Kate, Zach and I) headed to the botanical gardens for their Independence Day flower show. Of course, exotic flowers for them are front-yard flowers for me, but they were beautiful all the same: roses, snap dragons, daisies. I took a ridiculous amount of pictures, actually.

Saturday night we went to a restaurant called Sunny’s that was super-yum and fit our needs perfectly. I am well aware that I talk about food consistently, that my meals make an appearance in about every post – but I can tell you that I was not the only one ecstatic about the deliciousness that we experienced (see the picture of Noelle, Kate and Taryn gawking at the menu - we did not pose for this picture, and in fact, I have several more in the series that will not be posted here). Fortunately, I have some fellow food-lovers. We were spoiled by rolls with garlic butter, baked brie with almonds, steamed shrimp wontons and salads with VINAIGRETTE and BLEU CHEESE. That does not happen in India. For dinner I had grilled mahi mahi with horseradish sauce and wasabi, and Kate and I split one piece of blueberry pie and one piece of chocolate torte. We were all in heaven. I’m psyched to take my parents … and yeah, that’s not until March.

After dinner we attempted to hit up the dance scene, but no such doing. Because of the incidents in preceding weeks, there was a dance ban (how that relates, I’m not entirely sure). The bars generally close at 11:30pm anyway except for a few with special permissions, but because of the ban, they were closing at 10:30. We managed to get a drink or two in, however, and I have some stellar pictures of us at the bar, which was called NASA and decked out with space paraphernalia (Noelle and Aparna showcase the menu).

Good shopping, great food and excellent company = one fine trip. Bangalore, we WILL be back. Next up? Hampi.

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