Two weeks in Bengaluru …

Another week zoomed by and following are some thoughts from this last week. Internet connections are quite good and if the speed is as advertised, then getting on the Web would be seemless. Airtel installations are happening at our place and hope the technician knows what he is talking about.

(A) The badass driver:

For example, he goes on the wrong side of the road and abuse others who question him. It is fun (for me) to watch the dynamics here. I wonder what happens when I am on the other side and dealing with this menace on the roads. The mentality is “It is always the other guy’s fault”. There are countless instances when he is in the wrong but doesnt act it. I plan to request him to “Just Chill!”.

(B) You are not supposed to do anything on your own:

DIY is not exactly the mode here. “You will definitely have a driver”. “You will definitely have a maid”. “You will definitely have a cook”. “You will definitely have a car wash guy”. Etc. Seems like this is the best place to sit on your a** and do nothing. Well, let us see how things pan out …

(C) The cleaning boy at the mall:

The other day, we went to the Forum Mall near Whitefield for some snacks. We love Indian icecreams and got some exotic flavors like “Rum and Nuts” etc. The food court was relatively empty at that time and there were a few boys, maybe 10-12 years old, who were meant to clean up after customers left. While my kids were eating their icecream, I couldnt help but notice one of the boys looking longingly at them. It was quite depressing to see and rammed home the sad state of affairs where lakhs of such kids are struggling to get by.

When we drive out from our apartment complex, we get to see a huge contrast. Inside the complex, there are kids swimming, riding bikes, playing soccer etc. Just outside, in an open space filled with shrubs and building materials (and snakes?), a few boys will be playing with broken pieces of wood etc.

One night while driving back to the flat, I suddenly saw a 1-2 year old child cross the road on his/her own! It was dark and it was quite dangerous for the child to be on his/her own. But looked like the parent(s) were working at the nearby construction site and were not diligent about the child. Sad indeed.

(D) Fruits:

Contrary to what we feared (that fruits are a luxury in India), there is an abundance of Mangoes, Chickoos, Jackfruit etc. Atleast during Summer. Mangoes are by far our absolute favorite. Even the mango icecreams are awesome. You can either visit local markets, which is a fun experience, or you can visit the various supermarkets like Food World, Reliance Fresh, Heritage Fresh etc. Since bargaining is the norm in markets, very soon, we would have perfected the skill of haggling for a few rupees savings.

(E) The peak-time drive for dinner:

The other night, I boldly decided to take the family out for dinner to a restaurant suggested by colleagues. It was just 4-5 Km away from where we were and I thought “Why not?”. Man, it was a harrowing experience. There were motorcycles without headlights, people with dark clothes crossing the roads at dark areas and a swarm of buses, cars, motorcycles, people etc. coming at you. Before I went to US, if I may say so myself, I was the king of Indian roads. I used to get lot of complements for my driving and used to hog the car whenever I was at home. Alas, my time in US has softened me up. In US, the perfect lanes, the traffic cops, the signals, wide roads etc. will make any below average driver feel great about himself/herself. Though the speeds on Indian roads are much lower, the unruliness and lack of adherence to the rules, amount of vehicles/people on the roads, the smaller and more fragile vehicles and the lack of gaps between vehicles and people all make for a very challenging environment. No wonder that people who come from Bengaluru to San Jose for visits can drive with their eyes closed. And on the flip side, people like me, who have logged 40K+ kilometers of stick/manual-shift driving in India and over 200K miles of automatic-shift driving in US has his work cut out for me. I remember someone telling me that once you learn stick/manual-shift driving in India, you will never forget it. I sincerely hope it is true and it will all come back to me. Maybe in a few months time, I will be a Bengaluru King-Of-The-Roads 🙂


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