Saturday, June 11, 2011

Arrival in Bangalore

I departed Gettysburg for Bangalore on Wednesday June 8th.  I flew out of Dulles via Qatar Airways at 11:00 PM and arrived in Bangalore at 3:00 AM on Friday June 10th.  The first leg of my flight from Dulles to Doha, Qatar was 13 coach.  The plane was full of families and multiple screaming babies but they calmed down after a while.  I got an aisle seat which was much appreciated so I was able to walk about the cabin.  I watched 3 movies, Glee, and slept for about 3 hours.  The food was actually pretty good and Ben & Jerry's was complimentary, ice cream makes everything better.  My layover in Qatar of 1.5 hours was just enough time to take the bus from the plane to the transfers terminal where I had to go through security again and then take another bus on the tarmac to my next plane.  The second leg of my journey was a 4.5 hour flight on which I was the only non-Indian. 

Upon arrival in Bangalore, I went through customs and retrieved my luggage.  I then waited for Troy, another intern, who arrived 45 minutes later.  We took a taxi from the airport to the Bangalore Club and finally arrived at 5:45 AM.  However, the receptionist made us wait until 6 AM at which we were granted an early check-in for an additional half-day charge.  Although I informed the receptionist I did not need the second night, I was still much for hospitality.  The Bangalore Club was built in the mid 19th Century during the British rule in India.  There is a taxidermed Panther greeting guests outside the dining room and several other animal heads and weaponry displayed throughout the complex.   The Club is extremely convenient as it is located in downtown Bangalore and walking distance to many restaurants and shops.

Men's only bar at the Bangalore Club

After a much needed shower, I indulged in their complimentary breakfast buffet complete with Corn Flakes, along with many Indian options.  Troy & I then left the gated sanctuary and explored Bangalore.  The sidewalks are crumbling and the air is thick and pollution is a serious problem.  Rickshaws sounding their horn fill the streets, along with countless motorcycles and non-AC buses at full occupancy.  Downtown Bangalore is filled with schools, each one in its on gated complex.  Unfortunately most shops do not open until 11:30 AM so I wandered the streets of Bangalore for a few hours before returning to the hotel at 10 AM where I utilized the club's internet cafe which is inside their library.  Surprisingly the computers were modern and the charge was Rs 10 or about 25 cents for the first hour, despite the internet being inexpensive, I had to put down a deposit of Rs 500.

I finally fell asleep around 12 PM and after a six hour nap, Troy & I departed the hotel for dinner.  Everything looks much closer on a map but after walking for an hour we arrived at Ebony, an Indian restaurant on the 13th floor of a dilapidated skyscraper complete with outdoor seating on the terrace with a gorgeous view.  I enjoyed Chicken Roulade (stuffed with cheese and vegetables in a white wine sauce)...not exactly Indian Cuisine but it was delicious.
Chicken Roulade
 After dinner I continued walking around MG Road and found a side street with 3 Pubs side-by-side, not to mention a Ruby Tuesday's and KFC.  However, all of these are surrounded by crumbling abandoned buildings.  One pub had five "doormen" but they said nothing as they held the door open and we walked inside to find a Hard Rock Cafe atmosphere complete with a motorcycle bolted to the wall and guitars and other memorabilia on display.  While sipping on a Pineapple Daiquiri, everyone continually sang along with 80s rock artists while the music videos projected on the multiple televisions.  Now is when a low key evening turned into an eventful night out.  Four Americans walked inside the Pub (there was no name on the door nor the menus so I will continue to call it the Pub) and after introducing themselves they invited Troy & I to join them which we obviously accepted.  Three of them work for Hewlitt Packard and are in Bangalore for two weeks and the other gentleman is a lawyer representing some company in the Tech Park this summer.  Bob & Connie are in their late forties and married with children and the other woman was younger, but they were all equally outlandish in their actions.  The evening included a tower of beer (equivalent to 20 beers in a giant King Fisher tube) and flaming shots (yes you drink them while on fire).
Flaming Shot

Me, my friends from HP, & Troy

After enjoying their company, I joined them next door to another pub which was more of a dark bar atmosphere.  Here we ordered more beverages and despite the waiter informing us it was last call, my new friends paid for the bar to stay open as we ordered a 2nd and 3 round.  The six of us clearly stood out as we were the only non-Indians.  After HP generously picked up the tab at both restaurants, I successfully walked back to the Bangalore Club and enjoyed 6 hours of sleep.

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