Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lions, Tigers, & Monkeys, oh my!

Today, I went to the Bannerghatta National Park which is only 22 km south of Bangalore but took 2 hours to reach.  Troy, Daniela, Peiran, & I hired a cab for the day so the driver waited at the park while we took a safari and walked around.  Outside the park entrance there are several stands selling packaged foods and soda so I purchased ice cream which I ate immediately.  I am going through sweets withdrawal as dessert is not popular or common here.  The safari and entrance to the park is 160 rupees or $4.00 so that is an incredible deal as the safari lasts 45 minutes and pictures with the elephants are free.

The national park is divided into several sections and there are men who open and close gates as the safari vehicle moves from section to section.  The first area is full of deer and everyone started freaking out and got all excited which is hilarious because deer are in most people's backyards.  However the rest of the safari was exciting as there are tigers and lions and bears.  None of the animals came close to the vehicle, but in the park the monkeys roam free.  One monkey stopped Peiran and would not leave her alone until she gave him her sandwich.  She is still traumatized and Troy, Daniela, & I kept reminding her that the rest of the day was enjoyable.  I took pictures with the elephants but felt bad because both elephants had chains on their front right leg and the worker would poke them in order for the elephants to pose for pictures.

After the national park, I returned home which took about 1.5 hours as the traffic lightened up.  Babu made dinner and I got ready to go out.  The lounges in Bangalore close at 11:30 PM so it is crucial to start early especially since the drive into Bangalore from Whitefield can take over an hour.  Fortunately, the lady staying in the 4th bedroom who magically appeared on Thursday is generous and letting us use her driver.  She is free-spirited and wears lots of cloth and reminds me of Katherine in Under the Tuscan Sun who constantly wears hats, but instead of hats she wears giant scarves.  Using her driver is convenient as we simply pick a vehicle based on price (we took the Safari SUV out on Friday but opted for the AC Car today) and we are paying real Indian prices which is about 800 rupees for the night.

After an hour we arrived at The 13th Floor which is next to Ebony at the Barton Center.  At first the host told us we had to wait twenty minutes to get a table indoors but after ordering drinks and meeting up with grad students from Washington University in St. Louis, the gentleman gave a table outside on the terrace which overlooks the city.  The view is gorgeous and makes Bangalore look a lot for legit than in reality.  The grad students came to Bangalore for the weekend and are spending their summer helping a village located 5 hours south of Chennai.  The 13th Floor must be the hottest lounge in Bangalore despite having to close at 11:30.  The cover charge is 500 rupees but it goes towards your beverages so it is more of an advanced payment.  However drinks are around $10 which is expensive for Indian standards and definitely attracts a higher-end clientele.

Lions Playing

Peiran, Daniela, Elephant, Myself, & Troy

Our friends from Wash. U.

View from The 13th Floor

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