Bangers
in Bangalore, India on 16th April, 2012


Arriving in Bangalore felt more like arriving somewhere in the United States rather than somewhere in India. The airport was spacious and modern, there was hardly any rubbish on the streets and the heat was much easier to handle than elsewhere that I'd been to in India.

I dropped my bags at the hotel, headed to Brigade road for some dinner and then to MG Road for a coffee. I got onto the wifi at the coffee shop and made some plans for a friend I'd worked with in India some years prior to come by and join me. It was refreshing seeing an old friend. We talked about life, the tech industry in Bangalore and the appetite for doing startups. In other cities I'd visited just getting by looked to be an accomplishment for many people but here it seemed that glamorous, interesting and riskier lifestyles were in vogue.

The next morning I hailed down a rickshaw to take me to Bangalore palace. The man didn't know where it was and I got a big tour of Bangalore as he drove around asking other rickshaw drivers how to get there. We had agreed a fixed price so I didn't mind him showing me the rest of Bangalore along the way.

One thing I found interesting is that everyday people would shout over to me in the streets to take photos of them. I hadn't experienced this much in other countries and it made my life easier. Normally I have to spend some time breaking through language barriers getting consent for a photograph.

A former colleague of mine invited me to a karaoke party he was putting on Friday evening. It was in Bacchus, a bar I'd visited often when working in Bangalore. I brought along my camera and before I knew it I'd met a ton of people and spent a good chunk of the evening taking pics as I worked the bar socialising. I ended up meeting some people I'd be hanging out with the following evening. I was very lucky to met a girl, who wants to remain anonymous so I'll call her Maria.

The bar shut up around 1am. I said my good byes, packed my stuff and headed for a late night ice cream. As I walked along St. Mark's road back to my hotel an SUV pulled up, in it were a few people I'd been hanging out with that evening. They offered me a ride the rest of the way back to my hotel. I opened the back door to jump in and saw Maria sat there. I took the opportunity to exchange phone numbers and arrange something for the next night.

I had booked a nice hotel room in Bangalore. It was an oasis close to the centre of town. I had spent some afternoons working away on some coding ideas and looking into some open source projects I'd been meaning to look at for a while. I finally got around to setting up a Python-based, GitHub-hosted blog where I hope to document my experiences studying Russian at Tallinn University this summer.

In the evening I got a text from Maria saying she and a few friends were going to City Bar in UB City for drinks that night. When I got there I was greeted with a 1,000 rupee entrance fee. When I got inside there was a scrum to order drinks at the bar, so much so I was hoping to get by on just a few drinks for the night to avoid spending all my time fighting for beer.

The bar was full of the well-to-do, some outgoing characters and the occasional expats. There was a well-known gangster sat in the corner with his shirt open displaying a hairy chest and stomach covered in gold chains. In the parking lot later that evening we came across his fake Ferrari.

I spent the evening chatting with Maria and her friends but around 11:30pm we got a bit of a surprise. The police turned up and they said the bar was closing. We'd hardly been there a few hours, had almost nothing to drink and were now being told we'd have to drink up and leave. I was a bit shocked that they would close up shop so early.

We made our way to the car park. Two guys sat in the front of the car and I sat in the back with three girls. We drove around Bangalore that night, eating dinner in an Indian restaurant and then trying in vain to find another club. One guy made mention of the nice location of my hotel when they dropped me off later that night.

Sunday was a quieter day. I couldn't find Formula 1 coverage on any of the TV channels in my hotel room and the Internet was so slow that I ended up just following twitter posts and watching the leader board on the BBC website.

In the evening I got an ice cream and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. They did some amazing steaks which is surprising for a country which views cows as sacred.

Monday morning I'd booked a cab for 6:45am. The cab turned up ten minutes late and got me to the airport two and a half hours before my flight departed. Little did I know I'd need every second to reach my plane.

When I went to check in they told me that the flight was full and asked me to step back from the counter. I was really scared. I'd missed a flight a few weeks prior and if I missed this flight my time in Istanbul could be cut very short. I went back to the check in clerk and told him how I'd lost ~$600 two weeks prior missing a flight from Hong Kong. Another five minutes past before he handed me a ticket for business class. I couldn't believe it, Emirates is an amazing airline and getting to sit in business class was a dream come true.

The immigration officer stamped my passport as leaving the day before. I had to get the stamp fixed and make my way thought the metal detectors in record time. I got to the boarding queue and pushed my way through to the front brandishing a business class ticket. Emirates has a separate skywalk for the business- and first class passengers. Taking off in a huge reclining chair and saying good bye to India felt like heaven. I was hoping the flight would take forever to get to Dubai.

For breakfast on the flight I had three glasses of champagne, an Arab mazza and fish dish and some Belgian chocolates for dessert. I was able to adjust the chair so I was laying far enough backwards to doze off.

In Dubai I had a fruit salad at Starbucks. The fruit was sweet and fresh and it as swimming in juices. It was the first decent fruit salad I'd had since I'd left London months prior. It was funny paying in British pounds and getting British coins as change in the Middle East.

As I walked towards my gate for my flight to Istanbul I saw a flight for Basra in Iraq boarding. There were a bunch of white guys getting on the plane. I could only imagine the stories they'd have to tell. The flight to Istanbul was uneventful. We flew over Iraq making a little u-shaped detour around Baghdad.

Looking back at my stories and photos of India I take great pride in where I'd been and seen. When I forget how hot, polluted and unpredictable it was I appreciate how exotic, unique and interesting India is.


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