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I’m so excited! I couldn’t wait to tell you! I’m going on a vacation to Bangalore in India, a place I’ve always wanted to go ever since Babby told me about it. We leave tomorrow and you’re coming with me of course! Oh, I hope it’s raining there. I’ve still got so much to pack and I’ve to keep you in safely too. Ten days, just the two of us. Get ready D; across the seas we travel too, together both me and you.
I’m trying to adjust to the difference in time, but my tummy is growling in protest. Just so you know, we’ve landed in Frankfurt, Germany and I’m writing to you from the airport lounge. I’ve had a light breakfast. Six hours here before the connecting flight to Bangalore leaves… I know you want to see around Frankfurt, but not right now. We’ll do it someday soon I promise. Another day set to pass in traveling itself…
12th August (13th here in India)
Dee, we’ve landed!!
Phew, I hope we thoroughly enjoy the visit. The lady next to me on the flight made it seem as though I had made a terrible mistake. Oh boy is this place neat! Wish the airport wasn’t so far away though but bouncing now on this bed makes it worthwhile! Hope they don’t check for broken springs while am here! Just pulled back the shades… hey its raining!!! Dee, I’m going outside now! Back later… need to catch some sleep too. Still not adjusted to this time difference! Until I return back into your case you go…
P.S: can’t wait to taste the local cuisine… grrrr goes my stomach!
Dee, what a day I’ve had! After that long flight journey, I did what I do best… I shopped!! Breakfast was a surprise though. Babby was telling me something about dosas being a very popular breakfast and I ordered a ghee roast special thinking it’d be a light dish. Turns out, the dosa was bigger than the plate! Learnt a new word of the local language, “beku” meaning want; there was this little darling at the adjacent table demanding “Icecream beku” from her parents! I tested it out too… told the waiter “coffee beku” and he got me the coffee. Cool!
The receptionist suggested Brigade Road and Commercial Street for shopping and I went there. Today being Saturday, both were crowded. It was exactly like I’d heard before I came here. There was this street vendor selling key chains, and being the collector that I am, I bought a few! That started a ruckus with other vendors chasing me trying to get a sale! A fellow was actually trying to sell me rat poison… strange people, these!
I’d lunch at the Monarch… the south Indian thali was really delicious and sampled each dish a little bit of course! Got some reading material and found my favorite magazine ‘Swizzle Stick’ here at Gangaram’s Book Beaureau and the rest of the afternoon went in window shopping. A good start to my vacation, though it was saddening to see little kids begging for food as the taxi went past a big ground there. I even saw some kids selling newspapers and magazines in the traffic jam. It’s the India I’d heard of… I didn’t think it’d be true though till today.
Very tired Dee… will sleep now. Not hungry for dinner either, there’s something I never thought I’d say.
My tour guide Anita took me to the White House of the Karnataka government today. It’s huge, and it’s called Vidhana Soudha!! Anita said it had three hundred rooms, made of granite, domed at four corners. The entry was restricted but I almost sneaked in like the Salahis! The police though saw me trying and gave me a strict talking to. Thankfully though, I wasn’t arrested; they were very furious and spoke in Kannada so I couldn’t understand a word. I presumed it could be for security reasons. Anita replied on my behalf. It’s sorted out, and I’ve to be careful now not to make her defend me anymore. How embarrassing! On the way back after the tour, I saw the place floodlit. It looked even more beautiful! If I ever meet that lady on the plane again, I’ll give her a talking to! Imagine living in this city and telling me it has nothing worthwhile to visit. She must be crazy.
Next we went to nearby Cubbon Park. The place is not as huge as Central Park back home in Manhattan but it’s ok. We bought some food and had a small picnic there, just Anita and me. The park had this old red heritage building next to it which she told me was the High Court. Cubbon Park also has lots of medicinal plants all around. We had candy ice from a trolley and went to the nearby Musical dancing fountain at around seven, just in time to catch the first show. Clumsy me hurried forward a bit and nearly fell in to the fountain itself. The people showed much concern and helped me back to my feet. Sort of became a Bangalore star I think. The show was amazing! Anita tells me tomorrow is Independence Day in India so she won’t be available to show me around! I’ll go shopping again!
Tiring day… but really enjoyable, even with the hullabaloo I created!
The road seemed more crowded today. I guess it’s because of the national holiday. The day went in shopping. Since I’ve landed here in Bangalore, I’ve been fascinated by the Indian dresses, so I visited a place called Malleswaram which was suggested by Neena, the receptionist at the hotel as a good place to find saris. The weekend market seemed to have spilled over to Monday too and it was ruckus central with the vendors for vegetables, roadside electronic goods and what not, screaming at the top of their voices. I saw a very lovely purse, and purchased it for a hundred Indian rupees. I was just walking with it when some speed demon of a thief rushed past me and flicked it! Poor fella will be getting the shock of his criminal career when he opens it to find a sponge inside and nothing else!
I went to the sari shop and there were actually fewer people in there today, or maybe I got lucky because I went early! Anyways, the salesgirl there started opening the saris for me to select from and she was so damn quick. I couldn’t see one properly. I asked her how to try one on, and she was very helpful. She took me to a dressing room and helped me drape it! Oh Dee, you should have seen me! I looked pretty. I told her I’d try the next one myself and she left me there. I did it, and went outside to ask her if it was good but maybe I didn’t do it completely right; the dress just fell apart when I took a few steps… I turned beet red; there were people staring! The salesgirl though pushed me back inside quickly! Thank the Lord I was wearing jeans underneath; else I’d never have lived through it! I took the two I’d tried on and left there ASAP! I envy the Indian women Dee; how they have the patience to drape five metres of cloth in such beautiful manner every day, I can never figure it out!
I’ll never use that word I learnt again! I told the rickshaw driver that I wanted something, but I ended up saying “Bekku beku”. He didn’t object and promptly bought me a cat! In the Indian languages, pronunciation is a big thing apparently coz beku means want and bekku means cat! I tried to give it back, but the cat wouldn’t leave me. So I’d to keep it. I left it outside the hotel, but it somehow got to my balcony. Thankfully had some milk drink in my shopping bag!
Another wonderful day for me Dee, waiting for tomorrow.
Dee, today I felt like royalty! Anita was back and she took me first to the Bangalore Palace. She said it was built to look like the Windsor Palace in England. Yeah, it does look like it, but much smaller. I wonder if it had elephants and horses in its ground in olden times. Anita tells that nowadays, the palace is mainly used for conducting banquets apparently. The grounds around it are huge, and usually used to organize concerts and exhibitions. Even today, there was something happening. Anita said it was a gathering of engineering colleges though, so nothing to visit there.
After that, we went to the Visveswaraya Technological & Industrial Museum. I wanted to make it clear to Anita that I don’t intend to visit boring museums, but I decided to give it a chance. The place was unlike a museum itself, because it had interactive models instead! Parts of engines of various automobiles, the loop-de-loop balls, the fun interactive exhibits on uses of sound and mathematics! I think I may have to take back my notion that math is dull! Blimey, it even had halls to make students enjoy studying science. With a 3d theater also, I think it makes learning fun! If I had struck this off my itinerary earlier I think I’d have missed something very innovative!
After having a light lunch at a small restaurant (the idli vada sambar for lunch is an awesome combo), she and I headed for the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens! She said that today was the last day for the biennial flower show and it shouldn’t be missed! When we got there, the place was packed! I thought we’d never get in, but we managed it. The gardens are so beautiful! There was this huge tower almost smack drab in the middle of it, on the top of a big rock hill. We climbed to the top and enjoyed the panoramic view from there. Then, we headed toward the glass house where the flower show was being held! Breathtaking would be a small word. The floral arrangements in various patterns were too good. There was a common theme to it all, and had various flowers used to resurrect them! I wished I could take some of the flowers, but they looked more beautiful in the arrangements than in my hand. Later we went around the gardens, and stayed there till sunset. The glasshouse was floodlit then, and it dazzled like one of our own opera houses back home. I’ve certainly made up my mind to return to Bangalore soon.
We have just two days left here Dee, I don’t feel like going back to work in Manhattan now!
Dee, today for me was an overwhelming day. I’ve visited the world headquarters of this place which is back home in New York on Long Island, but it was very nice to go visit the temple itself. The ISKCON temple was where I went today, and even though it was a Wednesday, there were quite a lot of devotees in the shrine. When I got out of the cab with Anita, the beauty of the structure struck me. Atop the hill, the Hare Krishna Hill, the temple is definitely a marvel of modern architecture. A very serene and clean place with gardens and fountains and 5 temple structures… the main shrine that houses three deities, an amphitheater, the mechanized kitchen Akshaya Patra.. I don’t think my words would do it justice, Dee. I spent the morning in the temple, silently praying to the deities, took the offering (Prashadam) and came back to the hotel. When I come back the next time, I’ll visit the temple first and not leave it to the last. I spent the afternoon watching television, and the evening just walking in the slight drizzle that was there today. I’ve to begin packing now; the flight back home to Manhattan is beckoning.
Dee, we’ve landed home. I’ve enjoyed the trip a lot and will go back to India soon. It has given me a lot of fond memories, some joyful, some saddening and some embarrassing. Even the trip back was doubtful at one stage; I forgot the passport bag in the hotel room itself and would have been in tears at the airport if it hadn’t been for the alert house keeping staff who made it possible for me to get it in the nick of time as my taxi was about to leave the hotel premises. I’ve had a long journey and just want to get some sleep now.
Magazine image made by my Indiana Raiders teammate Garfixis! Many thanks Rumz!