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We flew from Delhi to Bangalore as our first destination of our big trip to the southern part of India. Maneesh and I were able to convince the family to join us for at least part of this trip, and the early part of our travels turned into a great big family vacation.
It was close to lunch time by the time we disembarked our two hour Jet Airways flight in Bangalore. Our first impression of the city was very nice. At least the few miles around the airport as we exited were very nicely groomed and had a very clean feeling.
We were in Bangalore for two days and one night. Like most Indian cities traffic was crazy in Bangalore and naturally it was quite a populated place. However the vibe and characteristics of the city overall were very different from the other Indian cities I had been to. It was a very happening place in a different kind of way. While most Indian cities are quite populated and traffic is crazy, typically these two things contribute to the busy-ness and fast pace of big cities. However, these weren't the only two aspects creating the busy vibe. The city was a fast paced, hustling and bustling place.
I found Bangalore to be quite pretty. The layout of the city was quaint and many of the streets were beautifully lined with tall trees, often forming a corridor by connecting at the top.
Bangalore didn't really have many historical sights to see. We did visit Cubbon park, the local parliament building (which was previously a palace belonging to a former king) and did a little shopping on the popular MG road and Brigade road.
There were many shopping malls outfitted with American and European vendors, such as Marks and Spencer, MAC, Aldo, The Body Shop, Forever 21, Colors of Bennetton, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, etc. It was obvious the demographics of this city were that of quite well off people. Not to mention all the high end vehicles that were on the road. Bangalore really has something going on that is very unique in India which may be heavily influenced by the presence of all the foreign businesses and multinational corporations nestled in this city.
Bangalore has become the IT hub of India and many foreign companies have set up offices (including lots of customer service or support call centres). They employ a great deal of the residents of this city and many people from all over India come looking for work in Bangalore on account of these companies. In particular young university graduates come looking for career building opportunities. Hence much of the population reflects young people, working in the corporate world, running the daily rat race of accumulating professional experience and wealth, and looking for avenues to potentially migrate out of India. This aspect of Bangalore reminded me of Vancouver or Toronto. The focus of life and the daily routines were very similar to most cities back home. Needless to say Bangalore is a very cosmopolitan city, very modern and very trendy.
While Kannada is the official language in Bangalore, being situated in the state of Karnataka, English was widely spoken.
The cuisine also changed drastically, although we were expecting it. We do enjoy South Indian cuisine and were looking forward to eating a whole lot of authentic South Indian food.
In Bangalore we were able to get a taste of a cuisine called Andhra meals, which come from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pardesh. Essentially the meal consists of curried lentils and vegetables, rice and curd, which is all meant to be eaten by hand, served on a banana leaf. South Indians eat their meals with their bare hands. Although we were looking for an authentic experience, it was a bit difficult for us to eat lentils with our fingers so we opted for spoons.
Our second meal in Bangalore was at the famous restaurant MTR, who also manufacture many of the spices and easy mixes for making South Indian dishes at home (like a DIY version of the elaborate meals in the restaurants). We had the first dosa and idli (along with a variety other items) of our trip here and we were not disappointed.
After our short stay in Bangalore, we headed to the famous city of Mysore!