It’s decided: if I ever move to India, I’m living in Bengaluru (“Bengaluru” is the official post-colonial name, but used just as much as Bangalore – much like Mumbai and Bombay). I arrived here a couple days ago for my project. Bangalore is known as the “Silicon Valley” of India, housing many startups and technology parks.
When I first arrived, however, I wasn’t happy. I tried to go to the National Gallery of Modern Art, which has a ₹20 entrance fee (~30 cents) for Indian nationals and a ₹500 entrance fee (~$7.50) for foreigners. This isn’t so unusual – there’s often a difference for sites in India, but not such a steep one! I raised my eyebrows at the man at the ticket counter, who told me that the new wing is closed that week. So I left. I’m not paying $7.50 to see only the old wing of a modern art museum!
So I went to a café to work, only their wifi was out, and none of their outlets were working; there was some issue with the power despite the lights and coffee machines working perfectly. I had trouble finding wifi all day, actually, due to various similar issues and invalid passwords at “free wifi”-labeled cafés (this wouldn’t really fly in Mumbai. Also, the wifi at my Airbnb wasn’t working when I arrived). Okay, fine. I ordered a coffee and wrote a letter instead, and I went to the post office to mail it.
There was a bit of a language barrier at the post office, but I made it clear that I wanted to mail a letter to the U.S. Apparently this only cost me ₹25 (under a dollar). Hm. I asked a second person, who basically said “Yeah, just put the stamp on and put it in the box outside,” so I licked the back of the stamp and placed it on the envelope. He gave me a horrified, disgusted look, shaking his head and saying “glue!” Of course, I walked outside the office to see a tray of glue and a paintbrush for applying the glue to stamps sitting on a table by the post box. So I felt pretty bad about that.
Feeling upset and embarrassed – and slightly defeated, I suppose – I sat outside the steps of the post office for a while to gather my thoughts. I was thinking “Why on earth did I come to Bangalore, if it will just be like Mumbai without any of my friends?” I’ve made some great friends in Mumbai, and while the city can be super chaotic and challenging, having friends there makes it all okay.
Of course, I needed to give Bangalore more of a chance, and I started to love it that evening and the next day (yesterday). The city is far greener than Mumbai, with more shade and a cooler climate. Coupled with the fact that it’s more pedestrian friendly, Bangalore is a great city to walk around in, and that is my favorite thing! I’ve already walked around here and taken more pictures in two days than I did in my first week in Mumbai (to be fair, I make more of an effort to get to know a place when I have less time there).
One of the friends I made in Mumbai lives here, so we got dinner that first night, and I remembered that I do have friends in Bangalore, which makes all the difference. (Also, he confirmed that there is no way my 40-cent letter to the US will make it there. “90% chance it gets sent to the dustbin,” he said). Well, you live and learn!
Bangalore is known for being the city with the worst traffic in all of India, which I experienced a bit when I spent 1.5 hours in an Uber on my way to my first project meeting here (the person I was meeting was luckily very kind about the fact that I was almost 20 minutes late, which I hate to be). Also, the bus into the city from the airport takes just as long as the flight from Mumbai! So thank goodness it’s easier to walk around here – and in terms of the kind of city I would want to live in, I already feel just as comfortable here after two days than I felt in Mumbai after four weeks, if not more!
Finally, I listened to this song yesterday on the 1+ hourlong drive to my project meeting, and I found that these lyrics really resonated with me: “I try to stop the world from moving so fast / Try to get a grip on where I’m at.” Sometimes, even though the Watson is very free and flexible, I feel like there’s a lot going on and time is just slipping through my fingers. Part of this is that I’ve been spending (losing) a lot of time in cabs since arriving in Qatar and now India. Back in Sweden, I walked everywhere or took trams, and I posted on the blog every few days, watched movies in the evenings, and saw museums and the like during the day. Somehow, I post on the blog less frequently now, and I also watch far fewer movies, and see fewer sights. And yet time still feels like it’s flying by! How is this possible? I suppose I still spend lots of time on the project – researching companies; calling and emailing companies in an attempt to set up meeting; and having project meetings. In just the past two weeks, I’ve been having project meetings faster than I can write about them! Also, in India, the travel time to and from meetings can get really intense (infrastructure issues). I think I’m also more social in India than I was in Sweden or even in Qatar. Anyway, I don’t like feeling like time is slipping away, so it’s good to get a grip sometimes.