When I had the opportunity to spend six weeks in Bangalore, India for work I jumped at the chance. India is one of my favourite places in the world and to experience the country from a professional vantage would shed a completely different light on an already very complex culture. The only half unfortunate thing about the entire experience was that I spent so much time working and being shown around Bangalore by local colleagues and hanging out with new friends that there was no time left to actually write about our incredible experience. And like I said, it's hard to view that in a negative light. Sigh. I heart India.
Now that I've let months pass since arriving home, my point form notes are the only details to guide my memory back into our six weeks in Bangalore. That and approximately a million photos, of course.
Staying for so long in one place, a big city to boot, was something we had never done before. To be honest, it wasn't something I would have even thought we'd be interested in. However, because we were lucky enough to have amazing colleagues, both local and Canadian to let us in on city secrets and take us to delicious restaurants, our time in Bangalore was fantastic. Its the people that often make the experience when traveling and I can imagine that our time in Bangalore would have been significantly different in any other circumstance. We were privileged to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Yay for serendipity.
For example, we caught word of a shopping exhibition at Karantaka Chitrakala Parishath, a local art gallery. Since J isn't into looking at beautiful handmade sundries, a few colleagues and I headed over after work to check out the selection. Comprised of a number of traveling vendors this Bazaar was so very awesome. I'm sure it had nothing to do with how fun it was to bargain alongside like-minded women for silky scarves and luscious leather, and not drag along a certain anti-shopping husband (J: Hey! That is an over-simplification of how I feel about shopping). Turns out my colleague Esther is a bargainer extraordinaire! As someone who thought themselves to be a pretty capable bargainer, I learned a number of lessons shopping with Esther! We were the only non-locals there, and I'm pretty sure we got the best deals.
Esther, however, failed in one account. She was not able to shield me from the masticating monkey. While we were pulling long kurtis over our clothes to see if they would fit us as dresses (not dresses, I know) we inadvertently got caught in the middle of a monkey food fight. While some sneaky (evil) monkey was attempting to splatter his deserving friend with a chunk of chewed up (no doubt rotten) banana, he missed his mark and his gross, slimy and half chewed banana landed on me and my not-yet-purchased dress. There are only so many places in the world where partially chewed banana falls from the sky. And, truth be told, it was significantly less gross than my monkey encounter in Bali when a monkey jumped on my bare back in poo covered feet.. so. Yeah. Fun! I almost forgot that happened. Almost.
The worst thing about Bangalore is the traffic. Its really, really VERY bad. It would not be uncommon for it to take 45 mins to go 5 kms in an Uber. Thankfully they were just connecting the metro train line when we were leaving which would be a way better, quicker way to get around. Granted, having an Indian phone, Ola and Uber were indispensable. It took forever to go anywhere, but it was cheap and super easy. You can now also book rickshaws with Ola, however we found the rickshaws very unreliable. I don't think any rickshaw we booked ever actually showed up. Cars, on the other hand, were great.
The best restaurants we ate at were Samrat Restaurant (North Indian), Shri Sagar (for the BEST dosas) in Malleshwarm, New Sagar Fast Food, Savory in Fraser Town for everything ( try the grape juice), Mangalore Pearl for seafood, Bramain Thatte idly for breakfast, the Guyani da Punjabi Dhaba in BTM, Rahhmans Families International in Fraser Town, Konark Veg Restaurant, and Sherlock's, in Fraser Town for Kingfisher on a terrace.
Speaking of beer.. when I was researching Bangalore before we left it was often touted as The Craft Beer Capital of India!! Colour me ecstatic!! We visited District 6, Bangalore Brew Works, Arbor Brewery Company and the Biere Club. The far and away winner for us was the Arbor Brewing Company. The beer was definitely the best and atmosphere and food was great.
I loved shopping on Commercial Street and the surrounding mess of alleys. Even without shopping this would have been one of my favourite places in the city. It had everything I love about India, the chaos, colours, energy and delicious food. It was Ramadan and we loved being on the streets at sunset to take part in the excitement and Street food. Speaking of street food. Definitely plan a dinner on 'Food Street’s for a multi-course eating extravaganza. We wandered from stall to stall, our local friends collecting the best of the best for us all to share. It was so delicious and so very fillling. If there is any Indian treat, sweet or snack you've been craving- they'll have it on Food St. Obviously make sure to wash it down with a piping hot cup of sweet milky chai!