India recap: Bengaluru

After Hampi we had a quick stop-over in Karnaka’s capital, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore). We went here because of the good travel connections – getting in and out of Hampi by train is somewhat limited.  Roman was also curious to see India’s IT capital.

We barely had any time there and a good chunk of it was used drinking smoothies in exchange free WiFi while we tried to figure out visa requirements for Thailand. So I don’t want to speak ill of Bangalore based on insufficient exposure, but it wasn’t particularly exciting to me. From what we did see, it had none of Mumbai’s vibrancy or Delhi’s sense of history and culture. According to Lonely Planet “the city has experienced a mad surge of urban development of late” (thanks to its IT industry), which may be a contributing factor to why it I found it to feel so flat. Certainly the hotel we stayed in didn’t help the city’s case. 😉

Highlights/points of interest included:

–       A nice (but not amazing) meal at Ebony’s – located on the top of a sky scraper it’s meant to be exciting for its view but I was more charmed by the paneer than the skyline.

–       Listening to blaring Christmas carols including “Feliz Navidad” while sitting outside in a t-shirt at the smoothie joint

–       We wanted to recharge our Tata Photon (wireless 3G internet connection) but discovered in the morning that all the IT shops don’t open until late. This is because they stay open late – my guess is due to remote tech support to the West?

–       Technically this is pre-Bengaluru, but I really enjoyed the overnight train there from Hospet – a town close to Hampi which serves as a transport hub. It was my last train ride in India. We met a lovely family who were traveling to a suburb of Bangaluru. Anurag is a young guy studying to become a doctor. We chatted with him and his parents (his jovial father boarded the train wearing three hats – one for each of them. His mother was shy about her English and barely spoke but had the most lovely smile.) and they shared some of their home grown fruit with us. We’d chatted with folks on trains before, but Anurag was so open and easy to talk with – really nice and interesting conversation and just another example of the openness and hospitality we experienced with people in India.

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