Weekend in Bangalore

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

I got invited last minute to help out with some recruiting in Bangalore and seeing how I haven't been there...off I went.  Had a Thursday morning flight out with a couple other guys from the firm and when our driver finally showed up at the Bangalore airport to pick us up, we were whisked away to the India Institute of Management (or IIM for short).  There are several IIM's across India and they are all equally hard to get into as these are the "Ivy League" equivalent of India business schools.  In fact, the application acceptance rate at IIM Bangalore was only 0.2% last year.  We had some good interviews, made a couple offers and had a decent experience at IIM.  We didn't finish until after 7PM so we went straight to Pecco's bar for a couple beers and snacks and then to a very decent restaurant at the top of some building (next door to the "13th Floor Lounge").  After dinner we checked into our hotel (Taj Residency) and called it a night.
My colleagues left the next morning but I decided to stay and check out Bangalore a bit as I've heard good things and needed to check it off my list.  I was not disappointed.  Like Hyderabad, Bangalore is home to many, many Western companies utilizing India talent to assist US projects and teams...the key difference between B'lore and H'bad is that Bangalore has been providing Western firms this option much longer than Hyderabad and thus, is at a more advanced state than Hyderabad perspective when it comes to lifestyle, travel, options, etc....basically it's just a much more easier place to live in as an expat that Hyderabad currently is.  Plus...it's a very well known city world wide and has attracted numerous concerts and events to the city that Hyderabad could never pull off (Aerosmith played here just a few months ago).  It's also a much more pedestrian friendly city than Hyderabad as there are actual sidewalks near the roads and more shockingly...people actual use them!  And the weather is great...spring time conditions year-round.  I should work for the Bangalore tourism department.
After checking messages and doing some work Friday morning, I headed down MG Road towards Brigade/Church road area to do a bit of sight seeing.  Brigade road and Church street are both lined with restaurants, shopping, pubs, etc....everything a tourist would need.  Did I mention that Bangalore is often referred to as the "Pub capital of the world"?  Oh yeah, I'm going to like it here.  Anyway...after doing a bit of walking I had worked up an appetite and wanted to grab a bite.  As I turned a corner I ran smack into a Hard Rock Cafe.  Now normally I wouldn't visit such a place...but dammit, after living in Hyderabad for nearly a year, I needed some nachos and a artery clogging hamburger.  The food was great and the staff friendly...and the Corona beer was cold.  I knew there was a tennis tournament going on and I thought it might be fun to try and get in to see a match or two...so I headed over to the stadium, somehow snuck in to the food/beer garden area and quietly tried to see how I might actually get into the stadium.  Turns out it was easy....VIP tickets were only 500 rupees or about $12 bucks and there were plenty available.  More good news...Venus Williams and then Serena Williams were playing in the next two matches.  So I headed to my seats and spent the next 4 hours watching a couple matches with maybe about 500 other people in the stands.  Both Venus and Serena won their matches so the US was well represented (Serena went on to actually win the entire tournament).
After Tennis I wandered back to my hotel, got cleaned up and went out for sushi (first sushi in months) and then had a few drinks at some club in the basement of the Leela hotel where a group from London was buying shots for the entire bar.  It twas a good day.
Bangalore deserves a second visit for sure...if only for the food.
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