Mall rats...in India???
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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Over the last few decades, Bangalore has pretty much become the silicon valley of India. A large number of technological universities combined with the founding of a number of large software and "back office services" companies has put Bangalore firmly on the map as one of the most progressive, upwardly mobile, and westernized city in India. I'm sure you've heard talk in the news about outsourcing of American jobs, and many of those have been relocated here. The advent of fast and cheap data transmission has opened the door for the large pool of software developers and English speaking professionals to provide all sorts of services to American companies hungry to cut labor costs.
So as a result of all the new wealth, relatively high wages, and highly educated professional population you can see a level of consumption here unlike anything else in India. Swish shopping malls, stores selling western brand name clothing (that aren't knockoffs), and flashy restaurants and lounges pepper the city. Just to give you an idea of how familiar everything is, here is a list of a few things we did here: Dined at Ruby Tuesdays, visited a few large bookstores, saw a Hollywood film in the nicest theater I've ever been in, ate lunch in a mall food court, and watched American Idol on TV.
For me, the bottom line is that Bangalore is far from the most interesting, picturesque, or "Indian" city I've visited in India, but is one of the few places in this nation I feel like could live in without a major culture shock.
Our journey to Bangalore was our LAST overnight train in India! Woohoo! Hurray! As usual, the other passengers in our compartment were all men with snoring issues... except this time we might have found the world's worst snorer. At 1 am, I woke up to the sound of a chainsaw, a cat coughing up a hairball, and the sound of someone choking...but all these sounds were coming from the same person!
Our time in Bangalore has been unlike any other experience we have had in India. This city is very prosperous and similar to cities in the US. Upscale coffee shops, brand name clothing stores and trendy bars line the streets. We spent eight hours today at a mall indulging in western style consumerism. We picked this particular mall because it had a cinema with 11 different theaters and some movies in English. There were three classes of theaters - regular cinema, Café Europa, and Gold Class. Gold class was about 4 times more expensive than the others, and had the slogan "Gold Class... where we treat you like a star." Well, I just couldn't resist this and had to find out how stars were treated.
The ticket price (which was the same as a movie in New York City) included access to a private swanky lounge, food and drinks. The theater only had 20 seats, and each seat was similar to the plushest Lazy Boy recliner ever made, with its own table. All you had to do was push a button on the side, and the electric-powered footrest extended and the chair reclined so you felt like you were watching a movie on the big screen in your bed. Then a waiter came around and took our order, and we munched on chicken kebabs and hummus during the movie. The movie was just okay (Music & Lyrics with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant - which was hard to convince Todd to agree, as he usually hates any movie with Hugh Grant), but the theater was AMAZING! I think even watching some of the documentaries that Todd enjoys like "The Secret History of Plumbing" would have been entertaining in that theater.