A jaunt to Karnataka

Trip Start Jul 03, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of India  , Karnataka,
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So as a little break, the three of us decided to take a
5-day trip to Bangalore and Mysore, two major cities in the neighboring state
of Karnataka.  We gathered our things and
readied ourselves to live out of backpacks and resume the vagabond lifestyle
that we've come to love so much.  We
rickshawed to our travel agency, which upon first glance actually resembled a
warehouse of some kind.  Oh India.  But sketchy travel agencies aside, we finally
got on our bus to head to B'lore.  The bus
was a "sleeper" style, which in the context of an 8-hour bus ride sounds like a
grand idea.  The reality is that you
can't do anything except recline;
there wasn't any headroom to speak of. 
The irony is that while reclining was mandatory, sleeping was evasive;
my seat was directly over a wheel well, thus every small imperfection in the
road (there were many) was over-amplified. 
It was as though I was lying on a subwoofer at a concert where the
bassist was on performance enhancers.

     After a
sleepless ride, we arrived in Bangalore around 5 a.m.  Kalasipalayam, the neighborhood around our
bus stop, was later most astutely described by one of our drivers.  Ashok asked where we arrived, and upon
hearing the place, paused, then said, "Ah yes sir, that is not the most
majestic place" a euphemistic description that we all thought was hilarious.
Anyway we hopped off the bus and were mobbed by people asking if we needed help
with our bags.  They seem nice, but we
have heard some bad stories.  If you do
happen to let them handle your bags, the best case is they assist you to your
destination and hold your bag hostage until a sufficient tip is offered. The
worst case is that they simply run off with them.  After extracting ourselves from the fray, we
found a rickshaw and started heading to the hotel.  We then encountered our second attempted scam
in as many minutes: the driver asked for the hotel and the address, which we
provided.   He then began to innocuously
slip comments such as "that's not a good hotel" and "that's a very expensive
place to stay."  He then tried to play
the part of "our buddy" suggesting a "much better hotel."  Thankfully we've been warned against this
kind of thing: the driver will escort you to a specific hotel where he will
receive commission from the owner.  The
driver became a bit pushy and I got so frustrated that I actually yelled at him
a little bit, but it got the message across. 
Upon arrival we collapsed into the hotel beds.

      We roused
ourselves around 9, had a bit of breakfast in the veg restaurant in the hotel,
and were on our way. Our driver was an incredibly polite and articulate young
guy named Ashok.  Compared to other
drivers we've had, he was a godsend.  He
picked us up from the hotel and we began sightseeing around B'lore.

      Prior to
its boom as the technological capital of India, Bangalore was actually referred
to as "the garden city."  Nowadays there
is significantly less green space and many more skyscrapers, and the phrase,
"I've been Bangalored"(describing losing your job to outsourcing) takes on a
new meaning. But still some natural beauty remains; and the Bangalore gardens
are just such a place.  Like many of the
more grandiose things in India, it was a British installation, but the
government of B'lore has done a great job of maintaining it.

we had a very unique experience: we went to an Indian mall.  Some things to keep in mind: most stores
we've been going to don't even have cash registers, some with only dirt floors.  Also remember that none of the three of us
are really "mall people" but this place was a revelation.  4 stories high, with theatres, AC, American
fast food, it was a crazy place to behold. 
We also noticed that Bangalore is much more diverse than most of Tamil
Nadu in terms of people and language, almost everyone we met spoke English or
at least some Hindi in addition to their native Kannada, whereas in TN there is
a strong opposition against speaking anything that isn't Tamil, they even had
massive protests several decades ago against Hindi being the National Language.

     After some
Indian McDonalds and a book-buying binge I headed back to the hotel for some
rest. I know, I know: Morgan ate at a McDonalds? Let me just defend myself by
saying this place was d-freaking-licious, way better than the US.  So please, cut me some slack.

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fish_death_yo~ on

I have to enter a title =_=
oooooooo, purty~!
and ashok seems to be a wise man, indeed! ^^

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