Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
CSI retreat

Flag of India  , Karnataka,
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So my time in Bangalore is over, it's been short but very sweet! Each day I have been in the office writing stories for the children’s sponsorship website, it’s fun for a little bit reading about these children, but quite monotonous after 5 or 6 hours of it. Some of the children’s stories so far a quite funny, I get bullet point information on them, and then I have to right their story. One bullet point of a girl said: 'Geetha is a very intelligent young girl, after school she likes to cook her food with sand’- Little stories like that made me chuckle and kept me going. Especially when some of these children’s stories are so sad, it’s nice when you get a story more about the character of a child and not about their life so far. So at times you get a little depressed reading about all their problems, but at HOPE they say to edit most of the sad stuff out, then thing I like about HOPE foundation is they focus on the positives and the future, not on the bad things in the past!

The place I’ve been staying at was very nice; it is a CSI (church of South India) womens hostel and retreat. I was well in their good books and the sister there loved me! All I did was turn up for the evening prayer on the first night, and I was well in their good books. Apparently none of the guests, even if they are Christians don’t usually come to prayer, and they accepted I was too lazy to come to the 6am prayer. But after that I was always invited to sit at the sisters table, unlike any other guest, and they would give me a little bit of meat with each meal and give me extra fruit and stuff. Surprisingly as well, they had a wicked sense of humour, and believe it or not they would make me laugh quite often, they were very funny. The eldest sister must be close to knocking of heaven’s door soon- she is very old. She has a few wires lose inside her head as well because at any random moment she would burst into song glorifying Jesus, this included when she had a mouthful of food! But she and the other sisters were very nice and good to me.

  On Friday evening Antony (who does web design for HOPE foundation as well as many other jobs) took me to the headquarters of an IT company called Trellisys. Once again it was a world away to what I see in Chennai- this was the new India growing with young computer professionals who had nice clothes on, and the latest phone and were working on computer programming. All the guys there were very nice and I spent a bit of time there talking to them. They specialise in facebook and iphone apps, and they were showing their current projects, and they have two big successful apps that are very popular all other the world... and I’ve seen all the codes and complicated IT stuff for them on the very computer where they were made! On Saturday morning after a half day at the office I took the bus back to the retreat (even though there are a lot more white people in Bangalore, everyone would stare at me when I would go on the buses, then one of the staff explained its only Indians who use the bus here, so they stare at me because I must be Indian!)

  On Saturday afternoon Antony took me to the ISKON temple, which is a famous Hare Krishna temple in Bangalore. Not going to lie, I thought it was a Buddhist temple until I got there, then I thought Hare Krishna’s were some sort of sect of Buddhism, but there were a mix of Buddhist looking and Hindu style shrines. There were both people wearing Hindu spots and people who looked like Buddhists worshipping there, so I was thoroughly confused. They take you around the temple, where everyone had to do the strange ritual things, Antony makes a point no of not being a part of any religion, so he refused to join in which was quite funny! In the temple I saw a Hare Krishna monk do his rituals in front of the main shrine, and lots of people meditating and stuff, it was all very strange! Before I always thought of these sort of religions as quite exotic and glamorous, but seeing them, really it is just a little crazy!

On Sunday I went to Cubbon Park which was very close to me, right in the middle of Bangalore. It is Bangalore’s equivalent of New York’s central park; it is huge and very beautiful and peaceful. I spent the whole of the morning there, and it was my first time since I’ve been here where I could just spend a couple of hours to myself, just relaxing, and it was so good! Once again I saw a completely different India to Chennai, there were people jogging, families sitting down having a picnic, some teenagers playing badminton and you would not see any of these things in Chennai! In the afternoon Antony took me around a real Indian market tucked away in a small part of Bangalore. It was very very chaotic, and so many different stalls and sellers with all sorts of things. So After a bit of haggling I got some small gifts for my family, I had to make the most of it as this was the first time since I’ve been out here that I had found an Indian market! Then Antony showed me a HOPE vocational project in a nearby Muslim community which was good to see. The streets in this Islamic colony were crazy- it is a big festival this week where they slaughter as many animals as they can then have a big feast. I relatively rich family had bought a camel to slaughter for the festival, it was huge. It almost took up the whole street and it was ducking its head otherwise it would hit the roof of the house it was tied to. I have seen camels before in Africa and Egypt, but none like this, comparing it to my height, I think it was 10-11 foot.

  In the evening we had dinner in a Wild West style restaurant, once again you wouldn’t see any restaurant like this in Chennai. It was very nice, I had a proper fatty, greasy burger which was great and all the fatty cholesterol blocking up my arteries felt soooo good. I also enjoyed a nice Budwieser beer, which was the first beer I had had in about a month, and the only alcohol which was Kingfisher since I’ve been in India. I went out again with Antony on Tuesday, he took me to a British style bar/pub called the Sherlock Holmes which was pretty good fun. Again I enjoyed a beer while watching Wrestling- India is crazy for WWE and martial arts, so if cricket or Bollywood films aren’t being shown, then its WWE or Bruce lee/ Jackie Chan which is on. We then walked down Mahatma Gandhi road, which is once again a very upmarket and cultural street, with bookshops, bars restaurants etc- which once again was a world away from the India that I had been living in!

I felt it coming on earlier in the week, but Wednesday I had come down with a fever so I was feeling pretty rough. I only went in to work very briefly before I went home to rest. Then I fell asleep and missed lunch so I walked down one of the metropolitan streets and bought myself a McDonalds (If anyone is wondering if McDonalds tastes in India, it’s still pretty disgusting, it’s just cheaper.)

  I that was a summary of my time in Bangalore, to sum it up, Bangalore is a lot nicer place to live, how I described it to someone at HOPE foundation was ‘It is actually a civilised place to live compared to Chennai’ Everyone at the office found that very funny, but agreed it was probably true. I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve been doing for HOPE foundation, it isn’t the most glamorous volunteering, but they desperately need it so I was happy to help. Everything there was very nice and looked after me well, and they had a wicked sense of humour. I seemed to be the office entertainment when all of a sudden I spoke in Tamil, this all surprised them and their favourite game was asking me something in Tamil, then listen to me answer in Tamil which they loved. So Bangalore is a nice, easy place to live in India, but honestly, not quite as fun, I didn’t get hit by a motorbike or nothing whilst there!

  So not it’s just to survive the overnight bus back to Chennai with a fever... yay!
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