Day 13: Bangalore - Garden City

Trip Start Apr 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

It just gets better and better. Bangalore is a beautiful city. Relatively speaking, one will fall in love with Bangalore. Definitely my pick of the city if I will have to live in India. There is lot more people speaking English here and that definitely helped me. Most people speak Kannada and some also speak Tamil as there are lot of people who moved from Tamil Nadu to Bangalore. But Bangalore has now become quite a cosmopolitan city with the raise of IT job opportunities. There are people from all over India who live in Bangalore. Quite a few foreigners too. You will find a westerners in hotels, most on business trips. And I also found that there were fewer beggars and homeless people in Bangalore.

This morning Arun and I caught up with Divya and one of her best friends Chiffen (aka Chef). After a 2 hour breakfast we thought it might be good if I have a local SIM card for my mobile, so I can keep in touch while I roam around Bangalore.

It is not easy getting a pre-paid SIM in India. They need to see your passport and need a passport photo for the application form. Then it takes between 24 - 48 hours to activate the SIM (a pre-paid SIM!) and that too if you are lucky. Don't be surprised if it takes a week to activate it. Also you need to pay about 100 Ruppes to get the SIM and then you top it up with more Ruppees and the talk time is not exactly how much you put on your SIM. If you put 300 Ruppes you might get 58 Ruppes of talk time. And everyday they will deduct 1 Ruppee from your account. And when you go from one state to another, you will roam locally. And that will deduct further 50 Ruppees. The cost adds up. However calls are quite cheap. They are about 1 or 2 Ruppees from your mobile. But still I don't advise getting a SIM locally. For the hassles it is not worth it.

After 2 hour breakfast and 30mins trying to get a pre-paid SIM I decided it was time to go shopping in Bangalore.

Bangalore has lots of shopping malls. Couple of the biggest ones are Bangalore Central and Garuda. Commerical Street is also well renowned shopping prescient. I took a local map from the hotel and decided to explore Bangalore by foot. The hotel was centrally located so I figured with the traffic, walking would be the best option.

Started walking in the direction of Commercial Street and then I lost it. Don't look for road or street names in India. They hardly exist. What I do is walk along a street and look at the shops board to see if they have an address. That will tell you the name of the street you are on. Call it being street smart:) Even with that I lost where Commerical Street was. By this time I was exhausted in the heat and was sweating like hell. So I hailed an auto and asked to take me to Bangalore Central. It was only 5 mins ride. Later looking at the map, I realised that I was just around the corner from Commerical St. Bit to late now, so headed on to Bangalore Central. The ride was 12 Rupees.

Went straight to an ice-cream parlour and had a milkshake. Had to cool my body down and walked around the air conditioned mall to try and get my shirt dried:) But it did not help when the power went out for a while. Bangalore seem to have power problems. While I was in the mall the power went out about 3 or 4 times. Everytime the failure would last for about a minute to 2. But every minute would seem like an hour. That is how quickly you will heat up.

Just around the corner from Bangalore Central is Garuda Mall. This is a larger shopping mall. Bangalore central is a single store with 3 floors, Garuda is a complex with 5 floors of different shops. There was some performances going for the kids in the atrium including a Michael Jackson look a like performing.

Also in Garuda mall is Scary House. It was designed by one of India's animatronics team and there are several around India. You enter a pitch black house (style setup) that has been rumored to be possessed by evil spirits. As you walk around the house you will come face to face with these evil spirits, looking to take more humans into their own. The highlight is the haunted "Chandramuki" house. Being a horror fan, I had no second thoughts about entering the house. It was quite an adrenalin rush for 40 Rupees. It was spooky alrite!

Just as I got out of Garuda mall I was approached by number or rickshaw drivers asking if I wanted to hire one. I thought why the heck not, "yes, I want an auto". I told him I wanted to go to Commerical Street. As I got into the auto, he said that will 80 Rupees. Now now...The auto to Bangalore Central was only 12 Rupees. So I knew this guy was playing me. So I told him that, he was complaining about the traffic. And I asked him about meter and he said it does not work. So this was what everyone had warned me about. I told him if he can take me there for 15 Ruppes I will go, else bye bye..He said 40 Rupees. I said sorry and started to walk and then he kept coming behind me and asking me what price I will offer. I did not look back and crossed the busy street walking through the traffic daring him to follow me and naturally he did not want to cross the road leaving his auto on the other side of the road and went back to try and trick some other person. So after this, I just decided to walk back to Commerical Street. It was only 10mins walk. And I saved myself 15 Ruppes (or 80 Ruppees!)

Commerical Street is shoppers paradise. There are so many shops selling very nice clothes for both men and women. I went into Anglo American (locally recommended) and ordered couple of glasses for me. One regular glasses and other sunnies with prescription. Prices of both combined were less than half of what I would pay in Australia. So my trip to India is now worth it:)

I also narrowed down couple of shops to get some clothes for Arun's wedding. The shops here close around 9PM. Which was another good thing. Most shops in Australia close around 5pm and 9 PM only on Thursday. Went into a shop and got a pair of Jeans. It was bit too long for me and I wanted one with the flare which they did not have stock of. But no problem. Most stores in India have their own tailor who will take your measurement and do the alteration for free while you wait. It took them 15 mins to change my jeans from bootleg to straight. By this time it was 9:30 PM and I been out shopping since 11 AM.

So I hired an auto back to the hotel. Being after 9:30 PM I had to pay a surcharge for the ride. Might have well walked it...but was too tired to do so.
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