Memoirs of a Visitor to India, Pt. 1

Ted and penguin trash can in Bangalore
It was a hot balmy night as the plane hit the tarmac. The smooth decent lulled the passengers into a sense of security; only to be jostled at the last minute when the plane jumped before touching the ground. Could this be a warning of other surprises in Bangalore?

I have always wanted to visit India and its temples. There’s a certain mystery to this enormous country and plenty of expectations to live up to. I’ve known several people that have vacationed here. Each said they were happy they went but were in no hurry to return.

What mysteries will this country hold?

Over the years, I was told to expect the following issues

  • Dying and dead bodies in the street
  • Extreme poverty and malnutrition
  • Food that gives you explosive diarrhea
  • Cows walking along the streets
  • Misquitos that attack mercilessly, spreading malaria along the way
  • Dry, Hot, Humid, Blistering weather full of Monsoons and drought
  • Strange smells
  • Everything is extremely cheap
  • Terrorism in the streets due to Kashmir and Pakistan
  • Wild ceremonies and festivals
  • Eunichs, men standing on one leg, silent monks, self-flagellation, and other religious extremes
  • Children grabbing you and begging for money
  • Pickpockets
  • The list goes on.

rickshawWhy has this country gotten such a bad reputation over the years? How could it be the source of such beauty and pain all at once? I prepared myself as much as possible. I got pills to fight malaria, mosquito repellent, lots of underwear, long sleeve shirts, pants, comfortable shoes, and extra rupees to give to the children as they hung tirelessly to my leg.

Bangalore, the city of exceeded expectations

I’m in the Bangalore airport waiting to leave for Germany. I am happy to say that the only expectation from above that was met was the cows in the street. The city was absolutely lovely.

First Impressions

I was a bit surprised by the small airport and lack of signs. I just followed people and hoped for the best. It wasn’t long before I made it through customs and waited forever for the luggage to arrive. You arrive and depart very late in Bangalore. Most International flights arrive and depart around mid-night.

The hotel sent a taxi for me and my journey began. My first impressions: it looked like Tijuana, the weather was lovely, holy shit there are big dogs everywhere and they just sit in the road ignoring cars.
Tableau in Bangalore temple

The Ista Hotel was lovely. I usually cringe at paying more than $125/night for a hotel. I would highly recommend the extra cost for a luxury hotel in India. You need a place to relax in air conditioned comfort. My personal taxi guide, Paul, was also wonderful. They even have a lovely café, pool, and spa. It was a bit odd having people wait on me hand and foot. I don’t think I’d ever feel comfortable being one of the pretty people who expect such service.

Save a space for me

Forget those preconceived, stereotypical views that I came to India with. I had a great time and will certainly return. Follow along as I recall more of the memories packed into just a few short days.