Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bangalore or Bust!

A similar route to ours

After waking up early on Sunday morning, we (Nipsi, Bhodee and I) hopped in the car and geared up for our adventure in Bangalore. I was really looking forward to this trip because of the cooler temperatures in store for us. Bangalore is the major city in Karnataka so our road trip would take us out of Tamil Nadu and through Andra Pradesh before finally reaching the city. Also known as Bengaluru, the city is the third most populous in India so I was expecting a serious change to Chennai, which still feels quite sleepy and small at times (in a good way of course!).

Nipsi and Bhodee

While stuck in Chennai morning traffic, we found ourselves singing along to Don McLean's "American Pie" and I was suddenly struck by how small the world is now. The fact that I could be on the other side of the world, singing along to a song with friends just as I would be back home... well, it was a nice moment and made me a little homesick for Virginia! Amusingly, this wouldn't be the only time I felt the global nature of life   while on this trip (more later).

Roadside dosa,artistically presented

As we made our way out of the city, we started to notice a worrying trend. All the petrol stations were closed! Apparently our road trip was perfectly timed to match a petrol strike in Chennai. As we passed closed station after closed station, Nipsi and I began to silently fret about whether or not we'd even be able to find enough petrol to start our trip. Luckily, just as I was beginning to feel slightly panicked, we found a small petrol station that was still open. After that slightly terrifying experience, we headed out into the truly terrifying experience: an Indian highway...

Guess roadtrip snacks are the same everywhere

Actually, the drive was really pleasant. There weren't too many other cars on the road and the highway itself was in great condition, ensuring a smooth drive. I spent the majority of the time just watching the world go by from the back-seat while absent-mindedly singing along to the radio. The scenery was surprisingly green with lots of palm trees and other vegetation. I find myself constantly impressed by how lush India can be given the extreme temperatures. For example, in Chennai, the temperatures the week prior had ranged from 42 - 45 degrees Celsius (114 - 120 degrees Fahrenheit) with not a single drop of rain. Understandably, I was looking forward to our Bangalore escape!

Buses are often decorated with gods or goddesses for protection

Along the highway, there are signs periodically that urge drivers to be careful and to not take unnecessary risks. While this may seem normal, the guilt inducing wording is something I have only seen here in India. For example: "Accident's don't happen, they are caused", "Drive carefully, your family is waiting", and "Safe driving is like breathing, don't stop it!" Although I found the signs a bit surprising, as far as I could tell they didn't seem to be having much effect on the drivers around us who were still speeding along, weaving in and out of different lanes.

This didn't seem like a safe way to travel on the highway...

Upon arriving in Bangalore, the difference in temperature was immediately noticeable. We rolled the windows down and luxuriated in the 30 (90) degree temperature. Of course, all the local Bangalore residents thought we were insane since they felt it was still pretty hot! We were lucky enough to stay in Nipsi's parent's lovely flat in the Benson Town area of the city. Bangalore used to be known as the "Garden City" but with the increase in population, this element of it's history has been lost as buildings now stand where many private gardens did. However, Benson Town is still nicely green and was a wonderful home base for our wanderings around the city.

Pretty palm trees

The evening we arrived, we stopped in the Whitefield area to drop Bhodee off at his friend's house before making our way to Nipis's aunt's house to see her cousin and the brand new baby, Jeremy. He was absolutely precious and Nipsi's family were nothing but welcoming and kind. After a quick dinner, we drove back to Nipsi's flat where I immediately fell asleep in the wonderful airconditioning. In Chennai, my air conditioner is pretty old so I can't run it all night. Instead, I turn it on an hour or so before bed to cool the room down and then switch it off just as I'm about to go to sleep. During the night, I rely on a ceiling fan and a little table top fan to keep me cool. So far, I've found that to be adequate aside from a few nights in the middle of May when I found myself awake and boiling in the middle of the night, fantasizing about jumping into the Arctic Ocean...

Nipsi and Jeremy

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