Imagine if you will a quiet village on the Mediterranean Sea, south of Barcelona in Spain. There aren’t many people around, you hear the waves crashing on the beach and can walk around town at times without running into another soul. No horns, no traffic…and kilometres of smooth sidewalks to stroll down. Then – BAM – you’re in Bangalore! There are people, people, people…everywhere people, people, people. There is insane traffic day and night. Zero sidewalks to stroll on aside from a few designated streets. And only two to three seconds will pass without the sound of a horn being blown. Welcome to my world. Welcome to everyone’s world that lives in Bangalore. It’s fantastic!
Honestly, it took a bit of adjusting to in the beginning. My home for the past eight years was Sitges, a fantastic village in Spain where every street was cleaned every single day. There were lovely commercial streets where cars weren’t allowed to pass. No one sounded their horn except in an emergency. The architecture and views of the sea could take your breath away. On top of that, I worked in Barcelona, which is one of the most magical and beautiful cities in the world. There is pride in the massive sidewalks and walking paths in Barcelona. It’s clean and chic. The women and men look like they stepped out of fashion magazines there…it’s wonderful.
But for many, many reasons I love and prefer Bangalore. Well, I still detest the horn blowing with a fevered passion, though I have still only seen one accident in the 3.5 months I have lived here so mentally I do get that the horn blowing works here. And I know that I could never grow old here because I will eventually have a bad knee and bad back that would make the sidewalk scene a nightmare. But I really do love Bangalore. It’s exotic and beautiful with the oodles of parks and amazing trees that are everywhere around town. The cows and goats and chickens still excite me. The food is amazing and I will even admit that I have started to like the mocktails when wine isn’t an option. A half sweet, half salty lime soda pretty much tastes like a really limey margarita if you close your eyes and don’t dream about tequila!
Yet it’s the people here that make Bangalore the reason I call it home now. Other cities have a charm about them because of the infrastructure, or maybe the architecture or the extraordinary monuments. Well, I think we can all admit that Bangalore has none of that charm that literally drips off of Paris, Barcelona or Venezia! What it does have are the friendliest people I have come across in so long who are always so generous with their smiles. Personally speaking, I am fortunate with the fabulous friends I am making in town as well, people I can really have fun with and who I know that I could call in an emergency, which is an amazing feeling since I am so far from home.
I love the diversity of the people here too. In fact, on any day I can walk out my door and hit the high street in Frazer Town and walk past women wearing burkas, cute chubby-cheeked girls in frilly frocks with her family, groups of women in stunning sari’s, and guys in hip jeans and a Hugo Boss shirt. There are cool looking groups of young guys pulled over on their motos chilled out talking, little grammas out doing the shopping, and tiny little boys walking home from school with backpacks that are bigger than they are. I even love the scrappy half-drunk guys hanging out at the local liquor store where I buy my bottles of vodka and Sprite (they special order my vodka for me now, gotta love ‘em!). They always look quite shocked to see me walk up but I don’t care, the manager is great and always has a super smile.
I know traditionally that women in India should not be seen buying hooch but – again – I just don’t care. In fact, last week I finally had the chance to have a drink there when a male friend of mine from San Francisco came for dinner with me at Elements across the street. I’ve always wanted to have a drink there solely because there are no women there EVER and I like to break the rules and be naughty with silly things like that. Well, silly to me but I do respect why it’s that way here…and it works for India. Anyhooo, it was sooo fun, I swear. And the manager confirmed that I was the first woman EVER to do it, and the first foreigner. Though to be honest, I find that second one harder to believe. But I guess I can tick that item off my to-do list now!!
One of my favourite people-watching guilty pleasures is actually finding people around town either completely zonked out and asleep or sooo damn drunk that they have no idea I am there and I can snap their picture. Don’t know why but I love them. To me they are my Sleeping Beauties of Bangalore! To be fair, I stole the name from a friend of mine back in Barcelona who started snapping pics of Sleeping Beauties around the metro station or on random benches…typically party goers or mid-day post boozy lunch siesta takers! I loved his collection so much I decided to start my own. And today I found the best one ever. The guy was so drunk he was laying a third of the way onto Mosque Road in Frazer Town. He had fashioned a pillow out of a half filled sandbag, and was happy as a clam there on the road trying to catch up on his beauty sleep 🙂
The street life here is great. And aside from that time I was groped while walking just down the street from my place, I love the street life in and around my neighbourhood. I love the sights and …well, some of the sounds, I love the cute squirrels in the park and the two stray dogs that belong to our building now. I am home sweet home, my friends!
Read Part 2 on Bangalore Street Life HERE.