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Bangalore Networking, Expat Groups and Social Life: Nightlife & Making Friends

Wow, although it’s only been 3 days it feels great to be writing again.  I had some crazy stomach bug or food poisoning that hit me so I was off the grid for a couple of days.  Then last night I enjoyed my first happy hour out with my work mates sooooooo much that I didn’t feel like writing when I arrived home 🙂  We went to a great bar downtown called Love Shack, which I went to earlier this week with a couple of my new friends.  Love Shack is decorated and white-washed to perfection like an upscale, chilled beach hut.  The staff is all very friendly, the bartenders shake up perfect cocktails and the chef has put together a great menu…I have only tried 6 or 7 different appetizers but they were all delicious.  You should try it!!

After weeks of being rather bored off my ass and alone in the evenings and over the weekends, I am so happy to start making some friends here in Bangalore.  With that comes the fun of starting to get to know a new city and the people by night.  Over the past few weeks I have learned a few good, bad and funny truths about socializing in India.  Now, to be clear, my limited opinion is based solely on a few nights out-and-about in Bangalore and also one Saturday night in Chennai last month.  But I have had the good luck to dine, drink and dance in lots of different cities from L.A., New York, a bunch of places in Mexico, London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Ibiza, and Berlin…to Dubrovnik, Marrakesh, and many others. So let’s now compare Bangalore, shall we? 🙂

My least favorite thing about Bangalore night life so far is the part about being treated like a high school teenager.  Hell, I think my mom even let me stay out a bit later than Bangalore does and Mom was massively strict.  I don’t know what naughty things people did here that led to the laws being changed four years ago but closing time at bars and clubs in Bangalore is 23:30.  After living the past eight years in Sitges (a small town on the Med Sea just south of Barcelona), where bars don’t really start to be busy until close to midnight, and the discos don’t start filling up until 3:00 or 3:30am… this new curfew is quite a shock.  I loved watching the sun come up from the open air disco in Sitges that was only open in summer…but now I will have to be content with hearing the church bells chime midnight instead 🙂 haha

I love the inside of Love Shack! Great spot, you really have to check it out.

Okay, there are LOADS of things I adore so far so I will tell you a sort of random one to start.  I mean of course I will say the people, the music, the bla bla bla… but one thing I didn’t expect is how safe they are.  Specifically from the standpoint that women leave their handbags lying around – and even open – and there is no threat to them.  Unless you are at a private party with your friends, this is 100% impossible in Barcelona.  You can never leave your bag or wallet or anything of value out of your reach, even in the VIP lounge.  Theft occurs everywhere, you have to be on guard 24/7.  It’s really a problem.  On top of that, of course I also definitely love:

  • All the active online and mobile marketing and PR that the bars do everyday.  They also try to come up with daily parties to keep things fresh.
  • The music!  I adore house and the DJs play really hot sets throughout the night.  Although the music is played SUPER loud here, significantly louder than Barcelona clubs…which I also noticed in Chennai at the bar at Park Hotel.
  • Lots of seating at the bars.  I know this is normal in the U.S. also but not so much in Europe so it’s a fun treat again.
  • Cosmos!  After living in Spain for 8 years where the only place you can order a cosmopolitan is at a specialty cocktail bar it is a real TREAT to order a martini or cosmo whenever I want, wherever I want.

The saddest thing I have observed is that there is only a handful of bars and clubs outside the 5 star hotel world that have a dance floor license.  I absolutely detest the fact that there isn’t an ample choice of fabulous clubs to go a bit crazy on the dance floor and sweat a bit.  I mean, what’s the point of the super loud music without a dance floor?

At Love Shack with the very nice owner Himesh and my new buddies, two of Bangalore’s rockin’ DJs – Yon and TT.

So now onto the topic of making friends!  To be honest, there aren’t as many foreigners living here as I thought there would be, not that I mind though because I don’t want to live in “expat world” in Bangalore.  But as I’ve mentioned before, it is a real change to be the only one, or one of only a few westerners at a restaurant or bar.  All the major cities in Europe and the U.S. are filled with tourists every day but I guess that since Bangalore is known more as a business hub and the Silicon Valley of India and less as a historic or tourist destination like other cities that it is just a bit quieter on that front.  Since I’ve been here I have mostly seen groups of expats together, maybe with one Indian friend.  But I haven’t seen as many groups of Indians with the one expat mate.  Like all around the world, expats tend to stick together.  In fact, my friends in Spain were a huge mix of German, French, Brits, Aussies, Spanish, Dutch, South Americans, etc.   Yet, at the moment, and by complete chance, I have only made friends with Indians (both in Chennai and here), which I am really enjoying.  But I have a feeling that this might be about to change.  And I have sort of mixed feelings about it.

Last night at Love Shack I ran into the really nice gentleman with whom I had chatted with a bit at the FRRO office a few weeks ago when I was finalizing my residency papers.  With almost 7 million people living in downtown Bangalore you have to admit that this was quite a coincidence.  What a small world!!  I pretty much forced my business card on the poor guy in hopes of finally having a happy hour buddy, haha, let’s see…fingers crossed.  I noticed that he was friends with a larger group of expats at the bar last night and I am going to enter lightly into that world.  I know that there are obvious benefits to diving into the expat world like common experiences, less traditional values (haha, I know it sounds strange but it’s my opinion) and the fact that so many expats are here working for tech companies that it would be fun to sit around talking about innovation and projects going on in the world.  My new job here in Bangalore is outside of high tech, a real first for me in a lot of years.  But since I can’t predict my life, I guess I will just have to play it day-to-day, ENJOY IT and see what happens.  And I’ll keep you posted 🙂

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. PencilGirl

    Wow! Love Shack looks great! 😀
    I’m not much of partygirl, but you aren’t the only one complaining about the 11:30PM curfew.. If I remember right, even on new years night, the deadline was only extended upto 1 o’clock- all dreams of partying until morning light pretty much out the window. :
    Hope your stomach’s fine now.. 🙂 🙂

  2. prasad3130

    Like I told in one of my previous replies, the law enforcement in Bangaluru in particular and India in general is not so good. The local mayor/politicians have to trade-off between the budget for law enforcement departments and strict rules like early closing of bars. The reason is bars and pubs had been one of the major sources of illegal activities like drugs (although I do not know the statistics, but the last time when I was in Bangaluru I read the article regarding changing to early closing of bars associated with raiding bars for drugs).

  3. Jason Tauro

    2330 is the dreaded time for most party going Bangloreans. How can you shut down so early?! But I have to agree with a comment above regarding the law and order situation. That was a very good reason for the authorities to impose this. (Thank goodness I do not have the 2330 deadline to think about atleast for some time now :D) I am not sure if you have been to Mumbai but definitely closing early is no option there. Mumbai has a better party scene than Bangalore. And it is a safe safe city.. 🙂

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