If you follow my little blog, you might remember that this past Tuesday was a big day for me. I moved into my new apartment in Bangalore and our cats Jolie and Saffron arrived from Barcelona — into Chennai, not Bangalore. And based on the recommendation of the very nice (and actually very handsome and buff) agent who was responsible for my kitties upon arrival in India, I drove to Chennai to collect them instead of making them endure yet another flight
So, it was road trip time! Not quite the cool old-school L.A. to Vegas road trips I used to take — or the Newport Beach to Colorado River road trips me and my girlfriends did every few weekends when we were 20 to 21 years old to party and ride jet skis. And certainly not a road trip like the good old days, with “road sodas” and rockin’ tunes but… still a road trip none the less. My companions were my private driver, Shiva, who I negotiated a special fee for this extra service, as well as his best friend of 25 years who is also a chauffeur. The idea was that they would take turns napping or resting while the other drove, which was much safer for us that if just me and Shiva had gone alone since the trip took about 15 hours and we were turning right around once we arrived in Chennai.
It was 20:00. Like any road trip we started from my new home and made an almost immediate pit stop for snacks and beverages. It was quite funny to see the difference in the preferred snacks between me and the guys. I had never even seen any of the snacky bits and nibbles they selected which they swore were the “best snacks” ever!! After that I snuggled into the back seat. I had brought a pillow and my MP3 player and headset and — of course — my laptop with a swanky cool new charger/extension cord I invested in that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter to keep in Shiva’s car. Every girl should have one of these 😉 If it had been on an “old school” road trip we could have brought a blender and made margaritas in the car, haha!!!
We stayed on the road for about an hour and then Shiva’s mate, who was driving, pulled over all of a sudden on the motorway. But not on a shoulder because there wasn’t one. He pulled over on the far slow lane, put on the hazard lights on then when the coast was clear he stepped out of the car. What the hell? On what planet was THAT safe? Cars were going full freeway speeds and we were parked in the slow lane. Cars travel fast here. Imagine how fast trucks can go. Turns out he had to pee – apparently really bad, eh??? And, according to the guys, this was “okay, mam, it is perfectly normal” on the motorway. Really? Hmmm…seemed unsafe as hell to me but okay.
Around 23:00 we decided to stop at “a really good place” that had western style food and, according to the boys, “very clean toilets for a truck stop”. Oh great 🙂 haha They were actually spot on with their description. There were indeed three restaurants there at the truck stop. McDonalds, a coffee house called Happy Coffee Day or something like that and an Indian diner. I told the guys I wanted to pay for dinner so please pick what they wanted and they picked the Indian restaurant. And not just any trucker Indian restaurant. In true Indian style where everything for me is black and white or night and day …it was a vegetarian trucker Indian diner. Wow, I really didn’t see that coming! That would certainly not fly in the U.S. And of course I was the only foreigner there, and the one of only a couple women, so the whole place turned around to check us out as we walked in.
I decided to eat a paneer dish with gravy and buttered naan (fried cottage cheese cubes in curry sauce with bread to use as my utensil) that turned out to be like little bits of rubber in kind of yummy gravy? The guys ordered “a rice cake” for their first plate, which was really like a patty of sticky’ish rice with a spicy yellow sauce to accompany it. Then they ordered what appeared to be like a sweet crepe stuffed with mash potato. That was actually really tasty (the guys insisted I try everything, which I loved).
At right about this moment I happened to glance at the table in front of us as the trucker there was standing up to go wash his hands and – VERY UNFORTUNATELY – caught my first view of Indian butt cheeks. Turns out the guy was going commando (not wearing underwear) and his jeans weren’t secured with a belt and just hung way too low. Nice! haha A bit of ass crack as I am eating. Haha Ahhh…. A truck stop is a truck stop anywhere in the world. And to top that off, the guy at the table beyond “butt crack guy” was picking his nose, haha. Not pretty either I must admit.
The adventure continued from there because then a scrappy guy walked up to our table, didn’t say a word, grabbed one of the silver tumblers that were sitting “community style” in the center of our table at the Indian vegetarian trucker restaurant. He poured himself a full glass of water, tilted his head back and then chugged it down FAST without ever letting the rim of the glass touch his lips. I looked up at him, gave him a one-raised-eyebrow and head nod and he nodded back then walked away. hahaha What the hell, was that??? Shiva explained “this is okay, it is community”. Well, okay.
NOTE: the bathroom was indeed clean but it was a hole in the ground and not a traditional western toilet so I must admit that it was not my favorite bathroom experience here yet 🙂
Luckily I never go to bed before 2am anyway so I wasn’t at all tired on the way to collect the cats. We arrived just about on time at 3am. Abu, my (strange but true, he was super hot) pet agent in Chennai, brought the cats out to the car as soon as I arrived. Following Abu was a mini herd of 7 other guys to watch him give me the cats. Again, what the hell??? They are 2 normal cats, not sure what the audience was for by whatever. As soon as I called their names they started meowing for me and pressing their faces up against the front cage doors. It was so sweet, I couldn’t wait to hug them. We removed the kitties from their cages and placed them in the backseat and we were off again. I have never been so loved up and missed by the cats before. I really wish my daughter had arrived too but it was nice to have some “family” in India with me now.
I had to put a ban on Shiva’s mate blowing the horn non-stop like he had been doing all night because it freaked the cats out so bad. It must have been so hard for him to control that, haha. It actually made my time pass by much more pleasantly too, I have to admit. We started the drive back immediately to Bangalore and around 5am or so it started to get light out which was a real treat. The view of the countryside was spectacular. The land is extraordinary with unique hills that pop up out of nowhere, with quaint villages with thatched roof houses and small temples, and exotic trees. There are cows, bullocks, sheep, mules, and chickens all around. And then I saw the coolest thing EVER. We were passing through a valley and all of a sudden I saw a dozen or so monkeys on the hillside. I asked the driver to pullover and from there things got even more fun.
I scrambled for my camera and rolled down the window, stuck my head out, zoomed in as far as the optical zoom on my tiny camera would go, and snapped away. Then Shiva opened his window and said “watch this, mam” as he started tossing bits of the Indian nibbles we had in the car and little by little the monkeys started to come over to taste test the tasty treats we had on offer. First the largest male came over, then little by little more of them, including more than half a dozen mom’s with babies clamped on to them. And they don’t just come down and eat the nibbles. They actually save them for later by stuffing them into their cheeks like hamsters, haha. I didn’t know they did this!! It was so wonderful to watch and be within a meter of a family of wild monkeys.
After that nothing really compared to the monkey experience. We stopped at 6am for breakfast where the guys proceeded to eat a huge “dinner” style meal of what looked like an Indian version of risotto, more sauce, and bread. Then I had the odd pleasure of having a 60 year old man at the table next to ours come over to sit next to me after confirming I was indeed a foreigner. He told me all about his international travel, spoken between huge bites of food that didn’t all make it down his throat before he opened up and told his next tale, haha. I really regret not taking a photo with him now.
I slept for maybe 45 minutes or so around 8am finally. Obviously I was exhausted but the cats were so nervous still I didn’t have the heart to sleep. When we arrived back to our new flat I had to deal with the gas guy, the internet guy, the SKY TV guy and the new housekeeper started so I wasn’t able to take a nap until 15:00 — boy oh boy I was T-I-R-E-D!! haha
XOXO from Bangalore
© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos