I’ve been outside India for 3 years now, no reason for me to suddenly find faults with my city, though I found it really hard to cope with a lot of things. Traveling in Bangalore has been like playing Pokèmon in real life, while I kept running into Ratatas in the game every time I started walking, in Bangalore this is the case,
Bangalore has exploded beyond its capacity and my only fear is its going to end up like San Francisco, a city where everyone wants to be but very few can afford! I kept complaining about a lot of things and my friends thought I was being an ass and a typical ‘America Return’ snob but it was more about feeling bad about losing my city to these radical changes.
I decided I wouldn’t ride or drive this time, two reasons for that, one the fact that my Indian license was now in shreds and secondly I had no plans of getting back to shouting on the road. I’ve been on a transformational path where anger is my last resort to things that annoy me, and I did not want a 3 week holiday to be the point of relapse! For most part being driven around by friends is amazing, and when nobody is around I just end up taking an Über and paying at most $5 for a really long trip during peak hours! Talking about converting my expenses to USD, its the exact reversal of what I did back when I moved to the US where every expense triggered a calculation in my head and then freaked me out when the calculation completed and I was paying 300 Indian rupees for a coffee. I digress. One day three friends and I were on one of the busiest roads in Bangalore downtown, in the US downtown has been the place with the tall buildings but in Bangalore its just the oldest cool part of the city I know of, we were trying to cross at a signal and lo behold four guys who thought they were the Beatles crossing Abbey road who don’t give a rats fart about the pedestrian crossing signal that said ‘Stay the f*** out’ of here till the vehicles stop moving amble across taking their sweet time and make direct eye contact with you and act like its all cool.
I think the funniest thing that happened was when a biker going down the wrong way of a road almost got knocked down by one of the wild autos and ended up shouting at the auto driver for not keeping an eye out for nincompoops like him on the road! Its great that wrong side drivers don’t cause pileups and crazy accidents like the ones that happen in other countries. I’ve always been someone who follows traffic laws and have earned the wrath of the people I share the road with and the people who are in the vehicle that i’m driving. My complaints aren’t something that i’m talking about because I don’t live here anymore! Just the other day, my friend rides her bike on the pavement to avoid riding her bike on the wrong side of the road and I had to explain to her why that was no better than just being on the road! One other incident there were two people on bikes who decided to have a friendly chat in the middle of the road, with their bikes facing opposite directions! The only thing missing was a table, cards and some whiskey, they could have had the perfect guys night out. The popular quote ‘Haters gonna hate’ can be modified to be ‘Honkers gonna honk’, and you are fine doing whatever you want and disrupting the traffic.
One thing the country does right for sure is water in the toilets! Here napkins and tissues are both terms used for the paper towels used to dry your hand, a lot of confusion has ensued after either my friends or I have asked for tissue at a restaurant in the US! A few of my friends are leaving to Australia and I’ve been educating them on the cultural and social mistakes I made that put me in an awkward situation when I first moved to the US, my first rule was to always say it’s nice to meet you the moment you meet someone and exchange names, regardless of not knowing a single thing about this person who could be a genuinely nice person, a thug, a trump supporter or a League of Legends player! You just have to say nice to meet you! Back home I know all my neighbors but in the US i’ve never interacted with any of my neighbors! Sometimes i’m in the elevator with them but its pretty clear everyone is avoiding eye contact, because eye contact is the worst thing one can do when trying to avoid talking to someone. At home if we run out of sugar or salt or anything else, all we need to do is go to the neighbor and you have a thirty minute conversation and the condiment that you were looking for! While back in the US, I just end up ordering food for the night and buying groceries the next day on my way back from work. There is a sense of belonging to the neighborhood that i’m enjoying during the break here.
Every time I come back home the only friends that I immediately end up meeting are my buddies from kindergarten to high school! It’s always a great experience to catch up with buddies who grew up with you, who got punished in school with you, who enjoyed success with you! Every time we meet its a laugh riot and to relive the stupid things we did as kids is such a blast and when we discover that not much has changed since then is a soothing feeling that makes you feel comfortable amidst the maddening changes around. This trip saw a couple of friends change their marital status to sedated, I mean married and I can only imagine that the next trip is going to see more people stare down the wedding well and I guess some even with kids that are going to call me uncle! To the journey ahead and to more trips back home I say, bring it on! This trip back home has been one of change, a better future, a trip where I could forget my work life completely and focus on what is most important, family and friends. I started writing this with just one thought on my head, what the hell is happening in this city but midway I realized I love Bangalore way too much to give it up for anything in this world, I hope someday I can be back home working in this beautiful city that saw me transform from a pre schooler to an engineer to a professional and someday a home owner.