Auto rickshaw is the most common transportation in Bangalore. It is kinda like the taxi of India. You can hire one by raising your hand on street corners or find a richshaw stop in front of shopping malls. The auto richshaw drives like a motorcycle, except it has two wheels and a passenager cabinet at the back. They runs on small 2 stroke engine, making the tuc- tuc noise. That’s why auto rickshaw is also called tuctucs. The auto rickshaw has no door nor windows. The engine probably runs on dirty gas, so you can smell the exhaust when you riding on it. I guess the auto rickshaw is not very eco-friendly.
On my first week in Banaglore, I tried to avoid taking the auto rickshaw. It seems not very safe and kinda shabby. However there is no restaurant serves real food around the guest house. So, I overcome my reluctance and start taking auto rickshaw this week. After the work, the company driver just drop me off at the restaurant of the night, then I ride the auto rickshaw back to the guest house after dinner.
All auto rickshaw comes with a fare meter but it is rarely use. Usually you negotiate the price before hopping into it. It costs about CAD$2.5 for a 20 minutes ride from downtown Bangalore back to the guest house. The rickshaw driver probably over charged me by almost doubling the fare. Do I really care? Probably not, I don’t really want to bargain on the street for merely $1. I rather pay the premium and let the driver take me to my destination with no fuss.
Cricket to Indian is like Hockey to Canadian. Cricket is probably the national sport in India and every one seems crazy about it. I haven’t a live game, but I see lots of cricket on TV as the world champion is playing in Australia this week. The India team is playing against the Australians and too bad they lost the game. At first I have no clue what is going on in the game. The good thing is that everyone is happy to explain the rule to me. It took me a while to get a sense of what is going on in the field.
Cricket is kinda like baseball, with pitcher, batter and catcher. Instead of running in diamond, the batter runs back and forth in the dirt stripe in the middle of the field. The rule is similar to baseball. The pitcher throw the ball to the batter, then the batter strike the ball. If the ball is caught in the air, the batter is out. Otherwise, the batter can keep running to score more points until the ball is threw back to the stripe. If the ball go outside of the field, it kinda like home run, the batter automatically score 4 points or 6 points depending on whether the ball is in the air. Of course, the team score more points win the game. The rule kinda make sense up to this point, just like baseball.
The flow of game is weird. Instead of having innings with teams playing offense and defense alternatively, the game is played in two sessions. One team will finish all his batting in first session, then the other team will do the batting in second session. A session ends when all the batter are strike out or 500 balls is threw. It’s kinda like a team score several hundred points first, then let the another team to catch up. The game flow makes the game not very exciting. The first few hundred points is kinda boring, since it won’t make much difference to the game. Only when the second team come close to catch up and almost run of batters or balls, then the game becomes interesting. It is more fun to see the score from both teams leap frogging each other every inning.
It seems I am writing about India in my blog every day. Well, I guess I am still experience the cultural shock. Everything happening around me seems so strange and foreign to me. Usually people will eventually get over with the cultural shock once they are familiar with the culture. There are many things I want to write about Indian culture and at the same time I don’t know where to begin. I will simply jot down a few observations I have over the weekend. I should know how to explain things more systemically once I finished reading my book on the anthropology of culture.
I went to a zoo and safari on the weekend. Inside the safari, the bus driver help us take many photos since he is siting closely to the window. When we get off, I decided to give him some tips, 10 rupees. To make me quite unpleasant is that he bargain with me asking for more tips, 100 rupees. I am the only one in the bus giving him tips. He should be glad to have any tips at all. At the end I gave him 50 rupees, but I decided I will not give any more tips in India unless it is necesgary.
The Indian concept of time is totally different than Canadian. When an Indian told you five minutes, it actually means anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. I gave up expecting any Indian becoming on time. I guess I just have to wait patiently. I have nothing else to do or place to go anyways.
I went to M.G. road on the weekend. M.G. road is kinda like Robson Street in Vancouver, with lots of tourist store. On the street people trying to sell things to you are everywhere. Most of them sell cheesy key chains, handcraft souvenirs. There is one guy trying to sell wall size Indian map to tourist. That guy must be out of his mind. No tourist want to carry a cheap poster size map back home. Moreover it takes lost work to keep the map free off winkles. I wonder who will buy an Indian map during travel.
I have been eating India food since I came to Bangalore. The company cafeteria only serves Indian food, I have tried to find a normal restaurant around the guest house for the past three days but couldn’t find any. I end up eating Indianized western fast food in the mall next door. I am craving for real food, so I tried Indian Chinese food at so-call multi-cruise restaurant. It sort of taste like Chinese food, but the favor is much stronger, probably tailor to the appetites of Indians. I guess I shouldn’t have much expectation to begin with when I see the cook is Indian.
I am still craving for real food. I crave it so much that on Friday, I went to the Chinese restaurant at Hotel Ashok after work. I read from the internet review that the cook is actually Chinese. I was there too early, dinner start at 7:30p.m., so I end up sitting by the pool for 2 hours. The environment in Hotel Ashok is really nice, quiet and beautiful, seems like a different behind the gates. Finally my dinner came, I explicitly asked for Chinese style. The taste is right, 100% Chinese food. I had a beer, a chicken soup, a vegetable dish and a Canadian pork rib. The quality is ok, on par with Richmond HK style cafe. This meal is not cheap, the bill came close to CAD$90. Anyways, my stomach is satisfied.
After having real Chinese food, I shifted my crave for real Western food. Today, me and Martin, my colleague, went to Sunny’s for lunch. The style of the restaurant is quite similar to Earl’s or Milestones. To my surprise, I found steak on the menu. I am craving for beef too, so I decided to give it a try. The food is excellent, we had beer, appetizer, soup, main course and dessert for just CAD$25. Although Martin claims he already accustom to having Indian food 3 meals a day. He really enjoy his first real meal since he left Canada. Not to mention he is craving for beer! We end up drink lots of beer for the rest of the day. Whenever we feel tried and thirsty, we just find a pub and have a beer. I think I haven’t had this much beer in a day since my university days.
I guess if I can have real food for dinner every day, other than I can’t see Pat, working in Bangalore seems not so harsh. Having Indian food for lunch is ok, but having two Indian or Indian-look-alike meals a day is too much.
I had a tour in the Wipro campus today, which is next door to our office. Wipro is the biggest outsourcing company in India. The campus is hugh, looks kinda like a small university. Maybe not as nice as the Microsoft campus, but sure it is impressive. I went to have lunch in the Wipro cafeteria with some of my Indian colleagues. They are still serve only Indian food in the Wipro cafe but at least I have different variety. I can choose north Indian cruise or south Indian cruise and most important of all non-veg dishes. I ordered a butter chicken and it taste quite good. Maybe I just missed meat too much.
Bangalore becomes the IT capital of India is probably thanks to Wipro. Actually someone ever say Wipro starts the whole outsourcing industry. The headquarter of Wipro is in Bangalore. It now moved to a better building in town, but I saw the first very Wipro building in the Wipro campus. To my surprise, Wipro is not only an IT house, it has business in many industries, such as building machinery, selling cooking oil, baby food, etc. The IT department is the only business section of Wipro known by people outside of India.
Looks like I am adapting to the life of India sooner than I expected. First, the tourist feel is vanishing, the prove is that I took much less photo today. The route between office and guest house is the same, so I have seen the view on the way. I am no longer excited seeing cows on the road. It is so common here that there is nothing to excite about.
Second, I am working like an Indian, which means work 12 hours a day. Question and problems are piling up, I don’t enjoy any slacking time. I went to the office in eight thirty in the morning and leave at seven thirty. Add the time I spent on answering email back in the guest house, I am effectively working 12 hours a day. I talked to the other guy who had spent already a month here, he is working 12 hours a day every day too. The Indian guys needs lots of baby sitting, you can’t just leave them alone or they will definitely screw things up.
Third, I am used to Indian food. I have no choice but eat Indian food for lunch. I am no idea what I am eating, some mysterious yellow and orange sauce. I asked what it is, my Indian colleagues try their best explaining to me, but the information is hopelessly lost in translation. At the end, I only know the dry sauce is called curry, the watery sauce is called something else start with letter d.
My life will soon to degrade to work, sleep, work, sleep. I asked the secretary in the office to arrange some short trip for me in the weekend. Hope the weekend will be more fun that the work day.
Yes, I am counting my days of stay. I already have home sick and miss the comfortable life in Vancouver. Anyway, my second day is also full of adventure. The driver came and picked me up in the morning and drove me to work. The distance from the guest house to the office is 12km, the ride took me 45 minutes. The rush hour traffic is very chaotic, buss, people, motorcycle, auto-rig saw, cars are fighting to get the limited road space. To make it worse, they are building a highway on the road I am traffic. Roads got dig up everywhere and everywhere is dusty. And yes, there are cows on the road. The famous holy cow!
Finally, I arrived at the office, which is located in the outskirt of the city. It is inside the hi-tech business park. The office building looks pretty decent, comparable to western standard, but the roads going to the building is just shabby as normal Indian road. There is nothing around the office, so I can only have lunch in the cafeteria. The cafe only serves India food. It is some kind of vegetarian curry. I heard it is similar stuff everyday, except a slight different favor in the curry. My work day is not very productive, jut met my Indian team and have a brief introduction. I can’t remember most of their names, but I am sure I will know they well in a few days.
I took off early and get some rest in the guest house. The internet is finally working, so I can upload my photo to facebook. There is a big shopping mall next to the guest house. It is quite normal, with shops and familiar restaurants like Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald’s.The McDonald’s in India is quite from a normal McDonalid’s. They don’t serve hamburger, they only have McChicken and McVeggie. I am not ready to try Indian food, so I had KFC for dinner. I was pretty tried and I have to get up at 6a.m. next morning to beat the traffic, so I call it a day and go to bed early.
I guess my adventure will go on for a while. However, I am forseeing my life will be straightly guest house to work and back to the guest house very soon. There is nothing else to do in Bangalore and the office is probably the nicely place in the whole city.
My flight to India is pretty smooth. Other than there is not tiny TV on each seat, I don’t have much complain about Lufthansa. On my flight from Frankfurt to Bangalore, they run out of the chicken meal, so I had the curry instead, which taste not bad. I also watched an Indian movie on the plane. Although the movie is a bit chessy, it’s not bad. Indian seems giving me a quite positive impression so far. However things change once I landed on Bangalore and experience the real India.
The first thing I notice is the air is smelly. Oh well, now after half a day, I am already used to the Indian smell. The airport is small and crowded, the luggage claim is chaos. Finally after two hours of wait, I got my bags and see my driver. The ride to the guest house is quite an adventure. Roads in India has no lanes, cars just go anywhere, any direction they like. The driver keep honking other cars to get his way. Finally I arrived at the guest house safely at 4a.m. The phone and the internet at the guest house is not working, so more headache for me. After some tries, I manage to get the phone to work and able to make long distance call.
My driver will pick me up at 10a.m., so it’s time for me to go to bed. I will continue my adventure in Bangalore tomorrow morning.