Monday, August 13, 2012

Bangalore, India 7/8 - 7/13 & 7/18 - 7/21

After one week in India, we felt we were getting the hang of things. We were getting used to the underdeveloped streets, sights of poverty, and cows on the road. We were ready for whatever Bangalore would throw at us.
Flying in India within more relaxing than flying within the United States.
The first of many personal drivers Quarup would have in Bangalore.

Thirty minutes from the airport, we experienced our first taste of culture shock. We had heard that Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India, but we weren't prepared for how similar they are. American cars were mixed in with the motorcycles, a lot of Indians were dressed in western clothes, large malls were advertising western clothing brands, and I even saw a Santa Cruz, California "Mystery Spot" sticker on a passing car (a popular bumper sticker in the SF Bay Area). Besides the auto-rickshaws and occasional cow, we started to feel like we were back in the Silicon Valley.

Our hotel was right across the street from a new mall.
Best of all, the mall had a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (an LA based coffee shop) inside!

Even the cows "refuel" at the gas station.

Each morning after Quarup and I enjoyed a complimentary hotel breakfast, Quarup's driver would drop him off at work and I would explore the city alone. Each day I would master skills like crossing the street (which looked more like a freeway) and haggling over fares with auto-rickshaw drivers. We would meet up each night for dinner and I would share my triumphs and failures with him. Here are a few more pictures from Bangalore.

See an even closer view of our interactive map.
Bangalore is known as the Garden city of India.
Young couples holding hands and cuddling on park benches are common sites in parks.
Typical traffic along MG Road.
The ceiling of a customized auto-rickshaw. This particular driver totally pissed me off.
Fish Spa pedicure.
The fish snacked on dead skin while I resisted the urge to laugh from the tingle.
Russell Market's fresh chickens.

My all-time favorite place was the KR Market. It was everything I wanted India to be; a bit exotic, a little grimy, large, and crowded. The flower section of the market made my heart skip a beat with excitement each time I visited - and yes, I went more than once. People were yelling trying to sell their goods, it was so packed with people that bags needed to be carried on top of their heads, it was hot, and the fragrant colorful flowers added to the excitement. As a surprise to Quarup (and as an excuse to buy something at the market), I bought several strings of flowers to decorate our hotel room in celebration of our four year dating anniversary. I spent four US dollars on several bags of flowers and felt pretty proud of myself. My driver told me he could have gotten a better deal - oh well.
This place was a nice change from the high end new malls in Bangalore.
Individual flowers sold by weight.
Individual flowers are hand strung and sold by the arm length.
A calm corner of the market.
Happy Four Year Dating Anniversary.
 
The main point of traveling to the other side of the world was for Quarup to get to know his Bangalore Google teammates. They were a lively group that wanted to show Quarup a great time and encourage him to get to know more about their country.
One of the restaurants where we had dinner with the Google team.
A true hidden gem only steps away from the busy road.

Google Bangalore trying to convince Quarup to take a few days off to visit the Himalayas.

We were invited by one of Quarup's coworkers Piyush to his house for a home cooked traditional Indian meal. Piyush's wife, Shaily prepared us a wonderful spread of vegetarian dishes. 
Shaily, Piyush, and their son.
Shaily giving us a tour of her kitchen.
Laure couldn't take her eyes away from her plate long enough for a photo.

Our friend Sidharth from Delhi connected us with a friend Nikhil and his fiancée Natasha. On our last two nights in Bangalore, we went out on double dates to some of Bangalore's delicious local restaurants. We had a great time chatting about traveling and sharing stressful stories about wedding planning, which is a universal topic among young couples. After three weeks in India and cruising around town with new friends, we started to feel like locals.
Gulab jamun for dessert. There was always something new to try.
At Bangalore's local favorite ice cream shop, The Corner House.