To Bangalore and back

Is it just me or does flying involve a lot more effort than it used to? Or maybe its me in Goa, with the 1 hour drive to the airport, a tiny old-school airport with snaking queues all day long, all through the year, an minimum of an hour and 20 minutes to fly anywhere, and the long-ass drive back home from the airport. Add a couple of hours more and I might as well have taken a bus!

I should probably do a separate, long post on the extensive suckiness of SpiceJet and how they rescheduled our flight at midnight, before we were scheduled to fly. The departure time was delayed by 20 minutes, but the arrival in Bangalore was a whole 4 hours later than planned, thanks to an arbit squeezing in of a stop-over in Bombay. Are there no rules about making these changes? Some kind of basic criteria, some minimum time-frame during which to inform your customers? Does the customer really always come last?

So up we were at midnight, trying and cancel/rebook our ticket and get a refund, so we could fly another airline that would get us to Bangalore in time to spend the evening with family, as opposed to up in the air. But it turns out cancellations only warrant full refunds if the departure time is delayed by more than an hour. So sayeth SpiceJet. How fucking convenient.

My resolution: I’m never flying SpiceJet as long as I can help it.
My advice to you: You shouldn’t either. And if you do, prepare to be fucked over.

Half an hour of arguing with the gits at SpiceJet, another half hour of trying to figure out an alternative with the folks at Cleartrip, and poorer by five thousand rupees more, we finally had new tickets to Bangalore. Thank you Indigo, for coming to our rescue once again.

goa

We said goodbye to a gloriously rainy Goa, with the hope that the weather will be better by the time we returned. The good thing was, the Indigo flight landed in Bangalore a good three hours earlier than we had planned to, which gave us an extra evening of chilling with the fam. Bangalore itself has come to mean just that to me. Family, some friends and nothing in between. From the moment I land and exit the airport, I begin to wish I could be teleported straight home.

This time though, it was different. With the mother away on her annual trip to the States and the father busy with his usual work schedule, I didn’t go home (the original home!) as I usually do. I went to the in-laws’ and stayed put for the entire duration of the trip — something I haven’t done since the second trip I made back home after I moved to Goa. And some how going to Bangalore and not staying/visiting the original home just feels weird. It further reduced the homeliness of the city for me, made me feel like a tourist, in transit. Which I probably am now, so I should quit kidding myself and just accept it.

Speaking of accepting it, this trip made me realise Bangalore has exploded exponentially in the three years that we have been away. Combine that with a general discomfort with the changes I see and a growing love for all things small, calm and not-glitzy and you have a very disappointed me. The only thing I probably really do love and miss about Bangalore is the weather. Deliciously crisp mornings, with a breeze blowing, cool enough to need a shawl or jacket, yet with the toasty glow of the morning sunlight making you want to bathe your limbs in it, till they are warm and singed on the surface. I totally miss that Bangalore kind of morning sun.

sun

As every other trip to Bangalore, this one was hectic too. Every time I return, I promise myself a less crazy trip, spending more time at home going out to meet a couple of friends at best, so I can avoid wielding my fast-fading Bangalore-driving skills and navigate the sea of traffic that is the city. This time too, I made plans to meet just three people. The Tin Man, G, and The Nebulous One. Yet, with an enthusiastic, food-crazy troupe that is VC’s family, and having no place other than a restaurant/coffee shop to catch up with friends, we found ourselves eating out every meal, with our last lunch being the only meal I ate at home.

Going home invariably means the comfort of home food for me, and I realised trip back to my home is such a contrast to a trip back to VCs home. I sorely missed having amma around to dish out my favourites, because going home to amma invariably means maximising on all things homely and comforting, where as at VCs place it is all about going out and doing things. So we ended up eating out a lot, which is a good thing given all Bangalore seems to be doing these days is eating out. 100 feet road was unrecognisable with the number of fine dine restaurants, cafes and eateries that have mushroomed all over the place. The view that was once quintessentially Bangalore, with its wide tree-lined road, flanked on either side by rows of beautiful bungalows now sports a pseudo high-street look with old buildings being torn down to make way for steel and glass fancy stores and restaurants. It was a bit heartbreaking. And that’s just one street. Don’t even get me started on the gazillion malls and their respective foodie-options.

I could agree with everyone and say that the variety is fantastic, because one drive down the road, and you have an option for virtually every kind of cuisine, but even for a die-hard foodie like me, it was a bit gross. Just how much can we feed ourselves? If I had a penny for every time our conversations, discussions and every time the “whats happening in Bangalore?” questions veered into the food zone, I’d have recovered my inflated airfare. And then some.

But because eating/drinking out is pretty much all Bangalore does, I managed to sample a fair bit of said variety in cuisine. I dined at The Humming Tree twice where we had some really good mojitos, crab cakes and nachos, sitting in a decidedly casual and living-room-y ambience it sports. It has to be said, faffing the good old way does make Bangalore a lot more bearable for me.

We also went to the newly-opened Om made Cafe, which felt like a bit of Goa on a Bangalore rooftop. Even though it can probably never re-create the real charm, it came pretty darned close. Tin Man and I went there on a delighfully breezy evening and sipped on Masala Chai as we were waited upon by the French owner who was doing everything from serving us, chatting up guests, shouting orders into the kitchen and even sawing/making his own drawers for a corner table. I was mighty impressed. Enough to go visit the Goan one when the season begins again.

omc

We managed to also trek all the way to Basavanagudi for breakfast one morning, because such is our undying love for mylari dosas. Something we used to drive to Mysore for. Compared to that, Basavanagudi ought not to have felt like a trek.

The Nebulous One and I caught up over chai (again!) and animated discussions about the woes of being a writer in a world that has no respect for our kind, at Infinitea — another favourite.

tea

Apart from that, we also went to Toit, where I stuck to my favourite Basmati Blonde and ate rolls at Khan Saheb for lunch, thereafter. We made a couple of trips to Corner House and I’m disappointed to admit, I couldn’t finish a cake fudge all on my own. A few bites were enough to make the nostalgia kick in, and my excitement helped to have a few bites more, but I’m slowly but surely losing my sweet tooth for excessively sugary and rich desserts. Sob.

I also snuck in a second meal with Tin Man at Cafe Noir, which I secretly suspect I enjoyed much more than he did. Apparently his dish was missing some vital accompaniments like bread, potatoes or some such. I was pleased pink with my grilled chicken, green peppercorn sauce, loaded with crunchy veggies on the side. Creme brulee and a dark chocolate something were had for dessert, which once again I couldn’t finish. Double sob.

By the end I was just dying to get home and make me some rasam rice. I was tired of all the eating out, the talk of eating out and the endless planning that went into orchestrating all of this. I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting to list a couple of other places we also went to. That’s the wonderfully chaotic part of being in a joint family — something I am increasingly losing touch with. Every decision is made as a group. Except the entire exercise is a slow conditioning of making everyone feel like doing what one person does, veiling it all in an air of democracy.

The other thing about visiting a joint family is everyones curiosity about the happenings of your reproductive organs. For five years I’ve been providing an array of excuses, and now I’m tired. But surprise, surprise! I went through 24 hours without being asked the question! But just when i was beginning to think maybe they have finally given up, someone asked me, “Baccha kahan hai?!” (where’s the baby?) almost as if I was expected to show up one day, baby in hand. My response this time was a polite but accurate “Oh there isn’t one. and not likely to be one for a while!”

I’ve realised that as the months and years roll on, my patience for things I don’t like is fast waning. This time, I was also pleasantly surprised to note that the aggression and rage at being asked these questions is fading too. All the instances that would have had me seething with anger, biting my tongue to keep from saying things I would regret, had me smiling inwardly. I’m no longer aggravated, just amused.

I love going back to Bangalore, but in a couple of days I get a serious case of ants in my pants and I begin to long for the routine that my life here brings. Living by our rules, in our home, doing things our way, having the peace and quiet away form having people in your face all the time has changed me more than I know. And like I said, Bangalore has changed too. This time I couldn’t help but feel the city wears a very superficial glossy exterior. Everything is glitzy, rich and opulent — from people, conversations, the cityscape, the malls, the restaurants — and bears a weird look of being upwardly mobile and so with it. But dig a little deeper, ask a few questions, discuss matter that matter — like power, water, education, governance, road rage — and you feel a sense of hollowness. Almost like everything exists in a bubble of denial about the way the city is changing right before our eyes.

I love going back to Bangalore for short trips like this. I feel like just for a bit I can return to things the way they used to be. But I can’t help but feel that every trip back makes me feel more alien in the very town I grew up in. I recognise fewer things, I feel less nostalgic and identify with far fewer things than I used to. This time around I realised I should stop fighting it, and just accept it. Things change, cities change, we change and that’s just the way it is.

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28 thoughts on “To Bangalore and back

  1. Can’t agree with you more. Bangalore has so lost it’s old world charm. I still love some parts of it but one can’t ignore the glitzy fake glam you see all around you. So unfortunate!

    • I dont mind glitzy, but the single minded focus on it, to the point of ignoring obvious shit around you is what gets to me. The roads are in an appalling condition — everywhere I drove felt like a construction site. I thought it was a bit ridiculous coming out of a fancy microbrewery, having spend a few thousands in a flash, just like that and driving out in our fancy cars, on non existent roads. It is a little too schizo an existence for me.

  2. This post makes me feel sad in a very sad way. I can’t seem to place a finger on what it is but, just knowing that feeling of a city change and being no longer able to identify with it is a sad feeling. I am from Mysore and so far, everytime i go back, I don’t find many changes. But I can see and feel the tremendous change that B’lore is and it makes me long for the old version just like that even though just 2 months every year were spent there.
    Yoou are so right about acceptance. But dangit! It doesn’t come as easy. And nostalgia isn’t helping.
    Btw, I noted those cafes/restaurants. Next time :)

    • Change is okay, change can be good. And even though I am a creature of familiarity and habit, I welcome change if it is wholesome and all-round. But whats going on in Bangalore is scary :( and in many ways its reflective of whats going on in our country as a whole. It just hits home harder when it is the city you grew up in. A lot of people in Bangalore dont get what I mean, but I think it has something to do with living away, having this distance and then coming back. People in Bangalore seem oblivious for the most part, and its a bit more heartbreaking to see that denial.

  3. “I’ve realised that as the months and years roll on, my patience for things I don’t like is fast waning.”.. hahahaaa.. I could have written that.. and the part of not being able to finish decadent desserts.. and the part where I cant identify with parts of a city I grew up in and the part where I prefer a quieter life.. and I love Indigo too!! Do you think these are signs of ageing??? :))

    • This morning a friend politely told me it was a sign of being jaded. I laughed out loud because I think its a sign of growing up. Something many people i know in bangalore seem to be fighting so hard because they think growing UP = growing OLD. Sigh..

      I politely said “you probably wont understand” and left it at that.. :P

  4. I’m going back to Madras at the end of this month and I’m worried I won’t recognize the city like I used to. I’m dreading the baby questions. I’m still at the stage where I have to grit my teeth and smile politely when all I want to do is just exit the room.

    Change is such a bittersweet thing. I’m just learning to take it all in as and when it comes.

  5. I disagree with you ,eating & dining out is not ALL b’lore does .
    Born n brought up in B’lore schooling in Bishop Cotton Girls , 2 years older than you .
    B’lore is an IT hub and people work very hard, if both husband & wife are working , THEN they go out to eat out of necessity.
    IT is tough on the brain and body ,particularly when a woman also has to goto work after doing 4 years of grueling BE , aren’t they entitled to go out a bit .Talk about going out ?
    It’s definitely not all that B’lore does .

    • I don’t know what Bangalore being an IT hub has anything to with my post. Non IT people enjoy eating out too. Me included. In any case, this is merely an account of my experience over the 4 days that I was there. By no means did I say it was absolute verified truth about everyone in Bangalore, all of the time.

      People (IT, Non IT, BEs, BAs, MBAs and everyone else) are entitled to the means of recreation they choose. But since this is a personal blog of my experiences, Im entitled to my observations, opinions and expression of it too, is all.

  6. flying is a pain. But it gets you places. And it looks like you had a good time anyway! :)
    Haven’t been to Bangalore in aaages! I’m not so keen either, after hearing various versions of how it has deteriorated and become a concrete jungle with bad roads.

    • I cant imagine what Bangalore might feel like for a total tourist, anymore. I dont know what charm it will hold. I better shut up before the ahem trolls^^ come get me :O

  7. I live in Bangalore since past 10 years and you’ve written down all the things I have been feeling about the city lately.. The bubble of denial does exist around almost everyone here! I totally love this post but ahem.. trolls will be trolls! ;)

    • Im just glad there are a handful of Bangaloreans right here who feel the same way. Maybe I am not imagining it afterall. I passed it off as a return-to-Bangalore syndrome, which is very likely to happen to anyone who comes back after a while. But this time I really was disturbed by the kind of change I saw.. Tsk, I guess this is a natural course for every city these days..

  8. oye…if I knew I would have also pointed you to an Italian restaurant opened by my cousin recently called Pasta Street. Have been waiting to go there and try out the food. Will be there in Jan for a few days and will come back to you with reviews, as unbiased as they can be :p

  9. I am never flying spice jet either, they just postponed our flight, and since we had to be in Chennai for my grandmother’s surgery by a particular time, we had to buy new tickets in jet, and the horrible horrible people charged us 1500 per ticket for cancelling the tickets !!
    Since I just moved to Bangalore from Ahmedabad, I have to say I am enjoying the eating and drinking, but do agree it is in your face all over the place. But it is so nice to be able to get a beer whenever I want, as opposed to drinking behind the curtains !

    • Thats downright ridiculous! And whats worse is there are such loopholes in all their offers and slashed rates and theyre constantly cashing in on them, at our expense!!

      I suppose it is about perspective, and so it is subjective. Im glad you can enjoy the side of Bangalore that most old-timers seem to be cringing at. And coming from Gujarat, it really must be so liberating!

  10. Pingback: Sai bhaji (Sindhi-style channa dal with veggies and spinach) | Hungry And Excited Blog

  11. I agree with you Rev. Bangalore has become so alien and mostly a land of excesses. There is 4-5 malls in a 5 km radius! Who needs that many?? It struck me more so with all the moving and traveling I did in the past 3-4 years. I’m cringing every time I think about having to go back next year.

    • Excesses is just the word! Though that too is subjective, I think. What seems excessive to you and me, doesnt to most of Bangalore, apparently! Everywhere I went, people gushed about the million malls and the metro and the gazillion eateries, with so much pride. Doesnt matter that half those malls are unaffordable for the average Bangalorean, the metro is more like a joyride at the mo, and the eateries are bursting at the seams.. It was quite heartbreaking, yet eye-opening in a weird sort of way.

      Youre coming back to BLR?! Every time I think about how I cant live in blr ever again, and I see the beginnings of the same degenration in Panjim, VC and I make noises about how NZ is going to be the next destination we run off to!

    • Excesses is just the word! Though that too is subjective, I think. What seems excessive to you and me, doesnt to most of Bangalore, apparently! Everywhere I went, people gushed about the million malls and the metro and the gazillion eateries, with so much pride. Doesnt matter that half those malls are unaffordable for the average Bangalorean, the metro is more like a joyride at the mo, and the eateries are bursting at the seams.. It was quite heartbreaking, yet eye-opening in a weird sort of way.

      Youre coming back to BLR?! Every time I think about how I cant live in blr ever again, and I see the beginnings of the same degeneration in Panjim, VC and I make noises about how NZ is going to be the next destination we run off to!

  12. I’m a blog lurker. but, this post hit too close to home!

    I was born and brought up in Bangalore and my parents still live in Indiranagar, a 10 minute walk from 100ft road. Or, what used to be a 10 minute walk. I have been living in the US for about 8 years now and I still pine for home, BUT, I feel depressed, angry, frustrated…you get the picture every time i go back. My neighbor on one side is now a fancy cycle shop and on the other another restaurant!

    We used to walk to and from school, NPS, in 15 mins. To think of doing that now, is just crazy. I miss the double-decker buses, the big banyan trees under which we’d fight for ‘Fusen’ chewing gum, the always cool weather. I miss Bangalore even when I am in Bangalore! Why did they choose to ruin this beautiful city?

    P.S: great blogs btw.

    • I feel your pain.. Especially because 100ft road is horrifying. Even I feel “depressed, angry, frustrated” when I go back and miss Bangalore even when I am there. But 100 ft road broke my heart at a whole different level, the last time I was there :(

  13. Pingback: At home, in Bangalore | hAAthi

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