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.
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.
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.
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.
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.