19th – 22nd January – It’s a Family Affair

Moving on from the dusty roads of Old India to the new cosmopolitan, tech-savvy melting pot of New India… Bengaluru. Also known as Bangalore (the colonial name) by locals and most road signage, so I have no idea which one to use!

This is our longest stay in the country, ten nights in our own little apartment. Being the ‘Silicon Valley of India’, we knew Bengaluru would have reliable WiFi, thus the perfect place to stay for a while and ‘work’. As I’ve mentioned previously, Steve and I both want to be self-employed with an online income by the time we return to the UK, so even though we’re on a five month adventure a fair bit of time is spent on our laptops (we tend to do 2-3 hours every afternoon). Obviously, we still explore the local area, and pop to the odd tourist trap… but for the next week or so we’ll be in full WORK mode, so apologies if my posts are a little short…

We arrived late on Wednesday after a rather tedious ten-hour train journey (!). This was our final sleeper train – I won’t miss them. Our seats were away from each other and both in the upper berths, so no natural light, and just where the AC blasts down on you. Whenever we fancied walking up and down the carriage (just to stretch our legs) it’s almost impossible because it’s so narrow and the lights are out because people are sleeping (at, like, 6pm!). Also everyone eats at the same time and with no natural air coming in it can get a bit pongy! Steve lost his patience a bit, I just listened to an episode of Desert Island Discs and daydreamed. I wonder how long it will be until India upgrades their trains? Every week there seems to be a train crash, shocking statistics and likely to increase if there is no quick resolution or investment.

Our apartment is in a district of Bengaluru called Indiranagar, about 3-4km from the ‘city centre’. Regardless of this we are spoilt for food, drink, shopping and transport options. The metro rolls passed our flat every five minutes, which at first was annoying but then it soon merges in to the other background noise. The metro takes us to the centre in about 10 mins, costing just 20p (imagine those prices in London!). Five minutes from our doorstep we have a craft beer place, brewing its own beer on site, a treat beyond belief! We also have a few bakeries as well as a renowned South Indian sweet shop. I think of all the places we have stayed so far this has been the best place location-wise. We really don’t need to travel far for any luxuries.

Our stay here means we got to say ‘hello’ to some of Steve’s extended family. Steve’s maternal grandparents were both born and grew up in India until 1955, following Independence and Partition. Steve’s grandad, George, and family were considered Anglo-Indian (or Eurasian). When the Portugese, Dutch and British arrived here in the 1600s, the traders and officers were encouraged to marry locals, due to the lack of British women in India! However, by the 19th century this was discouraged and the British Government soon shunned this mixed-race community. They did not regard them as pure British, yet native communities didn’t accept them as ‘proper’ Indian either. Shunned by both sides of their lineage, the community often felt alone. A huge number of Anglo-Indians emigrated following Independence, mostly to the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America. Some of George’s extended family remained here and are now incredibly proud to call themselves Indian.

We met with one of George’s cousins, Joan, her son Kevin and his daughter and son in law, Tania and Chris. Lovely bunch of people (we knew they would be), so accommodating, we enjoyed playing Carrom and chatting about everything and anything. Joan is the sister of Uncle Ronnie, who helped us out when we first came to India, Steve and I were particular fond of him, with Steve keeping in regular contact with him. Sadly, he died two years back. We would have loved to have met up with him during this trip, however it was lovely to meet up with his family and I know he would be pleased that we did.

An interesting fact we discovered was that one of George’s cousins was a Sri Lankan Cricketer by the name of Vernon Prins. He captained the national team for several years in the 1950s (when Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon). I guarantee Steve will take more of an interest in cricket now!

BTW – the feature photo for this post is of George and his cousins, including Ronnie and Joan, in Chennai (Madras), 1930s 🙂

Places

Cubbon Park – sweetly known as the ‘lung of Bengaluru’, obviously because of the amount of green and that the park itself looks like a lung! Just a 12-min ride on the Metro gets you to the entrance to it. It’s 300 acres and has some busy roads running through it with government buildings thrown in too. The colours of these buildings are a bright distinctive red, just to show you their importance no doubt. We also saw the elaborate and grand Vidhana Soudha with the large slogan on the front of the building of “Government’s Work is God’s Work”. No comment 😉

Toit Brewery – All hail the ale! Great place, and incredibly busy, full of workers enjoying their night after a hard day’s work in the office. Fantastic craft beer and tasty food.

Vapour Bar – Steve came here a couple of years back with our friend Matt. They went here because, again, it’s a microbrewery (old men before their time). This place is huge, covering four floors. We made our way up to the roof terrace and ended up staying until closing time! I blame the DJ for playing Led Zeppelin, Oasis and the Beatles. We also got talking to four young Indian lads who were working in Bengaluru but came from Rajasthan. When asked, what brought them to this city, they replied, ‘because we’re geeks and work in IT’. How sweet! Great guys and kindly offered to walk us back to our apartment, as one of us wasn’t in a great state to walk! Fantastic night but the next day was a complete write off.

The Rolling Pin – bakery serving the best ‘non-Indian’ breakfast I’ve had since arriving here! Lovely smooth Cappuccino along with a croissant filled with cheese and sundried tomatoes. The Indian croissants are not as flaky and messy as the ones we’re used to, but doughier and far more rewarding. Rather than serving white or brown sugar with the drinks, this place gave you a cup of granulated Jaggery to add in as a sweetener. This, kids, is the way forward. Much better than refined sugar.

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