What I Like (and Don’t) About Bangalore

Let’s play the numbers game.
1 me.
Moving back 2 the Bay Area.
With 3 other members of my family.
Making 4, the number of cities I have lived.
I’m moving in 5 days.
I’ve spent  6 years here

No matter what numbers you take, Bangalore has been a pretty significant part of my life. I’ve lived here since I was 10 and have spent a significant part of my childhood here.
A lot of different people on separate occasions have asked me what I liked most about Bangalore and what I hated most about it. Here’s the list:

What I Liked About Bangalore:

  1. The People:
    Usually when people say something along these lines, I’m inclined to believe they’re sucking up. But since I’m leaving, I really have no insidious motives behind this claim. I mean this with the utmost honesty: the people in Bangalore are brilliant. The people in Bangalore are so naturally friendly and ready to help, its amazing. You could meet a total stranger and they’d go out of their way to help you-literally. Whether you need directions, recommendations or help understanding someone else’s language, bystanders will gather around to provide help (sometimes more than you need).
  2. The Food:
    One thing I’m really going to miss about Bangalore is the food. Contrary to some North Indian’s expectations, Bangalore is not a land of idly-dosa-vada. I mean it is, but there is so much more too. Being India’s silicon valley and home to so many friendly, open-minded people- Bangalore is a haven for expats and their cusine. Lebanese,Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, South Indian, Mongolian, North Indian, French- all of these cusines are available within a radius of 2-3 miles around my house. The prices are cheap and the food is plentiful (compared to American prices and standards). Also, you can choose to have anything (and I literally mean anything) delivered to your house.
  3. The Attitude:
    Maybe this goes with the people part, but it’s more than just the people- it’s the atmosphere. It might just be the weather (which is perfect by anybody’s standards) but everyone is easy-go-lucky and willing to take their own time. Despite the relaxed, comfortable, non-judgemental attitude (or maybe because of it), people take serious pride in their work. It’s inspiring.
  4. The Languages:
    It’s not something I’m proud of but I never learnt much Kannada (the state language). I just never needed to. If you went to any other city, in any other country- you would find it impossible to survive without speaking the native language, or at least you’ll be confined to the foreigner parts. Not in Bangalore. I think on the whole, Bangaloreans have really have a knack for languages.I once met an auto driver (an auto’s like a taxi but smaller and open-air) who could speak 11 different languages. The fact that I only know two- Hindi and English- makes me feel ignorant and inadequate, but I never had difficulty communicating with anyone (when you added hand gestures and numbers to the mix).

What I Disliked About Bangalore:

My least favorite part of Bangalore is getting around.
Buses are too crowded. Those pictures you see of people hanging out of bus doors and windows? I’m reluctant to say this- but during rush hour it’s totally true. I’ve ridden in buses like that a couple of times and I did it only because it was absolutely necessary. The air-conditioned buses (we call them red buses unofficially) are a bit more comfortable- provided you can find one and get a seat in them.
Namma Metro (Our Metro) is a work in progress- very, very slow progress. Though it’s clean, fast and uncrowded, at the moment, the metro doesn’t really connect anything. When it finally connects all of Bangalore (in another hundred years or so) it will definitely be convenient. But right now, it’s mostly just a hassle.
Same goes for the auto’s and taxi’s. You have to haggle a lot with the auto-wallahs and the taxi companies often forget to send cars. When you add this to the crowded roads, slow speed-limit and aggressive drivers, getting around by taxi or auto is not really an attractive proposition.
The lack of footpaths and the open gutters nix the idea of walking too.
Oh! And make sure you ask more than one person for directions. Bangaloreans, on a whole, are unwilling to admit that they don’t know the area very well (even if they are just as new to the area as you are). If you’re not careful, and you ask people who are unfamiliar with the area and don’t pause to double check the directions, you’ll end up with a list of bogus instructions which will confuse you to no end. At the same time, Google is equally confused about Bangalore Roads; It’s accurate only about 60-70% of the time.
All in all, getting around Bangalore is not easy or fun.

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