My first impression of Bangalore was that it was a beeping, smoggy and fluorescent light-filled city with plenty to offer. My final impression was that Bangalore was a beeping, smoggy and fluorescent light filled city of madness – that I couldn’t wait to leave. Now that I’ve ruined the end of the story, I could go on to justify my view, but I think we had a run of bad luck in Bangalore that has quite discoloured my view of it… Or maybe that was the thick black pollution that fills the streets and prevents you from seeing at all.
I can see why people say it’s ‘trendy’ and ‘fun’ – if by this you mean there are places where you can drink and not get glared at, shops with all of the designer labels you can find back home and coffee shops booming out deafening David Guetta tunes. There is definitely a young, university drinking-scene, with people watching Goa versus Kolkata on the big screen and enjoying cocktails out of funky glasses. But this wasn’t what we were in the mood for after a horribly long sleeper train, being charged an extortionate amount for an average room, being charged an extortionate amount for an average meal and having cheesy yoghurt thrown over my new top by a clumsy waiter (my punishment for attempting to look presentable).
A tuk tuk driver told us of how the place had tripled in size over the last 10 years, as we waited in a traffic jam where we choked on the fumes of hundreds of beeping cars. The progression of Bangalore into a pulsating business and technological city has been as swift as it has been unpopular with the old locals – who have understandably found it hard to adjust to the huge, and pollution bringing changes. The result for me was the city felt a bit unnatural, over-stretched and over-priced – and seemed like a very forced attempt to keep up with the likes of Mumbai. Although I’m guessing this is because we made a few wrong choices with the areas of town we decided to go.
Sam woke up the next day feeling unwell, and so as we were left to roam the streets due to an unreasonably early check out time, we spent the (entire) day in a Starbucks – which is by far my best impression of Bangalore. We were given lessons on the stages of coffee tasting, delivered by a sweetly nervous member of staff who wanted to practice her English skills. In between sniffing the aromas of Kenyan coffee beans, we were given free samples of everything from vanilla lattes to red velvet cake. It’s hard to reconcile this Starbucks with the one we have at home; the nearest they get to doing anything for free is avoiding taxes.
The title of this post shows that we hit Bangalore at a bad time for us. There is always a chance of falling foul of a huge city, as there is so much on offer you may end up choosing wrong and missing out on some real gems. Would I go back? No, I value my lungs too much.