On Wednesday morning I headed off at the crack of dawn to Geneva to fly back out to India. The sun was coming up across the lake – and the Alps behind it – as the train flew towards the airport.
I changed flights in Heathrow, heading onwards to Bangalore.
For once I had a World Traveller Plus seat – and a bulkhead, to boot – which I definitely enjoyed. The only downside was the combination of my aging Bose noise-cancelling headphones giving up the ghost partway through the flight with a tantruming toddler across the aisle from me. I don’t know whether the two things are linked (interestingly only the side nearest the toddler stopped working, which seems to indicate causality).
It was uneventful arriving in Bangalore and passing customs and immigration.
Bangalore airport continues to modernise: it had a number of new shops open outside, as well as a very handy Uber Zone.
On the way to the place I was staying I snapped this shot of the venerable Cantonment Station.
I love being back in India for the colours and some of the smells.
It’s still a country of contradictions, of course. Such as having both red and green lights showing on a pedestrian crossing. Dealing with such ambiguity is an important life-skill in this country.
There are always strange scenes to gawp at in the street as you head past.
I often take random snaps. This is one I like a lot, for some reason.
While there’s currently a severe onion shortage, there are plenty of other vegetables on sale everywhere.
The trucks are still painted…
Transportation services are one of the big changes in India over the last few years, much as I mentioned last time I was here. I did try using Uber to hail an autorickshaw, which didn’t work well for me. It was fun seeing them zooming around on the app, though.
One of the main reasons for me passing by Bangalore was to take care of some family-related admin: my uncle – who lived in Bangalore – passed away during the summer, and I needed to transfer some accounts. (Some people may not know that my mother is of Indian origin and grew up in Bangalore, which is one of the reasons I was open to moving there from 2003 to 2005.)
Anything bureaucratic in India is intensely frustrating, and I found myself at Mayo Hall a few times to get copies of my uncle’s death certificates notarised as well as affidavits – on both 20 rupee and 100 rupee stamp paper – stating that both my and my uncle’s middle names were optional. (This is just an example of the types of hoops you need to jump through. Fun!)
After two days of running around and dealing with paperwork (I could barely sign my name by the end of it), it was a pleasure to head to Autodesk Bangalore to catch up with Jim Quanci and his Bangalore-based team. It was pure – but a very happy – coincidence that Jim was passing through Bangalore at exactly the same time as me. Luckily Viru made me aware of it at AU in Las Vegas.
Jim and I caught up for some time before heading up to the roof for one of my favourite views of Bangalore.
The office building seems to have been refurbished significantly since I worked there back in the oughties.
For dinner we headed to Kudla, a Mangalorean restaurant I used to visit regularly with my family, back in the day. It also happened to be close to Jim’s hotel, so a good choice all-round.
Here’s how the restaurant looked back in 2005. The waiters are holding my son, who’s now 15 years old. How time flies!
The logo on the placemats was familiar, at least.
At a Mangalorean restaurant there’s always fish on the menu. Here’s a pomfret that proved delicious when served as a dry rava fry. Mmmm.
Sitting across from Jim and I were Viru and Sandeep.
I didn’t manage to get a photo of the whole team – I’ll be seeing them next week again, I hope – but here’s a quick snap I took before people left.
After dinner – and as my Uber cancelled on me – I walked across Richmond Circle to the Bangalore Club for a last drink. It proved much easier getting an onwards cab from there.
Saturday was spent running around to pick up some gifts for my family.
Bangalore continues to have the odd historic bungalow tucked away…
… although most have been converted into apartment buildings.
The old area I used to buy Kashmiri good from looks like it’s now been condemned (presumably for redevelopment, as it’s prime real-estate off M. G. Road).
M. G. Road continues to have the ugly metro line going over the top. One new addition was a fake policeman intended to slow traffic.
The government-run handicrafts shop, Cauvery, is still there. I went there to buy sandalwood soap and incense.
Later on the rain came down. In a typically India moment, we were stuck in traffic behind a Lamborghini as a beggar went up to the driver’s window, asking for it to be rolled down. It’s certainly a country of crazy extremes.
One of my favourite parts of being in South India is the traditional thali meal. Washed down with some Kingfisher, ideally.
After a somewhat exhausting few days, I’m now heading up to Pune to visit CCTech. I’ll be back in Bangalore for Wednesday, just in case I still have paperwork to complete before heading home to Switzerland for Christmas.