Wednesday, 17 November 2010

6 Unusual Things About Bangalore

I’d best point out that there are many unusual, strange, peculiar, wonderful and downright irritating things about Bangalore to behold if you're a visitor. If you've lived here most of your life and are back visiting your parents for a few weeks, you tend to find most of the aforementioned things fairly normal. But there are certain things that never get old - and never stop being strange!

1. Cows are an optical illusion. You will also find them standing in the middle of the street holding up traffic while they peacefully chew on the grass in the divider, but that's not a surprise to me anymore. What does astound me is their size. I have seen many a cow in my twenty-two and a half years, in India and in the UK and most likely in every other country I've been to as well. But not until yesterday did I fully realize that cows are an optical illusion.

See, from a few hundred feet away - even a few yards away - cows are ordinary, normal-sized creatures. A familiar sight to most of us, who probably see cows in fields or on farms (or streets!) every day. But it's only when they are right next to you - by which I mean they're headbutting your foot to get you to step off the particularly large and delicious leaf they want - that you realize how big they are.

Cows are huge. I'm serious. You don't realize the half of it when they're a fair distance away.

2. You are woken up at the crack of dawn by the sound of no less than three mosques sending out a call to prayer. This is what happens when your parents' house just happens to be in a part of town that happens to have a few mosques dotted around it. And boy, do they boom at five in the morning.

3. There are more restaurants/cafes/places to eat than there are people. Okay, so that's probably a wee bit of an exaggeration, but the sheer number of places offering you food is nevertheless startling. Really. Try to think of the most outlandish or exotic type of cuisine you can and there's an excellent chance Bangalore's got at least one place that serves it. (If you're visiting, I recommend Koshy's. Or Sunny's. Or the rooftop of UB City. Really. The list could go on.)

4. How much you pay an auto rickshaw driver is directly proportional to the amount of rainfall rocketing on the city at that precise moment. The harder it's raining, the more they'll charge you for a trip, knowing that when you're soaking wet and irritable, the last thing you want to do is hang around waiting for another auto to turn up. 

Unless you're me, in which case you occasionally tell an auto driver what to do with his exorbitant fare and march off to flag down the next one, uncaring of torrential thunderstorms cascading upon your head.

5. Graffiti is almost always of a romantic nature. Heaven forbid anybody scrawl or spraypaint religious, moral or philosophical views on bits of wall, fence and anything with a surface. No, the graffiti most often seen in Bangalore involves things like 'Rahul luvs Priya 4Ever' and 'Marry Me, Sunny'. 

On a related note, typos and mistakes on signs in Bangalore are invariably hilarious. Many a hairdressing salon will offer you 'a layered cut' and a 'boob cut', which seems terribly generous for the price they're charging.

On another related note, I discovered a shop a few days ago with a sign proudly proclaiming that the shop is called Traffic Jam. And what does it sell? Yep, that's right. Jam.

6. Where have all the monkeys gone? Bangalore used to be a hotbed of common brown monkeys. My brother's best story involves having a packet of chips stolen from him by a monkey. In fact, I so often tell Steve about the antics of Bangalore's monkeys that, when he visited last year (and this), he was most disappointed not to see a single monkey in the city. The only monkey he managed to see this time was five hours away from the city, a stone's throw from my dad's coffee estate. So that, to be, is a most unusual thing. 

So I put it to you, dear readers, in the hope that your explanations might enlighten and/or entertain me. Where have all the monkeys gone?


  1. I saw loads monkeys outside the (I think) HSBC when we were in Bangalore a couple of years ago. All the bankers were sharing breakfast with them. One of my favourite memories.
    I love The Indian Coffee House for scrambled egg and coffee. xxx

  2. Perhaps they've run away in search of bananas?

    Cows freak me out a bit. I think they generally look so mild but you know there's a little bit of madness in their brains.

  3. Sorry, have just realised my knowledge of the natural world is APPALLING! Do monkeys even eat bananas? Do bananas even grow in India?

    *hangs head in shame*

  4. Heya Sangu! Nice to hear from you. : j

    Cows are big? Huh, it never struck me. As a kid, in Normandy, cows were a part of my daily holiday life: they're everywhere in Normandy.

    I would sometimes spend afternoons hanging out with the cows, some of them would let me get on top of them and carry me for hours. I wouldn't call it riding them because they didn't really go anywhere except to the next patch of grass. The neat thing is how they all have very different personalities. Some would be nasty and had to be steered clear from, there this one cow who was tricky and at random intervals, once I had gotten comfortably settled with my book, she'd twitch just the right/wrong way to make me fall off, and then try to lick my face (or eat it perhaps?). I'd get back up and we'd start the game over again.

    How can someone who has seen elephants up close think cows are big? : j

    @alex: Monkeys will eat anything, including bananas, candy bars, soup, money (on the shoulder variety), and brains (zombie variety).
    And yes, India grows large amounts of exotic fruit (including bananas). Incidentally southern Indian cuisine uses banana and banana leaves a ton!

  5. Yaay! A blog, a blog! :)

    Boob cut? hahaha! I might have to use that in a novel, it's just too funny.

    Poor monkeys! Maybe they have all made for the coast and gone surfing?

  6. Sounds like you're having a fab time in Bangalore! And you managed to catch the latest Harry Potter film too! *LOL* I love those funny signs in English in some countries; one of my favourite is a note in a hotel room: "You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid". ;)