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?