My Day in
A street decorated for Diwali.
November 13, 2007
It helped to not really know what to expect from this city before arriving. That could be a big reason why I really enjoyed my
time out here. I can totally see how ex-pats can do it out here. There is a nice blend of ‘Indian’ and ‘Western world’ out here. It
is quite pleasant and manageable to walk around certain areas/neighborhoods. I wasn’t expecting that (as that is something
that is absolutely positively impossible in Delhi). Lots of streets are tree-lined which makes it more than comfortable to walk
around and keep cool. And then there are tons of eating options – it seems like any cuisine someone would crave exists out
Oh! And I came across the first Indian grocery store I have seen in my life. I have seen countless stands…and a few that are a
bit larger that are a bit more like ‘shops’. But here I went into an actual supermarket! I feel like I have crossed through some
Indian barrier in this city.
And then there are the restaurants. Ohhh, what a treat! I chose one called Sunny’s and it reminded me of a cool and casual
place to hit up in any upper-end city back at home. Since today was my only day here, I sadly won’t be able to try out any of
the other options.
I also came across a revelation. I have always had a strange fascination and love for the auto-rickshaws out here. For some
reason I find them weaving their way in and out of traffic kind of ‘cute’. I know that’s a weird description. But they do have a
cuteness to them. But it dawned on me today exactly what they remind me of – little runaway buggies from a ride at an
amusement park like Disneyland. You know how Disneyland will try to scare you by acting as if your buggy might hit another
buggy (at least that’s how some of the rides in Fantasy World are)? But, of course, you know your buggy is on a track so
something like that is not likely to happen. So when I am watching the rickshaw traffic (most of the time from the backseat of a
rickshaw) I can’t help but think how funny it is to see all of these runaway buggies. And then, of course, there’s the other
component of it. Every time I hop in one to take me somewhere, it’s an adventure (to say the least). There is no ‘track’ and
they come far closer to each other than any ride I have ever been on. But somehow I always end up at my destination. These
drivers have serious skills – that’s all I can say about it.
My big Bangalore sightseeing consisted of going to the ISKCON temple. This stands for the ‘International Society of Krishna
Consciousness’ that built the temple (also known as Hare Krishnas). But I think the group should be renamed ‘International
Society of Krishna Capitalists’ as the entire complex was more one big showroom for anything and everything Krishna related.
The entire place seemed to remind me of waiting for an attraction at Disneyland (sorry I keep referring to Disneyland for my
comparisons – clearly I am having some Mickey Mouse withdrawal or something). Let me go over this step-by-step:
1. Go through metal detector.
2. Give up camera and bigger bags at a bag check. Pay a rupee to get a sack to put your shoes in and turn those into the shoe
3. Enter another metal detector.
4. Have a man offer to sell you a ticket for 150 rupees so that you don’t have to wait in line (read: like Disneyland’s ‘Fast
5. Decline the offer and wait with the chanting crowd.
6. Have a man hand you a laminated sheet with the chant. It stated that we had to recite the whole thing then we could move
to the next square (as the line consisted of a path of marble squares that went around the maze – another reason for the
Disneyland reference - before leading up to the staircase).
The chanting consisted of the following lines (that I literally heard hundreds of times):
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
And at the end of the final line, we would move a step. I gave up chanting until I got to the staircase (as people could see you all
around once you were making your way up).
7. A man at the top of the staircase then gave each person a handful of mini corn pop looking things. I didn’t know what to do
with them. I watched people in front of me pop them into their mouths. I tried one…and that was all I could take of the stale-
tasting things. So now I had to walk around with a handful of these things since there was no trash can.
8. We followed the route which took us to a couple temples that worshipped a couple of their idols.
9. Then came time for the big temple. I was expecting something grand and amazing. Hmmm, not so much. There were
several shiny idols in the front that many Hindus were praying to. There was also a roped-off area that those paying extra
rupees could have access to.
10. From here is when it became Commercialism Central. I have never been into an IKEA but from what my friends have
described, I couldn’t help but think it was similar to this in the sense that you had to pass through every Krishna ‘department’
before getting to the actual exit. There were several floors of this…and each floor had its ‘Cash Counter’ and then there was a
place on the bottom floor that added all of the purchases (at least it looked that way). Far more space was given to these stands
than the actual places of worship. It actually made me laugh inside.
11. After what seemed like an eternity of walking barefoot around the entire complex, I finally came across the ‘shoe counter’
where I could make my feet happy by putting a stop to the direct contact with the ground. I just told myself to forget about the
fact that you can catch all sorts of fun feet problems from walking barefoot like this.
So that was my ISKCON temple experience. An experience for sure.
It’s only 9:00pm right now and I need to go to bed. I feel seriously ill. I’m thinking my body is saying ‘I hate you Jen!’ for last
night. But talk about a good way to appreciate a nice, clean hotel room! But I truly feel ill – I was going to see a Bollywood
movie but got there about 30 minutes too late. Probably good. I’m sure making myself stay awake for 3 hours with blaring
volume would have intensified how sick I feel. On the upside, while I was at the mall where the cinema was I picked up some
‘saffron youthful glow’ ayuervedic cream for my face. I might feel like crap, but at least I will have a youthful glow tonight.
Pretty Parliament building.
|Sign showing that you're putting your life
on the line by getting in a vehicle.