As we’re finding out, India can be a crazy place to backpack through, so we were extremely lucky to start in Bangalore, the southern city where my parents grew up and where much of my extended family still lives. And even better, my mom flew over from the U.S. to see us!
My parents were generous enough to get us a hotel for a week, an Indian cell phone, which has really come in handy for booking hotels and whatnot for the rest of our India trip, and as is standard practice for NRIs (non-resident Indians), a hired taxi to take us wherever we wanted each day. For two backpackers who were totally sick of researching, planning, booking, etc., we were more than ready to play puppets. Tell us what time to be ready, and we’ll go wherever you tell us.
That said, it had been 10 years since I had been in Bangalore and most of my fond memories have been clouded by the fact that I always, always, always, always got sick. On previous visits, I rarely got to do anything fun because I was too busy throwing up. TMI?
This time was different. I think traveling in Third World countries beforehand prepped me because I didn’t get sick!
So, armed with a robust immune system and a more well-rounded knowledge of the world we live in, I could finally appreciate nuances of Bangalore that I never before realized. For starters, the people are incredibly kind and mild-mannered (probably because it’s not a big tourist spot). The food is crazy good. The streets feel open and airy even with the notorious traffic. There’s greenery everywhere. The list goes on. The point is, the more I travel through India — I’ve previously never been outside Bangalore — the more I realize how special Bangalore is.
It was amazing to have a bit of a homecoming here — to see my family, including my 90-year-old grandmother, spend time with my mom, shop for Indian clothes, eat outrageous meals and most importantly, show Eaman what my motherland was all about.
So what does a week in Bangalore look like? Well, our days consisted of eating, shopping, seeing family and watching Animal Planet in our comfy hotel room. It was grand.
To grandmother’s house we go…
Her cook made us fresh dosas.
My aunt and uncle live next door, and they whipped up some tender coconut juice and fruit salad for us.
A walk through my grandmother’s neighborhood.
Hundreds of Ganesha statues lined up for sale for the upcoming Ganesh pooja.
Psychotic monkeys who invaded my grandmother’s driveway.
We were always well-caffeinated in India. The filter coffee there is my absolute favorite.
And let’s not forget snacks…
We didn’t have a single bad meal in Bangalore — a feat we had never before accomplished in our travels. My mom took us to the best places, and from veg thalis and chapatis to chicken tikka and panner manchurian, it was all divine. Even the hotel’s breakfast buffet was incredible. But I never took pictures of the food, that’s how ravenous I was at each meal. And it was during this week that I forgot what it felt like to be hungry.
And one night, when we were too tired to go out, we ordered Domino’s in.
We couldn’t get over how such a big city could be so green.
The most fragrant jasmine in the world can be found just about anywhere in Bangalore.
A walk through Lalbagh Garden.
Around the city.
Eaman deserves a really big cookie for being so patient while I shopped for saris and salwars, Indian clothes I wear for weddings and parties.
My aunt and cousins.
Lunch at my uncle’s house, where we had my favorite dish — jasmine flour idlis, a specialty that’s not common at this time of the year, but somehow, my uncle managed to find some. We ate our meals on the traditional banana leaf “plate.”
My cousin Ashwini and me. The top picture is from 10 years ago. The bottom from a week ago.
Weekday temple visit.
Eaman also celebrated his birthday in Bangalore! We went to lunch at a 5-star hotel, played at an arcade and had a party, but all that deserves its own post…next.