I’ve been in Bangalore for nearly a week now, and aside from some fairly persistent jet lag and a more or less constant fear that my stomach is going to give out on me at any time, I’m having a blast. All the cliches about India are in evidence: the contrast between poverty and opulence, the ever present crowds of people, the unfathomable traffic, the rich pidgin English and and the unique and inverted seeming body language cues. My experience to date has been admittedly limited and sheltered. I’m staying in a hotel designed to look like it belongs in London or Milan, I’m driven anywhere I need to go in an air conditioned, four door car, and I spend most of my waking hours in a brand new office space that could as easily be in Silicon Valley or New York. On the other hand, my experience is hardly unique, or even uncommon, in the Bangalore of the moment. This is the sort of city you can see changing almost before your eyes, and while I’m not going to attempt to pass any sort of value judgement on that, it’s a fascinating thing to be in middle of.
Of course, the first thing people tend to mention about Bangalore is the traffic, and they tend to be suspended between awe and terror of it. It is the most remarkably fluid system of traffic I have ever seen, and when things like lanes and unidirectional traffic movement would prevent fluidity, they tend to fall by the way side. For the most part, this is hugely effective, and allows this remarkable array of vehicles, most with fewer than four wheels, to all get where they’re going with fairly minimal muss and fuss. Of course, it also occasionally leads to total, irretractible grid lock.
But the thing I’m finding most interesting is the juxtaposition of the crumbling shanty towns with the shiny new corporate parks and ever-present construction. As I said before, many of the office buildings here are so garishly glass-and-metal-modern that they couldn’t be built in the conventionally pro-tacky Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a lot of pictures of these, as I tend to see them only as we’re driving by at relatively high speed, and despite the high density of this city, it is effectively un-walkable thanks to the aforementioned traffic and lack of consistent sidewalk system. But stay tuned, as I’ll be trying to capture some of the more notable examples and present them in this space. In the meantime, here’s a sample, taken just in the relatively residential environs of my office:
Fortunately, our own brand new office is relatively understated, and its location directly behind a bus stop means that there’s always an interesting crowd of people out front. There’s a local law, that we’re not yet in compliance with, that you must include signage in English and the local dialect, Kannada, on the front of your office. The first picture below is the view out the front door of the office, and the second is the approval process for our localized logo.
More to come shortly, including a complete photo tour of my hotel, a peak into how the better half lives at some of the five star establishments in town, a glimpse into the totally ridiculous rooftop lounge scene, and a look at my recent day trip to the neighboring city of Mysore. But at the moment, the England Portugal match is about to begin, and that necessitates my complete and undivided attention. In the meantime, I am managing to keep my Flickr account much more up to the minute than this blog, so if you’re looking for the absolute latest, check here.