My camera does not perform particularly well in low light, and those have been the circumstances of most of my explorations of Bangalore’s various hospitality institutions, so you will have to forgive me if I ask that you use your imagination on some of these descriptions, and feel free to browse my various photo archives for the relatively low quality shots I have gotten.
Beginning at the start, my home away from home for my stay in Bangalore is The President.
I’ve really no complaints about this place. It’s certainly not the worst place I’ve stayed on business, and those of you for whom the terms ‘The Dorint’ or ‘The Crowne Plaza’ mean anything know what it’s up against. The room is not huge, and the bathroom in particular seems well suited for a nuclear submarine, but the facilities are nice, the location is central, and the service is extremely friendly and well intentioned, if not exactly world class. What is notable about it is that is very new, I can’t imagine it’s been here any more than three or four years, and its design attempts to make it look like it belongs in Milan or London, though in a way that makes one wonder if its designers have ever been to Milan or London, or just read about it in Wallpaper* magazine. This is hardly a unique phenomenon around Bangalore, as I’ve mentioned before and surely will again, but it never fails to ammuse me, and always reminds me, somewhat aptly, of the parable of the blind men and the elephant.
However, The President is not the only hotel in town where I’ve been spending time. Some of the better, or at least better publicized, restaurants in town are housed within the confines of Bangalore’s five star hotels. The level of oppulance on display at these places, if not, again, quite the level of service, is really quite astounding.
The Leela Palace is really a bit over the top. It is, as the name implies, a former palace, and absolutely enormous. Entrance into the marble loby is acheived through a large columned breeze way, and as you procede toward the inner court yards you are soon presented with the smiling visage of Bill Clinton, evidently enjoying his stay at the hotel. It seems as though every juntion and intersection of the place is staffed by at least two uniformed employees, and if you stop to ask one for directions they will not simply point you where you’re going, but escort you there and make small talk along the way. The facilites and the grounds here really are quite lovely, but I’ve not been back since spending nearly US$100 for a seafood buffet and a few drinks for two (this is an astronomical sum for India, though I’m not complaining about the quality of the product.)
The other place where I’ve been spending quite a bit of time this week is The Taj West End. I went by first on Monday evening, just to check it out, and was surprised to find a Nascar on the menu. Once my country of origin had been determined, I was invited back for the Fourth of July celebration the following evening. I figured this would be a good chance to meet some of the ex-pat community in Bangalore, and was not disappointed. I managed to blag an invitation to my neighbors’ table by asking about how the Red Sox had been doing, having shrewdly observed that two of them were sporting well worn Sox hats. Yes folks, the Red Sox Nation truly is everywhere. This eventually lead to a golf cart ride across the hotel grounds to one of the other bars on premises, and all too quickly to last call at 11:30pm. I returned to the Taj again this morning for the champaign brunch, and despite the large quantities of small children running about, and the distinct lack of a Sunday Times to read, enjoyed it quite well.