I woke up this morning and I went to school early to get on the bus to ride to the Bosch Sports ground to have the annual Sports Day event. The ride on the bus was my first time out of the suburb and into the city. I was delighted to see how green Bangalore was. All Indian cities are relatively green because they don’t tirelessly beat back nature the way other cities do. The ride was fun to listen to Kannada music blaring from the bus drivers radio and watching the dusty crazy traffic swirl by. In an Indian bus some passengers will sit or hang out of the doors. Actually there are no doors. The bus is just open. You can hop on and off anytime to catch the bus stuck in traffic. We arrived at the Sports Ground. The student and staff spent two hours arranging the students from the four branches of Parikrma together. I met the founder of Parikrma. She is an influential woman in Bangalore. Her face appears on some billboards around town and she is a minor celebrity in Bangalore for her TED presentation and her positive work for children. I will write a post about her soon.
Then the students performed a number of opening ceremony dances and then there were four hours of relay races. I met a super smart little girl named Ashwariya. She really impressed me with her English and her ambitions. She was the highlight of the event for me. Then my former co-worker Shenelle and her friend Lyell came to the Sports Ground. Leaving the event a bit early we went into the young people area Brigade Road. This street was a lot like an Indian version of South Street in Philadelphia with more posh stores. We went to an arcade and walked through a quite district of the area. The area was fine and some of the houses were very nice. Bangalore has some really nice houses next to shacks. The wealthy and the wealthless are so close they can smell each other.
Then we rode on Bangalore’s metro. The Metro was very grand. The first line isn’t yet completed and still the people are using it. The ticket machines displays over thirty options for destinations, but only 10 or so are completed. The entire system is based off of Kuala Lumpur’s system. Down to the car, the tickets, and the machines. In Bangalore to ride the metro you have to go through a metal detector that scans for metal, gunpowder, radiation, and chemicals. You also have to scan your bag like at airport security. Many people including myself are first time riders and the train was full of people taking photos of themselves in the cars. The enthusiasm for the metro was a palatable way to feel people’s optimism about New India.
We stopped at a wealthy café district called Indranagar. Lyell had to take leave to study for an exam. We met up with Shenelle’s cousin Anaka and her boyfriend Kenneth. These three were wonderful company. They were Chill madi (chillax) and we had a good time sitting in a pub called Mother Clucker. The pub scene in Bangalore is a bit exclusive. The women have shorter hair than the people from Sahakaranagar. No saris only jeans. The majority seemed to also have lighter skin. The pub was super American. They served Miller High-life and Budweiser, brewed in India, as domestic beers. They served all meats. I had a great time there. This group of people have been so welcoming that they even invited me to go to their families advent celebration. They are Anglo-Indian Christians. A small minority in India. I noticed that the people whom I have been most connected with in India have been Christians. I can’t really explain why this is, but something about mixed heritage creating a family culture of openness. When I went to a church in Mumbai, I thanked Jesus for letting me into his Facebook Group, and for Suggesting Friends for me. I knew even by day two that my tini-tiny Christian heritage would be magnified in Indian eyes.
I knew that I would like Shenelle, Anaka, and Kenneth when they hugged me goodbye. It was originally a joke toward Kenneth for a bye-bye hug, but it turned into a few hugs. They seem very warm and I think I’m going to enjoy their friendship. I hope I can give them something in the short time I am here, because they have given me something incredible. Friends!
Coming home in the auto, through the crazy streets inspired me to extra focus on learning Kannada. Going into the city and back to my home we pass some rough areas. When we stop at lights or in traffic beggars come up to the auto. An auto doesn’t have doors so I have to just deal with people begging to me in my face. The city could be really rough in some places. When the auto pulled into my ghetto I felt relieved here I could get home. It was odd to feel a sense of homely relief from this SUPER-UNFAMALIAR but now slightly familiar place.