Bangalore, megalopolis of thirteen million souls, Indian “Silicon Valley”, capital of innovation in a country which will soon exceed China in number of inhabitants… This super-city aroused in us a lively curiosity. We imagined it to be modern, restful, a comfortable city break to work efficiently halfway through our two-month trip to India. We decided to stay there for eight days.
Chickpet district, Bangalore, India
Bangalore is so sprawling that it takes us 1h30 by bus from the central station to reach our apartment, which is also designated as central. Now imagine that a resident in the far north of Bangalore wants to visit a friend in the far south… he has to take a month off!
The Surprise Roommate Blow
As is often the case when we stay more than a week in the same city, we reserve an entire apartment on Airbnb in order to cook, whistle, say whatever comes to mind and walk around in flowery pajamas. “Whole” clearly meaning that it is for us alone. Or Shivangi, the owner, welcomes us with a big smile and…
Impossible to blame her, she is charming. This is an opportunity to get to know a Bangalorean woman. She’s a college student, twenties, modern, unmarried, dressed western, Netflix subscriber, chatting in perfect English with her friends… We’re amazed at how the upper visit frenetic bangalore class Indian girl looks nothing like that of the “villages”, as they are called somewhat pejoratively here. One of them, the same age as Shivangi, comes three times a week to clean up and prepare meals for her in advance.
Bangalore in all its forms
Bangalore is surprisingly diverse. Our neighborhood is residential and a little chic, with large houses under the trees, (almost) usable sidewalks, air-conditioned supermarkets where French brands such as Elle & Vire or Casino attract expatriates in search of homesickness. In the neighboring districts, on the other hand, we find India made up of odds and ends, colors and horns, the India that we like to explore.
Rickshaws in Bangalore IndiaBus stop under the tree in Bangalore India
Sometimes, between two neighborhoods on a human scale, a skyscraper arises, all by itself. Bangalore, has no Manhattan, no gathering of towers. They are scattered here and there, like radio relays criss-crossing the territory. Or rather helicopter relays, since each tower hosts a heliport on its roof. The best way, it seems, to evacuate a badly injured person in this seriously jammed town.
And then there are the districts of the ultra center of Bangalore, also very different from each other. We will introduce you to some of them.
Let’s start with this building that does not do things by halves: the Vidhana Soudha. It is here that the deputies of the State of Karnataka meet to vote on laws, under the benevolent eye of an eight-meter statue of the “Great Soul”, alias Gandhi.
The whole surrounding area is also pompous, with buildings of the same ilk. We do not linger there because nothing can be visited.
The frenetic Chickpet district
Chickpet is one of Bangalore’s oldest neighborhoods and one of its busiest. As much as the government district was depopulated, this one is alive. Very alive.
Chickpet district, Bangalore, India
Chickpet brings together an incredible number of small specialized shops. In the course of our wanderings, we first pass in front of a swarm of locksmiths, then comes the turn of hardware stores, lighting designers, decorative objects, sportswear… all sprinkled with street vendors offering food, jewellery, sunglasses view or toilet.
We who thought we liked the Indian bustle, we are overwhelmed! It screams, it stinks, it jostles, it backfires, it grazes on a scooter, it delivers on an ox cart… Hard to be a pedestrian!
Cow in a street of Bangalore in India
You should know that the Indians have a very belligerent relationship with traffic. We are witnessing fierce competition between vehicles. Every centimeter must be conquered with the horn in hand. The collateral victims are the unfortunate walkers, jostled and intimidated, including on the purely figurative pedestrian crossings.