Day 2 – July 22, 2012: First Day In India! (Bangalore)

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

After a night of well-deserved rest, we woke up to our first India breakfast. Though it was nine in the morning, the buffet looked more like one for dinner than the first meal of the day. Minutes after coming downstairs, my plate was covered with chicken masala, pilaf, and naan. Though I do like scrambled eggs and bacon, this was breakfast food that I could get used to.

For our first full day in India, we did what first-time “tourists” should do: we toured and got a small feel of what it would be like living here for the next four weeks. Our first stop was at a “Bull Temple”, where we removed our shoes, put bindis on our foreheads, and circled the religious monument at the blessing of a Hindu priest. After some photos and religious awareness, we moved on to our next event, all of us fitted with bindis in our first attempt to fit into the Indian culture.

The Bull Temple, complete with a bigger-than-life bull statue.

Our next stop was at a marketplace, though I very much doubt there is one like it in the United States. Coming to India, we knew to expect a lot of people, a lot of crowded streets. But what we encountered at this marketplace wasn’t just crowded, it was overwhelmingly congested. It was difficult to walk without running into people or getting hit by a car, let alone doing so and talking and shopping at the same time. Traffic is much different in India than here: there are no lanes, no rules (so it seems), just a organized chaos. The locals have no trouble navigating around the cars, through the motorcycles, avoiding the auto rickshaws. We Americans, on the other hand, struggled to make it even three blocks before resorting to panic and anxiousness.

We ended our initial tour by taking a quick stop at India’s version of Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day. Cafe Coffee Day serves coffee (obviously), teas, and other drinks, as well as food. They served everything from club sandwiches to chicken sheekh. Courtney thinks that it is important to note that she got pesto pasta, electing to save her introduction to real Indian food for another meal.

5:00 PM

Who wouldn’t want a lot of money with Ghandi’s face printed on it?

Once we returned to the hotel, our group exchanged money and explored the neighboring streets. For Courtney and I, exchanging money was quite the experience. I won’t say how much money we exchanged, just know that Courtney exchanged enough to to live like the princess that she is for the next month (or six). Because the exchange rate was in our favor (50 rupees for every $1, and everything seems cheaper than it would be at home), we left with many bills and thousands and thousands of rupees, almost convincing us that we were richer than we actually were. Anybody who has had a stack of 500 Rs will understand how empowering it feels to be on the receiving end of a 50:1 exchange rate.

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Upon returning to our hotel —  a very nice hotel at that, considering I expected the rooms to be less, let’s say, inviting — my first roommate Paul and I flipped through the channels, searching for anything with resemblance to America, and found HBO and with it, a return to our American roots. Hopefully we won’t spend too much time in the hotel room watching HBO, but let’s just say that it was nice to know there was something out there other than Bollywood dramas and the Indian news.

8:00 PM – 9:30 PM

For dinner, our group went to a restaurant in the heart of Bangalore and were treated to a rooftop dinner, with a view overlooking the entire city. This was our first true Indian meal, complete with chicken masala, a vegetarian dish of some sort, rice, garlic naan, and bottled water. The bottled water was necessary because of the poor water quality throughout India, making it dangerous to order an iced drink, let alone tap water. The food was very good but we were all tired from a long day touring and were eager to go back the hotel and catch up on some sleep.

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