• Gillian Keegan

We’re in India!

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

I can’t say that doing a flight from Melbourne to Manchester had made me any more confident about the Manchester - Bangalore trip. More so, I was accepting of what was to come. Whatever happened, it was unlikely to be a positive experience.

On a good note, however, Manchester Airport was so shockingly abysmal that it made the rest of the journey seem like we were traveling business class. It wasn’t helped by Monkey managing to head-butt the Bear in the mouth as we checked in a ridiculous number of bags. Blood burst from a wobbly front tooth, leaving the check-in desk looking like a murder scene. After that came the security screening which, quite honestly, was the fifth level of hell. Hungry Jack was screaming hangry. Bear and Monkey were their usual out-of-control selves and the so called ‘express lane’ which was supposed to be for families with hangry kids, had clearly been put in place for visiting sloths. One desk was open out of four, the security staff were massively overworked and seemed to have reached the place where they had no more sh*ts to give. The experience reduced my life span by at least five years and we hadn’t even taken off.

On the plane the kids were actually ok, apart from Hungry Jack’s projectile vomit ten minutes in, which left me sour and stinky for the next fifteen hours (more so than normal).

Bangalore airport was actually very pleasant - clean, organized and calm. Definitely not what I expected of my first sight of India. We were picked up by our driver, which sounds excessive, but westerners are are advised not to brave the Indian roads unless you have bits of steel. At the intersection coming out of the airport, I understood why! We then made our way to our new home.

In a neighborhood with wide, tree lined streets, our house is more than I could have dreamed of. It is a huge glass box and very hot, but has a pool and a lift which keeps the kids very busy! The poor lift is well on its way to doing enough mileage up and down the lift shaft to circumnavigate the globe.

At home we meet our two housemaids, which is a very new concept to us. In Australia we hosted a number of au pairs, but these were definitely part of the family, rather than an employee. As we understand, however, many people here enjoy working with expats and their families, and we provide a valuable source of income. Our driver, for example, is the sole source of income in his household (with his wife and two children). He works full time for us, but from this, is able to pay for his children’s schooling at private school.

Our maids are happy and helpful, explaining how to separate wet and dry waste here, after looking at me like I was some sort of heathen when I put a piece of plastic on an orange peel in the bin. They were also aghast at my lack of Indian broom (a broom like a witch would ride) and pressure cooker, and returned the following day with one on their moped! “You don’t have to use it if you’re scared, Maam,“ they explained, “but we will use it if we cook for you.” Don’t worry, I plan on showing them what for with the Kitchen Aid, when I find it in the boxes. Scared indeed!

We asked Ratna to shop for groceries to make dinner for us. She returned with beautiful fresh vegetables, herbs, spices and the largest, most pungent bag of peeled garlic you have ever seen. I don’t know what is done to it, but it’s garlic on steroids. She then cooked fried cauliflower and potatoes, daal and rice, which even the kids tried, after initial protestations of it being disgusting.

The stinkiest bag of garlic possible!

We went to bed full of tasty Indian food feeling happy, the door open (with the fly screen across of course - not today, dengue laden mosquitoes, thank you very much) listening to the foreign sounds, feeling the heat and smelling India, with the unavoidable overtone of garlic. I feel so lucky to experience this.

The following day, we headed into the city to see a bit of the ‘real’ India. Bangalore is a large city, and very modern compared to Delhi or Mumbai, so I am told. It has exploded over the past 15 years. Google says that Bangalore has an estimated population of 12.34 million in its urban area (2017) and is now the 24th most populated city in the world. The first stop was the new Four Seasons hotel to the north of the city for the Bear to have an urgent pit stop. We made the most of it by getting a very expensive coffee (even by Melbourne standards). Mr Lawyer LOVES his coffee, and is struggling with the fact that no one uses fresh milk here! So coffee with UHT milk in hand, we carried on to the CBD.

Very civilised at the Four Seasons - despite the UHT milk😂

The closer we got the the centre, the more fluid the concept of traffic lanes became. The traffic was a giant horn-tooting mass with a range of tuk tuks, mopeds, trucks and cars. Traffic lights would change to green, but there was nowhere we could move to. We would also see the occasional cow, which is very odd, in the middle of a highway. In Melbourne, the ranger would be called immediately, but here it’s apparently common to let your cows roam free and for them to graze where they can. Then, at milking time, they just head on back home!

In the city we checked out a mall, which was about all we could manage with the three kids, but it was fantastic to see the sights and general colours. The women wear the most beautiful saris and kurtas (tunics) and the place teems with life. After this, we had lunch at the Smokehouse Deli, near Mr Lawyer’s office, and had fabulous food (triple layered polenta cake for me, and veggie burger for the Lawyer) before braving the traffic home again for a dip in the pool.

Sorry, I'm not usually a food photo person, but this was so pretty!

Such a wonderful first impression of India, it is a colourful vibrant, and lively place. And tomorrow is my first riding lesson! I can’t wait.

I’ll write again soon!

x Gill x


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