Bit of a whistle-stop today. We’d intended to get an open-top bus tour around the CBD, but couldn’t spot any of the buses so left it. There was enough to see on foot, walking up and down MG Road (yes, Bangalore has one as well) that we didn’t really need a bus.
Prashant has been a wonderful host. First of all, he sorted out our bus tickets for tomorrow night. This saved us a long trip to a travel agents. In the evening, he took us out for beer and dinner, refusing to accept any money. More about dinner in a little bit, but from Hans and I – “thank you”!
We really just beetled up and down the one street all day. In one bookshop, we managed to offload four books that we’d both read. And then bought four more. Whoops. And another couple in another shop. Whoops again. Ah, well, they’re all ones that will get read and we’ll be chilling in Goa shortly.
The “fun” bit was meeting quite a character in the first bookshop. Visually an Indian, but with an accent which would pass very much for Steve Buschemi if you closed your eyes, this chap apparently lived in Texas for 20 years before being deported. Some silly thing like being caught with 130lbs of marijuana in the fuel tank of a car he was driving. Anyway, it seems he’s trying to set up a new business in Bangalore – drug running and prostitution.
Well, it’s these things that makes travelling interesting.
Lunch was a KFC we happened to spot, and a late afternoon snack of fresh fruit and milkshake indulged in. We also spotted a gazillion pubs and bars – more than we’ve seen in the rest of India combined where the only bars have really been inside posh hotels. We chilled in one for a couple of hours, during “happy hour” which runs from 11am to 5pm. 50Rp a pint for draft beer – top notch.
As mentioned earlier, Prashant took us to dinner in the late evening. First to a place called Mojo where we drained two pitchers of beer (along with free popcorn) and then on to a very authentic Indian restaurant called Nagarjula. All tiles and white walls, with a uniformed oriental guy holding the door open and doing the Thai “one-handed-wai” as we entered.
Our first thought was “hang on – there aren’t any plates”. Each table had four folded banana leaves on it. Following our host’s lead, we unfolded these and sprinkled them with water. Then the food arrived. Each of three types of sauce/paste dolloped onto the leaf and then rice dumped in the middle. Followed by several small metal bowls of other flavourings being placed around each of our leaves.
Spoons were provided, but we all “went native”. Ghee (melted butter) was drizzled onto the rice to make it a little sticky and then we used out hands to mix in the other foods. Eating then involves a simple procedure. Lift it up in your fingers and shove it in your mouth.
Actually, there is a little technique which reduced slurping. Place the cupped fingers in front of the open maw that is your hungry mouth, and push the food in with the thumb of the same hand. It becomes remarkably second nature very quickly.
All too soon my belly started pulling the gates shut and the bouncers at the bottom of my oesophagus began telling boli of rice that their name wasn’t on the list so they weren’t coming in. Some curd managed to sneak in by pretending it knew the manager, but after that I was officially stuffed (I have a certificate to prove it).
Somehow we made it home without requiring wheelbarrows or belly-wheels. Hans, however, has nodded off in front of the TV while I type this up. I swear I can feel each of the grains of rice I ate through my stomach walls. It reads “FULL” in braille.