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This was the cover
for the India Issue
Driving the cities of
India is no cup of tea
Enjoying a ride pacaderm style

Opening Comments from Bob - India

As announced in the last issue, I had a business trip to India in early April, my first visit to the subcontinent. I spent six full days there. Before departing, I found that everyone had advice for me from "don't drink the water" to "look right and not left." Much of this advice came from individuals who had never visited there. They were simply repeating what they had heard. Luckily, many of the preconceptions were wrong while others were right on. Crossing a street or road in India can be a harrowing experience – definitely look right and left. Yes, don't drink the water unless you have acclimated to it over the years. However, no matter what you hear, as an American, I was not prepared for what I was to experience. The vignette below speaks to that topic.  

Krishna, the Driver

Dressed in immaculate white, lean, and calm –
fearless –
Krishna maneuvers into impossible spaces
separated by centimeters from neighboring mirrors,
all while describing his homeland.

A devout Hindu, proud of his family –
ever courteous –
meter by meter, kilometer by kilometer,
he snakes his way through the traffic.
Seeing our white faces,
he smiles, “No worry, I will get you back.”

And he did.

Comments: A personal opinion, no sane American would ever try to drive in an Indian city without months of living there and understanding the nuances that make it flow. One of the joys of this trip was being introduced to our driver Krishna. He helped provide us with a sense of the country along with safely transporting us, no matter the hour, to our destinations. If you are going to India and are not part of an organized tour, definitely hire a driver to transport you about. The money will be well-spent. (If interested in hiring Krishna, go to the recommendation section below.)


People, wherever one looks.
Colorful saris and salwars adorn the women,
Flashing their bright colors as they stroll by.
An occasional younger woman
Wearing jeans saunters pass,
Hinting of changes to come.

Rooted in ancient customs and traditions
Class governs lives.
One’s work or lack thereof creates
Its own behavioral rules.
Marriages are for uniting families
And arranged, often well in advance.

Prosperity and poverty are unfriendly neighbors
Competing for the piece of the pie.
Agrarian and cosmopolitan intermingle
And rub against each other.
The goats, cows, and oxen freely stroll
Among the honking Mercedes and motorized rickshaws.

Incessant noise, contrast, and density, mere words
Until one walks the streets of India.
Ornate shrines and processions
Give glory to the thousands of gods.
The people struggle and strive
Seeing education as one road to Nirvana.

Within the eyes of the educated young,
Burns the desire to leave their marks
Upon this ancient land and upon the world.

Comments: While I am no prophet, I will predict that Indians will continue to grasp a larger and larger portion of the world economic pie. Zeal and drive to succeed dominate the educated lives. Despite the poverty one sees, one must also understand that within the last twenty years living conditions have greatly improved for the general population. How well India struggles with two pivotal issues, population growth and services for all the masses, will determine the future directions for this country.

Our driver extraordinaire, Krishna, and cohort Ray
A Hindu procession moves down the street
- cars simply go around
Motorized rickshaws waiting
Two saried women engrossed in conversation
(note the tarp home behind them)
Surviving via manual labor

Vignette: The Indian Experience

How does one describe this ancient land? Like myriads of others, I have seen pictures and films and read and heard stories of this subcontinent. But, none truly describe the Indian persona. You have to experience it. My business trip took me to Bangalore, a city of 5+ million people and India’s IT (Information Technology) Center. While there, I had time to explore the surrounding areas including Mysore and Bannerghatta National Park.

From the moment of stepping off the plane into the heat, mosquitoes, and mass of people, you are instantly aware that your concept of the world is about drastically to change. As you move into the city, the ancientness of the culture blended with the modern IT services, assaults the mental synapses. Cars and more cars, buses, motorized rickshaws, scooters, motorcycles, and bikes weave in and out, on occasion around a meandering cow, creating nonexistent lanes and spaces – all somehow missing collisions and death by inches. I often literally had the option to “reach out and touch someone.” To this Western eye, I cannot see how what appears as an impossible traffic pattern works. The constant honking signals drivers that someone is ready to pass, swerve, or simply “watch out.” The sound of horns will be part of my dream time for a while. While I have traveled in other parts of Asia, for me, the Indian commuters' daily dance with motorized death is unique.

Everywhere you look, there are people. India will soon surpass China as the most populous country in the world despite the fact that its landmass is over two-thirds less. Over a billion people are trying to survive on a finite amount of land. This fact places tremendous stress on an already overwhelmed infrastructure. Poverty and wealth coexist side-by-side with modern IT facilities, hovels, ancient temples, street vendors, and holy men seated along the side of the road. The Indian story is too complicated and complex to address in a short vignette. But at least, I hope my short commentaries and observations have tweaked your interest in this amazing, vibrant country.


India: This country is so vast and diverse and my stay so brief; thus, I can only provide limited suggestions. Since most of my time was spent in Bangalore, that will be the focus of this section.

Driver Needed: Unless you are familiar with driving Indian traffic, at least initially, you will need a driver. I recommend without hesitation, Krishna of Chalapathy Car Rental Services at No.1, 9th Cross, 11th Main Rd., Vasanthnagar, Bangalore - 560052 or call 91-80-41131063 to have him to pick you up at the airport.

Shopping: I am confident in recommending two establishments. I was treated well in each and received quality merchandise at reasonable rates. Be warned, when you go into any store, expect to be waited upon. For most Americans, this will seem strange. Also, be ready to haggle some, though in some stores that does not work. If you are looking for handmade, hand knitted, natural Kashmir woolen carpets, Habitat at "Layla"125, Infantry Rd. in Bangalore is your place. Tel: 91-80-22867148 Expect to pay a bit for these works of art. Mr. Javid Mugloo will provide you with excellent, knowledgeable service. The store also has superb jewelry and art floors.

The second store for famous Mysore silk scarves and clothes is Mysore Resham Emporium - Kaveri Emporium at #64/1, K.H. Road (Double Road), Opposite B.M.T.C Bus Stand in Banagalore - 560027. Tel: 91-80-41248999. Ask for Mr. Ramesh to serve you.

Dining: Vegetarians, you have found your Nirvana. Since most Hindus are vegetarian, there are enumerable restaurants from which to select. Most restaurants will list on the outside if they also serve non-veg meals. The ones I am suggesting serve both. Again, a warning – if you are not acclimated to India, choose your eating places wisely. Drink bottled water, wine, or beer. Both Kingfisher and Cobra are excellent local beers. The establishments I am recommending should not cause you any gastric problems and are frequented by locals as well as visitors. Each offers five-star service with food in the 8+ to 10 rating. Be willing to experiment. Realize that spices, curries, and herbs are integral to Indian dishes. Thus, if you do not want your food 'hot spicy' be sure to say something.

Tandoor Restaurant (Cuisine - Indian, Punjabi, Mughlai, Tandoori) located at the Jewels India Hotels Pvt. Ltd., No.28, M.G. Road, Bangalore - 560 001. Tel: +(91) (80) 25584620. Ask for Mr. Srinivas to be your steward.

A second option is Bombay Post (Cuisine reflects the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Mumbai a.k.a. Bombay) located at 1, Carlton Towers, Carlton Towers, Bangalore, Karnataka - 560017. Tel: +91-80-41113939. Request Mr. Nagendra to be your steward. Both establishments will NOT disappoint you. (Incidentally, T.G.I. Fridays is located just around the corner. Yes, American franchises are found everywhere.)

For Sunday Brunch, the best I have ever experienced, go to the Zen, a pan-Asian restaurant at the Leela Palace Kempinski Hotel in Bangalore. A walk around the grounds of this five-star hotel is an added dessert.

    Krishna, driver extraordinaire, with Ray
    Mr. Javid Mugloo at Habitat and handwoven
    Kashmir rugs
    Mr. Ramesh with Ray at Mysore Resham Emporium
    in Bangalore
    Mr. Srinivas - the Tandoor Restaurant &
    Mr. Nagendra at the Bombay Post Restaurant
    Tipu Sultan's summer palace, Daria Daulat (near Mysore)
    Picture taken at Bannerghatta National Park

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