India June 2015: Day 2 – Exploring Bangaluru and Education

We started the day early with a wake up call at 6:30 to  explore central Bengaluru. Although many of us had another restless night, we quickly got ready to hop in our minibus and travel through the city. We met our guide, Arjun who told us that he majored in engineering but gave up his job to become a tour guide to teach foreigners the real history and culture of Bangaluru. We walked around the breezy city for a little while as he explained to us the history of Bengaluru, including where the city got it’s name and how foreigners began changing it to Bangalore due to the difficult pronunciation.

For breakfast, Arjun took us to a place known as L.N.R., abbreviations we are learning are common in India. Here we all snacked on more Dosa and tried our first Idly. There were no tables or silverware in L.N.R., but rather you use your right hand to eat while holding your plate up with your other hand. We quickly ate so we could get back out onto the streets and keep exploring before it became too crowded.

Arjun then took us to the old central market where we learned that, unlike back home, markets that sold the same things, like flowers or jewelry, were all located in the same area, and it was the buyers’ choice of how to negotiate and where to get their goods from. He then took us to see the trade of flowers, spices, and fruits. Hundreds of people gathered in the market hall filled with bright flowers, colorful and fragrant spices, and fresh fruits for sale. Many locals found our group very interesting, this market is not a typical stop for tourists or foreigners. After the markets, Arjun took us to the 300 year old Tipu Sultan Palace–only parts were still standing today. Right next to it, we visited a Hindu Temple. We removed our shoes before we walked around the shrines.  Arjun explained to us the relationship between wealth, education, and the caste system, and how that connects into different religious beliefs.

After our long (hot) tour, we all gathered on the minibus again to head to lunch. We went to Maiya’s–an establishment in Bangaluru known for their coffee and south Indian comfort food. We had a South Indian Thali — a lazy buffet where the waiters serve us samples of everything on their menu from hot curries to rices, and then we can ask for more of what we like. Trying all of these spicy and sweet foods made for a great experience, where we all challenged one another to try the spiciest foods and laughed over our realization of how much vegetarian food we can eat in one sitting.

After a long morning, we went back to the guesthouse to get out of the sun. After a much needed hour long break, we all gathered to watch a bollywood film, “Three Idiots.” The film is about education, or creative education, and is the top grossing Bollywood film to date. Because it was a long movie and the risk of the incoming rain, we stopped midway through to go shopping!

Adam, our group leader took us to a local mall and “Fabindia,” a nice clothing store filled with high quality. yet traditional Indian clothing. Because of our delayed flight and short layover, we lost all our luggage. As unfortunate as this was, it did allow for us to get some new clothing courtesy of Air France. We all took advantage of this opportunity by buying Indian clothing for the next few days. We then went to a local mall for a mix of western and Indian options, where most of us treated ourselves to the classic Domino’s pizza–and a break from all the spicy food. By the time we walked back to the guesthouse, it was late so we gathered around one last time to distribute our new outfits and discuss our experiences today.

Many of us realized how similar India and America are, breaking our assumptions we had of Bengaluru coming into the trip. Although we are still recovering from jetlag and the day was hot and long, we all had an amazing experience and look forward to learning more about the city, country, and education systems tomorrow.

-Gracie