Thursday, November 19, 2009

Five Months in Bangalore

What do you call a Canadian who lives in Bangalore - a Canalore? a Bangadian? Crazy?

It's hard to believe we've been here five months. I think I am actually starting to feel settled. We had a good period lately. The electricity is working - we have to remember that 40% of the people in India do not even have electricity and those that do, experience major outages. We are lucky that our backup system kicks in almost immediately when there is an outage.

We switched from cable to satellite and now when I turn the tv on, it actually works and there is a clear picture. The internet works. The fridge and dishwasher have both been serviced since we've been here and they work now. In other words I have not had to sit around waiting for people to come and fix things or deliver things lately.

Someone said to me recently, "When people ask me what I'm doing in Bangalore, I say, 'I'm waiting!' "

How true! So much time in the first few months was spent waiting for the delivery of furniture or for people to fix things. The best thing I did was stop waiting. I would give them my cell number and say, "call me when you get to the house."

There are some things we've given up on. The bank, for instance is unbelievable. Michael opened up an account as soon as we got here. A guy came to his office and had him sign a bunch of forms. That night Michael got a text saying the manager rejected his signature because they didn't match - even though someone from the bank witnessed him signing.

A few weeks later I signed forms to make it a joint account and Michael signed forms to get a credit card. I was told a bank card would be couriered with in a week. Three months later still no bank card for me and Michael receives his credit card - with the wrong name on it! The guy tells him he should write a letter requesting a name change. He cannot seem to understand that this is not a name change - it is their mistake.

I write a cheque which is rejected...because the joint account was never put through. The guy comes to the house and has me sign a bunch of forms again as though I'd never signed them before.

Four months later, still no credit card and no bank card. Thank goodness the only thing they are efficient at is transferring money. We transfer money to our Canadian account and use our Canadian credit cards.

Are we used to the traffic? Not completely, but you learn to time things and learn what to expect. The biggest problem is that Bangalore has grown at such a fast rate that they are playing catch-up with the infrastructure. Everywhere you go the streets and sidewalks are being torn up and construction is going on. At the same time they are building a skytrain so that adds to traffic slowdowns and detours.

Grocery shopping is hit and miss. Don't get me wrong - you can get almost anything here in Bangalore. There are a couple of big supermarkets like Spar where I go once or twice a month and load up on cheese, nice breads, cleaning products, biscotti, etc.

Around the area we live I have four different small grocery stores - Namdhari's is best for fruit and veggies, Food Zone or Food World for canned goods and staples, 'Sorbet, the Gourmet' store for tortilla wraps and tortilla chips (finally found them but had to stop buying/eating them), salsa and much more. Once in a while there's always a little shock when you walk into a store and they are out of a staple like butter - for weeks. Once they were completely out of toilet paper and last week - no milk. So, off you go to another store.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the lack of seasons. But what do you know - a week later the rains came and it actually got chilly. Even though today I'm sitting outside in a sleeveless dress, we've had some long sleeve weather and I even wore socks once.

It's been overcast and although it is certainly not as cold as it is in Vancouver, the rains have put me into "fall going on winter" mode and I've been thinking about Christmas. I've heard there is a store near Commercial St. that sells decorations so I'll have to check it out next week. Not sure what to do about a tree. Michael says "bring in a palm tree" but I don't think that is going to work for me.

The kids are doing well at school. Craig is always in a good mood and is really enjoying field hockey and socializing with all his friends. Alanna is still determined not to like anything about India (except for the mall and the chocolate shop). However I know she has made friends at school and my spies tell me she is "friends" with all the teachers, chatting away to them.

Michael seems to be making some progress at work. He went on a team building weekend to one of the National Parks. He enjoyed getting back to nature (except for the mosquitos), camping and doing all sorts of survivor style "challenges" with his co-workers.

For me, the OWC has been a great way to meet people and get involved in different events whether it is charities, cooking classes, lunches, or wine dinners. I've been writing an article every month for the OWC Rangoli magazine and entered a photo contest. Keeping busy is the key.

The upside to all the socializing is getting to try lots of different restaurants, eating great food and meeting and learning from some of the cities top chefs. The downside is that it really is possible to gain weight in India. Now I have to fit the gym into my busy schedule!


  1. I have just discovered your blog and it makes very good reading. I look forward to following your exploits and experiences during your time in India.

  2. Thanks for your feedback - enjoy!


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