As most of you may know, I'm currently in India. (If you don't know, it's probably time to start watching my Insta stories. *cheeky grin*)
This is my first trip to India... And a work trip, to be exact. Before I left, so many people 'offered' me so many stories about India, it was quite unnerving. I heard everything from "Don't eat cut fruits or ice cubes" to "Beware of bottled water that may have been recycled and resealed". Horror stories of food poisoning, even from just brushing teeth using hotel tap water. It was so bad, that I decided to bring 5 liters of my own water! Not exactly a great first impression.
Well, they say never judge a book by its cover. Upon arrival in Bangalore, I was mighty impressed with the international airport; even their toilets were cleaner than the ones in KLIA. However, once I stepped out into the local streets, I noticed the glaring disparity between the rich and the poor. Proud modern buildings stood in between stretches of slum. Despite the rapid growth of the technology industry in Bangalore "Silicon Valley", plenty of people still live in poverty.
My journey from the airport to the hotel was interesting to say the least. We got stuck in a severe congestion, accompanied by a chorus of honks (honking is actually encouraged), vehicles weaved in and out dangerously, three to four vehicles would squeeze together into a two lane road and honk at each other while they race to inch ahead, and pedestrians walked on the main roads with vehicles passing barely inches from them. I don't think I can ever drive here, it is ridiculously scary.
We took some back roads on the way; where I observed slums with tiny houses and small businesses such as workshops, markets and convenience stores. Kids walked in groups to school. I even saw a mosque! (14% of India's population are Muslims.) Once we got into the city, we went into wider roads. There were people sleeping and even washing clothes under the flyovers. Cows roam freely on main roads, going through dumps of trash by the roadside. Ladies walk, balancing ridiculous basket of loads on their heads. We also passed by some pretty bungalows and residential apartments. Weather was nice - sunny like Malaysia during the day and slightly chilly (like Genting) in the night.
To get into the hotel, our cars were checked by security guards. To enter the hotel lobby, you had to scan your bags and go through an X-ray machine, even if you are a hotel guest! (X-ray machines are even installed in major shopping malls.) My hotel was stunning. Professional service and comfortable rooms.
I'm also here amidst the cash chaos; the Indian government decided to retract all their 500 and 1000 rupee notes (~RM30 and RM60 respectively) and replace them with new currency, in an effort to stop the spread of black money. Unfortunately, the government instructed the country to stop receiving the old currency before introducing the new currency!!! So stores stopped accepting most cash, long lines at the banks as people went in droves to withdraw smaller denominations, and the ATMs were empty! Even in Malaysia, Bank Negara stopped transacting Rupees until the new currency kicks in, hence I was in India without a single rupee in hand. Thankfully, my hotel was able to arrange for a taxi to be charged to my room for a trip to the mall and back. I also used credit cards for all my shopping purchases.
Anyway, I'll be back soon in sunny ol' Malaysia. Meanwhile, here are some pictures that I took from my week here:
|Yes, you can call me Yasim.|
|Sunny selfie at the new international airport.|
|Auto rickshaws hanging out under the elevated roads.|
|Tractor on the road.|
|Medical check up, anyone?|
|Simple hotel, I wonder how many rooms they have!|
|State of the art scaffolding.|
|My hotel room.|
|Breakfast - Dosa (thosai) and Paratha (doesn't taste anything like roti canai).|
|The shopping mall right outside my hotel.|
|The exterior of Phoenix Mall, Bangalore's largest shopping mall.|
|Bought this Punjabi suit for myself.|
|Shell Technology Centre Bangalore.|
|Scrumptious vegetarian packed lunch at the office.|
|Visiting the R&D labs.|
|Told you, honking's encouraged!|
|Dead chickens sold right beside a bus stop.|
|Entrance to a row of fancy residential bungalows.|
|The only mosque I saw during my trip.|
|My boss agreed to splurge on lobster!|
|You must have a printed itinerary to gain access into the airport.|
|Posing on an auto-rickshaw on display at the airport.|