Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Friday in Bangalore, with lots learned.

Yesterday morning Robert left the apartment early and went to the bank. He's learned that if you get there right when they open, the wait is much shorter (go figure). The kids and I planned to meet him for an early lunch of dosa, because we've also learned that at Prakruthi, at least, they don't stop serving dosa until noon.

The kids and I also left the apartment earlier than we might've normally done, because I wanted to stop by a shop next to Prakruthi called simply, "Ladies Tailor". I was hoping they would be able to make me a blouse to go with my new cotton saree (if you aren't on Facebook I'll summarize by saying: bought a lovely plain cotton saree for everyday use, assuming I can learn to drape it in a way that won't embarrass the crap out of me in public. So far I've draped it twice, and while neither attempt was truly awful neither was anything to write home about either). The very fact that I now know where a saree blouse comes from (the tailor) is big, in my mind...it's another thing I learned! I thought they came with the saree when you bought it.

Anyway, Robert was already at Prakruthi, so Zion joined him and Liel and I went into the tailors. I handed my rolled up saree to the very nice woman there, and explained that I needed a blouse.

"What measurement?", she asked me.

"I don't know", I said.

She looked perplexed, and tried again. "Size?"

I shook my head. "Sorry, I don't know".

"Measurements?" She mimed a measuring tape. I thought she wanted to measure me, and was relieved.

"OK!"

We looked at each other. "Um, do you want to measure me now?", I asked.

She sighed and said patiently, "What measurement for blouse?"

"I'm sorry", I said, "but I don't know. I've never done this before".

A lightbulb went off in her head. A shocking lightbulb.

"Never??", she said, staring at me. "No blouse??"

"No", I said, pleased that we were clearly getting somewhere.

"How soon do you want?", she asked.

"I'm not in a hurry."

"OK. Come back Monday. Madam here then", she said and then looked more closely at my saree. "Very big!" Then she held the width of the saree up to me, at waist height, and appeared satisfied. And, amazingly, she began to fold my poor, crumpled saree.

"Oh, that's OK!", I said, "You don't need to do that, here..." I reached out for it.

She smiled and shook her head at me and, just holding my saree in the air had it neatly and evenly folded in under 30 seconds. "Come Monday. Madam will help then", she said, handing it back to me with a rather bemused smile.

I thanked her and left, making a mental note that I must not unfold the saree between then and Monday, no matter how tempting trying to wrap it might be.

At lunch Robert reported that  he had bought coffee tickets. It turns out that you can buy a booklet of twenty coffee tickets, which you can just hand over for coffee, instead of standing in one line to pay for coffee and one line to collect it every time you'd like a cup. We'd noticed that our friend Tiju had tickets and never had to stand in the pay line and finally asked about them. And another piece of the "life in Bangalore" puzzle fell into place.

After we ate we planned to do a few errands in the neighborhood, and decided to go out a different gate, thinking it would save us some time. That, it turned out, was wildly incorrect. Our shortcut was at least 3 times longer than the regular way, and maybe more. We spent about an hour walking through Mathikere, a neighborhood that borders one side of IISc, and which we knew barely at all, having only been in one teeny part of it before.

The walk was really interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, Mathikere, while not nearly as pretty as Malleswaram, had a kind of run down charm. Emphasis on "run down", as there were quite a number of derelict buildings and empty lots, and very little construction going on. That was surprising, as most of Bangalore is a city that is growing and expanding, and construction is ubiquitous all over town. People in Mathikere stared at us a lot more than people have in other parts of the city as well.

The best part though was that after nearly an hour walking in 93 degree heat, through a neighborhood with few/poor sidewalks, almost no trees, tons of traffic (bus, auto, car, bike, and pedestrian), noise, and  trash, none of us felt exhausted or oppressed by it all. Remember back when we first got here, and I wrote that after a walk to a grocery store the kids had their hands over their ears to try to block out the noise, and were completely overwhelmed by everything? Well, yesterday we walked 2-3 times further along a route that had more of everything, and they were totally fine. Not one complaint out of either of them. Liel didn't even blink when an auto nearly ran over her foot! Of course that might have been because she didn't actually notice, but I sure as hell did! I gasped and shouted for her to walk more on the shoulder of the road. But my heart only beat fast for a few seconds, and then, even though the traffic was just as heavy and there still wasn't a sidewalk we could use, we just kept walking. And I didn't even feel nervous that either of my kids might be run over!

Finally we arrived where we wanted to be (and that was a bit of a triumph too...all Robert's. He was sure he could navigate us where we wanted to be, even when it became apparent that the roads were not behaving as we'd thought they would, and he was right!), and I took Zion shopping for some new kurtas for his birthday while Robert attempted to buy groceries. He went to two different stores, and found them both closed, so he gave up and went home. Then the kids and I popped into a sweet shop across the way and picked out a few things for after dinner, and walked back home to meet him.

As Robert said, "You finally figure out how to live in a place, and then it's time to leave!"

1 comment:

Joanne Young said...

This was very newsy, and I enjoyed it.
Yes, what Robert said so true. The longer you live somewhere, the more you learn about it.
Congrats for Liel and Zion, being so strong and comfortable in India!