Ten months after I left Bangalore for good, I went back to pay a short visit.
A friend of mine, let’s call her M, wanted me to come along with her since she had to pick up some stuff from there. So the last weekend, on Saturday morning, when I could have been knocked out to the world, I was sitting in the Brindavan Express waiting for M to turn up at an unearthly hour of 6:30 AM. I got there earlier even though the train didn’t start till 7:15 AM. (Aside: Did I tell you Madras can get really chilly nowadays especially in the early hours of the morning? The chill reminded me of the day-time temperature in Bangalore.)
Our journey to Bangalore was blissfully uneventful. Between having cups of hot coffee, bland breakfast, cold oily vadas, and tasteless cutlets, we googled for the name of a recently dead editor on M’s shiny new Sony Vaio. (It was a part of a conversion that starts anywhere and goes everywhere.)
We got off at Bangalore Cantonment or like the Bangloreans say, Cantt. It was refreshing because the railway station had a distinctly small-town feel. You know where you feel like the end of the platform is the end of civilization!
The other main idea of the trip was to hunting for books. This might amaze you but no matter how many unread books lie on my table, I still need more. It’s like a fix. Substance-addicts might understand this better.
So after a late lunch courtesy M’s wonderful aunt, we went to M.G. Road, the biggest road in Blore, and one of its side streets, Church Street. Now, Church Street is not famous for Churches but has the maximum number of bookshops in one street!
We got off near the Bible Soceity, dangerously crossed the road between Koshy’s and K.C Das, and walked towards the first bookstore Premiere. You can find any book on this earth in Premiere, but not at a discount. After a quick dekho, we proceeded to Blossoms, that discount-book heaven. I saw more pubs had opened since the last time I was there. And we were so tempted between peeping into the Beer Bar near Coconut Grove and Blossoms. But Blossoms won and so we spend four hours in the three floors of books.
So after shopping like crazy, much after 8 PM we took the small byline to head towards M G Road looking for a shop that sold bags. (M had accumulated too many things that they didn’t fit into her backpack anymore!) The weather was rather nippy. We spotted an istore, the authentic Apple store! And drooled over the Macbook, itouch, and yet-to-come-to-India iphone.
The AC-ed istore was much warmer than the air outside. Remembering our forgotten mission, a duffel bag, we set off walking. Cafe Coffee Day passed us by but no bag shops in sight. Many sales guys tried to sell us T-shirts even though we said we wanted a bag! Many a time, we spotted bags but they turned out to be bags of the sales guys! They were packing up to go home!
On the way back “home”, the auto ride nearly killed us. The cold was unbearable. M kept saying, “It’s worse than Delhi!” We had a paper-thin red shawl to protect us against the icy wind. We shared it since M hadn’t brought any warm wraps. The auto driver was very amused that we were feeling so cold. He chuckled from time to time. Since we couldn’t physically fight the cold, we decided to fight it mentally. All along the way, we tried to think of all the warm things in life – hot coffee, hot chocolate, hot samosas, warm razai, even Horlicks and Milo – just to trick our bodies. We ended up gigling a lot. M’s major grouse was that no one told her that Bangalore was so cold! I never missed warm muggy Madras as I did right then!
We came back from the book shopping, thawed out a bit before setting off again – this time all wrapped up – to get hot chocolate from Cafe Coffee Day at the corner of the road. A little further on, there was a Regency Hotel whose chef was Bengali and made yummy rolls so we got a hot chicken roll (for me) and a paneer roll (for M). M’s aunt has three fat orange cats and one old dog, who pretends to be too sick to get up from his comfy bed! We ate our dinner while the cats watched us. In fact, everywhere that I went inside the house, three pairs of cat-eyes followed me.
The next day, Sunday, we had to catch the train back from Blore at 6:30 AM! That was another day of getting up at an unearthly hour in the morning! The train was delayed for nearly an hour. The chill was still in the air but not as bad as the night before. We sipped hot cardamon tea at Cantt while looking at the orange ball getting brighter and brighter in the sky but no sign of the train! Lalbagh took its own sweet time to get here from Majestic/City station.
The highpoint of the trip back was not the train ride but a bus ride. Right outside Central Station I saw one of those new fang pristine white Volvo buses with an LCD display. I had to check it out. After asking the conductor if it went to ___ area, I hopped on. The bus was truly international standard. I could regulate the AC with a touch. The best part? No haggling with auto guys! The fare was also quite reasonable too. Only Rs.23 when compared to Rs.90 that I would have to shell out if I had taken an auto!
All in all, I really had a good trip. The only thing I missed was some sleep.