Last week I traveled to India with my fiancee to meet his family in preparation for our May wedding.
The India in my mind versus what I experienced was very different. I was expecting to see what the media portrayed, which is colossal traffic, piles of waste and dilapidated buildings or, modern sky scrapers and women draped in gold. I was expecting large extremities, it was impossible to imagine a middle-class India. And, that is what I got to experience.
Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley” of India is a large hub to the middle class. The department stores offers the most popular clothing brands (Levis, Claire’s Accessories, Van Heusen, Zara, Mango) and movie theatres with the most up to date theatrical releases. Most people live in colony style apartments equipped with a recreation centre (gym, tennis court, pool, assembly hall), supermarket, bread store, cafe and all sorts of classes for children and adults. Some colony apartments also contain the corporate offices to Fortune 500 companies.
Outside the colony, the streets had the typical traffic that exists in any metropolis. Saree clad women in their bright colours scurry on big busses or, in the “tuk tuk”. Depending where you are, vendors will sell coconuts, sandals or street snacks. In the old quarters of Bangalore, the streets are lined with trees and the colonial architecture is maintained well. Roman Catholic and Protestant churches dots the centre of old Bangalore within meters of each other and temples.
On Commercial Street, a combination of old and new exist in harmony with contemporary shops selling sarees in unimaginable textures and colors. Alley ways shimmer with vendors selling bracelets, anklets and all the accessories imaginable that can adorn any part of the body. Shops selling Indian sweets and traditional snacks are in abundance, often with the sweet aroma of fresh mangos whetting the appetite.
India is a large country. There are people who resemble Europeans because of their light skin and prominent bone structures. There are people who resemble Chinese ethnicity because areas in the North of India borders Nepal. With such a large and diverse country, Indian cuisine carries the distinctive flavours unique to each province. Each dish is vibrant with the flavour and colour intensity.
As a first trip to India, this is a place where we will visit consistently.