Sunday, April 6, 2008

Greetings From Bangalore, Part I

Snacks in the park.

I'm not actually in Bangalore right now, but I liked the title. I actually had a page with this title at my website while I was working on my graphic novel 3 Knights in India, and at the time I had indeed visited the garden city.

So, I've had a few complaints about that post I made a few weeks back concerning a rough experience in India. I'm not dwelling on bad experiences, and I certainly do not mean to imply that this is all that India is about. I love India, or I wouldn't have spent 3 years of my life on that graphic novel, nor would I have travelled there so many times. My visits to India have had some spectacular moments, and I've had some wonderful times there... some of the best in my life.

So let me now take you to Bangalore, a city with a great climate, decent food, and a whole lot of culture.

Bangalore is in the southern part of India, and features simple but healthier food than its northern counterpart (but wait... there's more on that later). Being of a very temperate climate, the city's parks and residential areas are beautiful to look at, with the abundance of various flowers doing a decent job of competing with the colorful saris and churidars that the ladies wear. However, since becoming the Silicon Valley of India, and boasting some of the highest paid college grads, and basically becoming a booming city, the place is developing into THE place to be. Where once upon a time the American dollar could go very far, there are now places that have become very upscale, and money talks. Shopping malls, luxury condos, and a car in every yard is now the norm.

Of course, the downside is incredible traffic that has to be seen to be believed. I've mentioned elsewhere that I've seen two or three laned roads with 12 lanes of traffic trying to get through. Of course, in India traffic can mean three wheeled motor rickshaws, motor scooters, ox drawn carts, bicycles, motorcycles, and others all squeezing between the cars and trucks that one would normally expect. Pollution has also increased, as well as litter, as the citizens of Bangalore are adopting a more western lifestyle of fast food on the go.

Some of that traffic I mentioned.

I can't predict where Bangalore is going, but I believe that for a while yet it will still maintain its cultural distinction, and its natural beauty. Bangalore offers some outstanding hotels with luxurious service that you wouldn't believe, and the restaurants are becoming world class, with distinctive offerings found nowhere else.

On my last visit, a blend of North Indian dishes and Chinese dishes seemed to be the specials at every top restaurant in Bangalore and nearby Mysore. I've had 'Chinese' food in Indian restaurants in America with very mixed results, and so far have found little of interest. In Bangalore, however, chefs familiar with a wide variety of spices and cooking techniques can turn Chinese food into something absolutely spectacular... definitely worth blogging about, and I highly recommend that you try 'Chinese' food while in India, as well as trying a wide variety of styles of food. Although not all experiments work, you'll find much of the food in Bangalore to be worthwhile.

My version of the oxen above, available as a high quality print here.

I mentioned earlier that south Indian food is "simple and healthier", and I am of course referring to traditional south Indian foods, such as idly, sambar, and dosa. Idly is a steamed rice dumpling, sambar a spicy tomota soup, and dosa? Dosas are a crispy crepe-like treat made from rice and dal flour, and the original recipe probably came from Heaven itself. Plain, spicy, or stuffed with a potato mixture, dosas go great with coffee for breakfast, or with chutney and sambar for lunch or dinner. A real treat which I recommend highly. Nowadays, South Indian restaurants are cropping up in America and elsewhere, so you may be able to try a Dosa locally.

Part II coming soon!

Meanwhile, here's another look at the above topic from the afore-mentioned 3 Knights in India.

Thanks for visiting, JOHN :0)