Today I met up with my friend Bala, who also lives in 7th phase of JP Nagar in Bangalore. Like me, he enjoys walking and tends to walk at least an hour a day. I wanted to further delve into the streets of Bangalore and it's perfect to do so when you have a native to guide you. We took a road perpendicular to the main road I normally walk and we began weaving in and out of the streets of Bangalore. There is never a boring walk had in this city, there are too many things to see and so many souls to come across. Bala pointed out specific structures and types of crops. Every road was different. Some were quaint and filled with small, old India buildings. Others were dirty with heavier traffic and shops. We stopped on one road in which women were making strings of jasmine for garlands. Many women in Bangalore make their money doing this. Most often strings of Jasmine are made with rose buds, or other types of fragrant flowers. They are designed for women to wear in their hair. These women were making garlands for a wedding, and I stopped to watch them do so. They told me to sit and spoke to Bala about my interest. Each tiny bud of jasmine is tied to one primary string by another, and it is a long and tedious job to do. They sat in a empty vendor shed in the shade, the three of them, tying their flowers. I asked them if I could come back for them to teach me how to make the garland. They happily obliged.
We watched school children run around their playgrounds and play volleyball and cricket. We passed women washing clothes in their buckets outside their homes. I watched two men and a woman make bamboo shades through simple techniques of weaving strings around the bamboo strips. We talked about India and America, about the culture here, and about the perils within India.
We came upon a settlement with numerous camels. I stopped to take pictures and a resident saw me. He asked me if Iwanted to ride one, and I happily accepted. Once we crossed the street and into the boundaries of the settlement I realized the numbers of camels around us. Dogs were barking and people became curious about the uproar. The young man quickly saddled a camel, and it unhappily allowed him to do so. He told me in broken english to come around to the left side of her and hop on the saddle. He repeated "hold on" "hold on" and I did so obediently. With that he ordered her to stand up and the jolt wasn't an understatement. He led her around the settlement were I saw dozens more makeshift tents, camels, dogs, and people. Everyone stared and most happily yelled in Kannada to me. Bala took pictures of me as we walked and after a 5 minute ride, he brought me back. I held on for life again as he brought the camel down to kneel. I shook the man's hand and he told me he wanted 200 rupees ($4.33 U.S.) Bala immediately protested the request and after they fought in Kannada we paid the amount and walked away. Indians do not like being ripped off. It was no deal for me, I am used to being charged forenjoying India.
After walking for two and a half hours we realized we were lost and had to back track to find our way back to our street. JP Nagar is a huge section within Bangalore, and we wandered beyond that even. Bala works nights and we decided to take a auto rickshaw to get us back where to the main road because we didn't have the time to walk another two miles. The rickshaw driver dropped us off on the main road and charged us 40 rupees for the ride.
By the time I arrived home I had been gone for a total of 4 hours. Again another day goes by where Bangalore blows my mind