We got up at 5am this morning to go see a cow being milked…..I am not kidding….American’s are easily entertained!!!! This foray came from a discussion about the milk that we were drinking in our coffee and tea. Paul Billy mentioned that they got it each morning from the farmer…..straight out of the cow, so we had to go and see. Sure enough, at 6 am the farmer had the cow at the end of the street and was busily milking her. The street residents were waiting across the street and after he had a bucket of milk, he walked across, dipped the foam off of the top of the milk and started pouring it into a metal measuring container (probably about 2 or 3 cup size). Each person had their own metal container and he would pour a certain amount into their containers. They paid with coupons which were purchased at a different time. After he finished milking, the cow simply wandered up the street!! PB said that they boil the milk for about 20 minutes before they use it.
There were two ladies who were obviously laughing at us out taking photos, but were very nice to us. As we walked off, we asked the one remaining lady if we could take her photo. She obliged and then proceeded to invite us into her house for coffee. We had a wonderful time talking with she and her husband. He had just woken up and she said…..”We have visitors…..American’s!!!” He seemed pleased and came out and sat with us as well. They did not drink with us, but served coffee sweetened with milk and sugar and cookies that had a ginger flavor to them. I still don’t know their names, but we had a wonderful time with them. They had lived in Indonesia for 30 years and had just retired back to their home in Bangalore. They have two sons, one is living in Melbourne Australia and the other is in Edinburgh Scotland.
At 7:30am we left with PB to deliver his kids to school and then to go out for breakfast….I guess the coffee and biscuits (cookies) with the neighbors didn’t count!! We went to a café called “Tivoli Garden”. There were places to sit inside, but we chose to sit outside under a HUGE Banyan tree (also called a “Strangler Fig”). According to Wikipedia……The tree begins life as a germinated seed in the crown of another tree. Its roots grow down and around the stem of the host, their growth accelerating once the ground has been reached. Over time, the roots coalesce to form a pseudotrunk, eventually strangling and killing the host.). These aerial roots gave the tree a very interesting look.
We asked for something light for breakfast and PB suggested that we have a pancake. We thought “that sounds small enough”, but were we wrong!!!! The pancake would have been about 12-15 inches in diameter and was very greasy as if it had been fried in oil. It was served rolled into a loose tube. We tore off pieces of it and dipped it into Coconut chutney, which was sweet, or Sambar sauce, which was a thin curry. Both were great, but we enjoyed the spicy Sambar better.
As we sat there, I realized that they were also delivering food to the cars that were parked nearby. PB confirmed that it is indeed a drive-in restaurant….apparently the last one in Bangalore. The car-sitters were served with plates and glasses just as we were….no plastic or Styrofoam here!!
After breakfast, PB dropped us off at Commercial Street which is covered in small shops, vendor’s stands and larger stores. We spent about 3 hours roaming the streets and shopping for fabrics and other goodies. When we finished, we found an Auto-Rickshaw stand and contracted with a driver to take us back to our house. Although we had heard that the Auto’s were not always safe, we really enjoyed riding in it. In one sense, it seemed almost safer because it was smaller and could get through tighter spaces than the car could. The Auto-Rickshawk is a three wheeler vehicle for hire, and has a tin/iron body resting on three small wheels (one in front, two on the rear), a small cabin for the driver in the front and seating for three in the rear. They typically don’t have doors or seatbelts. The driver steers using handlebars like you would find on a motorcycle. Anyway, it was bumpy, noisy, smelly (from car fumes) but a LOT of fun!!!!1
We saw a funny sticker on the back of a school bus asking you to call and report if the driver is “Rash, Negligent or Reckless and doesn’t follow the traffic rules”. Our thought was “HOW WOULD YOU EVER TELL!!!!”
We are learning more about the traffic rules (or rather, lack of rules). Paul Billy describes the lanes on the road as being fluid and this really tells the story. If there is not much traffic coming toward you, the lanes will expand into the oncoming lanes, sometimes to the point that you have a car coming head-on toward you. I don’t know exactly how, but they always manage to miss each other. It also seems that stop lights are merely suggestions, particularly for the Auto-Rickshaws and motorcycles. As a matter of fact, when PB would sit at a red light when there was no one crossing the intersection, the people behind would honk at him to go on. There are not many red lights….just at very large intersections. The vendors and beggars know where these lights are and converge on the car whenever you stop. PB would simply roll up the windows when they came by, but they would still knock on your window to get your attention. One of the funniest vendor items that I saw was an “Electrified Mosquito Zapper”. It was shaped like a badminton racket and was electrified by a rechargeable battery. I guess that you could sit outside and zap the mosquitoes that flew by!!!!
We have enjoyed watching the variety of motorcycle riders here. We saw two men on one motorcycle, with a Casio Keyboard between them. The box stuck out on both sides of the cycle. We also saw two men with the back one carrying a LARGE projection screen stuck into the air. He had to keep shifting it to keep it from hitting the lower tree branches!!! PB said that those were minor incidents and that he had once seen 4 men on motorcycles, balancing a large flat board on their heads, one at each corner!!!!
It has also been interesting to see the configuration of people that can ride on one cycle. In most cases there are two….the man is driving and the woman is sitting side-saddle on the back, however we have seen several families all riding together. They might have one child in front of the driver and another one between the parents. I even saw one where there was a small child between the parents, and the mother was holding a 1-year old in her arms while she sat side-saddle…..I cant imagine doing that!!!!! We saw one cycle that had a mother driving and 4 kids on the cycle with her!!!!!
They do have buses which seem to be fairly crowded. One that I saw on Sunday evening was completely full, and even had 3 guys hanging out of each of the doors!!!!
There seem to be few accidents. We did see one group of about 20 men gathered around a small accident, each trying to help broker an agreement between the two people involved.
So, whatever the driving rules are…..they seem to work!!!!!
Our final meal with Paul Billy and Shirley consisted of a lamb curry served over rice and spicy green beans The beans were not served whole, but were chopped into small circular rounds, and had been cooked with onions and chili’s.
After lunch, PB drove us to the Indian Institute of Science where Michael will be visiting for the next two days. The campus is huge with many natural areas. I laughed when I saw a sign with a horn crossed out, indicating that there is to be no honking…..I imagine that is very hard for the Indian drivers to do. We are being housed at the Main guest house which I would describe as “elegant primitive”. The rooms are air-conditioner, have TV, and a large bed, yet there is a family of Geckos living on the wall just opposite to our door. The guest house is an open-air building, with most of the walkways being open to the outdoors. The large windows do not have screens and are currently open….I would imagine that they are closed during much of the monsoon season. The view from our window is thickly wooded and is very private. There are 50 rooms in the house and seem to be almost as many servants floating around. We asked whether there was some place that we could buy cold drinks and about 30 minutes later they were delivered to our door (at a price of 40 rupees – about $1)
We reluctantly went to the dining room for dinner, as neither of us were hungry, but were pleased to find that it was served buffet style so we were able to eat a lighter meal. However, someone did come by the table every 5 minutes to offer us MORE food. We started the meal with a really nice potato and leek soup…..I could have just eaten that with a crusty roll and been happy!!! We ended the meal with a desert soup that had a slightly sweet flavor. I don’t know what it was made of, but it was creamy (like creamed corn) and had raisins and almonds in it. The almonds had been cooked until they were soft like a bean. It was good, but we both grabbed a piece of chocolate when we returned to our room. Incidentally, the Indians LOVE sweets, but there is very little chocolate.