Sensory Overload

That probably best describes my first full day in India.


We spent the day yesterday being taken around Bangalore’s Whitefield borough/district by our relocation consultant. We looked at a half dozen apartments and condos and checked out one of the local malls. That and I was in full gawk mode whenever we drove anywhere. Words can’t describe the streets here. Okay, perhaps two can, but only inadequately: chaotic and colorful. Last night, Daniela asked me what my first impressions of India were and I could not answer. “Sensory Overload” was the only answer I could come up with. I have to take pictures tomorrow, and eventually I’ll be able to better describe it. In the meantime, here are some highlights:

  • I saw a guy with three propane tanks tied to a bicycle. THREE! I’d of considered it a hassle to take one and would have gone by car instead. I assume that he did not have that option.
  • Guys with hard hats and sandals.
  • The other night while leaving the airport, there was a policeman directing traffic at an intersection. It was past midnight and he had on only a dark blue uniform in an unlit intersection. In America or Europe, he would have been wearing a reflective vest. He blew his whistle like a madman, but I’m not actually sure anyone could hear him as everyone was too busy blowing the horns of their own cars and trucks.
  • Speaking of horns. In the west, you blow your horn to signal annoyance or as a last second safety indicator. In India, it seems to play the same role as blinking lights on aircraft. Perhaps while I’m here, I’ll patent an automatic, cycling horn tooter to save the driver the effort of pointlessly tooting his horn. Perhaps there are already hundreds of patents on variants of that idea.
  • The power went out just now as I’m writing this. No biggie on the laptop is it cuts to battery. This reminds me that I need an APC for my desktop PC. “Unable to connect to wireless network”! Thank you Windows XP! I am very well aware that the router is down and so is the rest of the neighborhood.
  • Stray dogs – lots of stray dogs. Stray dogs lounging in the middle of the road as traffic whizzes around them.
  • No Stoplights! Large roads cross each other with no obvious right of way, or stoplights to control the flow of traffic. This makes for nasty, chaotic traffic jams during rush hour as you have to simply force your way through the orthoganal traffic.
  • The infrastructure sucks in general. Bangalore is a city of 13 million people and a global tech hub. It has no expressways and to get around, you have to wade through city traffic on chaotic streets with pedestrians and sleeping dogs. Water pressure is inconsistent and you can’t drink the water. The electrical grind is unreliable. All this makes me wonder why Bangalore is a global IT hub instead of Budapest. When I was in Budapest in 2000, it still has some of the trappings of its dreary communist past, but all of the above worked. The communists built dreary cities, but they also had an obsession with infrastructure; everything worked in their dreary cities. Budapest was also dirt cheap, at least at the time.
  • The power just kicked on for about three seconds and died again.
  • Grinding poverty. Take the worst neighborhood in Camden, multiply that by ten and then smear it all over the countryside. The strangest is the gated communities; Prestige Ozone, Palm Meadows and Prestige Langleogh could all be condo communities in Orlando. RIGHT outside the wall, people are living in shanty shacks. 

The power is back on, so I’ll post this now.  Today we’re off to visit the school that the kids will be in.


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