Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Monday, January 02, 2006
 
Lal Bagh in Bangalore



As you can tell from the comments, I haven't been quite as netless as I'd have liked to be. This is mainly because I'm still under the weather. On the other hand, I hadn't done too much exciting except experience the chill of the Bangalore hotel experience. Today, however, I ventured out and did a bit of siteseeing.

One thing I've got to get out of the way before I say anything else is that I am struck by the proliferation of the mustache in South India, and because of Bangalore's association with Thomas Friedman, check out the Mustache of Understanding via Snarkmarket. There must be a lot of understanding here. Other satorial observations--wow, South Indian women really do wear long strands of jasmine and (still unidentified) orange blossoms in their hair--it's not just a dance costume thing.

Before I knew about Infosys and IISC, and before I was a science geek, I was a comic-book reading book geek, and I grew up with imported copies of Amar Chitra Katha. One of the older titles I recall reading was about Tipu Sultan, so I was pleased to see his gardens and the remains of his palace and fortress today.

The gardens are known as Lal Bagh, or the red gardens. Apparently this is because of the roses, which must not bloom in December--but there was tons and tons of bougainvillea everywhere, most of it in the classic fuschia, a little less in the familiar white, but also large quantities in shades I'd never seen before--orange, pale pink, and yellow. (I find the French connection interesting, since Tipu was known for his affection for the French.) The entrance of the park sports a large hill of pale yellow rock, with some kind of viewing tower on top, but it was too bright and hot to tempt me to climb. The plan of the park was not remotely clear to me, and we just wandered about. There was a dissappointing amount of litter around, despite trash bins being everywhere. I saw many little yellow butterflies or moths, the very shade of oxalis, several larger pale lemon ones, and others that resembled Monarchs. There was also a frighteningly large (two inches across!) black flying insect that chased me and my sister across a bridge. If I had known what a bird haven the park was, I might have brought binoculars--cranes, swooping birds of prey, grey-blue crows, and more swooping birds of prey. The bridge over the lake (or "tank") was surrounded by them. The lake itself seemed to be swarming with fish.

It seems that the popular thing to do for Bangalorean couples is to sit on a park bench and hold hands, or have the guy wrap his arm around the girl's shoulder. There were dozens and dozens of couples arranged like this all over the park. There were plenty of women in black purdah, but their robes were less tightly arranged and more elaborately embroidered, and I often caught glimpses of brilliant salwars underneath the edges.

Some pictures after the jump (click on the timestamp to see the rest of the post, or here.) I have to finish packing now!


Remember, you can see a larger version of the photo by clicking on it.


Heels and bright salwar pants beneath a black purdah robe.


A worker in the Lal Bagh.


A woman and some children strain to get a closer look at the lotuses in the "tank."


A corn vendor and her clients at the park.




A tree in the Lal Bagh with dangling grey fruit. I saw this tree on the streets of Bangalore as well.


There were dozens of these swooping birds of prey in the park. They often came very close, but moved very fast, like the butterflies.

Lotuses! Or some kind of pink water lily. I think there's a blue bird hanging out in the rushes.


These were all over the park. I didn't really appreciate them until later, when we were stuck in traffic, and I watched a woman spit out what seemed liked a pint of red saliva, presumably having just chewed some paan.


Bangalore Detective Agency.

This was quite an impressive house that I saw from the window of a software company I was visiting.


But even more impressive was its roof:


Now that's what I call a roof.


I saw several Tata Indica cars sporting these little fire extinguishers mounted on the side of the windshield. (Note that this is not the driver's side.) It wasn't in the one we were running around in, though--curious if it's an option provided by Tata, or a separate accessory. If it were the former, it wouldn't be very confidence inspiring! But if it were the latter--hey, that's a good idea. It reminded me of Scott, who often has a fire extinguisher in the back of his car.


 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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