I said “to be continued” on the last Bangalore post, but the discussion of Bangalore software industry would have to wait. Writing it takes the sort of concentration that I am trying to reserve for my dissertation those days. So, back to pictures and stories that I can more or less directly copy-and-paste from my journal.
In the afternoon of the Saturday that started at Koshy’s I got my first glimps of the other Bangalore, when I went to attend a Bangalore Perl-Mongers' event. After a short auto ride from MG Road, I am now in an office with the most immaculate desks and the most nice looking chairs that I have ever seen. I am sitting around a conference table with some programmers, a guy is talking about Perl 6. And you can just barely barely hear the honking. (They must have invested some good money in sound isolation, I think to myself.) Now, if it weren’t for that distant honking I would start seriously doubting if I am still in the same city. It feels a bit like two different worlds. But in between them there is a bit of a transition area. You can stand there at the entrance to the building and turn your head one way (autorikshas, people driving like total nutcases, noise), then another (a nice shiny lobby, uniformed security people, still the damn noise).
Speaking of driving, some of you might be wondering: what’s the big deal with driving, don’t people drive like crazy in Rio/Shangai/Santa Cruz? No, I seriously miss the orderly traffic of those cities. Ok, Santa Cruz was kind of crazy, but at least there are not as many cars.
A few hours later I am back in the Noise Hell on Brigade Road. It’s a Saturday night and the street is just one continuous HOOOOOOOONK. It’s the first time in my life that I have to weight options like (a) walk back half a block and endure the honking to buy a bottle of water vs. (b) just stay thirsty until morning. (I did decide to walk back half a block, but only some serious consideration.) My next dilemma was whether getting dinner was worth another round of pain and if so then which place would minimize the total amount of noise I would need to endure. People just honk and honk and honk. I am afraid that I will start having honking nightmares.
I return to Brigade Road the next morning and find its empty and quiet. This is not so surprising per se (it’s Sunday morning), but my memories of Saturday night honking are still fresh and I find it hard to find the same place so empty. I walk around and take some pictures. I spend the rest of the day visiting some more parts of Bangalore, including the Majestic, which according to the Lonely Planet is Bangalore’s “grittier” downtown. I liked the Majestic quite a bit, and it ended up being less of a culture shock than Brigade Road, probably because I expected it to be.
The next morning I went to visit an office of a large US company, which was situated in a nice residential area. The visit involved a lot of fascinating conversations, but no visual shocks. That was reserved for the afternoon, I later learned, when I went to visit the Electronic City. It was a long (about an hour and a half) but interesting trip. The auto I was in passed through some poorer parts of Bangalore in the souther end of the city, then got onto a future highway. The highway was very much under construction, and traffic on it was a disaster, but with a bit of squinting you can see the place being transformed into the city of the future. After a wrong turn and then some driving on the highway against the traffic (there is the first time for everything), I saw the outlines of Electronic City in the distance. It was unlike anything I had seen in Bangalore before. It was also separated from the rest of Bangalore by a fence.
I had an interesting conversation with a professor at IIITb, who then introduced me to some of his students, including a Brazilian, Ricardo, who came to Bangalore from Vitoria to do an M.S. at IIITb. Ricardo has a blog.
As I learned next morning, however, I did not have to travel all the way to Electronic City to see that Bangalore. My Tuesday morning meeting was at Embassy Golf Links, a “technopark” not that far from Brigade Road, which looks more Silicon Valley than the Silicon Valley itself, both inside and outside. The only thing that gave it away was that the concentration of US household names on office buildings was just too high. And the fact that the lights went off while I was vising the office, though I think we had that in CA quite a few times in 2000.