Hyderabad & Bangalore

Posted on May 18, 2020

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India

Wrapping up the year and clearing out the draft folder

I spent a week in Hyderabad and Bangalore. Unfortunately, the high tech centers are their own little cities two hours from the airport and you mostly work and go to the hotel. My pictures were taken on short walks or the back of taxis. The thing about India is the sheer dichotomy between the rich and the poor. I stayed in a hotel that Ivanka stayed in when she visited, but even this 4-star hotel had an open sewer running in front of it and unfinished construction hanging off of it like bedraggled bandages from a soldier in rout. All of India was like this. Buildings, even massive sky scrapers don’t seem to be built so much as to evolve. Many are abandoned mid-construction, apparently waiting for bribes to finish. Those that are finished look like something drawn by Dr. Seuss. Square corners are very rare. Yet the tile work is the finest I’ve ever seen. Not a spec of grout in any of the hotels I was in.

 

Everywhere is running home-strung power cords, whole forests of them. When it rains, they shut the power off to prevent shorts. I lost whole days of work to rain stormsOne of the GE offices is in a compound across the street from a landfill that is foot hill sized, complete with streets and street names created by the beggars who live there. The land fill outside Hyderabad is visible for miles. It looks like Mt. Si. But the one thing you note is that by and large, even the poorest people are smiling. Very different from here.

The food was to die for. Both hotels had buffets. The first one, the Lemon Tree, a small hotel in Hyderabad, once the chef realized I was a gourmand, I never ordered again. I would sit down and food would appear. All of the GE offices have huge cafes, in Bangalore it was outside under big awnings, with lines for the various regional cuisines. In Bangalore, for $85/night I had a suite with a marble bath, king size bed, and a 50′ Indian buffet, plus various other cuisines. It turns out, they are an upcoming wine region. I had a few promising glasses. I really enjoyed all of the vegetarian food. The one time I went out was with my team which hilariously took me to a “BBQ” House. The 4′ blanket of smoke descending from the ceiling was the first indication you are not in Austin. It was only after we’d glutted on skewer after skewer that I realized there was a buffet.

I’ve mentioned, the traffic is intense. Epic. I once waited for a cab that was 1 KM away for 90 min until it got to me. Traffic in front of me would flow 5 lanes one way, then 3 lanes the other way…People would just volunteer to direct at intersections, and they speak a hidden language of horns, a constant littany, but never in an angry way. Even at 3 AM with the streets mostly empty the honking continues through the night. And yes, there are cows and dogs everywhere. On the highway, at toll booths, where ever they want to be. Motorcycles seem to go every where, often the wrong way on one-way streets.

I did make it to one bazaar in Bangalore as I was waiting for a ride to the airport. This was a great example of Indian bureaucracy at its best. You have to buy a ticket to get into the market, and because I had a camera with a lens I needed to pay 5x as much to get a camera permit. Nevermind that every person in there has a smart phone. I had to buy the ticket in one booth and go over to another to get it stamped. (The same thing happened when I tried to take my luggage through security into the GE compound and they saw a camera in my luggage. I was like “but everybody has a camera….”) I wish I’d had time to see more outside of the work stuff, but I was supposed to go back just before lock down. I came very close to getting stuck there, so the opportunity will arise.

Posted in: Essays, Excursions