Out of Bangalore

Bruce Spinney

After three weeks of this I was on my way to Bangalore where another school had requested me to come, since I would be available. This school in Bangalore started off as a Christian ashram which patterned itself after an Indian method of teaching. The school eventually became more westernized but I think there is something healthy about the style that more readily fits the culture. I need to learn more about this.

One mention about the trip north; I took the train and I think that if anyone travels in India it is the best way to meet people. Everywhere I sat people were ready to talk to me and make me feel welcome. I still have Facebook friends from my three day trip north two years ago. Everyone is bunched together in dorm fashion and eat and sleep and talk together. It is wonderful, unless you are the solitary type.

The trains and buses have this in common. They seem to be designed by the same people who make military transport vehicles in the west. These trains have no plastic or fiberglass in them. Everything is metal and is made to stand up to a sound thrashing. These things are built to last a long time. Whatever aesthetics are present are happening outside rather than inside.

Back to Bangalore. It is a city of about eight million people and is the center of the tech world in India. Now you might be thinking “I hate Bangalore because when I call a company for information, they are talking to me from Bangalore” but this is not the case. That would be another city (not sure which). This is the city where all the companies you thought were in Japan are in.

They develop product and infrastructure here and the city is growing very fast. Interestingly there is no real downtown core. Downtown cores require foresight and planning and I do not see much evidence of that happening here. Even the new areas have a hodgepodge of roads that meander around and then come to a sudden stop where someone decided to build their house. None of the properties are square and so many of the houses are built to odd shapes to fit whatever the constraints of the property require.

It is a wonderfully busy place. The noise is terrific. I have mentioned before the use of the horn in India. It is not used the same way we westerners use it. A horn in the west normally replaces the use of expletives so that we can express our disappointment with the driving habits of those with whom we are forced to share the road.

In India the horn is used to let everyone know that you are about to do something stupid. (this insight was given me by an Indian so I feel free to use it) Most of the large vehicles have signs on the back that say “Please us Horn”. The cacophony during the day is really something.

There is also the Muslim call to prayer. One of these occurs at five in the morning and the sound systems that they use on their turrets are state of the art. You think that the imam is right in the room with you yelling in your ear to get up and pray. My prayers—that this would stop—have as yet to be answered.

Then there are the dogs. Someone should do an estimate on the population of dogs in this city. Even the SPCA would be forced to use weapons of mass destruction to control the canine community here. They are literally everywhere but very docile. This may be because they simply do not have the energy to do anything. Most of them look anorexic.

But things come alive at night for these animals. It is no wonder that they sleep all day. You can hear them at night fighting like married couples. All the dogs have torn ears from the territorial battles that have been lost and won. Also, not many cats.

When I came to India, I braced myself for Indian food. I enjoy it very much but it takes some getting used to. After a while I long for a familiar taste. To my great delight Bangalore has some of the best cuisine from around the world. The restaurants that dare to make western food do not fool around. There is a limited clientele and so they have to up their game to make money. This means that when you get a beef roast it is to the level of the finest places in the west. The presentation of the food is fastidious and everything is done to perfection. I was pleased when I went to my first western food diner but then found that this was the norm. I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked thus far.

I was going to take the train up to Dehradun but was struggling with a cold and the decision was made to fly. Not too expensive but vastly more than the train. When I went to board they weight my luggage and I was (not surprisingly) overweight. There was a bit of a shock when they charged me almost two hundred dollars for the extra baggage. I think they saw me coming and gave me what is called a “white tax”. No more flying for me.

Now I am back in New Theological College and I have been brought almost to tears a number of times by the welcome I have received from the pupils I was teaching two years ago. The warmth and gratitude is overwhelming and I realize how much I have missed being here. Most of the students that I taught have graduated already and I am in touch with them on Facebook but all of the ones that are graduating this year have given me such a warm welcome.

Next stop is up in the northwest. I will be traveling with two of the students and am anxious to meet with my pastor friend there. I can hardly wait to see him because I am coming with a substantial gift. A friend has helped me to support this man with what will end up being a real support for he and his wife who have worked in real poverty for so many years.

I am trying to enable him to purchase some land for a home that he can work from. Some of you have seen pictures of the building that he has been squatting in for years. It is cold and damp and the snakes are able to make their way in. If any of you feel like contributing to this effort please let me know. This pastor has a congregation of low cast people who meet on his porch even when it snows!

I will be updating in the next few weeks as I spend my Christmas up in the mountains near Cashmere. I will be headed to Calcutta (now Kolkata) so as to arrive there by January first. Have a great Christmas and a blessed new year.