Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bangalore: Life in the Hood

A friend sent me an email asking if Bangalore now looked and felt just like the Silicon Valley in California. My response was that, even with the infusion of high tech companies, their influence is definitely strong but not all encompassing.

I like our neighborhood in Koramangala because, even though there are trendy cafes with wireless Internet access (including a very expensive Italian one called Barista LavAzza), it has retained its Indian flavor. It has crowded food stalls, fruit carts, unpaved streets, small businesses like beauty shops and travel agents, and wandering through it all, an occasional cow. The building boom means lots of construction sites with women doing much of the work, mostly carrying heavy loads of rocks in baskets on their heads. Their children often dangle from their backs or cling to their skirts.

The big surprise was finding a herd of a dozen or more water buffalo wallowing in mud created by the recent rains about a block from our comfortable condo. Their caregivers seemed to be a family that included several young children. They scurried inside their corrugated metal roofed lean to when they spotted my camera. It was all just a few doors down from the Men’s American Beauty Parlour and next to a little cart where a beautiful young mother ironed her clients’ garments with a coal iron. As I took her picture, a tractor lumbered past.

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