A lot of people move to Bangalore each year for studies, jobs and criminal activities. A lot more pass through the city on their way to bigger and better things. Being a native of Bangalore, and being married to someone who’s not, I come across a lot of situations where a little local knowledge can prove enormously useful while navigating through this maze.
Here are a few things you probably did not know about Bangalore but should. Next time you are traveling to the city, or if you are living here, then these little things just might save your life.
The Night Life
Bangalore is no longer the pub capital of the country. We still have more pubs than any other city in the country (over 200) but unfortunately, there is a city-wide curfew on bars, pubs and hotels at 10.30 in the night. Nothing stays open beyond 10.30PM except a few rare places. If you find yourself in a pub at 10.30PM, then you will notice that the last orders are being rung up, the music has stopped, the mood lighting has been replaced with harsh incandescent tubes and if you want just a bit longer, you’ll also notice the cops entering the pub with their sticks and forcing everyone out.
The average speed on the roads of Bangalore is, believe it or not, 15 kmph. That’s just about 10 miles per hour. This is because there are no roads in Bangalore. It’s just one big pothole that pretends to be a road in certain places. If you find yourself on a two-wheeler in Bangalore, make sure that you don’t ride beyond 20-30 kmph, because you never know when the road ends and the pothole begins.
The People: Bangalore has one of the most multicultural populations in the country, after Mumbai. 62% of Bangalore’s population is migrant. This leaves the natives a minority – a fact they don’t really like. So, if you don’t know the local language (Kannada), do not attempt to perform everyday transaction at your local grocer or your bank. You will either get scammed or you will be snubbed. Neither of these scenarios is very pleasant. Make friends with someone local who can help you through these language barriers. Otherwise, the natives are quite pleasant people who will not lift a finger to bail you out of trouble, but will invite you for some awesome filter coffee after you’ve bailed yourself out.
The Autos: A lot has been said about the autos in Bangalore and I won’t repeat the usual phrases. As a native of Bangalore, I find the auto drivers to be notorious for their meter tampering. So, a word of advice: if an auto driver agrees to take you somewhere on the meter, don’t trust him. More often than not, the meter has been tampered with and you’ll end up paying a good 30-40 bucks more than a flat fare. If an auto driver demands a flat fare, there is at least a Rs. 50 markup. So start bargaining and don’t settle for anything more than his demanded fare minus Rs. 50.
The Weather: Historically known as a Pensioners’ Paradise, Bangalore has a lot of things wrong with it, but the weather is not one of them. Almost all year round, the weather is pretty fantastic. Sometimes, during the summer, it does get incredibly hot, but don’t worry. Like clockwork, after every 3-4 days of sweaty, unbearable heat, there’s a heavy downpour. Almost a storm. And the city cools down again for the next few days.
Culture: There was a time, not too long ago, when the best of the bands in the world would come to perform in Bangalore. I’ve attended concerts by Dire Straits, Roger Waters, Bryan Adams, The Rasmus, and others international bands. Bangalore had a very distinct heavy metal crowd. Then, three things happened which killed this culture:
- The government decided to disallow the use of Palace Grounds for any music concerts because of mysterious reasons and decided to rent it out for expensive weddings instead. Nothing ever happens in Palace Grounds but lavish weddings these days. An alternative location was allotted for all the music concerts – somewhere on the outskirts, about 35 kilometers away from the city. No one has the energy to go all the way to the middle of nowhere for a concert that has to end at 10.30PM. A very embarrassing moment happened once during a Rockathon concert in Bangalore – which turned out to be the last major concert, except for the NH7. The cops who were supposed to provide the security for the event streamed in at 10.30PM on the dot and started disconnecting the lights and the speakers on the stage even as the bands were performing.
- A lot of these heavy metal followers who made up the Bangalore music scene not too long ago, grew tired of waiting for a major concert, and grew up.
- Justin Bieber convinced a large portion of youngsters that he was a woman, and made them fall in love with his voice. This was a cruel way to nip the next generation of Bangalore rockers in the bud.
PS: About the concerts, Metallica and Iron Maiden continued to perform in Palace Grounds despite these restrictions. Maiden did it twice. And both of them performed way past the 10.30PM deadline. They’re bad-asses. They are like the honey badger. They just don’t care.
Finally, if you are suicidal, then a sure-fire way of getting killed is to go an auto-rickshaw stand and bad-mouthing Ambareesh or Vishnu Vardhan, or God forbid, Raj Kumar.
If you have any particular question about Bangalore, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. It’s a city that lets you live if you don’t complain too much. Whatever you do, for the sake of God and all that’s merciful, do not (DO NOT) attempt to voice a complaint with a government official in Bangalore. Especially the cops. Don’t argue with them. Don’t complain to them. Don’t get in their way. Don’t look them in the eye. They will eat your brains out. Literally.