Going Solo in Bangalore

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Photo by Boyeon Han

Finally, the time came when I had to say goodbye to my two wonderful traveling companions: my dear Korean sister Boyeon and my new Indian friend Roshan.

Roshan got as as far as Bangalore (with a stopover in Mysore to take in a couple sights), and then we both saw Boyeon off at the airport. And then I was alone at the quiet hostel I’d selected (for its quietness), though Roshan told me if I needed anything he was just a phone call away.

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Photo by Boyeon Han

And finally solo, my confidence suddenly left me. I wandered around Bangalore the next day (and found a lovely coffee shop, managed to get some antibiotics at the pharmacy to cure my Delhi belly, tried to get a SIM card and failed, and got some delicious Middle Eastern food at a nearby eatery). I mean, all around a successful day. And yet.

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Palace in Mysore

I was afraid to take an autorickshaw (popularly known in India just as “autos”)—not because of their potential lack of safety but because I’d heard of plenty of foreigners getting ripped off by the drivers and didn’t want to deal with haggling, with deciding if a driver was gaming me, with trying to force someone to turn on the meter.

I tried desperately to book a train ticket to Agra (my next stop), but the online booking systems of several different sites seemed to be trying to thwart me.

And it seemed quite likely that someone had rifled through my backpack at the hostel while I was out exploring earlier in the day.

My one reprieve after all of this was my sisters’ friends, John and Alison, who live in Bangalore with their two young kids and had invited me over for pizza that night. Because, you know, when you’re a solo traveler, you’re never really alone. Continue reading “Going Solo in Bangalore”

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An Inauspicious Arrival in South India

I knew I would like would like South India even before I landed there. I heard the Indian South described in a similar way to the American South—slower, friendlier, and with better weather. Sure, maybe the roads were worse. Maybe they were further from the seats of power that other states (though I was told that the southern state of Kerala is the richest in the country). But there was just something about it that was different—and different in a good way.

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Relaxing by the water in Kerala

Our beginning there was not auspicious, though. When we landed in Bangalore, where Boyeon’s friend Roshan was meeting us, we got a text from him telling us things were “a little tense” but he was on his way. Earlier, a friend of my sister’s in Bangalore had warned us that there was an impending conflict over water supply between two states (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) that was about to get heated. Turns out, the conflict boiled over right in Bangalore. Continue reading “An Inauspicious Arrival in South India”