Indians are assholes. They are smelly, dirty and they poop on the pavement. This is known.
It’s also false.
I’m in Bangalore, sitting on a very comfortable sofa in a luxury apartment in Baipenahalli. The electricity here is backed up by a diesel generator downstairs and a separate battery in the house backing that up – you wouldn’t recognize a power cut if it jumped up and bit you in the ass. Outside, the road winds past row upon row of apartments rising into the a cloudy sky,. It takes me to the Metro, where gray-hued electric trains slide hissing into tiled stations ten times larger than anything Sri Lanka has ever seen. Passengers disembark, drop their tokens into a machine, break free of the gates –
And emerge into the city.
Now take it, make it a thousand times larger. Make everything bigger. Upwards. Sideways. Hang up franchise boards on every corner. Insert new startups advertising new apps. Throw in side roads that would put Galle Road to shame. Add students strolling on the pavements in sweaters and hoodies, looking for all the world like Stanford grads heading for a cuppa coffee.
This is Bangalore. Also known as the Silicon Valley of India.
Bangalore is a large city. I’ve spent a day circling the area between Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bangalore Palace and UB City, a mall that can easily put Majestic City to shame (and it isn’t anywhere near the largest mall here). I’ve passed Lamborghini showrooms, Apple centers, metric tons of traffic, universities, policemen in hats, and students chanting in the streets (“Palestine! Free! Palestine! Free!”). At no point have I seen poop on the streets or beggars scrambling for scraps. Instead I’ve seen well-dressed (and good-looking) people going about their daily business, sitting down for coffee, et cetera, et cetera. And I’ve learned a few things here:
1) Poop nahi he
Not all Indians are assholes. In fact, in Bangalore, it’s just the opposite. We’re here enjoying the amazing hospitality of Vinod, who’s not only putting up with two errant Sri Lankans, but also their appetites.
A completely random tuk-tuk driver took us all over the city, a total journey of four hours, including a wait of two hours while we went shopping and sightseeing – and he also explained the history of practically every landmark we passed.
And all of this for 80INR – approximately 160 Sri Lankan rupees. For that money you can’t get from MC to Coco Veranda, let alone buy a guided tour. Every person we asked for directions has been more than helpful. Service in shops has been equally friendly. Bangalore isn’t hot, dusty, dirty or racist.
“That’s Chennai, man,” says Vinod. “Chennai is a weird place. Bangalore – huh! Bangalore doesn’t give a damn who you are or where you come from. You talk good, you walk good and you’re in.”
So all those Hindi movies were shot in the worst parts of India. Nahi poop, as you’d say in Sri Lanka with a fake Indian accent. Nahi poop. Nyet.
2) Indians don’t get out the way for random ministers.
“Ministers? We don’t get out of the way for them! There are people in this traffic jam that would take the mick out of the whole lot. India is about the power of the people, man.”
3) Food is cheap here.
As are shampoos, face creams and a thousand other things. And vehicles. Why? Because they’re made here, dammit, that’s why.
In fact, if you want food, this place is excellent. You know people take their ice cream seriously when you see a junction peppered with ice cream shops and the meanest of them is a Baskin Robbins.
4) Pepsi tastes COMPLETELY different.
5) The trains actually arrive on time. ON TIME.
And they’re not crowded at all. Can you believe that? If you’re a Sri Lankan, this would be filed under the category of “Shit That Does NOT Happen Here”. And guess what? The Metro’s electric, a far cry from the crowded Leylands you see on 9gag. Forget Fort Railway Station: these stations are to Fort what a vacuum cleaner is to a dung beetle. Or, for a saner metaphor, if Fort is a Maruti, then these stations are somewhere in the vicinity of a Peugeot 407.
6) The girls look amazing. Forget Bollywood standards for a minute: the average woman here is easily more beautiful than most of the girls you see around Colombo, without even being dressed to kill. By and large, the average is simply higher. Something to do with flawless skin, great hair and ready availability of cosmetics, I believe.
7) Electricity is really cheap by Sri Lankan standards.
8) And the climate is great. At 2 o’clock ,trudging through the streets of Bangalore, we still thought it was 10 o’ clock in the morning – we hadn’t even worked up a sweat, and the sun, while quite familiar to any Sri Lankan, had yet to evolve into the yellow glaring entity we all know and hate. It’s a comfortable 26 degrees Celcius throughout the day right now: at night, it drops to near 21 degrees. Hoodies and sweaters are almost mandatory streetwear – and WiFi is as common as smartphones here.
This is a first impression based on a day’s trip to the city – so there’s plenty more to be seen and probably enough to find fault with. Nevertheless, to everyone who thinks India is basically on giant pile of bad hygiene, overpopulation and traffic jams: you’ve been looking at the wrong part of India. Drop that Hindi movie and pop over to Bangalore.