Bye Bye Bangalore

Trip Start Nov 25, 2007
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Trip End Dec 09, 2007


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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, December 2, 2007

We arrived in Bangalore around 10: 00 AM on Friday.  It was a 2 1/2  hour flight from New Delhi.  It is really hard to describe the airports in India.  The best way would probably be to picture a bus depot...in a dodgy part of town.  Gates are posted on dry erase boards, and the waiting areas are small, and very, very basic.  You have to be bused to your plane at every airport I've been to so far.

The first thing that struck all of us was how much cleaner the air was in Bangalore compared to Delhi. We actually saw blue sky!  There were also a lot of trees lining the streets on the way to the Taj Residency hotel. Bangalore is certainly the prettier city.

After lunch at the hotel we walked to the "shopping" area.  I have yet to find souvenirs for anyone, and this shopping excursion brought me no closer.  Some people found bangles and pashminas, but perhaps I am a bit jaded from all of my travels.  I've seen most of the junk (and believe me, most if it is just that) everywhere else. I really try to find gifts that are unique to a specific place. And now that I have established that I won't be relying on an airport gift shop, I'll be doing some serious shopping once I reach Mumbai.  We walked around the streets for a few hours, and it was HOT.  Too  hot to walk all the way back to the hotel, so we took tuk tuks-very small, and probably very dangerous, motor scooter rikshaws ( I'm waiting for those pictures).
We then rented a couple of cars to take us around to a few city sights before sundown, when most things tend to close.  We visited the botanical gardens, and the Bull Temple.  There were no flowers at the garden, but the grounds were quite beautiful.  The Bull Temple was less than impressive.  What was much more interesting was the traffic getting to the temple.  We were literally bumper to bumper, and bumper to cow the whole way.

A few of us had dinner at the European restaurant, Graze, in the hotel. I had an excellent halibut, and the rest of the table ordered steak.  Everyone was too tired to do much else, and most of us had interviews the next day, so it was off to bed.

I hosted a coffee chat/information session Saturday morning and spoke with a table full of prospective students. I also had a few other interviews prior to the fair. Ah, the Bangalore fair...where to begin.  There were over 1900 pre-registered candidates scheduled to attend. And the UC Irvine table just happened to be the first table once those main doors were open.  I didn't stop talking (shouting would be more like it) for three hours.   It was an incredible rush, I think I was working off of pure adreneline, otherwise I probably would have lost my voice after the first hour.  The candidates were much more qualified than those in Delhi, and many of them did actually seem legitimately interested in our program, which is always nice.

Needless to say, we were WIPED after the fair was over. Luckily, it was a weekend fair, which meant we were done by 6, so we actually got to eat dinner at dinner time.  A group of us walked to the hotel next door, the Oberoi, and went to their Thai restaurant.  If they ever send me back to India, I am definitely staying at the Oberoi. It was stunning! The restaurant was outside, surrounded by water.  The food was incredible.
And the best part-I was back in my room by 9!

Sunday was supposed to be a leisurely morning, followed by a quick 1 1/2 hour lunch time flight to Hyderabad, with time for some later afternoon sightseeing.  It became something much, much more. Our morning went according to plan.  Our trip to the airport was quick, and there were no lines at security!  Not to mention that the Bangalore airport is a bit more advanced than the one in Delhi. Our flight was listed  as "ON TIME" right until the time we were supposed to start boarding. Then it was listed as "DELAYED".  Our 12:45 flight wasn't  just a few minutes delayed. Our new estimated time of departure would be 15:00.

FUN FACT: The Bangalore airport closes every Sunday from 13:00 PM-15:00 PM for runway maintenance. 

Allegedy.  I'm pretty sure that was just the cover story.  With all the follow up announcements, and questions we asked the airline staff, our flight was delayed for technical reasons, airport closing, techinical reasons, and then airport closings...so, it's anybody's guess.

So, on the downside, we had a good two more hours to hang out at the airport. On the plus side, they were going to provide our entire aircraft lunch.  Of course, that did mean leaving the secure area, getting new boarding passes and going through security again, but hey-a free lunch, is a free lunch.  Even in a random, sketchy Indian airport.  Surprisingly the food was pretty good.
Upon going through security for a second time we learned that our flight was now delayed until 15:30.  587 annoucements later it was pushed back to 15:50. Fun!
Eventually, our plane was ready and we took off for Hyderabad a little after 4.  We didn't arrive at the Novotel hotel until 7.  From what I've seen of Hyderabad so far, it looks like it has the most modern airport, and they have a bunch of modern shops like Tommy Hilfiger, and Nike, and Guess.  But they still have cows in the road too.

Our hotel appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but we're hiring a car for tomorrow morning so we can see some stuff before the interviews and fairs in the afternoon. 

I've heard it's snowing in some parts of the country. Hope some of you are enjoying the first signs of winter. I still can't believe it's December.
Take care,
Christine
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