after i get past the diesel fumes burning the night air, the horns honking at the people and cows, and the layer of dust that covers me as i ride through banaglore in a rikshaw, i start to settle into life in india once again. it takes a few days. and by the end, i wholeheartedly believe in the madness. and each time i come back to the motherland, i seriously consider making it my home, even if for just a few months of the year. that is how this country has captured my heart – since the time i was 12 years old bouncing around trichy on the back of my cousin’s scooter.
when i landed in bangalore, my uncle met me at the airport. the fellow sitting on the plane said to me, "be prepared, the international terminal is like a bus stop. it will take you 2 hours to get your luggage and another hour to get out of the parking lot." surprisingly, my bags came with no real damage in about 30 minutes and the customs guy just mildly harassed me over my dance bells he saw in the xray machine. apparently he thought i was smuggling rows and rows of gold coins into the country. i laughed and said i wish i had that much gold sir, but alas, i am a poor dancer here for a performance. that seemed to soften his heart and he started asking about my guru and when the show was. fair enough. better to politely answer his questions, than have to open my suitcase, have him rifle through it and then offer him $100.
we arrived at my uncle’s house around 11:30 at night and i went straight to bed because dance rehearsal was at 7:30 the next morning. and that’s when the fun started. apparently, bangalore is a lot like LA. the city is very spread out and distances with traffic seem far. and of course, in stride with india’s chaos, there are no road maps and studying the road is an oral tradition passed on from driver to driver.
first rikshaw driver we saw, we told him we needed to go to banashankari, which by the way, no one knows where it is. bumpy roads, dodging the lorry trucks about to smash right into you and avoiding hitting women trying to cross the road, the driver carefully travelled through bangalore. but every 10 minutes or so, he had to stop on the road and ask a pedestrian where banashankari was. typically, the answer was…"oh yeah. go straight. make a right at the sign. a left at tree. and two streets down, you’ll see a dead end, don’t go there. make a left 5 streets after and you’ll see it. just go yaar. go straight and you will see it." so was that go through the bazaar in marrakesh or go straight? i’m confused. so was sayd the rikshawvala.
but we got there. we got there in a little over an hour and a half. my toes were very cold from the chilly bangalore air whipping at them through the rikshaw. i walked in like a frozen popsicle and attempted to dance past my jetlag. that was 3 days ago. i finally slept last night. sayd has tomorrow off for new years.