Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We had achieved our goal of visiting one of Bangalore's only touted attraction and were ready to head to the sanctuary of our hotel. We dug deep into our day pack to find a card that included the address and a mini-map. We figured that even if the little alleyway wasn't known, that the cricket stadium would be an icon recognizable by all--after all cricket is one of India's greatest pass-times.
Since we exited a side garden, there were not the hoards of rickshaws, and we were able to avoid any confrontation with our previous driver. There was just one lone guy, lounging in the back of his vehicle, but when we approached him he informed us he was occupied. (I am not sure if he meant he was waiting for someone, or if it was siesta time.)
We headed to the busier thoroughfare in hopes of flagging a ride down. The first guy we hailed took one good look at us, and barely glanced at the map before declining and leaving us in a smokey cloud. Ok, maybe it wouldn't be as easy as we had hoped, or perhaps the word was out on the street about the two westerners who couldn't be conned. With fingers crossed, we hoped we were at least heading in the right direction and we continued to walk down the street. Soon we stumbled upon a hospital, with not one but three rides out front. One of these guys had to be available: maybe, they would even start fighting about who would have the honor of separating us from some of  our stacks of rupee. Driver number one was so engrossed in his newspaper, that we headed towards the tall, lanky gentleman who sported a head of wild grayish hair and a mustache (a vision of a famous spanish literary character came to mind). We told him where we wanted to go and showed him the map. He held it for a brief moment before walking over to the dark, short, pudgy man who stood third in line. For several minutes we watched Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as they discussed the map--turning it left, right and upside down. With fingers pointing in several different directions, the drivers seemed about as confused as we were as to where we needed to go. Eventually they headed over to the first driver. He glanced at us over his newspaper, and he didn't seem too happy to be interrupted. He took one look at the map and though we couldn't understand what he was saying we could tell he was giving directions. When the rapid instructions ended number 2 gave a deep sigh and said "let's go." Of course we had one more question--the dreaded...How much? Once again number one was consulted, and at this point I am sure there was even a plea for him to take us.  But it was lucky number 2, with a 2 dollar quote, that would safely deliver us to our hotel.
We slowly began to work our way through the streets of Bangalore. The Christmas Eve traffic was thick but at least it was moving. As we headed towards the center of town we began to recognize familiar landmarks. At one point the driver turned at what I felt was the wrong direction, but who was I to say anything after a day showing my far from stellar map reading skills.
Thirty minutes into the trip the driver brought us to an abrupt halt, and pointed up a narrow street and said M.G. Street. To our dismay there were no familiar landmarks;  simultaneously Mark and I mumbled "oh shit". I reluctantly began to crawl out of the back of the vehicle, my only consolation being that we were in an upscale "hood" and I hoped we could find someone to help point us in the right direction. Suddenly Mark said "Wait, maybe we should not get out since this isn't where we asked him to take us." All I could say was "Come on, how are we going to get the driver with limited English and map reading skills-who is possibly illiterate--to find our un-kown hotel?"  As I stood on the corner waiting for Mark to settle up the payment, I scanned the area for a street sign.  I couldn't believe my luck; the driver may not have delivered us to our hotel but he had dropped us off right in front of one of the restaurants where I had wanted to eat. Of course, since I hadn't been able to locate the restaurant on the map, we were still lost, but at least I knew where we eating dinner.
In the end finding our hotel was easier than expected. Once we headed up to M.G. Road the iconic Cricket Stadium's lights glowed high above the city, and all we had to do was follow them to our hotel.


  1. I'm glad it all worked out. You can feel so much at their mercy both for cost and for safety. I am enjoying reading about your travels to India.

  2. Hi Maya, wow what an adventure. I think I am reading about your trip backwards. I'm going to find your first entry and then work my way up. I'm already hooked on learning more about your adventures. I have always been fascinated with India. btw, I also use landmarks to find my way. :)

    Great post. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Hi Marta, so true about being at their mercy for both cost and safety. Thank you for taking the time to read about our trip to India.

    Hi Kathy, negotiating with maps in India was really a problem. I found India to be very amazing. So different from what I imagined.