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100 Days in Bangalore (Part 2)

Continued from 100 Days in Bangalore (Part 1)

If you’ve read Why we are moving back to India or Brother or Best Friend, you know that one of the big reasons for moving to India was to spend more time with the family. My parents’ two-week visit in October provided the first treat on that front. Li’l A was meeting his grandparents for the first time but it only took him a few hours to ‘bond’ – for the next two weeks the grandparents were twirling to his tune. An unexpected bonus during my parents’ visit was that my brother also made a business trip to Bangalore and spent a few evenings with us. He also made another business trip in November when we spent some quality time together. I’m completing this post from my parents’ flat in Vijayawada where we’re spending our Christmas + New Years holidays. I can’t recall the last time we’ve had such an enjoyable, relaxing and satisfying family vacation.

Health Check: Ever since our decision to move to India (and specifically to Bangalore), asthma has been like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.  I had struck an optimistic note in Asthma, Bangalore and me… but deep in my heart I feared it was more a case of when rather than if I would be afflicted with asthma again. I’m relieved to report that four months after moving to Bangalore, I’ve managed to remain asthma-free. Sure – I’ve been running a few miles twice weekly (on most weeks) and avoiding the traffic pollution diligently but I still consider myself fortunate so far. All else pales into insignificance — a few episodes of cold, cough & throat infection and a particularly nasty case of mouth ulcers (which lasted a whole month). The rest of the family has also had a relatively decent health report in the past four months. Li’l A had a minor ear infection, one throat infection and several bouts of cold & cough. S also had a few bouts of cold and cough but nothing serious.

Friends in Bangalore:  What’s life without friends, eh? We landed in Bangalore comforted with the knowledge that many of our friends were already Bangalore residents. Our friends spanned the whole gamut of our different location circles – friends from Bokaro Xaviers, Vizag Timpany School, BIT Ranchi classmates, Jamshedpur TISCO colleagues, Houston, Chicago, SF Bay Area, ex-Yahoos. I even discovered an old squash partner from Decathlon Club, Santa Clara who relocated to Bangalore 6 years ago. I threw a surprise birthday party for P on the second weekend and managed to get our group of friends from Vizag/Bokaro/Bay Area for the surprise. We met with Rajnish and Meena (friends from Vizag) during Diwali. Our most regular interactions have been with Raheja Residency neighbours Gayatri and Srinath – since they moved from Bay Area same time as us, we are always comparing notes. We also met up with Mekin (fellow ex-Yahoo) and his wife (Raheja residents), Jagan (another Yahoo-Bay Area colleague who transferred to the Bangalore office), and Anirban (BIT classmate who moved to Bangalore in 2002). It’s not an exaggeration to say that every month I’m discovering yet another friend in Bangalore.

Friends from America: During our Farewell USA Road Trip, our midwest and east coast friends predicted that they’d see us more often in Bangalore than if we had remained in Bay Area. If the last 4 months are any indication, their prediction is right-on. Our friend from Dallas (Nanda) was in Hyderabad for a month to teach a course at ISB – he visited our place for a weekend and we had a mini-Bokaro reunion. Then there was Sanjeev (our friend from Palo Alto, California) who was in Bangalore for a business trip – he spent an evening with us. Amit (my BIT classmate & Yahoo colleague) came to spend time with his parents in Indiranagar and we met for lunch. Met with Venky (another Bay Area friend & Yahoo-colleague) at his parents’ house in Basavanagudi in Nov. Murali (our friend from Chicago) was in Bangalore for a business+personal trip and we spent an evening together. In early December, we spent several evenings together with our New Jersey friends (Subrata & Sujata) during their Bangalore visit. Since Subrata’s parents live in the same Raheja Residency apartment block as us, it was extra convenient too.

Eating Places: We certainly expected a superior culinary experience in Bangalore and so far we’ve not been disappointed. Here are some of the places that made an impression:

  • MTR: Our first family trip to this venerable Bangalore eatery was not an earth-shattering experience but the Diwali special MTR lunch at Adobe blew me away!
  • Sukh Sagar: A non-frills 100% vegetarian place with good idlis, dosas & sandwiches monopolized our dining during the initial Raheja weeks as our kitchen was still being established. We still visit this place occasionally.
  • More Than Parathas: If you like rich & yummy Punjabi food and snacks, you’ll love this place. First visit was with my work group. Resolved to return with the family in tow.
  • Mast Kalandar: 100% vegetarian restaurant chain started by a Wipro alumni couple. Food for P’s surprise party was catered from here. Lot of great parathas and paneer delicacies. Their shikhanji is awesome!
  • Bon South: A high-end South Indian fusion restaurant which we finally visited in early December. My mouth ulcers handicapped taste buds couldn’t fully appreciate it but P and the kids loved it. We are definitely returning – probably for a buffet this time.
  • Wisdom Lounge: Recommended by Mekin, this place has shot to the top of our ‘most favored dining destination’ list. A very quaint home-style restaurant with a lounge decor and excellent food (deserves a separate review).
  • Cafe Terra: Cute Italian/Thai/Indian cafe & restaurant owned and started by Ranjeet Ranade – another Bay Area Indian American who returned to Bangalore 3 years ago (more in a separate review).