Before I left for Bangalore, Kostadis opined that I should not be let out on my own in Bangalore because I would get lost and never be heard from again. Scratch one engineering manager, may he rest in pieces.
This was not altogether unreasonable of him to suggest because I am often a bit slow to figure out the best route home in Sunnyvale and I certainly have to go somewhere a few times before I can find it again. I am, in short, route challenged at the best of times.
However, I am pleased (and perhaps a bit smug) to report that he was, in this case (and thanks to the auto rickshaws), incorrect.
Let us suggest that there are three tasks which might be set to a person to see if he can be trusted to wander around by himself: first, that he be set down somewhere and find his way home; second that he be able to find his way back to somewhere he's been before; third that he be able to find something in a strange city for which he has no directions.
The first is hardly a challenge in Bangalore since my "home" here is a famous 5 star hotel and every a/r driver in the city can find his way there. The only thing to crow about is that I know not to get cheated (i.e. charged 75 cents when I should only be charged a quarter -- it's not the money, it's the principle).
I passed the second trial today when I found my way back to a place I had been before where I took a picture of a young man and his "old friend" (presumably his father). I also took a picture of the young man and some kids (brothers?) that were there. I found the exact same spot again today and gave the young man his picture. Then all the nearby vendors posed for a picture. I was a local hero for about 5 minutes!
For the third trial, my wife wanted some embroidery thread. I was told that no such store exists; in India a craft like embroidery is a business not a hobby so there are no retail stores. Upon more investigation, I found a few people who recommended that I check out the back streets of Commercial Road -- a pretty large area. But after I dropped off the picture I started asking around. They sent me "three cross right" (meaning go through 3 intersections and turn right) which got me to the stationary stores who sent me "down the street and to the right" which got me to the tailors and finally one of them pointed me across the street. I bought 140 bundles of floss for $15 (probably $75 worth of floss).
So I am delighted (but, frankly, surprised) to report that Kostadis was mistaken. I can actually find my way out of a paper bag -- provided I can hop into an autorickshaw!
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Last changed 4/13/04.
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