Greetings from Bengaluru - The research trip begins

Long ago seems this last blog entry, and like yesterday it seems I was in India. Last time it was the autumn trip me and Tove went on in 2010. Being here not even for 24 hours I feel like home in an instant, thanks to the welcoming honks, dust, Kannada chatter on the corners, the flapping of the ceiling fan and the sight of huge bats on the evening sky turning pink.

We arrived late last night at our "serviced apartment" in Lavelle Road right of big MG Road in the centre of Bangalore. Great place to stay as it is sooo quiet compared to anything else closer to the roads!

Our first mission was getting a permission to go into the BRT Sanctuary, something that felt absolutely crucial in our mission to research a documentary about tigers and tribals in the dense lush forests in the south of Karnataka. Our mission failed and still succeeded in many ways. We met with the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr. Singh and his friend Dr. Ullas Karanth, a tiger expert for many years with big achievements in tiger research. We had a good chat, got some very helpful advice and are now searching for other ways to approach the tribals, sanctuary etc... more info coming soon.

But what is far more stunning is how quickly I adjusted to the Indian bustle! Getting a riksha with a working meter is still an art, but surprisingly achievable with lots of smiles. Even better to get the smiles returned when paying a bit more than the meter price.
We first walked around quite a bit, through a huge park (Cubban Park) to Karnataka Government Forest Department, then with a rikshah to another subdivision forest department somewhere far outside and still in the middle of town, on the bustling Sampige road of Seshadripuram. Our riksha dropped us off at some 18th cross directly in front of a coconut stall. Brilliant! My first fresh coconut in such a long time! It went down like oil (as we Germans say) and tasted sooo delicious.

We found the huge shopping mall (Mantri Square) with any European money-spending institution you can imagine from Adidas, via Marks & Spencer to Plus and Puma.. they had them all plus a great cardamom coffee, much needed to fight the dawning afternoon tiredness! What a lovely coincidence, a bunch of smiley westerners walked passed, and suddenly I recognized them! Our stewardesses from flight AF 0192! So different they look without their blue costume and strict hair-do's.
Though it was much more fascinating to walk around; all the wee shops, the chai wallahs, towers of bright red and yellow turmeric powders (kum kum, or sindoor for married woman's forehead spot), flower garlands, poori stalls, jewellery and sari shops, posh phone shops (that don't sell sim cards.. still haven't found our sim cards), sleeping street dogs and a rare sighting of a cow in the corner. We went into a bustling self service food place where we got a filling masala dosa, made from scratch. How much I missed the spicy coconut chutney! Crossing even the smallest side road was a mission slightly impossible! Honks everywhere, dust and dirty exhaust fumes in your face. Trip hazards with every second step and yet this place is just so cool! Now the brain is unwinding from a first day of wondering around, sucking it all in, that crazy place India can be (amongst so many other things). The bats showed up on time at 7pm like they used to do in Mysore, swinging their huge wings (1m wingspan) across the bright yellow pinkish evening sky, back in our lovely wee guest house, back in lovely big India!

More stories and some pics soon.. the (re) search continues...