In roughly 3 weeks, I'll be traveling to Bangalore, India to speak about MySQL at Linux Bangalore/2003 and to spend some time at Yahoo's Software Development Center (SDC) doing some training and hanging out with the crew there. Getting there involves some long-ass flights (stopping in Frankfurt), but it should be very worthwhile.

Now, I've never been to India before, so I'd appreciate any travel and cultural tips that might be helpful to a visiting American.

Also, if you happen to live in Bangalore and would like to meet up sometime, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment here. Let's see what we can work out. You never know...

Posted by jzawodn at November 06, 2003 07:59 AM

Reader Comments
# said:

It's a nice time of the year to be visiting India. I /think/ a lot of people on Silk are either from Bangalore, or have been there at some point. That may be a better place to look for real information.

on November 6, 2003 09:23 AM
# said:

Don't drink the water.

on November 6, 2003 09:28 AM
# JD said:

Wow! That's great!

I am reglar reader of your blog and would love to meet you there in Bangalore!

One suggestion I would give is don't listen to all those people who talk about 'unclean water', 'animals on road' and all those age old stories. Metro city like Bangalore is quite nice and I am sure you should not have any trouble during your stay there.

All the best and catch you at Linux-Bangalore/2003!

JD

on November 6, 2003 09:36 AM
# Kalyan said:

Dude, just be careful about the "Ass on fire" thing ;)

on November 6, 2003 09:53 AM
# Osaf said:

Don't expect to eat any hamburgers (or rat burgers for that matter)! Crazy how cows and rats are "sacred" in India.

on November 6, 2003 10:00 AM
# Travis said:

I had a great time in Bangalore on a visit to South India back in 1999. One random tip you probably won't hear elsewhere: they have some attractive red gov buildings next to a park and you might think, "I'll just hop up on this sill and my friend will take a picture." Not necessarily a good idea. The building was apparently "red-washed" similar to old fashioned American white-wash -- and it came off all over my clothes.

Karnataka has fantastic sambar (the various states tend to each have a characteristic taste). You'll be in South India, so make a point to try some South Indian food (N and S India are more different than New England and the Deep South U.S.).

on November 6, 2003 11:17 AM
# Aditya said:

Bangalore, like most Indian big cities, is bright, noisy, polluted, chaotic but has great food (if you avoid the pricey places) and lots of social things to do -- IMO the number of tourist spots in Bangalore is sort of small -- some awfully-scaled, garish govt buildings in and around Cubbon park are about it. So concentrate on the food and social aspects! Don't ride on a scooter/two-wheeler without a helmet...but you knew that already.

on November 6, 2003 11:35 AM
# Atul said:

Even most Indians wouldnt drink the water on the road, but I doubt you would stop for a sip of water there - not if you can drink beer in the pub. Besides, we all drink mineral water - not because we can't stomach the free stuff, but because it is good business practice to always use products made by people whom you can (theoretically) sue ;-)

So what if the mineral water contains pesticides, is bad for, and is likely to give you systemic segfaults, plus assorted virii? ;-)

The thing you *really* need to beware of is Kalyan - he starves his friends to death! :-)

on November 6, 2003 11:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Nah, Kalyan seems to want to introduce me to some Indian food that would "set my ass on fire."

Then again, maybe starvation is the better choice. :-)

on November 6, 2003 12:03 PM
# Atul said:

LOL - the Japanese government is still trying to extradite him for attempted murder. :-)

on November 6, 2003 12:20 PM
# Arcterex said:

Take lots of pictures please :)

on November 6, 2003 12:34 PM
# Mekin said:

Talking to Filo & Phu might help, to get the "american perspective".

IMHO, dont worry yourself, its a fun place & we (Y!Blr) will take good care of you ...

on November 6, 2003 01:32 PM
# David said:

Don't violate Murphy's law again, watch for curbs, and bring lots of tissue :)

on November 6, 2003 02:41 PM
# Christopher Taylor said:

I just got back from a trip to Bangalore last week and it was a nice enough place. It reminded me a lot of Mexico City in many ways. Just plug your nose when you pass by any body of water and you should be okay.

You can buy clothes for really good prices, so I would suggest you go shopping. Commerce Street has some nice shops and there was this little place (not on Commerce Street) called something like "My Favorite Store" that had really nice clothing and textiles. Even if they fleece you by Indian standards, you will still come out okay compared to the prices you might pay in the US or Europe.

One last observation... People working at hotels and restaurants never want to tell you "no". I can't tell you how many times I made requests such as "do you have prawns available?" and the answer was always "yes". However, after a few minutes they would come back with "prawns are finished." So, be prepared with a backup order whenever you go out so that you won't get disappointed when they have run out of what you really wanted :)

on November 6, 2003 03:26 PM
# Bhasker said:

Well i guess then we will see you in office:)..and you will have loads of tips coming ur way then:)

on November 6, 2003 05:41 PM
# Raj Shekhar said:

If you have time, visit Goa.

on November 6, 2003 07:21 PM
# Yathin said:

Hope to Catch you in Office then!

And the only thing you need to worry about in Bangalore is going out to eat with Kalyan! ;)

on November 6, 2003 09:29 PM
# Chris said:

Fantastic Culture
Fantastic People
Great hotels (Don't leave your window open, I recently got told a tale that an animal or some such had torn up a 5*+ room whilst demolishing flowers and a fruit bowl.)

Top Tips:
Do not drive. & close your eyes in the taxi.
Always use cars provided by the hotel, they are good for pick-ups too if you call (GSM) ahead.
--
'Yes' - pinch of salt required.
'Yes' means maybe or I understand or at best I think so but your asking the wrong guy, it all depends on how they nod.
'Yes I promise' kinda works. (Your mileage may vary.)
'No problem' :Think Jamaica :)
'Yes I swear on my motherís grave' means you should ask if their mother is still alive ;)
--

The little rolled up afternoon snacks that you may get taken out for (I forget what they are called) come in many varieties - Some 'good ones' contain opiates, so watch out.

Can you eat a curry with your fingers?

Namaste! (Learn to say it properly!) http://www.flex.com/~jai/articles/namaste1.html

Don't be put off by 'Mr shakey-hands-man' or limp lingering handshakes, they both are friendly gestures - you will get your had back eventually! They like you, your aftershave, or both.

Beer Ė Only taste it if it is cold enough to freeze your taste-buds. Itís ok then.

And lastly ... See some sites - they will help you understand the culture.

on November 6, 2003 10:44 PM
# Robert Nicholson said:

If you wouldn't mind next time if you go there could you take a nuclear bomb and detonate it when you arrive? Then maybe, just maybe the rest of the words IT industry may recover.

Thank you.

on November 7, 2003 01:05 AM
# Robert Nicholson said:

If you wouldn't mind next time if you go there could you take a nuclear bomb and detonate it when you arrive? Then maybe, just maybe the rest of the worlds IT industry may recover.

Thank you.

on November 7, 2003 01:05 AM
# Simon Forthescue-Herald said:

Whilst the nuclear bomb idea is quite a good one, its probably not practical enough to carry out.

Wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan
"Stop taking our jobs and fuck off" would suffice.

on November 9, 2003 03:13 PM
# Chad Fowler said:

My wife and I recently moved back from living in Bangalore. Here's a braindump:

* Get a good driver. I can't stress that enough. Best bet would be to call Adiga Travels (Ph: 6611856, 6601993, Mobile: 98450-30234) and ask to work with Ramesh. He was our driver for a year, and will teach you Kannada, talk about the culture, keep you out of trouble, and show you where to eat authentic food safely.

* Don't skimp on the hotel. If you stay at The Oberoi, you never have to worry about the water (while in the hotel). You can literally drink from the tap. The same is true of the Leela Palace, but I wouldn't take any bets on any others. I believe The Oberoi is right around the corner from the Yahoo office.

* Have someone take you to SKR market on the appropriate market day. Feels like something out of a movie. You probably won't buy anything, but it's worth just walking around.

* If you see a lot of people eating somewhere, it's probably safe. Specifically, look for parents with their children. They won't take kids somewhere bad. This worked for us for a year and a half.

* Get out in the country side. If you don't have much time, just have your driver take you outside the city limits. If you have an afternoon, go to Nandi hills. If you have a couple of days, go to Bandipur. It will take about 5 hours to get there, but you'll see wild elephants, bison, board, langur monkeys, bears, and possibly tigers. You can stay in beautiful forest hotels there for dirt cheap.

* Here's a list of some of the tastiest, safest restaurants:
- Mavalli's Tiffin Room: South Indian near Lalbagh (you'll need to take a kannada speaker with you, but it's GREAT)
- Royal Afghan (Windsor Manor Hotel)
- Dakshin: South Indian (Windows Manor Hotel)
- Queens: North Indian, church street
- Tandoor: North Indian, MG Road

* Take lots of pictures and post them here. We really miss it there. :)

* Go to the old part of the city and just walk around. You can start near The Majestic theater.

* Beware of fresh fruit and vegetables...unless you can peel them yourself.

* Even if you sound like an idiot, if you say some words in the local language, you'll blow people away and make friends for life. The local language is Kannada. Lonely planet's South India book has a small phrase book. You really won't need it in most situations, but it's a great way to close the cultural gap. If you want a really good book on Kannada, you can go to Gangaram's bookstore and get "Conversational Kannada" by ND Krishnamurthy (http://ndkinstitute.com) -- he was our Kannada and Hindi teacher.

* You can get Low Priced Edition computer books for very very cheap. Plan to spend a few hours in either Gangaram's or Sapna book house one day. Don't plan it on Sunday--they're not open.

I hope this is helpful.

on November 9, 2003 06:37 PM
# Agent Smith said:

Shame on you jeremy! - i dont know how you can live with yourself, knowing full well how many IT workers are being thrown on the scrapheap because of outsourcing to India.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could nuke Bangalore while you're over there. thanks.


on November 10, 2003 02:59 AM
# TheMustachioMarvel said:

Nuke? Nah thatís too impersonal. Surly it would be better to walk down the streets brandishing a bat with a few rusty nails inÖ I can just feel the pleasure now.

on November 10, 2003 03:53 AM
# Chad Fowler said:

This "nuke" and "destroy" talk is disheartening. These people that are "stealing" your jobs are probably living in less comfort than those of you who may have been laid off.

It's really sad that you're all so angry that you're lashing out against people who, just like you, have learned a trade and are trying to make a living at it.

If you really want someone to be mad at, be mad at the corporations that are outsourcing/offshoring work, or--better yet--at yourselves for not learning how to adjust to it.

Recommended reading:
http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/developers/talks/HowToKeepYourJob/index.html

on November 10, 2003 06:51 AM
# Agent Smith said:

when some indian company steals your job and your livelihood, then you've every right to be angry, Chad. and don't feed us with politically correct bullcrap.
and what do you want programmers to "adjust" to Chad? Adjust to a life of flipping burgers, eh?

on November 10, 2003 07:29 AM
# Last Rhythm said:

Yahoo offices, USA , July 2005:
Head Honcho: "Awwwwh. Jeremy, wee have sort of a problem here. You see, you see just a greeat job great job educating those Indian guys in MySQL, that we've outsourced your job. No hard feelings ,mmm'kay? And if you could pack up your stuff and leave the building by 12 noon, that would be greeat... m'kay?"

on November 10, 2003 01:37 PM
# Luke said:

I lived there for six months a few years back. Loved it. Even though I had a bout with typhoid fever while there. I'll second someone's recommendation of the restaurant Queens. Very tasty. Other things I enjoyed: watching cricket in the pubs, watching Bollywood flicks at the movies, vegetable shopping at Russel Market and wandering through Shivajinagar. My letters home from Bangalore are online if you want to read more.

As far as the job stealing thread goes, IMO it's a fact of life we're going to have to deal with. Programmers didn't keep their job when the tech economy crashed unless they were good and lucky. And those that aren't good and lucky won't keep them as software development gets more and more offshored.

on November 10, 2003 05:02 PM
# Blaine said:

Bangalore is pretty boring, and fairly western as far as India goes. As Chad recommends above, get out of the city, and check out some of the nearby places. Mysore is much more interesting, and Mudumalai National Park is nearby, and a great out-of-the-way park with the Tigers, Elephants, and Veerappan, Oh My!

If you're stuck in Bangalore, don't just stick around in the upscale areas; get out to the south of the city (there's a market near a bus station, I can't remember what it's called, but it's west of Lalbagh gardens). Just don't spend your whole day walking there; take an auto-rickshaw instead!

on November 10, 2003 11:09 PM
# Atul said:

In a light hearted vein - could someone nuke Silicon Valley, California, for us, please? They are stealing all India's best people!

on November 11, 2003 08:23 AM
# Mister Hanky said:

No need to - it'll be a pile a rubble when the next quake hits anyway.

on November 11, 2003 09:30 AM
# Shavet said:

Hi Friends,

I thought I should share this piece of information with the forum. I had moved to Bangalore from the US sometime back. I did a lot of research trying to find some useful info on the city, but allas!

And then I stumbled upon this ebook called Know Bangalore available on the website www.knowbangalore.com. Thanks to the book, I finally had a smooth transition into the garden city. I recommend this book for anyone planning to move to Bangalore and also for those already settled here but having a tough time with reliable info.

Cheers,

on February 4, 2005 08:04 PM
# krishna said:

Ok, didnt read the comment policy.

Bangalore is a fun place. Traffic is a bit bad. Waters ok in most hotels. Lots of plays and cultural shows happening.

But given an average business trip, how much time would you have to take in the sights? (other than the insides of your hotel room)

If you do have a day or two, shoot me mail will tell you the best places to see

Regards
Krishna

on July 18, 2005 09:54 PM
# Dave said:

Hello folks,

I'll be visiting India for about 4 months with Bangalore being my 1st major stop. (Perhaps up to a month)

Any thoughts about cell phones in India? I'd like to get one but don't know which company and which plans...

Also, if anyone would like to hook up in mid-January 2006, please drop me a mail.

Cheers,

Dave

on January 1, 2006 06:53 AM
# bala said:

Reliance

on February 8, 2007 09:44 AM
# Ritesh said:

can contact me is u need any help me working in HP india
9986355329,, all the best,N-Joy

on April 26, 2007 11:24 AM
# Twinkle said:

Hi Jeremy,

I encourage travellers visiting Bangalore to my place for short-term stay and you wont believe the rent amount is voluntary. There is no fixed charges.

Why dont you try to accomodate yourself in the apartment I let out for guests? My cook cum helper would surely treat you well. And, I could help you plan your weekend trip to know more about Indian culture, geography, languages, etc. I have a mini library on such info.
email me for more details. reemavs@hotmail.com

on November 20, 2007 01:15 AM
# Samantha said:

Okay my mom is going to Banglador India for buisness we have the oppurtunity to visit her but im nervous.

I was wondering if it is poverty stricken?
Is it like the states?
I know it wont be exactly like the states but in comparrison what is it like?
My mom wants to travel while there to the outskirts and to the Taj Mahal on the way there do you see much poverty?

thats my main concern seeing poverty.

I went to Guatamala and in Guatamala city i was fine i liked the atmosphere and granted we stayed in the nicer part but i still like it. After we went to a city called Antigua it was okay for the most part but i found it to be unsettling. given that example how do you think i would do?


thanks
have a great day
Samantha

on May 29, 2008 10:44 AM
# angela said:

I would like to know how the visit went. I am moving to Bangalore for 9 months to study at the Management University and complete an internship. I have several months before I leave but am very interested in learning as much as I can before the date arrives. Several of your comments have helped me out already. I was wondering if there are any others. These may sound like stupid questions but, what is inappropriate there - mannerisms and ways to dress? How do you best deal with culture shock? Are there any books you recommend? Also, I eat strictly organically. Will it be hard for me to adapt there? Anything you have to tell me I am willing to hear. Just no more outsourcing stuff please:)

on June 26, 2008 12:53 PM
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