…and just like that, our 99-day Asian adventure has come to its inevitable conclusion. A mere thirty hours of intercontinental travel (including a brief foray into Frankfurt) brought us home to Montreal last Tuesday night where we promptly began the process of re-adjusting to regular life. It’s been blissful, and I’ll elaborate on that sometime soon!
From Sri Lanka, we flew to Bangalore for our flight home and a quick farewell visit with Bevan and Eliza. From the airport, we headed straight for our planned meeting spot, a brewpub called Toit. Incidentally, we were told the name is supposed to rhyme with “squat”, so you can imagine the difficulty I had trying to explain to the taxi driver where we wanted to go without cracking up. We had a joyous reunion with B&E (joined by some of their delightful friends) and a few tasty pints before being unceremoniously herded out of the place at 11:30 pm sharp, the remainder of our beers poured into plastic cups we were allowed to take with us. Bangalore must be taking a page from Toronto’s nightlife playbook.
B&E arranged for us to stay with them at their friend Rachel’s, who’s a colleague of Eliza’s in the Fulbright program as well as a very cool girl. Back at Rachel’s, Bevan and Eliza marked the occasion of our engagement with a lovely gift (gorgeous pottery from Kodaikanal), a bottle of Sula (Indian-made bubbly), and a truly touching speech.
During the rest of our time in Bangalore, we downshifted from full-tilt tourist mode to a more leisurely transitional pace. The hours were delightfully spent, in the company of Bevan, Eliza, and usually Rachel, in a number of ways:
- Enjoying delicious (non-Indian) breakfast concoctions whipped up by Bevan;
- Sipping cocktails at slick rooftop bars in which the frenetic sounds of the city below are just about drowned out;
- Trying out Bangalore’s new (and rather limited) metro system, with its strict but totally irrational rule about standing behind the yellow line enforced by a gentleman clutching a serious whistle;
- Meandering down Commercial Street, on the prowl for silver, silk and sarees;
- Testing the boundaries of vehicle capacity and good sense (four people plus the driver in a tuk-tuk; seven people in a small car; ten people in an SUV – you get the idea);
- Getting our fill of Indian food after the two-month hiatus – from pani puri perfection on the street, to gobi Manchurian gluttony at a shiny new cafeteria-like spot, to a sumptuous feast at a slightly fancier joint on our last night;
- Checking out Bevan’s exciting new art project, to be unveiled in the US this fall;
- Squeezing in some culture at a riveting but bizarre musical performance combining Indian classical dance with Norwegian black metal (yes – Norwegian black metal);
- Learning the hard way that playing cards in a public place, whether for money or not, is apparently illegal in Bangalore;
- Arguing unsuccessfully with a bar manager who decided to enforce the above-mentioned rule after we’d been buying margaritas and playing cards in his establishment for almost two hours;
- While waiting for our car to the airport, holding a symbolic but culturally inaccurate Indian wedding ceremony at Rachel’s apartment, complete with toe rings and walking seven times around a candle on the floor.
As you may be able to tell, the last days of our adventure were well enjoyed. However, home beckoned! A churlish taxi driver whisked us away from our impromptu wedding reception and deposited us unceremoniously into a sea of fellow travellers at Bengaluru International Airport.
Though we’re now safely at home, I’ll continue to post some musings on the trip on a fairly regular basis. I’ve no doubt you are dying to read them. Stay tuned!
Here’s some photographic accompaniment to the lines above: