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A Visit to India: Part II - A Day in Bangalore

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | August 07, 2010

"India will change you."
Nicki Grihault

Evie and I recently spent nearly a week in Bangalore, India, where I spoke to a group of about 50 educational leaders from India and beyond on the subject of leadership. Today will be the second column of a three-part series on that visit. 

It was about 11:30 am on Saturday morning when Pravin and Felicia came by to pick us up for a day in Bangalore. Before we drove into town Pravin suggested we visit an old granite quarry. Upon arriving we walked to the edge and looked at the huge expanse below where one person was loading a huge truck one chunk of granite at a time. We could see long narrow slabs which had been chiseled free by hand and we could hear the sound of hammers being applied to the rocks below. 

From there we made our way to downtown Bangalore. Traffic goes forward on the left side of the street. Certain British influences from the colonial era die hard. 

Along the road we saw highway construction workers (men and women) widening the road. They were mixing concrete, building more forms, removing trees, tearing down buildings, and clearing away anything that was in the way. Along the road neatly dressed children were returning home from school. Schools are open five days a week and until noon on Saturday. 

People were everywhere. Men and women balanced huge loads on their heads. We saw hosts of fruit and vegetable and grain stands on portable carts with four large, narrow wheels on both sides of the road. 

The road signs were in multiple languages. Cows and dogs were everywhere, including on the road. And I can hardly describe the traffic. It takes grace, courage, agility, and great experience to drive in India. Most westerners prefer Indians to drive for them. I will think of these roads next time I drive in New York City. 

Motorcycles and scooters, sometimes with women riding side saddle behind the drivers and children riding in front of drivers, dodging in and out of traffic. Cars and trucks and busses clamor for the right-of-way. Auto-rickshaws, the three-wheeled motorized taxis which provide inexpensive transportation, are more available than cabs in America. Everyone seems quite calm moving from here to there but to Evie and me, our eyes were wide with amazement. 

We passed the famous Chinnaswamy Stadium, the great cricket stadium in India. We saw the High Court of the local state, Karnataka, as well as the major government buildings with their spectacular architecture on which were carved the words, "Government work is God's work." The parks in that area of Bangalore are stunning. 

Our friends took us for lunch to an Indian restaurant by the name of Samarkand. Samarkand is called "the land of rugged people" on the northwest frontier of India. Stepping inside made us feel like we were stepping into a whole other part of India. The waiters wore uniforms like the people of Samarkand. We could see the chefs through a window baking bread and cooking meat on skewers as they have for hundreds of years. Even the furniture was made with old ropes wrapped around pieces of wood. 

Pravin and Felicia helped us through each course requesting from the waiters that our spices be as mild as possible. The food was absolutely delicious. The picture we have of the four of us at that low table where we ate most of the meal with just our hands will be one we will treasure forever. 

We drove to Mahatma Gandhi street (every main city in India has one), where we stopped at a gift shop and just got inside when the heavens opened. The monsoon season had definitely started. By the time we were finished buying our treasures, the rain had stopped. After a quick stop at the grocery store we returned back to the Southern Asia Bible College campus. 

Thank you, Pravin and Felicia, for a day we will never forget. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu