Lalbagh Gardens, Window Shopping and Work

This morning we woke up just before dawn. Sellappan called up Mohan and Kowshalya to make sure they were up too, and we arranged to meet at their place. In the early morning Bangalore is always enveloped in thick fog, which starts to burn off as the sun rises. By the time we got to the gardens there was only a slight haze left, and the temperature had already risen to about 23C

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Morning Haze

We arrived as the early morning sporty types were getting started. There were a few people playing badminton despite the breeze. There were also lots of middle aged men waving and swinging their arms about energetically and doing stretches. At the entrance to the park there is a large “hill” which is just exposed granite. There were plenty of people stretching and lying down sunbathing (hazebathing?) and climbing around on the rock.

We walked went to the flower show first, which was made up of sort of floral topiary. The flowers had been formed into shapes between 4 and 7 feet high. One section was composed of giant colourful fruit shapes with plastic facial features and limbs sticking out. There were also representations of vegetables and flowers.

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As we carried on through the park we went past a rose garden which was all fenced off – apparently people can’t help but steal roses as there was a sign to say no plucking was allowed. We walked up towards the lake and passed a huge clump of what looked like bamboo. A screeching noise and lots of crashing foliage revealed the presence of a monkey. Actually lots of monkeys. They were chasing around in the high branches while a man at the base of the clump was occupied with training one of them. He was talking to the monkey and giving it food, but I’m not sure what it was doing in return. He beckoned us closer, saying “No danger, he is my friend!” Surprisingly we declined his offer…

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No plucking!

When we got to the top of the hill where the lake was, there were lots of white cranes, something that looked like a heron, and the odd white pelican skimming over the water and floating about. No ducks though! There were lots of chipmunk-like creatures running about too. Sellappan called them squirrels, and to me they seemed like a cross between chipmunks and what I would call squirrels. They were light brown with dark stripes on their backs, and tails at least as long as their bodies which they stuck up in the air like dodgem car aerials when they took off running along the ground and immediately dropped if they paused.

We followed the path around to an enormous tree which was about two hundred years old. It was a white silk cotton tree, and apparently it can be used for making pillows and mattresses among other things. It had enormous sail-like roots which started from about ten feet up the trunk, and spread to the ground. The canopy of the tree was huge and was full of green parrots. The dodgem rodents were having a great time running all over the tree trunk and diving down between the roots.

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Silk Cotton Tree

Just as we were on the way out, we came across a movie set with people dressed in period costumes. Then from nowhere a huge line of army cadets marched into view, with notebooks in hand. The stars joined in with the marching line, much to everyone’s amusement!

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Spot the odd one out...

Breakfast was next on the list, but Mohan was due at his office by 9am so Sellappan and I had idly and vada (a potato doughnut) with sambar (a thin orange-coloured warm spicy dip) and a cold green coconut-based dip which I have forgotten the name of. This is a very standard breakfast and is delicious!

We went back to the flat for a cheeky nap to offset the early start and then Sellapan dropped me off at a mall while he went to work for a few hours. I looked around the mall for a while before going to Costa for lunch, just to see what it was like. I had a spicy veg roll thing, which wasn’t particularly nice!

Next I went to Sellappan’s office (on invitation of course) and spent some time looking around the campus, which was very green. The campus has a cafeteria, gym, badminton and basketball courts and a learning centre. I met lots of Sellappan’s colleagues too, who were all very friendly. Overall it seems like a very pleasant and relaxed place.

After Sellappan had had a quick game of badminton we went to Punjabi Times with Momo, Camilla (who is from Romania) and her son Aryan. This was a themed restaurant which was very nicely decorated with sumptuous cushions and soft furnishings. The walls were painted and inset with pieces of colourful ceramic and glass, and the lighting was dim. The food was excellent too, we started with a deep green soup of coriander and mint, which was very cooling. We followed it up with a mix of chicken dishes, including tandoori style chicken, with roti and garlic naan. For the first time in a week I ate with a knife and fork which was actually very strange!

I was asleep within about five minutes of getting into bed.

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