May 25 & 26, 2012
If one travels to India, one must really want to go there, because getting there is none of the fun. The itinerary was a 2½ hour flight from Tucson to Dallas, a 9½ flight from Dallas to London, a mad dash from the American Airlines terminal to the British Airways terminal, then another 9½ hour flight from London to Bangalore. Economy class all the way. For someone who is 6’2” tall, this is like sitting in a small phone booth for an entire day. (For those of you who are too young to know what a phone booth is, watch an old episode of “Doctor Who.”) American Airlines got low marks for general comfort, but they did treat me to a spectacular moonrise of some city on one of the great lakes – a dark orange moon hovering over the horizon as the lights of the city sparkled below. The British Airways flight was pretty much an all-around disaster. I was seated in the middle seat of three –which is like being in a small phone booth with no door through which to exit. The British Airways seats all have video monitors on the back of the seat in front of you and they offer a smorgasbord of movies and television shows to watch to pass the time. Unfortunately, mine didn’t work – the movie would play for fifteen seconds, the screen would go black or freeze for ten seconds and the movie would resume from that point forward. When one of my seatmates, who was having the same problem, and I tried to notify the flight attendant, we discovered none of the electrical devices worked – no light by which to read, no call button for the flight attendant, nothing. In the meantime, dinner was served. Except that everyone got served except me and my seatmate. After about fifteen minutes of waiting, I turned around to discover that the whole plane was eating their dinner except us. I had to walk to the back of the plane (actually, the walk felt good) to fetch our meals. Dinner over, I played the one ace I had up my sleeve—a borrowed portable DVD player (thank you, Lisa and Darla) and the first season of “Downton Abbey.” Except that I hadn’t had time to charge it up in the Heathrow Airport and after about a half hour, the power ran out. I thought about reading my Kindle, but not only had I lost my reading glasses in the London airport, there was no natural light and no overhead light. I resigned myself to a restless night of attempting to sleep sitting up … unsuccessfully. The crew was abjectly apologetic about all the problems and hinted that there would be some sort of reparations in a follow-up e-mail. We’ll see – I’m holding out for a free flight.
May 27, 2012
After a grueling 24-hours in transit, I am here in Bangalore. Initial impressions: exotic, dusty, tropical, flowering trees (red blooms – not sure what they are), the expected poverty, the expected color, the expected noise. My driver from the airport took a funny pride in telling me that drivers in Bangalore use their horns constantly. Sort of like how bicycle riders in Amsterdam use their bells to tell pedestrians, “I’m coming up behind you.” As I type this in our apartment, there is a constant music of car horns outside the window.
One of my first impressions: standing outside the airport listening to the rooks (blackbirds? crows? daws?) cawing in the moist morning air. This was about 6:00am and the air was about 70 degrees and moist. It was a mysterious and wonderful first sensory experience.
Another snapshot: boarding the plan for Bangalore in London. Knowing that this was the leg of the journey that would set me down onto India soil, I told myself to burn a sensory impression of the moment into my memory. As I walked down the gangway to the plane, I focused on the stonewashed blue jeans of the guy in front of me; vertical creases made to look as if the wearer had owned them for a very long time. That was it – something to focus on in the future when remembering those first moments of the adventure.
Still very new, very strange, very wonderful – conversing with Joe and Patty on the roof patio of the apartment, saying – at least twice – “We’re in India!” I think that’s the mantra for the next three weeks.
May 28, 2012
First walk through the ‘hood. Very intriguing mixture of fascinating sights, interesting people, colorful buildings and piles of garbage. A strange and wonderful cacaphony of smells: delicious aroma of curry, followed by the pungent odor of an empty lot filled with trash, followed by a spicy patchouli scent. Many cars and motorcycles; crossing the road is an amazing adventure. Patty instituted the “three second rule” – stop and look both ways for three seconds before stepping off any curb (they drive on the right in India). Many curious looks from the natives – no one seems to wear sunglasses, so the very white Westerners in shades must have been an unusual sight. As we walked, I was somewhat overcome with the moment and said how visiting India has always been a life dream for me and now here I am living it. Just as I finished waxing poetic, Patty pointed out that we were walking past a man urinating against the wall. Once again, the universe brings us back to reality.
My first visit to the theatre – what a jewel box. Intimate and welcoming. Arundhati and others were so warm and friendly; I immediately felt that I was a part of the company. It felt very much like The Rogue Theatre – happy, smiling people who are excited to be doing what they are doing. There is a restaurant in the theatre itself—closed today, but I suspect a center of our stay in Bangalore.
— David Morden