Friday, September 7, 2012
India # 4 Nora Jones and the Chinese Buffet
I knew it was there, I just hadn’t seen it.
Bangalore has appeared so far to be a nation of shopkeepers, thousands upon thousands of shops, some in a bright jumble, some a bit dreary, not greatly different from small cities all over the world. However ringing this metropolis are great affluent corporate campuses and sub-communities, autonomous and unprecedented, bearing the name of nearly every global IT giant.
On my fifth day I got a glimpse of that other world.
At my assigned agency, Vindhya, lunch is provided for any employee who wants it and clusters of staff members sit on the basement floor eating rice, bread, vegetables and curries, the same fare as I share with some executives in the conference room. Today they said, “Let’s go out” and asked whether I preferred Indian or Chinese.
So glad I chose Chinese. After driving through a typical neighbor we emerged at a completely modern enclave of high-rise residences, a large mall (advertising “Octoberfest” with an umpa band) and the grandest Sheraton I’ve ever seen. Its restaurant is well named: Feast. It was the finest buffet imaginable, with dozens of dishes from every continent, perfectly fresh at three in the afternoon. I didn’t realize there are so many tastes still left in the world to be new to me.
Nora Jones was playing on the sound system, the same Nora Jones I had seen within walking distance from my home in Boise, Idaho, USA, three weeks ago.
Coming to work this morning, the ancient, wheezy bus was so jammed that the driver said please, old man, sit on the console next to me and keep your knees out of the gear shift. Contrasts are never far away.