When we began conjuring up this adventure a couple of years ago, one of the main priorities was to re-visit our friends in Bangalore. We were here in 2007, as Paul did a Fulbright Teacher Exchange with Rama Balaji. The major benefit of living somewhere for half a year with our family, rather than just traveling around, is that we met so many interesting people, got to know a neighborhood and community, and developed wonderful deep friendships. Our kids knew their way around, had their favorite parks, restaurants, and papaya sellers, and knew which shop sold the tastiest dosa or idly. We sunk our roots into this place in a real and meaningful way… When we returned to Bangalore from weekend trips by train, the girls would say, “I can’t wait to get home,” meaning their home here in Malleswaram. Ever since we left 3 years ago, we’ve been dying to return…. To go out on early morning walks with Karen’s birding buddies, to visit with Paul’s students and Eliza & Sylvie’s classmates at the school, and to finally have the time to say YES to all of the dinner and lunch invitations!
So that is just what we did…. We planned to go to Bangalore, “on the way to Nepal,” and have 2 full weeks of visiting friends, eating, and socializing! No sites to see… No trips out of town to a temple or scenic spot…. Just a jam-packed schedule of spending as much time as possible with loved ones in town! And we sure packed it in! Paul had to carry a pocket calendar to keep track of everything, and we bought a mobile phone to keep in touch with everyone. We visited the school 4 or 5 times, and were literally swarmed in a welcoming adoring embrace. We had some great times with Rama and her wonderful family, sharing stories, shopping, and catching up on each other’s lives. We were invited to homes and restaurants by many of the teachers from KVMEG, and savored several leisurely visits with Vimala & Sindhu in their exquisite gardens… Our next door neighbors, “uncle” Murthy & Satya gave us dosa-making lessons, and took us to a local concert… Vasu & Venkatesh invited us out to their apartment for a luscious meal and a swim… Andal & her husband welcomed us into their home, and showed us the local primary school that they founded (…this is where our house “rent” gets donated). We had coffee with Sujata & Aloke, and Nagaraj treated us to his favorite lunch buffet! We were treated to meals and haircuts by our beautiful neighbors Kusum & Vaishu, and attended a lecture on ‘conciousness & sustainability’ by Deepti. And yes, we did get out birding several times, including a 5am outing near Bannerghatta with Uma, Deepa, and a crowd of devoted bird watchers! Our days were full! Many times we lamented, and heard our friend’s say, “What! Only two weeks in Bangalore!?!?” But we took advantage of every moment, and feel so satisfied to have re-connected and re-kindled these important friendships! It will be really hard to leave… again! We’ll just have to start saving up for the next return!