In India: 05 May: A visit to the Science Museum, and a trip to Hosur

I started the day with breakfast in my room.  For some reason the restaurant was closed (wonder if that had anything to do with the torrential downpour last night?), so they did the room service thing.  That was nice.

I took an auto rickshaw to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum.  I think I was overly nervous about these things.  It was fine.  Cost Rs100 (CA$2) to go some 7 km.  The inside of this fellow’s auto rickshaw was very nice, he was quite proud of it.  I got a picture of him and his vehicle.

A man and his machine…  Proud of the work he does.

I arrived just as the museum opened.  Cost of entry was Rs20 (CA$0.40).  Wow.  I gave my Rs30 change to the fellow behind me, who was coming in with his family.

It’s a great museum, with four floors of science and technology.  Each floor is split into two galleries – including one on electricity, space, electronics, biology, and a special exhibit on Srinivasa Ramanujan, “The Man Who Knew Infinity” – a fellow with humble beginnings, growing up near Chennai, who self taught himself so well that he became one of the great mathematicians of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Sadly, he suffered from ill health and died at a young age.  Fascinating.

On the roof of the building, there is a small snack stand and an open-air place to sit down and eat.  There’s a cafeteria as well, that serves hot vegetarian meals.

I bought a drink and a chocolate bar – no diet drinks here, anywhere – so ugh a real Pepsi – but made up for it by having it in a real glass bottle.  Haven’t had a real glass Pepsi bottle in my hand for perhaps 30 years!

I spent about two hours in the museum, then headed north to Cubbon Park,

Cubbon Park is the largest open air park in Bangalore.  I also checked out Queen’s Park, which is a more formal English style park that runs alongside it.

Emerging from the far end, I came back down the other side of the street, walking past a huge cricket stadium, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, where the Bangalore Royal Challengers play.

Wandering on, I came to the M.G. Park, so named for the “Father of India”, Mahatma Ghandi.  Now this is a very nice, well kept park with a big statue of M.G. in it.  Unfortunately, the gates were closed & locked, so I could only look from the sidewalk.  I’m not sure if this, too, was related to the elections, or something else.

I continued to wander, ending up at UB City, which has to be the most upscale shopping mall that I’ve ever been in, wow.  Even a Rolex store, I’ve never seen anything like it.  It was very opulent.

From there, I took an auto rickshaw back to the hotel, had a shower, just in time for Srini to arrive – he was a bit early.  We headed out… but no motorbike, he was anticipating possible thundershowers and took the bus.  So, we took a city bus out to the highway, and waited there for an inter-city bus.  The city bus was quite modern, with air conditioning and comfortable seats.  The inter-city bus took a loooong time to arrive, and when it did, it was full to overflowing and didn’t even stop.  The next one arrived a minute later, also full, but stopped and picked up a few passengers.  Srini held back, probably wisely, as I’m not sure how well I’d do in a really really full bus here.  A few minutes later, a third one came by, and it actually had a couple of seats open, so we snagged two and were on our way.

It was quite a ride.  Yes, we were packed in pretty tightly.  this bus had no air conditioning, but there were bars on the lower part of the windows, and the doors were wide open (read: no doors).  Now, the breeze from driving at 80 km/hr was nice, but I kept looking out that open door and wondering how likely it was that someone could fall out.  I was sitting right across from the back door.  I’ve seen people in the city jump on and jump off a moving city bus through such an open door, but never rode in a bus with an open door.  Yikes.

Srini sent a text to Mani and Mani met us with his car along the road in Hosur.  His elder son was having a swimming lesson, so we went to the pool to check it out.  Wow, an open air pool at the local luxury hotel, that is used for swimming lessons during the summer holidays.  I wanted to jump right in.  Oof, it was hot, must have been 35 deg C or more.   I saw an instructor (or was it a parent) throw two children into the deep end – they were petrified of the water – I guess that is their way of acclimatizing their kids – wow.  I guess it’s kinda wussy to teach them the jellyfish float and stuff these days, huh.

We chatted about coconuts.  I looked up, ugh, look at them up there, if one dropped on my it would wipe me out!  No worry, said Mani, even when ripe you have to go up and tug on them to get them down.

So Mani, his wife and son, Srini, and I, all piled into Mani’s car, and we headed off to Mani’s home.  We passed the prestigious Titan Watch Company, the leading watch maker in India.  I visited Mani’s home and Srini’s home.  They were quite nice.   Very comfortable and clean.  Both have rooftop terraces, Mani’s has a tent covering so you can relax in the daytime, in spite of the sun (!). 

It turns out that, like I saw in Egypt, the houses have support pillars for adding floors as the family grows.  Unlike Egypt, however, there isn’t raw rebar sticking out of the rooftop, they are finished nicely, so you an actually use the rooftop.  Srini said his home is built to add four more floors for a total of five.  Wow.

Srini pointed out his UPS.  Yes, a Uninterruptable Power Supply for the house.  Everyone has them!  I asked why, and he told me that there’s a power cut every day, for up to two or three hours!  His UPS can run the entire house, full load, for about six hours, although then it takes more than 24 hours to recharge – fortunately, such a long outage rarely occurs, and they are never running full load, especially not for long.  
There was a power outage at the time we were there!  It went on right into the night.  You could tell at night in the marketplace, the entire place was dark except for businesses that were lit up (most have generators).  And of course the motorbikes and the cars, too too many motorbikes and cars.

At Mani’s place, he said that I had to try coconut water.  His wife snagged a coconut, took it outside and whacked it, and poured some into a glass.  Interesting taste, hard to describe.  It’s kind of coconut-y, sweet, a bit salty, and a bit oily.  I’ve been told that it’s good for what ails you…. maybe I should take up coconut water as a liquid refreshment, all the time!?!  This isn’t the same as coconut milk, which comes from ripe coconuts – coconut water comes from green coconuts.

I sampled some “pre-bananas”, which are immature green bananas, very different.  Mani is growing bananas at his house, they won’t bear fruit for a few years…

We went up on Srini’s rooftop.  He has a rooftop water tank.  He pumps water up to the tank, then the tank provides the water pressure for the house.  Like the old-school water towers.

They are in an area that is just starting to be developed.  This means plenty of open space for the kids to run & play.  There were two pickup games of cricket being played as we wandered around, and we saw a third family practicing cricket throws and batting in the street.  Cricket is huge here!

After visiting their homes, Srini and Mani took me to the marketplace in Hosur.  Wow, it was huge, block after block after block of small shops, grocers, and restaurants.  And, we only saw about 1/3 of it all!  We checked out a clothing store, they were harassing me about sarees 🙂   We looked at men’s clothes too, I got a new cycling shirt and a traditional long, long Indian dress shirt.  When we got to the checkout, they insisted on buying it for me.   I am humbled by their generosity.

We had supper at Mani’s favourite restaurant – of course the food was excellent – and then Mani & Srini drove me back to my hotel.  I find the traffic here rather scary during the day.  Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t get any better at night, on the highway!  Oh well, we made it safely, and from what I heard the next day, they made it safely back to Hosur as well.

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