After a successful trip to Mumbai in the books, the group was headed to Bangalore. All of the people we spoke to in Mumbai claimed that there was massive contrast between different regions in India ("many India's inside one India.") The concept was difficult to understand without experiencing it first hand, yet luckily, the program offered the opportunity to visit many regions all throughout India, each with their own unique flavor.
Upon arriving in Bangalore, the contrast to Mumbai was visually evident. In Mumbai, there was nearly no grass or green space whatsoever. Bangalore had vast flower beds, gardens, and unique trees which was not seen at all in Mumbai. A cultural difference between the two cities was that Bangalore is a land of immigrants due to the IT boom in recent years. Because of this "melting pot," Bangalore had the feel of a city in America because it had a Western feel with many diverse cultures and experiences among its citizens. Mumbai is more densely populated and impoverished (with a few notable exceptions) than an American city.
After some minor hotel problems were solved (to be expected on a maiden trip to a foreign land), we took a tour of the famous landmarks throughout Bangalore. The tour included: the big bull temple and Tipu sultan's summer palace. What was evident in the tour was the religious and spiritual history of Bangalore (something I felt was void in Mumbai). Something that stuck out to me was the fact that Tipu's palace (a well-known Islamic leader) placed his residence right next to a beautiful Hindu temple. The visual coexistence of the two religions sharply contradicted the media stories that often peg Muslims and Hindus at odds with each other. This spiritual city, even though I'm not Hindu or Muslim, made an excellent first impression on me. In the religious sense, Bangalore differed from an American city, which was a difference I quickly began to appreciate.
I sent one of my high school friends, born in Bangalore, a picture of the bull temple. It turns out that not only is his grandparents’ house on Big Bull Temple road, he knew the priest in the picture that was standing next to the bull statue. The world sure is a small place after all!
Remembering the cultural and religious aspects of the city made the business side the following day even more impressive. Bangalore is a truly complete city that is full of a booming economy and a healthy emphasis on culture.