I’ve met a surprisingly large number of people who have no desire to go to India. Not even for a relatively pampered corporate business trip. Do they fear the country? The people? The food? Maybe they think it’s too spicy? Or maybe it’s just the fear of the unknown? Perhaps my photography has opened me up to more experiences. Maybe, without photography, I would be more like my colleagues in the United States.
I’m certainly lucky that I got to travel business class, which makes the long flight bearable, even interesting. After arriving at a modern airport which looks even slicker than Austin’s, I took an hour mini-van ride to the hotel. That ride, as I explained yesterday, was interesting to a visual observer/photographer like me, but would just be a slightly bumpier version of a trip in the United States. Once in the confines of a modern western style hotel, like the Aloft (part of the Marriott Starwood chain), life in India is not much different from any other modern country.
One difference I’ve noticed in nicer hotels is the metal detector and scan that you go through at the entrance. A precaution, no doubt, but keep in mind that this is not Syria or Afghanistan. There are no wars going on. In fact, with the prevalence of gun violence in America, I wonder which country is more dangerous, India or the United States?
The Aloft hotel, where I stayed, is part of a corporate park of multinational companies. Nearly half appeared to be Cisco (who makes networking equipment). There were other big corporations represented as well as smaller companies renting out parts of office buildings. Because Bangalore is the world’s Information Technology hub, you see a lot of big, recognizable corporate names.
Here, you get a perspective of the corporate park and the short five-minute walk that took me from the hotel to the company I was visiting. The buildings on the right are all Cisco offices. The white and red building on the left is the Aloft Hotel. I was visiting a smaller company, not Cisco, located on the other side of the street.
If you wanted to have a safe and boring visit to India, all you have to do is stay here. You can walk from the hotel to the office — getting only a small glimpse of life in another country. You can eat American food or toned-down Indian food in the hotel restaurant.
This is not a criticism of the hotel or this industrial development. They are actually quite nice. Rather, if you are going to travel to the other side of the world, why confine yourself to something that looks amazingly like your own country.
As you suspected, as a street photographer, I certainly ventured out of this place to see what the real India is like. Stay tuned for a more realistic view of life, outside the corporate park.
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