Christiane has kindly allowed me to translate her blog entries about her recent trip to India.
I don’t even know where to start. I’m overwhelmed by all the impressions I’ve had. Perhaps I’ll start chronologically. After the short night we went to the Microsoft Research Center, a very modern building with decorated in European fashion. There’s a ramp at the entrance and an accessible restroom on the ground floor (in case anyone’s looking for an accessible toilet in Bangalore). There’s also an elevator, of course. We spent the whole day there, I met lots of nice people and generally had a good time. I get around the city by car with a driver. The other journalists go via minibus (much too high for me to get into). The hotel has no level entrance, but I can get in through the underground garage – providing no one has parked blocking the elevator.
I was also in the inner city of Bangalore. I went out alone to see how far I could get. The main problem is the sidewalks – they are barely navigable and wildly high. It was also raining hard and everything floated away, but I saw the main streets. I always found some spot where the sidewalk was busted and I could get on to the street. A little risky, given the traffic here, but it worked out. The stores all had stairs, but they were selling mostly junk, so I didn’t care.
I have to say, I come across as some sort of alien here. People stare unrestrainedly, piling up in little traffic jams. Cars stop. I’ve heard that disabled people are part of the normal picture here, but I didn’t get that impression. I saw only one disabled man, who was being pushed in a cart by another disabled man. They both looked pitiful. Many people came right up to me and asked me where I was from. Some wanted money, or to sell me some service like shoe-polishing. Overall, people were friendly and I felt perfectly safe. Some spoke to me and said they would pray for me. Whatever, it’s all relative. The people think I’m worse off than they are.
In the evening we had a terrific dinner at the best restaurant in the place. The food tastes wonderful here and I’m having no problem with it. It’s very spicy, even though the Indians tell us they’re making it very mild for us. All day my mouth has been burning, but you get used to it.
Photos to come, once I have a better internet connection. It’s a little hard here.