An Eight-Year-Old’s Guide to Bangalore
I’ve often thought about a family holiday to India, but in my mind it always went more like this, mainly because one of our children hates noise and commotion, having his picture taken, being jostled by crowds, and eating spicy food. By contrast to some of the better-known tourist areas, the mountainous region of Sikkim – a recent addition to the Indian nation – is a peaceful corner, heavily influenced by Nepalese culture. Unfortunately from the point of view of my child’s delicate disposition, it is not where my husband’s colleagues are getting married later this year, so our first trip to India will instead be to bustling, cosmopolitan Bangalore, and I’ve been wondering how best to prepare us for the experience.
Well today, A came to visit. A is an eight-year-old girl who lives nearby and comes knocking on our door for a play when she has nothing better to do. As it turns out, her family make an annual journey to Bangalore to spend Diwali with the cousins, and she was therefore able to prepare my son for his journey both accurately and comprehensively, with the following advice:
- Most people in Bangalore are children, and they are everywhere, and they spend all their time playing together.
- The city is full of playgrounds. It is just basically one playground after another. They all have swings and monkey bars which help you grow taller, and they are very good for playing hiding and seek, and especially for hiding from your parents when they tell you it’s time to go home.
- All the people there are strictly vegetarian. The food is not very spicy, but it is very oily. A typical dish would be deep fried whole green chillies. (“Whole?” I asked. “As in, with the seeds inside? That’s not very spicy?” “It’s deep fried,” she emphasised, as if that renders it suitable for even the least adventurous palate.) They also eat a lot of sweets.
- The best thing about Bangalore is the firecrackers. Firecrackers everywhere, all the time. In the streets, from the rooftops, everywhere. All the time.
The good news is that P’s now raring to go on this trip. I’m not sure I should dust my hands and pronounce my work done, however. I might consult a few people from other age groups, just to be on the safe side.