Bengaluru. For as long as I could remember, this city had conjured up vibrant images in my mind. Add to it the lure of budget shopping and I was sold. Even though many people complained that if we did not know the language, we would be fleeced by the shop-owners, we were not deterred. So, when a couple of close friends who were settled in Bengaluru invited us, we just could not control ourselves. We just had to go.
As we got into the Bengaluru Express I was reminded of the lovely picture of the city which was painted in Anjaly Menon's blockbuster 'Bangalore Days'. Our friend Raji Krishna who was settled in Bengaluru for more than five years arrived to pick us up at the Krishnarajapuram railway station. And just as we stepped out of the station, we were enveloped by auto and taxi drivers. They asked for Rs 300 for a mere one-and-a-half kilometer and we were shocked. Raji intervened and managed to reduce the fare to Rs 200 and off we went to our lodge which was located near the station.
During the ride, we started grousing in Malayalam, confident that the driver would not understand; but, lo and behold, he turned back and told us, in chaste Malayalam, with a smile, that things are like that in that city. He told us that he belonged to Kozhikode and had been in Bengaluru for 25 years.
We had decided, even before we started, to visit the commercial street, a paradise for buyers. Raji told us that it would be easier to travel by Metro. We took a bus from K R Puram to Baipanahalli from where we took the Metro. We were in awe of it. As we took the tokens and waited for the Metro, Raji told us that there was one train every 10 minutes. It took only 14 minutes to cover a distance that would have taken hours if we had traveled by road. My little one, Bhadra was very curious when she heard the name of stations being announced on the Metro.
As we got down at the MG Road station, we could find how important commerce was in this city. There were vendors everywhere. The walls on the streets were covered with posters and advertisements for all types of merchandise. Glamorous and colorful displays with all sorts of bottles filled with colored waters caught the eye at Friendship Point. Coffee and ice cream were available if you paid something extra. We enjoyed the sights and sounds as we walked slowly to Sivaji Nagar. Little Ardra started falling asleep and we decided to take a break from roaming around.
We got into a hotel which luckily belonged to a Malayali from Palakkad. He personally recommended Malabar Biriyani, Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Tikka for us. It made us feel at home instantly. After that, we set off to explore the shopping options in Sivaji Nagar and Commercial Street.
Our aim was shopping and shop we did. Prices in Sivaji Nagar tend to be a tad higher than in Commercial Street. And if you love to haggle, you can, at both places. Maybe, that is why some quickly scribbled 'Fixed rate' boards have cropped up at both places.
When we left, we complacently felt that we had exhibited all our arts and crafts at bargaining. We had come with one handbag each but left with as many shopping bags as each of us could carry. Commercial Street fully deserved its name.