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#InternInIndia: First Impressions & Mosque Road Food Festival

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Lancaster graduate Yasmin Jaunbocus is interning at The Times of India and New Indian Express in Bangalore, in the south of the country. Here she shares her adventures with TNS...

On arriving in Bangalore, I was pleasantly surprised. Far from the slums of Danny Boyle’s description, this city is vibrant, modern and bustling.

Office workers, auto rickshaws and police whistles fill the streets and people are clad in Western clothes and more traditional fare alike walking with purpose down Brigade Road. Brigade Road itself is a buzzing metropolis with western brands like Krispy Kreme and Mcdonalds shoulder to shoulder with glittering sari shops and street vendors.

So far, my first impressions of the city have been all positive and more than a little surprising.

I’m not saying I wasn’t shocked though. In the few days I’ve been here I’ve learnt that for some people the world is their toilet. Walking down the busy streets, I hardly expected a man to get his you know what out and start peeing. I’ve taken to avoiding all puddles now…

In other news I’ve learnt that Indian men are world leaders in moustache growing and time isn’t really of the essence here. Top tip: five minutes never means five minutes. Be prepared to wait.

I also started my first day at work at The Indian Express. Whilst in England I’d arrive sweaty, bleary eyed and a bit flustered for 9am; here people amble in at 11. Today I started at 3! My first assignment involved going to a new store opening for The Organic World. After looking at all the very stylishly packaged products – think a Selfridges and Holland and Barrat hybrid - Chef Rohan cooked us up some delicious morsels with the organic foods. And it’s my job to write about it!

Everyone speaks such good English and is so focused too. I was a little embarrassed after a few people at the store opening asked for my business card (everyone has one here, they’re the most fashionable accessory) but what would put on mine? Yasmin Jaunbocus, Unemployed? 

Anyway, since I don’t start until three I’m off sightseeing.

***

Tonight, me and a few other interns decided to go to Mosque Road Food Festival in the Muslim quarter of Bangalore. We’d heard good things about the street food and I was eager to confirm the rumours.

The food festival is held in celebration of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, however it wasn’t only the Muslims that flocked to the steaming, smoking stalls, but Hindus,  Christians and foodists of all colours and creeds, jostling and squeezing to sample crispy samosas, grilled meats and fresh lime juice. You know the food is going to be good when the city comes to stand still traffic with drivers hypnotised by the smell of biriyani and grilled kebabs.

The smells bombarding our senses were just incredible. Forgetting my fears of Delhi Belly, I threw caution to the wind and ordered three of everything. The chicken wraps with wafer thin rotis and a smoky sauce were moorish. In fact, when the guys went back for more, there was no chicken left!  The guys sampled camel and scoffed down barbecued prawns and I just kept going back for seconds. And thirds! I had a gorgeous creamy almond dessert served in a dinky clay pot and a refreshing rose flavoured milk drink called Falooda. Perfect after a little spice.

The smells of cooking meat, stall vendors clamoring for your custom and the brilliant jewels of dried fruit and Amber dates glittered under the imposing views of the mosque. The atmosphere was joyous and animated with it being the day before Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan.

Positively full, and if honest,  feeling a little bit sick, we waddled towards a ‘rick’ to get back to the hotel. Being five of us, we’d have to get two - but we’re forgetting we’re in India now; there are no rules. All five of us piled into the back of the auto rickshaw and headed back.

In the afterglow of samosa sedation I only went and booked two more trips away. So this weekend I’ll be off to Mysore and next week, the North of India!

Namaste for now.

Read more from Yasmin here.




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