MG Road area
Bangalore is probably the most modern city in India. Colleagues told me: "Bangalore is not really India" - and I got a very similar impression. In the commercial city centre around Mahatma Gandhi Road (MG Road), there are a lot of expensive boutiques, consumer electronic shops, pubs, fast-food restaurants etc. Lot of people go there on weekends for looking and getting looked at. It even became a trend to go "cruising" in expensively equipped cars and loud music. The girls are looking like directly stepped out of MTV, the boys are dressing up in tight t-shirts, boasting with the results of hard work in the gym.
As Western tourist, you will never feel alone, there is always somebody to talk to - and if it is just to explain a guy that you don't want to buy a genuine Rolex right here at the corner. Or chess, or belts, or feather dusters. I have stopped counting how many genuine Rolexes I would have had now if I had bought one everytime I walked down Brigade Road.
I really liked that bookstore in a road parallel to St.Marks Road. If you just know that you want to get a book - but not fixed on a certain topic or even author: have a look at "Bookshop Premier". It is an incredibly chaotic bookstore stuffed with paper literally up to the ceiling. I got there "Midnight's Children" of Salman Rushdie and "The Stranger" of Albert Camus. Be flexible. And cautious when pulling books out of the piles.
On the first glance, Bangalore seems to lack typical Indian atmosphere. But outside MG Road area, there are lot of places where Bangalore is still an Indian city - with all the things backpack travellers like. Especially the City Market (or "Krishnarajendra (KR) Market") is a typically chaotic and vivid place.
There are fruits and vegetables to buy, flowers, spices, nuts, textiles, colour powder, toothbrushes, frying pans, pictures of gods in golden frames, and much more. No matter when you go there, it will always be a good rush. Some streets further north, there is one road full of tailor shops. The tailors have hung out colourful silk samples everywhere.
Bangalore, the "Garden City". Compared to other Indian cities (especially of that size, 6 million inhabitants), Bangalore has got really a lot of parks, trees and other greenery. Mostly, these parks are occupied by cricket playing groups of youngsters - or, like the botanical garden Lalbagh, by couples. In Indian society it is not usual to show any affection on the streets. But nowadays these social rules are breaking up - and you will see couples sitting under a tree and holding hands.
It can be a strategically good decision to sit down next to a couple (or even better: between two of them) - in reasonable distance of course. Then the probability shoots up to 10% that you can read five pages in a row without being asked from which country you are. No, jokes apart, it is very nice how friendly, polite and interested Indians are. I had so many of nice small conversations, with all kinds of people. It is just sometimes that it gets a bit too much. The touristic highlight of the botanical garden is the marvelous "Snow-White-and-the-Seven-Dwarfs" watch.
Bangalore, the "Cyber City". Together with Hyderabad (Andra Pradesh), Bangalore is IT capital of India. The well known "Keonics Electronics City" is a high-tech park about 20km south-west of the city centre. Besides several other companies, Siemens has got a big office building there. In direct neighborhood is Infosys, a very popular and fast growing Indian software company. Other companies like Sun, Oracle and Hewlett Packard have offices in the city itself. You can see huge placards with advertisment of internet companies - and below this a cart pulled by an oxen rattles along. Or small tin signs pinned to garage-like buildings - advertising for "World Class Java" or "ORACLE Certified Training Centre".
Software industry can be a big opportunity for India. Software development does not need expensive investments like in the "Old Economy" for instance. Moreover, the Indian education system is very good, especially in the fields of engineering. The output are well qualified newcomers who seek their chance in software industry. Mostly, the longterm aim is to go abroad for some time. The favourite destinations are US of course, then Singapore and UK. The greencard debate currently led in Germany is needless as hardly any IT professional likes to go to Germany. The major reasons for that are the language barrier (bad English of Germans, no German of Indians) - and the prospect of salary: "If I can get $100,000 per year, why should I take 100,000 Marks?".
On the other hand, people in software business are by far the top earners. The minimum salary for servants and cooks etc. are 700 Rs per month, a beginner's salary of a mechanical engineer is around 5000 Rs per month - and a beginner as software engineer gets 15,000 Rs and more. This increases the already big gap between rich and poor. However, this leads to a general discussion of risks and benefits of globalisation.