When you take time off work, one thing you want to do is to explore the world – go to parts of it that you haven’t been to before.
The original idea for this week was to travel – we wanted to do an impromptu road trip starting the past Sunday, booking only one hotel at a time on each day. As it happened, on Friday, daughter’s school sent an email that offline classes would begin on Monday, so we didn’t travel.
Instead, I decided to do a “staycation” – continue to be off work but be at home and vegetate. However, not going anywhere didn’t seem right. The whole point of taking time off is to go see parts of the world you haven’t seen before. And so I decided to set aside today for this purpose, apart from meeting people. Thanks to the pandemic and the latest round of lockdowns and school closures, I hadn’t seen too many people outside my family since the beginning of January.
And so I set off east, to parts that I hadn’t really seen or explored in a very long time.
First stop was Bellandur, to meet a friend who I hadn’t seen in over two years, and who’s recently moved back to “Bangalore”. We were to meet at a sort of a mall that’s part of this absolutely massive office complex.
Despite all the metro construction going on, I got to Bellandur in quick time (the only wait being at Madivala checkpost). However, getting to Bellandur was only half the story. To get to the “bay” (as the mall was called) I had to turn off outer ring road, and into what felt like a strange road, with random barricades and private security personnel every 100 metres. Both sides were office complexes.
Finally, at the end of the road (2-3 km in), I found the “bay”. It’s a sort of strip mall with a food court, and coffee and tea shops, and even an Apple reseller store. Maybe because most offshored businesses (which largely populate this area) haven’t got back to office yet, the place was largely empty. I had a bit of an embarrassing incident, though, as rather confusing signage meant I had opened the door to the women’s restroom (a janitor stopped me).
I found the entire area sort of unreal and weird – even if the metro comes to ORR, it is going to be a massive pain to get to these offices and apartment blocks (and “mall”). There is no sense of redundancy in the roads. Security personnel every 100 metres is disconcerting.
Next on the agenda was Windmills Craftworks in Whitefield, where I was meeting someone for lunch. It was going to be my first time there, so I simply followed Google Maps.
I was pleasantly surprised that this drive took only 25 minutes, again because most offshored staff have not returned to office. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a reasonably wide road that connects somewhere in the middle of nowhere in outer ring road to Graphite India.
The location of the brewery is a bit strange – being located in a middle floor of a commercial building! The person I was meeting is a Whitefield local, and the thing that invariably happens in a microbrewery happens – he ran into others he knew. The food was good. I didn’t have much of the beer (since I was driving), but the IPA sampler was good as well.
The valet was strange. When I got off the car, I was asked for my phone number and name, and got an SMS. When I was done, I simply clicked a link sent in the same SMS – by the time I came down, the car had arrived.
On another note, I was thinking of all the places that were collecting my number – the valet, the restaurant above, some random shop I’d been to yesterday, etc. I was wondering what can be done with all this data. At one level, it scared me. At another, I thought it would be exciting to work with all this data and see what can be done with it!
- Sheraton Whitefield
I was meeting someone at the coffee shop here. Being tucked away inside Prestige Shantiniketan, the hotel was a bit hard to find, and given that offices in the area have not yet been staffed, the hotel was empty.
The hotel seemed nice enough and the coffee was good. And there was very little traffic in the usually rather busy road in front of it. I don’t expect this to last once people are back in their offices.
The way back was largely uneventful. Again I trusted Google, which took me on yet another random road to get from whitefield back to ORR. This was narrower and involved going through some rural areas.
Apart from some sections where the metro was being constructed, the drive back through ORR into Koramangala (I was meeting yet another friend after getting back to town) was quick and peaceful. And I noticed that the one-way systems in Hosur Road and Sarjapur Road have been reversed yet again. If there is a road (or pair of roads) deserving to be a “Tughlaq” in Bangalore, it’s this system. I’ve lost count of the number of times they’ve made these roads one-way and two-way (going back to at least 2004).
So the “exploring new areas” part of my week-long vacation is done. I want to step up on meeting people, but I’ll possibly do it on “home ground” in the days to come.
PS: The general convention I’ve settled on in life is that when one person travels to meet the other, the latter pays for the food / drink / coffee. As it happens, EVERYONE I met today offered to pay, and I simply let them without once insisting that I take the bill or we split it.