Bangalore Bandh

I’ve finally arrived in Bangalore about a week ago. I went directly to Ayurvedagram, about forty minutes outside the city, for a relaxing retreat filled with gorgeous Kerala-style homes (see photo gallery below), where one stays, receives treatment, dines, and does yoga and meditation. It was an amazing way to begin my stay here.

When I returned to Bangalore I decided to venture out in an auto rickshaw by myself to run a few errands and see the city (see photo gallery below). I’m struck by all of the amazing colors surrounding me in people’s clothes and on Hindu temples, of course, but also the colors of homes and other buildings. It is also more green than I had imagined, especially given the size and population density of the city.  As I travel around and through this city most of the land seems to be occupied by either the Indian army (Bangalore was a garrison town for the British when they colonized India) or various foreign (and largely American) churches, which are actively proselytizing Indians, and as a result, are eroding the cultural landscape and traditional practices.  It’s like there are visible remnants from the colonial days of the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. You can see this in various ways just in my neighborhood: the pork shop across the street from the mosque; the use of names like Nazareth (see photo below with name on house gate), Hebron, and even shalom, by evangelical Christians. I think I’ve seen even more churches in the past couple of days than I did when I lived in Accra, Ghana, which is a bit surprising.

Since I moved into my new home, I have spent time getting settled, unpacking. But my first full day in my new house, Saturday, was also a day that I could not leave the house because there was a bandh (or a strike) in Bangalore over water issues between Karnataka (the state where I now call home) and the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.  Just like in my former home countries of Palestine (see MECA’s Maia Project on this), Jordan, and Lebanon, India, especially where I am located, has serious water issues. Vandana Shiva’s book Water Wars details some of these problems, and here she is in the film Blue Gold talking about water issues related to another problem, which is Coca-Cola’s pollution of water sources in India:

Karnataka seems to be doing some interesting things to combat this problem of water shortage, including legislating that people have to have some kind of rain water harvesting system in their homes. We have one here. But even that is not enough. There are several systems (in fact each sink has three sets of faucets) that are used in the house to access water from the ground water system (where our rain harvesting feeds into) or the delivered water to the tank, which only happens three days per week. It’s a complicated system that I haven’t fully figured out yet.

Yesterday I had lunch with my family at Cholayil Sanjeevanam, which is an amazing Kerala-based Ayurvedic restaurant. If you click the above link and go to their Facebook page you’ll see photographs of the amazing lunch, called rajakeeyam, but the image below gives you an idea of the menu and the rationale behind it.

After the fabulous, delicious lunch we went to the Sunday farmer’s market, which is quite large (more photos in gallery below) and fruits and vegetables we brought home were divine.

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