From apprehension to appreciation

I never liked the idea of travelling to or living in Bangalore. From what I had heard, the city is so full of corporates and colleges, with traffic unmoving and pollution unforgiving.

However, ask anyone who’s lived in Bangalore for more than a year and the first thing they’d say is how social the city is. For a lover of the all-night dancing, all-day drinking, and endless cash flow, Bangalore is paradise.

And so when I had to be in Bangalore for a business trip, I wasn’t too excited. Sure, I thought, I’ll have great food and maybe steal a drink. Aside that, I didn’t know what to expect from Bangalore — a city of people from all over the nation, mingling over south Indian breakfasts and east Indian lunches.

I was scheduled to fly with a colleague at 7:30 in the morning, reaching Bangalore in an hour, and begin work at 10. We were attending a job fair (which is a story by itself) and time was paramount. Everything started out well: I met my colleague at the airport well ahead of time but as we checked in our baggage and went up to the boarding gate, a cold voice spoke over our heads: A woman announced that our flight was “delayed due to technical issues” and would depart, instead, at 9 am.

Airport waiting lounges are the worst, I realised as I slopped over a tiny chair, stifling my yawns, trying and failing — again and again — to connect to the airport wifi. I was growing horny and the food counters at the airport stores required a senseless tongue.

By the time we landed in Bangalore, we had already missed the start of the conference. Plus, we had another forty-five minute drive to the venue from the airport. Sucking up disappointment, I looked around the airport.

Even at that moment of annoyance and irritation, I couldn’t help but notice how chilly Bangalore air felt against my skin. Even though monsoon had just begun, Chennai weather still lingered in summer. Bangalore, on the other hand, had taken to the rainy season in far more enthusiastic manner, with temperatures as low as 22 degrees. For someone who had flown in from 32 degrees, the first breeze of Bangalore was miraculous. In spite of my apprehension, I smiled. And hugged myself a little. What a great climate for a nature walk or a mountain hike!

Just then a cab pulled up in front of us. We had to get to work. We drove along without much traffic — it was a Saturday morning with motorcyclists heading towards the nearby Nandi Hills. As we rode alongside the bikers, I felt a pang of jealousy. I would’ve given anything to be on one of those bikes myself. Alas, while they rode on leaving me almost turned on, our driver turned left taking us towards work.

It was the most hectic day of my life. Between the moment we entered at around eleven to the minute we left at around half past six, we didn’t have a single break. We were spoke with potential over-enthusiastic candidates all day. I could neither talk to my colleagues or walk up to them. The morning went by without us noticing it, as did the afternoon and evening. We were aware we were entitled to lunch, tea, coffee, and biscuits, but we weren’t aware when it was time for lunch, tea, and biscuits.

At the end of all, I was too tired to do anything other than kick off my shoes and cuddle up in bed. But my mood changed when we entered our hotel. If it hadn’t been a business trip, I wouldn’t have been able to afford such a four-star luxury hotel. I gawked at the interior of the reception, awed by the sculptures, curved cushions, and the 42-inch television.

Walking into my room, I had to make an effort to behave. As soon as the usher left, I let my glee loose and my jaw drop. It was ultimate sophistication — I had crossed the border from having what I needed to having what I didn’t need, but want.

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A gorgeous double-bed, a small chair with a stool to prop up my legs, a working desk with a comfortable chair, a personal 42-inch television, and a minibar with soft drinks, chips, and a Snickers bar all well above MRP and exclusive of taxes. I knew better than to touch any of those — but I still had a good time caressing the luxury I knew I didn’t need. And when I turned to the bathroom, I saw my wildest dreams realised: a glass bathroom with fancy fittings holding organic soaps.

I had forgotten the growling in my stomach until my colleague called me for dinner. Not in the mood to head out, we headed inside the hotel restaurant instead. Having already seen the reception and my own room, the restaurant wasn’t much of a surprise.

menu
Even the menu had to be artsy.

I scanned the menu many times before deciding to let myself go, and pick a splurge. I decided on salmon wondering how well it’d pair with a beer. I spent about two hours at dinner, nibbling my salmon, biting into sourdough bread, sipping ice-cold beer, and conversing with my colleague. We spoke about work, and yet I was surprised how enjoyable a hearty meal made our conversation.

When I went back to my room, my double-bed beckoned me. I turned away from it — just for a while, I told myself — as I cuddled up in the cushioned chair with a book. I had to leave the following afternoon, and so I wanted to experience every part of the room I had. Reading a wonderful book, I didn’t know when I fell asleep. When I jerked awake, it was 2 am, and I moved over to the bed. Cuddling the soft white pillows, heavy quilts blanketing me, I bid Bangalore a good night and lost myself under the covers

I know business trips aren’t meant to be fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

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