When we arrived in India at the end of July, the Canadian International School had an
apartment waiting for us. It was a great comfort to have such an easy transition. And Nagarjuna Meadows had many wonderful perks: it was close to Tom’s work (until the fence was patched and construction projects started, he had a 25 minute walk to work), lots of CIS teachers lived there so we had instant community, the grounds were really lovely, and Melissa enjoyed daily yoga in the club house for 1000 INR/month (about $15). It also had some deficits: the neighborhood of Yelahanka is in the far north of Bengaluru (which is convenient for the airport and absolutely nothing else); the gym equipment in the clubhouse was old and often not working; our apartment windows looked directly at another, taller building so we literally couldn’t see the sky while inside; and a crack on the outside of the building made mold crawl up our walls in the rainy season. We wanted to move.
In November we started dreaming about a move, in January we started looking in earnest, and on April 7 we actually moved. Things may move slowly here, but they do
move. Our new home is that dream come true. We are now living in an area called Malleshwaram West, adjacent to Malleshwaram, a neighborhood Melissa fell in love with on one of her tours with Five Oceans. Our apartment complex is part of a larger complex that includes the World Trade Center, the Sheraton, and the Orion Mall, all arranged around a lovely man-made lake with a huge tree and evening fountains. We now have easy access to movies, delicious restaurants, a grocery store, and, one of the great rarities in Bengaluru, a wine store with a stable, cool temperature. We also have the neighborhood of Malleshwaram with its markets and temples and local charm just a short walk away. And we have a metro stop just a block away – on the clean and pleasant metro, we can get anywhere around downtown.
Everything about our new space is an improvement. Before moving to India, we thought we needed a separate guest room and office, but it really meant that we never set foot in one of our rooms. With this move, the guest room is also the office, which works great for us. Our 2-bedroom/2-bath home is smaller but more appropriate. Particularly now that we can take advantage of our outdoor space.
Oh, the balconies! Instead of sitting on a deck where we were staring at a humongous building that we could barely see over the solid railing (we never did this – that is not a
pleasant thing to do), our 16th floor balconies in the living room and bedroom now look out over all of Bengaluru. There is a constant breeze, and very impressive birds (hawks? eagles?) are constantly circling just off our decks. At night, the city lights are beautiful, and last night we even watched fireworks in the distance. We have new outdoor furniture and anticipate spending many evenings emulating our good friends and Portland neighbors Jim and Shirley, sitting outside with a glass of wine and soaking in the world.
We just keep grinning at each other and saying, “This is where we live. I love it here so much!” Sure, there will continue to be challenges, but we’ll weather them much more easily from this new happy haven.
As an added bonus, our friend Kaveri gifted us some of her less-used furniture. It is simply lovely and far more comfortable. We were able to sell back the furniture we bought in our first few months here, and the rest of our unused furniture belonged to the school, anyway, so they were able to pick it up and store it for the next batch of new teachers.
The move was made all the better by the school and the crew of bus drivers who came to move us. They came with two small (by American standards, pretty big by Indian standards) trucks and a crew of eight. They shrink wrapped all of our furniture to move safely, and, despite the stop at Kaveri’s house, had us completely moved in by around 2:00, leaving us time to feel close to unpacked by the time we went out for our celebratory dinner at Indian Kitchen in the courtyard outside the Orion Mall. Using the CIS drivers also meant that the process of planning the move was handled primarily by our facilities manager Prem, who handled so much of the weird beauraucratic snafus that we had almost no worries going in to the day.
The thing about Yelahanka is that the potential is there. The town is clearly a victim of Bengaluru’s rapid, unplanned expansion. A good example is New Town, the portion of Yelahanka nearest that first apartment. It was once a really well planned community — the roads are laid out in a fan, with a school at the center. There are green spaces throughout, and every service one might want is there. The older part of Yelahanka, once you get of the highway built for the airport, is also a cute community focused around textile mills, a train station, and the main gate to the lake. Unfortunately, most of what we experienced was the highway and its piles of garbage and terrible and nonexistent sidewalks. It took an effort to get to the cute parts, and when we did, it only served to remind us that we were not fulfilling the potential of this amazing city.