Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

Indira arrives in India

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I left DC and arrived in India on August 22, 2011 after taking two eight-hour flights back-to-back with a stop in Frankfurt.  Once I walked out of airport there was the driver standing outside of Bangalore (Bengaluru) with a sign with my name on it.  This was different.  In the past I usually have family receive me at the airport or I’m traveling with family to India.  The driver was taking me to Anjali and Vishal’s home, friends from DC, who now live in the suburbs of Bangalore.  They live in a exclusive suburb called Palm Meadows in Whitefield.  I felt like I was in California as each Palm tree is aligned perfectly along the road in front of the houses.  This is where a lot of the big-wigs who have high positions with India’s high-tech companies live.  It’s a mixed community of ex-pats, Europeans, Americans and more.  There’s a club house that has all kinds of facilities, i.e. at least five pools, a couple tennis courts, a spa, a salon, fancy restaurants, a gym and so much more.  It feels like it’s a secluded area for people, who live in India, but don’t really want to experience India.  They just want to stay in a confined environment and reap the benefits of exclusive housing in great weather.  I never thought I would see this kind of a neighborhood in India.  You don’t even feel like you’ve left the U.S., if you go for a walk in the morning.  People are wearing shorts and are out jogging.  The houses have beautiful gardens and lawns with garages. The school buses come to the neighborhood and take the kids to best international schools in Bangalore.  Coming to Anjali and Vishal’s home was the right way for me to enter India, so I can slowly make transition into my life here for the next four and half months.  I can’t imagine doing this without their support.  I know that I had the option to have an unknown driver receive me at the airport and take me to a hotel.  But that did not make sense to me, since my safety is my number one concern.  I’ve been lucky, I had Anjali and Vishal’s driver receive me at the airport, and I found a place to stay before I arrived.  A close friend of my mom has a room I can rent.  I haven’t been to India for four and half years (January 2007) and that time I was traveling with my mom.  Prior to that was Dec. 2004, and I was traveling with friends working on a documentary.  I don’t have any extended family in Bangalore, so I’m really grateful that I could stay with them for a few days and spend my birthday with them on Aug. 24.  This was the first time I spent my birthday in India, having dinner at a popular Italian restaurant in the area.