The journey of Bangalore city is best understood by the change in its monikers. From Pensioners Paradise 20 years ago, it is now called India’s Silicon Valley. Nearby Mysore was the city from where the royal family of Karnataka ruled. So Bangalore doesn’t have grand historical architecture à la Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai. But the game changer was Infosys and Wipro, the pioneers of the Indian tech industry setting up shop in the 80s forever transforming this laidback city. With a high percentage of tech industry folks traveling overseas on work, visitors will find it easy to deal with locals given the familiarity with Western customs. Bangalore is a cosmopolitan city with many people including tuk-tuk drivers familiar with English. You will find global high street brands and designer labels here. But don’t be fooled. If you go to the older areas of the city, you will still see traditional markets, temples bustling with devotees and colonial houses tucked away in quiet streets.
Bangalore also has another moniker; Garden City, because of the many green spaces ranging from kerchief sized local parks to the glorious Cubbon Park. Main roads have a canopy of overlapping trees due to the avenue trees planted a century ago. Rapid urbanization on the outskirts is reducing the green cover but it still remains one of the prettiest cities in India.
The weather is generally sunny and pleasant with average temperature ranging between 30C and 20C. The hottest months are April and May when it can cross 35C in the day. Bangalore has a long rainy season from June to October. Luckily the norm is short showers that don’t go beyond 30 minutes. The best time to visit is from October to early March. Carry a light jacket or shawl to go out in the evening if you are visiting from December through February.
Local Business Etiquette and Customs
Dress Codes In India, how you dress is an indicator of socio-economic status. While dressing conservatively, depending on your industry of course, helps to keep the focus on work, you don’t have to dress dowdily. Others in the meeting will be subtly assessing you through your clothes and accessories. But if you are in tech, the tech industry in Bangalore just like the original Silicon Valley is typically informal when it comes to dressing and hierarchies.
- Don’t use your left hand to handle food, accept a business card or pass anything.
- If you plan to visit any religious place, ask about appropriate clothing including head covering. In general for such places, leave your shoes outside, cover your head, knees and arms.
- Smoking is not allowed in public other than in designated areas in restaurants.
- It is now legally allowed for women and children to use the restroom of any hotel or restaurant without having a meal there. Clean public loos are non-existent.
- Service charge usually 10% is included in the bill. You don’t need to tip extra unless you want to.
Travel and Transport
The Bangalore Metro is good but offers limited coverage. Uber and Ola are both app based taxi hailing services that are generally safe and convenient to use. Ask your hotel to recommend a trusty cab service in case you want to hire a car for the day. Renting a car is not recommended given the chaotic traffic. Tuk-tuks are fine for short distances but walk away if he asks for a high amount or is not clear about your destination.
Budget an additional 20 minutes for every trip in the city especially if you are heading to a meeting. The unpredictable traffic can affect your schedule. Try to cluster meetings in one area if possible to save on travel time and tedium of sitting in slow traffic.
If you are here for a while, download Zomato app, which lets you find restaurants and bars around you along with reviews and menu. Swiggy is a trusted food delivery app.
Modern Indian Food – I love the food at Permit Room, unabashedly South Indian but with a twist. Eat Village meets local ingredients at the stellar Toast and Tonic where the gin and flavoured tonic water choices are fabulous with ingredients like rose petals, cucumber, rosemary. Farzi Café is a crowd favourite with its modern interpretation of Indian classics like biryani, chaat and more.
Traditional South Indian food –Idly-vada-chutney washed down with filter coffee at a stand-up joint is a tasty and quick food experience. The best places are Brahmins in Basavangudi and CTR in Malleshwaram but you can find one in every neighbourhood like the western equivalent of a coffee shop. For a sit down experience, try the venerated Mavalli Tiffin Room near Lalbagh or Sattvam on Sankey Road for vegetarian food and Karavalli for authentic coastal cuisine.
For restaurant location, reviews, menus and price information, look up http://www.zomato.com
Bars – Bangalore was the first city in India to have a microbrewery, TOIT that remains a über popular watering hole. Try Biere Club, Arbor Brewing, and Windmill Craftworks if you love craft beers. Other Bangalore weekend hotspots are Monkey Bar, High Lounge and Loft38.
Indiranagar is a popular neighborhood for restaurants and bars offering varied cuisines.
Beauty and Fitness
Most hotels have private gyms and salons. It is not difficult to find a salon anywhere in the city. www.athomediva.com is a new service that brings the salon home. I find it quite good and very convenient.
If you are staying close to the heart of the city, you can go for a morning walk/run in Cubbon Park.
Bangalore has quite a few quirky home décor and crafts stores where you can buy high quality and well-priced gifts and souvenirs. Let me know if you need recommendations!
Women’s Network and Events
The Friday Convent, FICCI FLO. Look up www.eventshigh.com for event listings.
Safety and Emergency Services
Bangalore is an odd mixture of liberal and conservative. If you are in “town” areas like MG Road, Indiranagar, Koramangala, you can dress as you like. If you go to the older parts of the city or to the traditional markets, it is advisable to dress conservatively. Wear trousers or a long skirt. If you are heading home late at night, make sure you have someone dropping you or use a trusted cab service. In general, avoid going into very crowded areas.