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8.2.14

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Vidhana_Soudha_sunset.jpgFirst and formost, Bangalore is different from cities in USA. In Bangalore, only 30-40% of people are originally from Bangalore. In that way, it is probably more cosmopolitan than New York. You will be either annoyed with such diversified cultures in one city or will enjoy the opportunity to be curious. Either ways, you can't ignore it. If you are prone to cultural shock, don't bother to stay for extended periods of time. But keeping an open mind will take you places.

  • We don't need meat at every meal (if at all)
  • How to cook with spices other than salt and pepper
  • That vegetables can be delicious!
  • Lentils and beans can be used in a variety of ways and taste great
  • Making home-made food is better than going for fast-food or buying pre-packaged foods all the time
  • Eating with your hands can be fun!
  • That India's tea will always be better than America's hands down (again the spices thing)
  • That eating as a family helps create a healthy family
  • A lot of things that we buy in the store can easily be made at home, such as yogurt, cheese, bread (roti), etc.
  • How to conserve water and waste less in general.
  • For us, you are rich (that's why we are doing business, right?).
  • People are generally friendly and helpful. I guess you've already heard about this.
  • You don't have to bring anti-venom packs. More people die in road accidents than from snake bites.
  • Same thing about terrorist attacks.
  • We don't put a yellow flower garland the moment you get out of the Airport
  • Bangalore's tuktuk/ricks drivers are very opportunistic. So, to be sane, call a taxi that gives printed bills. Try Meru Taxi. They are not the cheapest, but is more reliable. Again, if you still want to try tuktuk, please do. But ask in advance how much the trip is gonna cost. Get into a brief agreement with the driver before starting the journey.
  • We don't call it tuktuk, we call it 'auto' :-)
  • We have powercuts!
  • Don't believe the GDP rise, India is not really a wealthy country. You will see traces of poverty. Our infrastructure and related facilities may not be like in the US. That's just common sense chapter #1.
  • There will be beggars and they may approach you. If you want to give them money, it's fine. If you don't want to, it's fine too. Just tell them on the face 'No'. (this may sound cruel, but actually it's not)
  • The crime rate is low. Don't even bother about it.
  • Stay in a good hotel. Most of the 3+ star hotels have toilet papers and stuff. I am sure a similar hotel room in SFO will cost a lot more than Bangalore's. Many serve american breakfast too (the one from Oberoi is fantastic) (More: Bengaluru, Karnataka, India: Which are the best places for breakfast in Bangalore? ). If this doesn't work for you, go ahead and search in Airbnb. There are a number of American hosts in Bangalore.
  • Most of the business houses are very far away from the International airport. So, staying close to airport mostly don't make sense. 
  • Not all of us have a thing for nightlife - especially going out alone. There are cultural reasons for it. But I know this is very important to you. So, take the initiative in this case - inquire with your team who's in for it.
  • Just in-case if you don't know, Bangalore has the largest number of Pubs in India (they close early everynight, unfortunately)
  • Unlike other metros such as Mumbai, public transport will not be available after 11 PM (depending on the area mostly). So, arrange taxis if you stay up late somewhere.
  • Food. Heavens! This is one reason why you should visit Bangalore. American, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Middle-Eastern, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Mexican, Tibetan, Afghanistani, Korean - you name it. Cuisines from world over! Not to mention hundreds of varieties of Indian food from all over the country. You will find Taco Bell, KFC, Pizzahut, McDonalds, Au Bon Pain, Costa & Barista too.
  • Don't boast that you can eat spicy food. Most of the people who say this underestimate Indian food. Whenever I believed those who told me this, we had trouble.
  • Again, if you know you don't like spicy food, avoid Andhra, Punjabi & Kerala food (I will have to sympathize with you for not able to try them though). This is just a general rule, there are exceptions. Try varieties like Gujarati which is mostly not spicy and will have more items in the meal so you will have options.
  • If you want sushi, there are some good places in Church street (I've just heard about them, never tried myself) 
  • If you are going to a small restaurant, you may not find proper cutlery that you are used to. I also have done the mistake of taking an american to a traditional Tamil restaurant. Your attempt to eat rice with hand will shed all your energy. So, ask in advance for the fork and knife if you need. On the other hand, attacking dosa with your fork will be equally exhausting.
  • You don't have to worry much about table manners other than the bare minimum toast. And don't expect so much from them either.
  • Buy bottled water. It will give you atleast psychological reason to feel safe. Don't assume food from McD/KFC is safer than the regular restaurant. Have some amount of pepsi/coke/yogurt daily.
  • A large number of Indians will treat you as a true guest. They don't like the idea of you splitting the restaurant bill. If you have such a friend, don't argue much but treat him/her equally next day (probably some other way?)
  • If you are visiting someone's house, you can buy some gifts. Some sweets will be pretty good fit. Try Kanti Sweets, A2B or Anand Sweets. If you are buying anything to take back home, buy properly packaged sweets or you may have trouble at the airport.
  • A large portion of people actually eat with both hands (especially those who eat roti/naan) So, don't worry about such stuff.
  • We have 30+ varieties of Dosas (like thinner pancake) & more varieties of Rice Biriyanis. Try atleast one or two.
    You can also try Pav Bhaji & Vada Paav which is a distant cousin of Burger :-)
  • In local restaurants, Coffee means coffee+milk. Tea will also will have milk unless you tell them.
  • Restaurants will home deliver, too. Try http://www.justeat.in
  • Not all restaurants serve meat. Meat is mostly chicken, mutton & lamb. Beef is rare.
  • Bengali & Kerala restaurants are famous for their seafood.
  • We honk mercilessly. Our road manners is slightly better than the cows you  frequently see on the roads.  Now, do us a favor, tell your friend that he doesn't have to honk that much (this is better charity than giving money to a beggar).
  • Crossing roads is going to be such a difficult affair.
  • The humidity is quite low in Bangalore. The weather is over all much stable and better than other cities. Off late, this not exactly the case. Summers are hotter and winters are fierce. But still, you don't have to bother buying woolen cloths.
  • There are good hospitals all over. But most of them are not like their american counter-parts where they take care of everything if you get admitted. Here, most of them assume there's someone else stays with you 24/7 to help you out. So,  just enquire about facilities if this is a concern. If you want to quickly go and consult a general physician, there are smaller clinics (Like Apollo Clinic which are there all around Bangalore)
  • Even through the traffic jams are annoying, it is getting eased out a bit now. BMTC have a lot of Volvo air-conditioned buses (if you will) & there are Metro trains.
  • We have a lot of very nice places of visit around Bangalore (especially the Bangalore-Mysore stretch). Second biggest Banyan tree in the world & Largest Monolithic rock in the world are some examples. Goa (which is India's Las Vegas) is the next state up in the north. If you like hill stations, there's Coorg, Ooty, Kodaikanal & Munnar very close by.
  • Not all rivers are croc-free. You are being warned.
  • Most popular languages spoken are Kannada (language), Hindi, English, TamilTelugu. Mostly people know 1-2 languages from this. If they don't speak proper English, just go easy on them.
  • We historically use British english. But some people now pronounce 'skejul' and write 'color' which are American. So, now there's no clear distinction.
  • Free Wi-Fi is always out-of-range :-)  If you are staying for couple of months, buy a 3G USB stick. You can use your phone's 3G capabilities for internet, too.
  • It's a mobilephone usually, 'cellphone' or 'cell' is used rarely.
  • We don't have the custom of leaving voice mails. It is so creepy for me to talk to somebody who's not actually there.
  • Yes we do text often.
  • We have escalators with motion sensors. They stop temporarily when no one is using it. Just go in and it will start moving.
  • Know basic conversions. We mostly use metric system. But some non-metric too :-) Liter, Kilometers, Kilograms, teaspoons, foot, sq. feet, acre, cent (as in area), inch etc. are common. Million/billion etc are getting common thanks to the IT industry
  • Don't take the "BLR is India's SFO" mantra for granted. It is kind of true for services industry. The startup arena is pretty much in its infancy (but growing fast). Even-though you will find (really) great technical brains here, the aptitude for starting up will still be rare.
  • It will probably be cheaper to bring electronics from US than buying on arrival. Check Flipkart or mysmartprice.com/ for prices. 
  • But if you are buying books, it may cost less. 
  • There is no Wal-Mart.
  • Spar Supermarkets have very good cheese.
  • The Daily Bread has, yes, breads.
  • We have good number of Catholic churches and one Chabad center in Bangalore.
  • The nearest US consulate is in Chennai.
  • A NYC friend had a small visa trouble and it used up a lot of his valuable time here. Make sure everything is in order or you will have to alter your schedules for handling unnecessary legal issues.
  • We do wobble the head while speaking. That's part of the way we communicate. Once you have enough laugh over this, you can put some effort to understand this and use it for your advantage. Keeping the same face while cracking a joke & while describing how your pet dog died won't be very communicative, right?
  • You might find the number of Americans in Bangalore is growing, especially after the recession.
  • JustDial.com knows everything. 
  •  

I live in Bangalore. I have worked with some people from abroad. The list is mostly compiled from experiences in interacting with them. So you can treat it as the story from the other end.

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