Other Sheep in
INDIA 2010
  • CHINA 2010:  Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Hainan, Beijing
  • INDIA 2010:  Bangalore, Trivandrum, Alleppey, Cochin
Our flight from China to India and our first day in Bangalore
A Day in the Life of Steve and Jose:  Our flight from
China to India and our first day in Bangalore
by Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz
Written September, 2010.  Bronx, NY

Our flight to Bangalore, India originated in Sanya, Hainan, China  on the Monday
morning of August 2.  We had been vacationing in Sanya for ten days.  Our departing
flight took us a couple hours east to Guangzhou, China where we caught our connecting
flight, the first of three, which returned us westward past Hainan and on to Bangkok,
Thailand.  There we changed airlines.   Without going through immigrations, we
obtained our boarding passes at a check-in desk and, as per the instructions we were
given by the China airlines at the Hainan airport, we spoke with the connecting
airlines officials in the Bangkok airport to make sure our luggage was being
transferred to our connecting flight.

After recalling certain events about last year's visit to Thailand over a light meal in
the Bangkok airport, we boarded our flight for Mumbai.  Practically the last to make
our way through immigrations at Mumbai, we were placed at the front of the line
where passengers were waiting to board buses.  The Mumbai airport was a
hodgepodge of roads and barriers intertwining through major areas of construction.  
Twice we boarded a bus and navigated the narrow lanes about the airport.  The first
bus brought us to our boarding gate where we waited for a second bus to transport us
to our airplane for boarding.  At last, our final connecting flight for Bangalore.

We arrived in Bangalore on the Tuesday morning of August 3, around  5:30 AM.   With
respect to the time spent in travel, our Hainan-Bangalore flight was similar in length
to our flight from New York City to Hong Kong.

At the Bangalore airport, we dodged official-looking taxi drivers who were wearing
registration cards of some sort and made our way to the airport taxi service whose
fares were considerably less.  Our ride to our housing took all of an hour.

With some help with directions from those in the neighborhood of Benson Town - a
section of Bangalore, our taxi driver finally deposited us at the
Indian Social
Institute, a social justice center founded by Jesuits, address: 24 Benson Road,
Benson Town, Bangalore.  This was our entrance point to, and exit point from, India -
three days here upon arrival in India and two days here just prior to flying out of
India.  Bangalore was our international travel hub from and to China, and
ISI (Indian
Social Institute), a center for human rights learning and on-going training in the
logistics of advancing social justice in India, was our place of lodging.

We arrived at ISI before breakfast.  An early morning chapel service, held daily in a
small square room and attended by area residents, was underway.  After staff helped
us to our room and took care to show us the cafeteria and kitchen where we met the
cooks preparing the morning meal, we were directed to the chapel service and shown
to two seats situated alongside the same wall through which we had entered.   There
we sat, in our stocking feet, having left our shoes at the entrance as is the custom.  
Song books were passed to us.  People nodded to us.  We were immediately made part
of this small ring of earnest Christian adherents.  

They had come to worship in keeping with a daily religious ritual of their own, not
unlike the morning Muslim call to prayers, so we imagined.  During our stay in
Bangalore, we would hear repeatedly throughout the day the Islamic call to prayer.  
Indeed, for the westerner, this is a fascinating, novel experience, especially in the
hour before the dawn when one can hear the waking cries of various tropical birds
together with the clear Muslim call to prayer.

Meals at ISI were a high point.  Foremost, because of the many human rights
activists we met, and secondly for the Indian cooking we experienced, which for the
traveller is part of the adventure.  Some food items we relished, most we genuinely
liked, but a few dishes did not agree with our palate, as is to be expected.  We
always had the option to eat out, and came to favor a close-by coffee shop.

After breakfast, still our first day there, we occupied the remaining morning hours
with three objectives:  finding an ATM machine, making some necessary purchases
like toilet paper for our room, and getting some much needed sleep before lunch.  For
the first two objectives we walked and walked.  Motorized rickshaws were
everywhere and very inexpensive if you knew the prices to demand, which we didn't.
So we walked which, frankly, we do enjoy whenever we have the time to do so.  

As we walked, we took in the local color: people were walking on both sides of the
street; vehicles were indifferent to the people walking on both sides of the street
and the people walking were indifferent to the vehicles' indifference to the people
walking; dirt lined the streets creating a fine amount of dustiness and at times a
gritty taste in the mouth, something we are used to from traveling in developing
countries; beautiful residential homes with cars in driveways were common enough,
while the less fortunate were not far off, or walking the same streets pulling a
vendor cart, or keeping a small shop, or operating a rickshaw - the discrepancies in
wealth seemed to us as readily evident, side by side, back to back.

We came to the ATM of which we were told, but it wasn't working.  At the request of
friendly bank staff, we sat and waited while vain attempts were made to fix the
ATM.  We followed their advice and directions and moved on to a second ATM further
down the road situated at the end of a narrow lane.  Like the first, this ATM did not
work either.  However, the guard seated at the sidewalk at the head of the narrow
lane approached us where we stood and got our attention.  Then, obtaining permission
to take our ATM card, he swiped it at an unlikely but calculated angle getting the
results we desired.   He received a huge smile from us indicating our gratitude.       

Returning on foot the same way we came, we made some small purchases at the
corner open-air store where the young male staff found us a curiosity and extremely
interesting.  About two doors down, we stepped into the tiny Internet café of four or
five laptops and inquired as to the fee per hour.  With no Internet available at ISI,
this would be the nearest place.

Back at ISI, we slept hard and fast in our room until about 12:30 PM.  

Our room was simple. Two single beds with no real mattresses to speak of were
situated up against the outer walls; one small set of dresser drawers stood tightly
between the head of the two beds; a small table with an over-sized chair had been
placed directly across from the entrance to the room and was set between the end
of the one bed and the doorway to the bathroom which it partly obstructed.  

The private bathroom had, at the very top of the inside wall, a large open airway to
the adjoining bathroom for ventilation, and, only incidentally, for broadcasting your
comments to your neighbor.   A bucket for retaining water and a small pail for pouring
water over the naked body sat together, the pail in the bucket, on the bathroom floor
under the faucet. The toilet, thank goodness, was western in style.  One could be
seated on the toilet.  Taking a stand-up bath - there's no other kind, and it can hardly
be called a shower - meant, by default, that your total bathroom area, from sink to
toilet, would receive a washing.  This was true every time one bathed.  There is, in all
of this, some obvious advantages, i.e., the bathroom, in total, was always sparkling
clean.  Now, for the first time, the common English term "water closet" made sense.

Two standard windows that opened out for air brightened the room; another, much
smaller, was in the bathroom; one discolored window, found directly over the room
door, tilted in and out for ventilation.  The part of the floor not covered by furniture
virtually served to form a one-way path in and out of the room. There existed little
to nil space for two people to turn around in.

All in all, we smiled upon our living conditions.  First, for its central location in
Bangalore with regards to our networking purposes.  Second, for its own setting - a
beehive of activism for social justice.  Third, it was inexpensive.

We woke from our morning nap to the ringing of the mid-day meal bell.  Over lunch, at
the tables in the ISI cafeteria, we visited with other human rights activists as we
had that morning at breakfast.  We listened to them as they informed us about their
areas of interest and experience in social justice work.  In turn, we shared with
them the ministry of Other Sheep.

The afternoon and early evening occupied us with additional administrative work
which included purchasing a sim card our cell phone could be used in India; photo
copying Other Sheep materials for general distribution; and obtaining an adaptor and
setting up Steve's laptop for downloading pictures and keeping current those
documents which were our travel log and expense account.  

The most single significant event of day was our 2:30 PM meeting with Shubba
Chacko.  By the contacts she gave us, and with permission to say she was
recommending us to her colleagues, this meeting realized, and set the tone for, our
appointments to follow in Bangalore, as well as affording us meetings with certain
activists in Kerala.

In the late evening, we celebrated our first day in Bangalore by eating out at Koshy's
Bar and Restaurant on St. Mark's Road near Church St which parallels Mahatma
Gandhi (MG) Road, a popular place with both locals and tourists, partly for its history,
so we were told.  After ordering our food we noticed a young Asian American sitting
by himself and invited him to join us which he did.  Turns out he was in Bangalore on
business for a few months.  We had an interesting conversation around his
impressions of Bangalore and India.

We took a motorized rickshaw to and from the restaurant.  Perhaps a thirty minute
trip one way.  It was an amazing day.
August 2-3, 2010
Our flight from Hainan, China to Bangalore, India
A full day and full night of travel with three connecting flights
Above photo:
Taxi driver, center, asks local
resident, right, for help in finding our
housing destination while Jose, left,
looks on.  Our first hours in
Bangalore, coming from the airport.  
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
August 3, 2010
Indian Social Institute
- Where we stayed while in Bangalore
August 3-6, 17-18, 2010
Our Accommodations at Indian Social Institute
August 3, 2010 - Afternoon Activities
Including our 2:300 PM Appointment with Shubba Chacko
- Our key contact for Bangalore
August 3, 2010 - Celebrating the day and Our arrival in India:
Koshy's Bar and Restaurant for our evening meal
This web page was first published on September 16, 2010
This web page was completed on September 21, 2010
Visits to this web page since September 16, 2010
Bronx, New York
"This article is a narrative of a single day's
activities, showing what one day can be like
during our summer travels."
View from our airplane as we
made our ascent after take off
from the international airport at
Sanya, Hainan, China.

Monday, August, 2, 2010
Photo by Steve Parelli
Early morning view
from our hotel room.
August 2, 2010
Bangkok International Airport.
Making our second of three
connecting flights.
August 2-3, 2010
Disembarking from taxi
at Indian Social Institute,
our home while in
August 3, 21010
Jose Ortiz, right, pays the taxi fee
Above:  Two of the several food items for
breakfast at Indian Social Institute
Indian bread, left, and boiled eggs
delivery of
Benson Town,
August 3, 2010
Above:  Apartments

At left:  Jose Ortiz with store
clerks at corner store

Below: Food vendors on
Benson Road with Jose Ortiz
India . .
August 3, 2010
Above Three Photos:  
Our accommodations at Indian Social
Institute, Benson Town, Bangalore, India.
At Left:
A local activist,
right, who was
attending the
training at ISI,
offered to take
Jose to a
mobile store
where Jose
could purchase
a sim card.

August 3, 2010
At right:
Meeting with
Chacko, far left,
in a local café
                                Steve Parelli
Jose Ortiz

Shubba Chacko   
Jose Ortiz, center, and Steve
Parelli, right, with an Asian
American business, Koshy's,
Bangalore.  August 3, 2010
At left:
Motorized rickshaws, Benson
Town, Bangalore
August 3, 2010 - Morning Hours
When arriving in a new country
: the every-day things we do to "set up" for business