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Two Tales Of One City

Two Tales Of One City

October 04, 2011

There are two sides to Bangalore's nightlife: one rich in tradition and the other serving up a naughtier platter of fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I have been really pleasantly surprised about the nightlife here in Bangalore.  Well, aside from only having two legal venue options for dancing and the insanely early closing time of 11:30pm at bars and clubs, I mean.  But other than that, I love this city!  I think I would have instantaneously cocooned if I had relocated in India to a city like Mysore that boasts only one hot bar!  I’ve been there, a friend is co-owner.  It’s called Fluid and they serve great food and drinks, love the lighting, good tunes and the owners are fantastic guys… but I like a bit more variety than just one bar in town.  Especially after living for the past eight years in a “party all night long” city like Barcelona.

Living here in India, I am very aware that what has been “normal life” for me is extremely different to anything that 99% of Bangaloreans have ever experienced
.  To be honest, there are so many things that I take for granted and assume that everyone has done at least once or – more likely – has been doing continually since they were teens that I was completely shocked to learn just how wrong I was.  I truly realized just how different things are here during a chat with the first driver I had when I moved to Bangalore.   I was asking seemingly simple questions like his favourite bar in town, etc and he simply didn’t have one because he’s never been to one.   Along with him are the majority of female co-workers I’ve chatted to, especially the seemingly more traditional and conservative ones who still wear a sari or shalwar kameez to work every day.  What they do for fun on the weekends is most often the opposite to what I do for fun.  Not good or bad, not wrong or right…again, just culturally different.

While talking with some of my co-workers, I think my jaw has actually dropped a few times as I listened to stories and learned more and more about just how different the social life for the “average Joe” is in Los Angeles or Barcelona in comparison to the social life of their Indian sibling here in Bangalore (obviously there is a Page 3 party crowd of Bangaloreans but I’m not referring to them).

One male co-worker in particular who I really adore is in his late 20s.  He told me that he drank whiskey three times in his life but that was the only hard liquor he has ever consumed – EVER!!!  He drinks beer from time to time with his father and brother but that’s it.  He’s never enjoyed an amazing glass of red wine with dinner, thrown back shots with buddies at a stag night or ordered a cocktail. There were no wild spring break holidays for him like we had to Palm Springs when that was hot, or Florida or Mexico.  Nada!  Man, I suppose I shouldn’t be proud of this but in southern California, before you’re of legal drinking age, we’ve tried loads more than he’s done in his whole life.

Not a single one of the women I’ve spoken with at the office have ever tried a piña colada or a margarita.  They generally don’t go out as a group of girls unaccompanied, there would need to be family or boyfriends or husbands with them.  They’ve never been to a pool party with a DJ.  They’ve never experienced a girls’ weekend.  Not a single one of the girls I spoke to has ever been to a cool dance club to shake their groove thing on a girls’ night out or to a concert with just girlfriends.  OH…and given that I am on a crazy champagne kick lately because I miss it so much and I almost would kill for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot … to me I find it unfortunate that none of them have ever heard the sweet “pop” sound of a champagne cork being released from the bottle.

I mention all of this because there are two nightlife’s here in Bangalore.  One, where the party culture is a normal part of everyday life with social circles that are identical to those found in urban jungles all around the world…and where I feel right at home.  Then there’s the other side of Bangalore’s nightlife, which is truly foreign to me.  It’s free of mixologists, DJs and the Page 3 culture.   It’s relatively innocent, probably quite a bit healthier… and the two groups don’t seem to mix.

People do drink a lot here
though, that’s for sure.  On virtually any given night there is something going on around town.  A specialty party, a guest DJ is spinning somewhere, some happy hour or ladies’ night special is going on, a promotional event for a lifestyle brand…. You name it, there is always a choice of things to do in Bangalore. My instinct says that people drink so much because the 11:30pm closing time is so early.  Guests enter the bar or lounge and start throwing back alcohol like crazy because they only have 2+ hours to enjoy the music and ambience.  Back in Barcelona we probably drank just as much alcohol as what’s consumed here…but that same amount was consumed from midnight until 6am instead of 9pm – 11:15pm like in Bangalore.  I see so many more drunk people here on a regular basis than I had in years in Spain but I suppose that is to be expected when people are forced to pack all their fun into just a couple of hours.

As far as drugs are concerned, I was again pretty surprised to see that so many Class A and B drugs are instantly available in Bangalore
.  What I know is readily available is acid, hash, marijuana, cocaine, and MDMA – though to be honest I didn’t ask around so I am sure there must be lots more choices than that little list I’ve observed.  They are consumed pretty openly here as well.  Well, don’t get me wrong.  No one is blatantly doing it out in the open.  It’s not like Al Pacino in Scarface with his big pile of coke on a table with people doing it in front of each other – which IS something I have personally witnessed in both Barcelona and London.  What I mean is that it’s obvious that some people are taking something or smoking something and it is generally accepted.


I’m so happy to see that the newer, dodgier drugs like ‘G’ haven’t made their way to mainstream Bangalore yet, well at least it doesn’t seem like they have.  So far I haven’t seen a single person be carried out of a club or bar here and sent off in an ambulance, which is sadly commonplace back home.

Bangalore is a city where anything can happen.  I am fully aware that I am missing out on a ton of “real life” here in Bangalore, including festivals and local events because of my current lifestyle and I do look forward to that changing.  Bangalore is a city where everything can be found…from cultural events and a sweet, innocent good time…to a naughty night of mischief.  As for me personally, I’d love nothing more than a few glasses of ice-cold champagne, the option to stay out past midnight and the legal right to dance to amazing music while I’m out with friends...but I guess 1 out of 3 will have to do for now. 

12 Comments

  • Angela Carson
    By
    Angela Carson
    07.10.11 01:59 AM
    @gtoosphere - I totally agree...just don't know where to go or what to do :-( Guess I need some of my mates to invite me home for some "real world" fun.
  • ds
    By
    ds
    06.10.11 08:03 AM
    @vishal: I do drink and enjoy it and i am not against it, i just don't overrate it. There are people who like to drink and there are those who don't like to drink and its all perfectly fine.
  • gtoosphere
    By
    gtoosphere
    06.10.11 12:00 AM
    I'm glad that you're able to do things you used to do in Barcelona and LA. I strongly suggest you explore the middle class life in India too... it is quite wonderful in it's own sober way :)
  • Angela Carson
    By
    Angela Carson
    05.10.11 11:45 AM
    oops, read your comment too quick, I see that "crack" was just a comparison now... :-)
  • Angela Carson
    By
    Angela Carson
    05.10.11 11:43 AM
    @Maddie, uhhmm... what article did you read? I can't find a single mention of crack being available in India or about me getting drunk anywhere. In fact, the only place I mention anyone being drunk is when I reference that I've seen more drunks out in Bangalore than I would in Barcelona. Let me know, am curious what inspired your comment. tc, angela
  • vishal
    By
    vishal
    05.10.11 03:32 AM
    jai angela and good boy/girl DS (whatever!)...all is well that ends well!...maddie, she has clarified she erred in being sort of one sided...so bro, be good and forgive her like DS ...lol...
  • Maddie
    By
    Maddie
    05.10.11 03:01 AM
    So ain't nothin' but a drunk,blonde..way to live up to the stereotype and ruin it for the rest of us. Alchohol is toxic for the body so really you bragging about it is like someone braggin' about doing crack/coke.
    Really? There are other ways to enjoy yourself other than getting drunk.
  • ds
    By
    ds
    05.10.11 02:03 AM
    I am sorry if I came across as rude, didn't mean that.

    Anyways I am really glad that you are enjoying your experience in India. :)
  • Angela Carson
    By
    Angela Carson
    05.10.11 01:09 AM
    @DS - I actually did do my research before coming over but it was work environment behaviour and cost of living and important things like that. The other things like partying and discovering how different life was for someone from L.A. versus my "Indian twin" growing up just came by living here and talking to people.

    Understand that it's very hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that someone might never drink alcohol for their entire life or hasn't gone out on a girls' night out ...or a bunch of other things that make India so special. But only because I've never EVER lived in a cultural environment that embraced those things. I guess my list may sound arrogant but that wasn't the spirit in which it was written. Those are simply a few of the things that came to mind when I was thinking about differences based on conversations I had with work mates. I guess where I made a mistake was by not also listing THEIR favourite things that they can't believe that I've never experienced. Then it would have come off as more balanced...

    I will never move back to the US, it holds no appeal to me at all. I moved here because it is soooo exotic for me. And I love writing about those differences because everyday I see something everyday that I've never seen before. It's WONDERFUL!
  • vishal
    By
    vishal
    04.10.11 11:57 PM
    lol....bugged up indians!...they just donot seem to enjoy their alcohol!....:D...its just so vital to a person's well being and creativity!
  • ds
    By
    ds
    04.10.11 10:09 PM
    I can't believe you never did your research before moving to India. There are so many people who have never even tasted alcohol in their entire lives. Again why does it matter, not everybody has to be like the west. I am sure majority of the people in non western world don't know what is a pina colada. Not everybody is privileged like you and your article was a bit condescending.
  • Peter
    By
    Peter
    04.10.11 08:06 AM
    Thank you for this article,its true that most people who live in Bangalore aren't party people but it takes someone like you to make this point.

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