I have now officially been in Bangalore for over a week, and am feeling settled in to the new city. I succeeded in finding an advisor before I left, but was not scheduled to meet with her until Wednesday. Thus, I had more than three days to get myself situated. I started planning out what I wanted my project to look like, and also explored the best places to find lunch. On Tuesday I did some research and found a nearby park where I could go for a run. Despite being the only person running in the park, I was only mildly stared at and succeeded in not dying of heat stroke.
On Wednesday I made my way across the city to attend a protest and finally meet my advisor. I learned that the protest was about the lack of HIV/AIDS funding coming from the government. My advisor was kind and inviting, and the protest was very low-key. Afterwards I got to attend a workshop being held at a university on the other side of the city. My advisor was leading a session about gender and sexuality that I was able to sit in on. Unsurprisingly, she was funny and engaging speaker who both entertained and educated the students. We also heard from another transwoman who told us about the horrific violence she had faced trying to attend school, which was shocking and concerning for us all. It was lovely to be back in a university environment again, and I enjoyed hearing what the students were interested in. Later on I was dropped off about two kilometers from my apartment, and I made my way back without the help of a rickshaw. (Though not without consulting Google Maps).
So far we have been thoroughly enjoying exploring the city, especially its food. There are numerous cafes and bars within just a few blocks of our apartment. We’ve already found some favorites, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of the area. On Thursday, I had an interview with the director of a local LGBTQ organization. I arrived slightly behind schedule because of a confused cab driver, but still had plenty of time to get a great interview. He was warm, funny and gave me lots of good insights to use in my paper.
That evening we decided to treat ourselves by going to a rooftop restaurant and microbrewery. The venue was inhabited by many young residents of the city, and our table was positioned right next to an extensive system of fountains. Because we were no longer in Rajasthan (where selling beef is illegal) and couldn’t help ourselves, we ordered steak for dinner and spare ribs as an appetizer. I may have drooled a little bit when the first bite of mashed potatoes hit my mouth. We left the roof feeling like full and happy Bengalurians.
On Friday I spent the day transcribing my interview and doing some work my advisor gave to me. For dinner we headed out to a place amusingly called “Easy Tiger,” where they played exclusively American hip-hop and pop music. (They even threw in some Taylor Swift, just for me I’m sure). We’ve been having a lot of fun this week, watching movies, trying new food, and taking advantage of this newfound freedom we have. On Sunday evening, my roommate left to do her research in a village for a week, so now I have the place to myself for the next few days. Stay tuned for next week’s blog to hear about my adventures on my own.
Until next time,
A cosmopolitan scholar