I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have been really pleasantly surprised about the nightlife here in Bangalore. Aside from the lack of high-end dance clubs, I mean. So far Coco Bongo is the only place in town where I’ve been able to really go dance my ass off. 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 bar! I’ve been there, 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 my experiences and what has been “normal life” for me is extremely different to the majority of Bangaloreans. The first time I realized how different things were was during a chat with my first driver I had when I moved here. There are so many things that I take for granted that he has never even tried. Along with him are the majority of female co-workers, especially the more traditional or conservative ones who still wear a sari or shalwar kameez to work every day. What they do for fun is at times the opposite to what I do for fun. Not good or bad, not wrong or right…again, just different.
I think my jaw actually dropped a few times as conversations progressed and I would learn more and more about just how different we were. One man in particular who I really adore is in his late 20s. He told me about how he has drank whiskey three times but that was the only hard liquor he has ever consumed in his whole life. He drinks beer 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 –ever!! There were no wild spring breaks for him. Nada! Man, I suppose I shouldn’t be proud of this but in southern California, before you’re 15, we’ve tried loads more than that. In fact, I had my first drink and my first smoke with my church youth group back home. Obviously we weren’t at church or with adults, but I always giggle when I remember that little tid-bit of information!
The young women I spoke with at the office have never 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 and open bar. They don’t know what a kamikaze is. 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. OH…and given that I am on a crazy champagne kick lately because I miss it so much and would kill for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot … the saddest of all, 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. The other is 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, 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 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 have 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, basically just a phone call away. 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 – although I have personally seen that in Barcelona and London. What I mean is that it’s obvious that some people are taking something or on 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 pretty 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 look forward to that changing soon. We live in a city where everything can be found…from a sweet, innocent good time…to a naughty night of mischief. As for me personally, what I’m hoping for is a few glasses of ice-cold champagne and some amazing music while I’m out with friends this weekend 🙂
© Angela Carson, 2011