Bengaluru would be the final stop in our travels with Gonzaga. We would all fly from there to our next destinations: Gonzaga to Mumbai where he’d have one final visit with the best guy in Mumbai before heading home to Spain, and the two of us to Delhi where we’d meet our friend VV for the afternoon before heading north to Dharamshala.
This visit to Bengaluru would be different than the previous one, not only because we’d be there for more than 10 minutes, but also because we’d be couch surfing. We’ve both done our fair share of surfing and we’ve also really enjoyed hosting surfers in our home in Portland. Our favorite part of couch surfing is meeting locals and joining them in their daily life in most any capacity. We were excited to meet our hosts, Rovan and Rajad, and see Bengaluru through the eyes of people who live there.Rajad and Rovan turned out to be pretty much the best couch surfing hosts we could have hoped for. They were welcoming, inclusive and generous, have a great apartment and a cute cat, love good food and coffee, and on our first morning they served us homemade French toast with real New England maple syrup. Austin could hardly believe it. We enjoyed a relaxed time in Bengaluru visiting the National Gallery of Modern Art, a giant city park, a brimming multi-level used book shop and enjoying delicious meals with our hosts.On the morning of Gonzaga’s departure we all walked together to the bus stand in disbelief that our month of traveling together was already ending. We bid our farewells, Gonzaga stepped onto the bus and Austin cried as it drove away. Our time together went too fast. We were also sad that Gonzaga had to leave before he could meet some of the lovely people R & R surround themselves with.Our hosts introduced us to a group of their friends, a warm and fun mix of people who left us wishing we could be a part of their weekly Sunday brunch gathering. On our final evening in Bengaluru we joined them all for a delicious dinner of Mexican food, the cuisine we’ve most been missing since being on the road. Maple syrup and Mexican food? What kind of amazing place was this? Being around such a great group of friends made us long for our own friends and sense of community that we left in Portland. We really enjoyed our conversations with Rovan, who seemed happy to talk with us about India and its various cultures. Since Rajad and Rovan come from different parts of the country, English is their only common language, a perfect example of India’s cultural diversity. We appreciated the ease we felt talking with Rovan, sharing ideas, and asking questions.We left the home of R & R early on our last day in Bangalore and made our way to the airport. A quick plane ride replaced what could have otherwise been days of overland travel. And how lucky we were that we left the company of new friends, hopped on a plane and were greeted at the other end by another dear friend.We spent the afternoon in Delhi with our friend Vaibhav (or VV as we like to call him), whom we first met at our Vipassana course. VV treated us to lunch at a fancy restaurant specializing in thali. Our shiny platters were crowded with small bowls, pickles, desserts, rice and various types of flatbread to sop up all the goodness. The waiters cycled through regularly to top up our bowls with curries and we stuffed ourselves. We passed the afternoon talking with VV. We were so grateful that he was willing to accompany us all the way to the bus stand, for this required traveling by sea. The Delhi metro had been transformed into a sea of humans and we were not prepared to navigate those waters alone. We found ourselves squeezed into impossible spaces that made our bus ride to Pushkar seem roomy. While having the life squeezed out of us by the teeming crowd that somehow seemed to move and sway as though it were one giant organism, we inadvertently had our iPad squeezed out of our possession as well. We have chosen to view this as a liberation from the burden of an unnecessary item, or an in kind donation to humanity. We parted ways with VV as we climbed onto our northbound bus. We were heading back to McLeodganj and the cold comfort of the Himalayan foothills.