Tag Archives: friends

Lions, Bengal Tigers, and Sloth Bears, Oh My


Today was zoo day at Bannerghata National Park. We packed up the van and headed south, early on a Sunday morning. The park is south of town; we live north of town. Usually that is a two hour crawl through traffic, but leaving by 9 on A Sunday morning and we drove through a shuttered downtown without even slowing down. Bliss.

We stopped at the Indian Institute of Management to pick up our friends Rahul, Sharmila, and Ria.

With eight of us packed into a minivan that sits seven, we made our way to the zoo.  The Bannerghatta park is a part of the cluster of parks that includes the Kabini Lodge where we took our safari and the Dubare Elephant Camp where we bathed and fed the elephants. But this place is more of a traditional zoo.

We began our adventure with the Grand Safari tour.  The queuing was the most organized that I Have seen in India. Shaded, orderly, no pushing or shoving. It felt strange, actually. We boarded the bus and set off.

The animals are not wild in this park, but they live in vast natural habitats on the safari. The bus is covered in grating and you enter and exit different areas of the forest through big double gates that keep the animals in their respective ares00the bear area, the tiger area, and so on.


While they have houses and are fed regularly, I was amazed at just how close these buses got to the animals. We had remarkably up close and personal views of animals that we saw from very far away on Safari, including:

Very adorable sloth bears

Bengal tigers

White tigers. This male looked through a dividing fence….

To his love…..

And my personal favorite, the lions. This lion was lying across the road that we had to travel.  It refused to move until the bumper of the bus gently nudged it along. I did not cropping of this photo—we were truly this close.

After our adventurous safari ride we visited the butterfly building. While the room did not have as many butterflies as expected, we enjoyed the beautiful architecture.


The kids had even more fun climbing a mango tree and picking its sweet fruit outside of the building.

We got just as delighted by the wild monkeys as all of this big lions and tigers and bears! They are so funny.



Then we headed off to have a delicious pizza, pasta and salad lunch.


Jet Lag and Good Friends


We arrived in India at 1:30 in the morning. After gathering our luggage in five trolleys and making a pit stop at duty free for some wine, we left the airport in hopes of finding our driver. The driver didn’t show, so we found another driver. Four men strapped our many suitcases to the roof and jammed them in the trunk, muttering “Americans, Americans.”


We finally arrived at the hotel at 4 in the morning. We passed through the gated entrance and then had to pass all of our luggage through hotel security. At 5:30 we were settled. I was ready for bed, but Kaden and Amma decided that they were up for the day. Carson decided to join them. Carson was exhausted and missing his Daddy terribly. Although  Kaden is giddy and excited about India, her patience was tried at this point as well. A horrible flight from Frankfurt, no sleep, arriving at India in the middle of the night and driving through deserted streets is not a great way to be introduced to a city! kfast finally opened at 7:00.  We all had breakfast and then I fell asleep until 11. Carson joined me in sleeping at some point, and that was it for him. He slept from 11 until 10 that night. And we didn’t stay in the room. He slept in cars, he slept at our friend’s house. He would have slept in elevators if I could carry him but he is too heavy. We asked Kaden what she wanted to do on her first day in Bangalore, and fitting with her social style she said, “I want to meet people.” So we made a plan to visit our “family” in Bangalore–my dad’s nephew’s family (not by blood, but even more valued relations, really). We hired a driver and made our way south. By mileage it is not a far drive, but the traffic crawls along at a snail’s pace.


I am refusing to let the kiddos play with electronics during drives because there is so much to see outside the windows–people, scooters, motorcycles, buses, cows, oxen, dogs. Shopkeepers running traditional hut-style shops and Papa Johns pizza joints.


View from the car: a gallery festooned in fresh garlands


View from the car: State Parliament

When we arrived at our friends apartment complex in the J P Nagar (seventh phase) area of Bangalore. We were greeted by hugs and it was great to see familiar faces.  Skipper was there to greet us. He is 15 now and like another grandson to my parents. They brought Skipper a new warm-up jacket which he put on and didn’t take off for the entire visit. Indians always get nicknames, and my parents Sarono by the name of “Skipper” because he used to skip along instead of walk as a young child.  He is looking forward to taking trips with us as we travel about the region. Skipper is in Class 10 (the 10th grade), and he has his pre-exams at the end of January. He then has his exams in April. The pre-exams are even more important that the national exams in April because they more directly determine which colleges he can enter. He then has the choice of finishing secondary school at his current school or taking his last two years of secondary school at a college.


Mamoni, Skippers mom, arrived shortly after we did with bags of food for the kids. She had taken the “auto” (the auto rickshaw) to both KFC and McDonalds and arrived with a bucket of chicken and chicken patty sandwiches, filet of fish sandwiches and Big Macs (which are chicken in India, not beef). She wanted Kaden and Carson to have some food that was familiar to them. She also had tandori chicken delivered for the adults. It was the best tandori chicken that I ever had–very lemony! And delicious puris as well. Carson was sound asleep and ate nothing. Kaden did not have an appetite, so the adults relished both sets of food.


KFC and McDonalds extravaganza!


Kaden and Dada chatting during our visit at Skipper’s house


Mamoni heats up the yummy tandori chicken

When we returned to the car for the long drive home, twice as long (an hour and a half) dueto the traffic, everyone fell asleep in the car except me. By 5 when the car arrived back at the Lemon Tree Hotel, everyone climbed in bed. I rearranged the suitcases and visited the hotel’s gym. Carson finally woke up for the day at 10. My mom woke up at midnight and then I went to sleep. My dad and Kaden woke up at four and I slept until 6:30. My parents rented Home Alone 3 for the kids on the hotel TV while they waited for breakfast to open at 7. By the next morning, Kaden said, “I think we have been here a week”. It sure did feel like it!


typical view from a Bangalore car: lots of traffic, always with motorcycles and autorickshaws in view