One Last Rice Mess: Biryani in Bangalore and Heading for Chiang Mai

That Feeling:

Waking up from the quiet of dream sleep, that space where you thought there was sound but realize now that this, this new awake place, this sound is so loud that what you had before must have been very nearly silence.

That feeling was riding in the backseat of our taxi as we honked our way through the late afternoon traffic of Bangalore.

We had chanted the Gayatri mantra 108 times in a row just hours before, which surely must have been noise, but this. We had asana’d through a final group practice in the quiet of the ashram, then I had eaten too much smashed sweet rice and papaya, as if I were a choiceless being, one side of a magnet in a sugar bomb equation, before saying goodbyes. The taxi picked us up at 12:30, three of us headed for Bangalore, me for an extra day before my flight to Chiang Mai.

Despite their customary Indian noise, the streets of Bangalore are confusingly, uncomfortably clean. A tenuous balancing act between the influx of Western tech startups and the city’s grit of history, of being India, Bangalore’s often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India and it made me uneasy.

The main drag’s got more than one Bespoke Suits shop, lit up bright neon in the night, and hostels boast co-working spaces. I can’t speak to what was, but I could feel its ghost, and it was eerie to sense how bleached the streets must be as the money has transformed things.

I spent the next day on my own. I took the metro to other parts of town, wandered in The General Direction of a park or a cafe, followed the printed “walking tour” instructions and hand drawn map the hostel host had given me, and let myself be swept along by the Sunday bustling.

By 1 p.m. I was hungry, so when a smiling bald man invited me into his restaurant for “best biryani” I took him up on it.

The floor was concrete, the vinyl b