Fiona Caulfield’s ‘Love Bangalore’ claims to be ‘The Hand-Book for the Luxury Vagabond’. So it’s only fair that the first page should have contained the following disclaimer: “This book has no details about European luxury conglomerates or their brands.”
Because in today’s context, the focus of the word luxury has been narrowed so much, that it doesn’t convey what Caulfield wants it to. “When you’re looking for luxury in India, it’s not about money and brands. It’s about soul,” she explains. Caulfield visited India and Nepal a few years ago, read all the mass-market guides, but couldn’t get under the skin of the cities. So, she quit her job and moved to India in 2004. “Then Bangalore found me,” she says, so her first book is anchored in the city which she lives in part of the year.
Caulfield’s modus operandi was to coax stories and places out of locals, then experience them for herself. “I’ve checked out 99% of what I’ve written,” she says. What’s not been through her testing system: “The Bangalore Hash House Harriers go for a run in the countryside every alternate Sunday. I’m not a runner, so I didn’t go, but I met the group and they seemed great,” she laughs.
‘Love Bangalore’ is a must for foreign travellers, but Caulfield says many locals were surprised at what she discovered. She tells you where to get fragrant bath and beauty products from India’s first-ever fragrance brand (Ally Matthan at RainTree), which simple neighbourhood restaurant serves the freshest seafood (Kubay) and where to go for custom-made culture tours (Jackfruit Research & Design). And, of course, since it’s Bangalore, how to get all your errands done by a personal, outsourced butler (getfriday.com).
If you don’t fancy stepping out of your seven-star hotel, this book may not be for you. But if you want a taste of Bangalore which is edited, but not undiluted, slip this one out of its handwoven, red Mysore silk cover by designer Sonam Dubal and start ticking off the entries.
(Visit lovetravelguides.com. ‘Love Bangalore’ is priced at Rs1,200)