Last month I took a business trip to Bangalore, India. It had been 6 years since my last visit to India, and Bangalore has changed enough that I barely recognized it.
Even before this trip, I was pretty sold on the power of the community on Twitter. I've gotten involved with many great local projects, and even helped give a presentation on the power of Twitter for your business. So I realize that I wasn't exactly a skeptic going into this, but I still think the story is pretty compelling.
From the moment I commented about heading to Bangalore, I started to acquire new followers. As I was planning my trip, I was really struggling to find a hotel near the airport. I had a flight arriving around 2am, and another one leaving around 9am, and thought it would be great to catch a little real sleep in between them. Just before I booked the hotel, I thought to ask for suggestions on Twitter. I am so glad that I did, because it turns out that they built a new airport in Bangalore, and if you look at where Google Maps says that BLR is, they're off by about 40kms (which in Bangalore traffic is a very, very long distance). So before I even arrived, the Bangalore Twitter crew had saved my bacon.
I got other input throughout my travel, and when I arrived, I got several offers from people to get together. Anyone who has done business travel in a foreign country where you don't know anyone can tell you that it can get pretty boring hanging out at your hotel in the evenings. So it was really exciting to have some opportunities to meet up with people.
The first Tweetup was Wednesday night, and we got together for @jerrymannel's birthday. I think it really says something about how welcoming a group is, when you invite a random stranger from another country to your birthday party. It was a great time for me, although I'm not sure how well it went for Jerry. Apparently the birthday traditions there involve the birthday boy paying for everyone's food, getting cake smashed in his face, and then something about getting kicked by everyone! A very special Thank You goes out to @dkris, who spent a lot of effort on the phone with my completely lost cab driver ensuring that I eventually made it to this Tweetup.
The Twitter community there is very active, and on Saturday they invited me to what they call a Tw-eat-up. I was initially confused when they told me to meet them at Chaat Street, and I couldn't find a restaurant named Chaat Street anywhere. Eventually I realized they were actually referring to a street. "Chaat Street" translates to "Snack Street", and it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a street where up and down on both sides are all sorts of snack vendors. We spent the evening wandering up and down, and eating everything. I can't remember all of the things we ate, but I think my favorite was the pastries at VB Bakery, the most unique was the banana flavored with rose petals, and the only one I didn't like was the Masala Soda (picture a spicy, salty, soft drink). There was even a cow that pushed me out of the way so it could get at the food scraps. Overall, this was a very fun time, and a great culinary adventure. Definitely the highlight of my trip.
I don't think I can say enough about how amazing it was to travel 9000 miles from home, and still have a support network. The Twitter community is amazing, and the folks in Bangalore have a very great thing going on out there. Thanks so much to all my new friends, @dkris, @santoshp, @jerrymannel, @fagunbhavsar, @dhempe, @scorpion032, @tsuvik, @Suksy, @hnprashanth, @9_6, @procoder, and anyone I missed. If you're ever in Bangalore, look them up!
My pictures from the trip can be found here.