Perhaps the most challenging thing about moving cities with children in tow is dealing with the period of adjustment. We have done this three heart-wrenching times, and have learnt two important lessons in the process: do your research before you arrive and explore the city on foot as much as possible.
To keep our teenage son from moping this time around, while we were still in Abu Dhabi, a special list was compiled. Crammed with things to do in Bangalore, our new city of residence, it was meticulously put together from various sources. Among them is Little Black Book (LBB), a useful app full of tips and interesting information, from where to find the best mango lassi to cycling clubs that meet every weekend.
Which has meant that the past few weeks have been busy and rewarding for our 15-year-old. He has paid at least six visits to what is now his favourite place: The Cat Studio, a tiny glass-fronted space in Jeevan Bheema Nagar. The shelter is home to several rescued cats and kittens, and visitors can interact and play with them (50 rupees [Dh3] for the first 15 minutes; 70 rupees [Dh4] for each additional half-hour). In a few weeks, we’re planning to bring home one of these felines. And while our son hangs out with the kitties, my husband and I sip saffron tea (25 rupees [Dh1]) at Bun Maska Chai (Bread, Butter and Tea), a tiny, open-fronted cafe with spindly chairs and tables where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Then there's Church Street, a narrow lane in the city centre lined with restaurants and pubs, but perhaps best known for its bookshops. We already have a favourite among these: Blossom Book House, a decades-old store with several levels packed with tomes from floor to ceiling. There's hardly space to walk in the dusty interior, but it's incredibly easy to spend several hours here, lost among the latest bestsellers, valuable first editions and, in our son's case, Tintin and Lucky Luke comics.
In the evenings, we walk around our neighbourhood, and these excursions have revealed various delights. One of our son’s favourite finds is a food stall that pops up daily at sundown. Within minutes, people start queuing for its speciality: momos – Nepalese steamed dumplings that are made on the spot. The large, mouthwatering orbs are stuffed with chopped vegetables or minced chicken, and served with a hot, sweet sauce that sets fire to your insides (50 rupees [Dh3] for a plate of eight).
Farther down the street is a cart selling sugar-cane juice, made tangy with lemon and rock salt (25 rupees [Dh1]), and a shop that does a brisk trade in vada (deep-fried lentil doughnuts) and spicy coconut chutney (20 rupees [Dh1] for two).
It has been about five weeks since we moved, and we’re yet to make a dent in our list of things to do. But the best part, even as our teenager still pines for Abu Dhabi, is that he can’t wait to try it all.