by Tom Field

PHOTO ESSAY – On the Road to Bangalore

Dec 01, 20002 mins

“What’s it like?”

Hands down, that’s the most common question people ask about India. Primed by media images of rope tricks, snake charmers and cows in the streets, friends are eager to have their preconceptions confirmed or denied. Business associates, meanwhile, who may have read about cybercafes and high-tech office parks wonder “Is it really like that?” Even Indians, who know firsthand what life is like there, can’t help but ask because they want to know how India looks through Western eyes.

Well, the answer is too hard to put into words so we put it into pictures. As you thumb through the next several pages, you’ll see wildly contrasting photos of Bangalore, capital city of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. These pictures were taken by John Chiasson, a Nashville, Tenn.-based freelance photographer whose work has appeared in ESPN Magazine and Time among other publications. John accompanied CIO’s writers in India; as we caught information with notebooks and tape recorders, he captured images with his cameras.

There’s no real order to the photos, but then there’s no real order to Bangalore or India. You’ll see, as we did, ox-drawn carts sitting in traffic beneath dotcom billboards; modern, high-tech office complexes being constructed by workers wielding hand tools; a sprawling downtown marketplace that accommodates one merchant hawking electronic gadgets and another selling freshly killed chickens; noisy, traffic-clogged streets where no one can get anywhere fast; quietly efficient offices where software engineers conduct the world’s business at Internet speed; Indians engrossed in their work; and others caught up in the revelry of the annual festival honoring the Hindu god Ganesh. Flip through the pages and see for yourself what India is like.