My ride picks me up from Bangalore airport, and we traverse congested roads bustling with cars, cattle, people and more people. After an hour, we arrive at closed iron gates leading to a compound behind which is a tall, sterile-looking, concrete building. Spider webs reflecting the light from a street lamp create a silver weave on a sign that is covered with a thick film of dust but still readable: "surrender your cell phone here. It will be returned to you when you depart." The iron-grill gate closes behind me with a clang, and I jump, feeling as if I may have entered a jail of my own free will.
I walk a little further and see an avenue of leafy trees under a blue sky and people walking briskly with a smile on their faces. Nobody's commandeered my phone yet, even though large, conspicuous signs stating, "Cell-phone use strictly prohibited. You can use your cell phone only in your accommodation" abound. I breathe in fresh air, soaking in the green outdoor environment. I see ripples on the transparent, turquoise waters of the (man-made) lake separating a traffic-laden highway from this oasis of tranquility, and I feel myself beginning to relax.