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Long route home Our trip all the way home, trying to catch no planes and stay on the ground like civilised people. It's taking us via India all the way to Europe from Japan, the furthest of the Far East...

Mysore, Bangalore; what for?

INDIA | Saturday, 4 September 2010 | Views [464] | Comments [1]

A protracted exit from the Jungle Retreat led us to Mysore.  There was some sort of hullabaloo along the way which delayed our bus, but we're more or less used to these things after the past four months.  Ww were planning to make a short visit to a Tibetan friend of a friend who lives in a Tibetan monastery nearby Mysore but also the clock was ticking for our Mumbai train.  Moreover, we wanted to see the nightlife in Bangalore - reputed to be among India's best.  Further complicating things was the prescence of a genuine world icon, his holiness the 14th dalai lama.  Labour is cheap in India, so we hired a man and a car to smooth over our unusual schedule of Mysore-Small monastery-Bangalore, which would have been impossible by public transport.  What followed was a pretty strange day, even by our recent standards:

08:00 hours
Get up and be grumpy with one another, the door-slamming staff and time itself. Proceed to shower room (bathroom is a misnomer - we haven't seen one of those in months...).

08:45 hours
Finish washing hair.  Proceed to hotel lobby to read paper and wait for hire car+driver.

Ring hire company to enquire as to driver's whereabouts

As before, but more angrily

Board car and head towards Palace

Enter palace as visitors no.7 and 8 of the day.  Photo the outside of the immense Indo-Saracenic marvel.  Proceed to entrance of palace, minus shoes  Pay baksheesh to guard to not have to return to square one regarding the camera we had inadvertently not left at the counter we weren't asked to leave it at.  Grumble slightly and mutter under breath.  Moods lift slightly at the golden elephant howdahs, silver chairs etc.  Walk around seemingly endless halls all decorated in total-over-the-top-bananacakes-mad excess.  It's not quite Versailles, but it is a baroque circus dream.  Exit palace and search fruitlessly for food amongst the sandalwood fans, statues and all manner of garbage.

Rejoin car and head towards the Tibetan Colony nearish to Mysore, only a 2 hour drive away

Enter small colony and ring Lobsang to say we're there.  Realise that it's not a little isolated monastery.

Take lunch at a restaurant in what has turned out to be the biggest colony of Tibetans in India with thousands of people living here.

Meet Lobsang finally and settle down to tea, juice and stories of the past.  A life very different from our own - born in Kathmandu and raised as a Tibetan nomad before taking his vows and joining the monastery.  Bombard Lobsang with all manners of questions about the monastic life.  It's quite a thing to be a modern monk, with mobile phones and the internet.

Go to debating chamber and see Dalai Lama.  Quite an experience, hundreds of monks all watching the central stage of a large chamber where his holiness is watching over some senior monks debating the finer points of esotoric Buddhism.  Tibetan debating is very animated - lots of handslapping to celebrate points won or proven and no compunctions about yelling loudly.  Enjoy Lobsang's guided tour of the compound - quite bizarre to see monk shops where one buys robes, yellow hats etc.  Everyone is waiting for his holiness to walk past so the roads are crowded.  The security is frighteningly lax considering this is a visit by one of the most famous people in the world.

Say good bye to Lobsang and receive hugs in return.  Turns out that Tibetan Buddhists can touch women without being polluted or deconsecrated.  Tell driver to step on it.

Enter Bangalore city limits and run into an enormous traffic jam.

Arrive at hotel after much phoning and confused map-following.

Finish checking in and collapse to sleep after what has been a pretty engaging day, all told.

The rest of our time in Bengaluru was spent fairly indolently.  We made a complaint to the station manager about the fool who gave us the wrong information about our train to Mumbai and were informed that mendacious and troublesome behaviour was not on and the fellow would be spoken to.  We drank in the heart of modern India, where the womwn go out on their own and can wear strappy tops.  We left one rock bar because it was serving vile beer and another because it closed at 11 (eleven).  We also saw the parks (not bad), perused the discount book stores (very well stocked) and what else?  Oh yes, that's it...

We (well, the prettier half of us) got into the papers!  We had heard the Queen's Baton Relay would be coming through town so when we saw a likely place we stopped up and waited.  Sure enough, the traffic started thinning out and the cops started livelying things up a bit.  Drumbeats grew steadily louder and then the advert float came into view.  We clapped and waved, which made them happy as there was no-one else there, not even a man or a dog.  As we jog-walked to follow the Baton, men in track tops grabbed us and...pushed us into the middle of the event.  An Aussie wrested our camera off us and we were forced to run in the middle of the crowd.  Photographers arrived and snapped away madly, especially when Emma was told to touch the baton.  Eventually we freed ourselves and retrieved our camera with the photos to prove it all happened.  The next day we were greeted in a bookstore with the news that Emma was in the Deccan Herald.  We clutched our keepsake edition and elbowed our way onto the Mumbai train, not knowing if we even really had seats, thanks to the waitlist system...

- avoid Bangalore roads - overpolluted and very slow
- avoid Pecos - the beer was foul
- the tourist quota for trains can be used up until 4 hours before departure
- change your clothes if you think you're in the papers
- many cheap bookshops around brigade road
- Mysore palace doesn't allow cameras and you must leave them at the very front gate
- Mysore palace is huge but the tourist track is quite short
- Karnataka state seems ver liberal to booze - lots of bars in both places
- Bangalore IT capital of India has very little (if any) wi-fi




An add to your quote : It's quite a thing to be a modern monk, with mobile phones and the internet...and whoopie cushions!!! lol!!!

  Stella Nov 1, 2010 8:24 PM

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