Friday, 1 June 2012

Mysore & Bangalore

Went for a walk. As usual one guy started to talk to me and as usual I ignored him. He kept following me telling me that he's not a rickshaw driver (they always use the same phrases in different cities ... can't they come up with something original??) and started telling me where to go what to see. I said that I don't need any help, I'm just walking around. He smiled at me with him toothless smile, and kept helping me. I don't need any help, thank you very much! Guys in India do not help anybody. Either they want money, or to take you to their shop, or to try and have sex with you. That's guys in the weird age of about 17 to 30 when they're still unmarried virgins, and their hormones shoot through the roof. He wouldn't get away from me, I kept walking in my direction and he kept following me. All I did was say aha to all his commentary without hearing much of what is being said. Finally he said that he has a shop where he sells aurvedic oils. I'm not interested. He said that my ego is too big. I said that it's not big, I don't want to talk to him, I don't need any help, and I don't want to go to his store. He started to blame me that we white girls treat them like shit, and what we think we're so much better than them on and on and on ... Aha! Finally I reached a market, said goodbye and went inside. He asked me what's going on, am I not going to his shop? I said no, I'm going to this market and started walking. I heard something like fuck, fucking, ass ... I did make a right decision of not talking to him. I've been too long in India now to learn not to talk to Indian men!
In the market, I peaked inside. All seems to be normal, sellers selling fruits and lots of flowers for their gods. I took a deep breath and started walking along one alley. The second I put my foot in the alley, madam, madam, look, look here, flowers, colors, flowers, flowers, flowers??!!! I walked less than 50 meters and run out the small side exit to the street. It was less than a 20 second walk and inside I was boiling. I wonder how long it will be till all the water boils out? Will I get more understanding or will I just explode?
In the evening it started to rain. I hid in a small shop that doesn't really sell much. There are a lot of stores like that where you can buy 1 or maybe 2 things. What's the point of it? I asked the owner if the business is doing well ... he said not so much. Maybe he should buy more inventory. I read a newspaper, and came across 2 interesting articles. In one, a Muslim father sues his daughter’s Hindu bf's family. The couple went for a trip and the father filed a police claim that his daughter was abducted. When the court dismissed his claim, the father exclaimed "Oh god, see what has happened!", the judge said "God will look after everyone". Big enough to hit the news! It's a little bit understandable though, because when British gave India independence in 1947… “the muslim party wanted a separate state and Indian party campaigned for a greater India. British couldn't bring two sides together and a civil war emerged with Hindus and Muslim being slaughtered. More and more violence happened and a decision was made to divide the country. The division was extremely tricky and some areas were clearly muslim or Hindu, but most of areas were mixed. The resulting bloodshed was far worse than anticipated. Trains full of muslims fleeing westward, were held up and slaughtered by Hindu mobs. Hindus fleeing to the east suffered the same fate at Muslim hands. By the time chaos had run its course, more than 10 million people had changed sides and at least 1 million had been killed” (LP).
Hindus and Muslims are still in conflict till present day. I heard on numerous occasions that in a state of Gujarat, Muslims bombed a train of Hindu holy man, in response the government(!) gave order to local population to freely shoot and kill any muslims they saw on the street for 3 days! I love religion. It brings so much peace and happiness. It's like it's not enough all the separations that are inevitable such as countries, race, gender, color, let’s throw religion into the mix as well so that everybody could hate everybody else.
Going back to the newspaper, the next article was from Los Angeles where they came up with dogTV, so that your dog will be entertained, relaxed and stimulated for 8 hours, while the owners are at work.
Mysore is big, and a taking a tour was a good idea. A whole day tour from 8am to 9pm was $3 so why not? This time I was relaxed. Learning from a previous tour that most of the time it takes to wait for people to get on the bus. I took my book, and was happy. The French girl who was on the tour wasn't as relaxed as me, and swore she would never take a tour again. The “organization” is just not an Indian word unless it's used in a phrase "organized chaos" which I read in a book, and it's exactly what I think of India. The guide said that it's 500 entry to all the sights, and we should give money to him now. I said that I want to pay for everything myself, but he said that this way we'll get a group discount. Well, we didn't get any discount, had to wait until he gets all the tickets, and at the end everything added up to 400! Not only that, at every entrance he tried to get money from us for that entrance. You give me 100; But we already gave you 500; oh, ok, ok. Like that every time!
The art gallery was very nice, but the French girl didn't like ... she's from Paris, it's understandable.
Next was the zoo. It was a very nice zoo, very big, very clean, not too many people, looked after animals, and a huge variety of them too. We were given 1.5 hours to see it all. First half we looked around, 2nd half we were constantly looking at the watch and running towards the exit.
Saw a temple ... another temple ... yeeiii !! :S
The royal palace was beautiful. We took a useless (but free) audiotour. We didn't have passport or enough money to give as a deposit, which was $20. I tried to convince him to take my Ray Ban sunglasses which worth $200, but I guess he thought nobody would be that crazy to pay so much for sunglasses. Every time I'm more and more convinced that palaces are more beautiful on the outside than on the inside. In the court yard a little girl came running towards me and offered me her hand to shake. I'm in my usual zone "No!", she run away. I have to differentiate between cute kids who want to shake your hand ask for your name and country, and dirty kids who ask for your name and country and then for some rupees. My chilled out mood of Munnar has been long gone. The girl clung up to her mother. Matilda (the French girl), said "look you made her cry". I felt bad, and outstretched my arms to her. She run up to me. I picked her up. Asked her a bunch of questions, played with her hair and dress, and let her go. We walked off ... Gosh, I really don't like kids I tell Matilda. She started laughing at me ... for sure it didn't seem like it while you were playing with her. Well, I had to compensate for making her cry!
Matilda wanted to explore the palace more and told our guide that she won't be coming back, but 1 hour proved to be enough. We come to our guide. He looks at us and starts trembling.
- Where is your bag?
- On the bus
- You're staying on the trip?
- Yes
- Oh no, no, no, no, no
He covered his face with his hands shaking from side to side "no, no, no, no, no, no, no"... "ok, no problem!"
What??? :))) We just transferred to another bus, where they had to squeeze people in for us to sit. Never a problem in India, people always seem to find space, and even if there isn't any space, others will squeeze in without any complaining or show off discomfort.
Saw a temple ... another temple ... yeeiii !!
Went to gardens which were very pretty. Lots of Bollywood video clips are made there. There are fountains, and dancing fountains and lights. Very nice! I was pleasantly surprised. In this part of India, they compensate cheap entrances by expansive camera charges. I just kept on walking with my camera hanging off my shoulder. They were screaming at me, camera ticket, camera ticket. I said "no camera" and walked passed them. I had to wait for Matilda to pay for hers. Common, she was travelling quite a lot, I don't understand what got into her. I don't mind paying camera charges when I'll actually take pictures. But now it was already getting dark, so what do I have to pay for?
While we were walking and talking, 1 guy was walking beside us with his ear almost at my mouth. "May I help you?" I asked. He said he wanted to hear what language we're speaking. Doesn't he know that it's rude to listen to somebody else's conversations?
We were very hassled by the kids to buy something. Madam, eat, food, food, his hand with the palm up, food, food. I looked at him and he was chubby. I don't give money to beggars, hope he'll have better luck with someone else. Another one selling postcards. Please madam madam madam, I need for school, please take, almost crying x 100 times in a never ending loop. We walk off, he comes with us repeating the same sentence without any breaks in between with super speed and a very whiny voice. The locals beside us just stood there. It continued for 5 minutes until I asked one of the locals to shoo him away. One hand gesture with mahalahabahala yell, and the kid was off. Next time I will time how long it will take them to go away if I'll just ignore him. After a while he came back with the same broken record of a whine. I imitated him, he looked at me and walked away.
At night I did reiki. This time it was super cool, I did all the 7 chakras, and tried to concentrate on my 3rd eye because I was eager again to see the color, I didn't :( But I did manage to stop my thoughts. I was noticing what I was thinking and it was "Ok, relax now, breath, stop thinking", Oh damn it, I'm talking, not not thinking, let’s try again "do not think, do not think" ... I'm talking again!!! But I did manage to see and feel emptiness, although I was still humming something. I was concentrating so much that I was forgetting to breathe. It was a very nice experience. Then when I lied to sleep, and I couldn't sleep cause I had too much energy, I would feel that me and my body are separate, I could observe it from outside, nothing needed to move, to be scratched, I was perfectly comfortable. Then there was some laser vision that drew a shape of a sand watch with green laser color which started spinning extremely fast, and while it was spinning it was growing bigger and bigger, and then my body was jerking on its own. Pretty cool stuff!! :))
In the morning went to a Tibetan colony. India gave land to Tibetan refuges in 1959 after Chinese invasion. There are posters everywhere "Thank you incredible India for generous support towards Tibetan causes". The settlement was a nice change from the rest of India where everything was tidy and clean and not broken. There were monks everywhere with maroon and yellow robes. I went inside one monastery, it was extremely beautiful with three 18 meter high golden plated status. 1 of Buddha, and 2 I already forgot who. I went inside the temple and read a book, but every time I lifted my eyes up, I was again and again and again mesmerized by its sight. I couldn't believe the beauty of it, and if it weren't for the noisy gangs of Indian tourists, I would've been in heaven.
I remember on the tuk-tuk drive we passed a lake, which seemed as a nice place to spend a few hours. It was really hot, and I wasn't sure in which direction to go. I didn't have much water left, and I was walking for a long long time. I thought I'm gonna get a sun stroke. I don't think I made a right turn at some junction and was walking maybe for an hour under a blazing sun before giving up on the lake idea and taking a tuk-tuk to the bus station. The tuk-tuk turned around and we drove all the way from where I started walking :(( I was devastated ... all this effort for nothing. I started being philosophical, forget about an hour spent walking in the wrong direction ... what about life choices that we make. How long do we stay at a destructive relationship, a bad job, making wrong life choices, going in a wrong direction before realizing what we're doing and turning back. It must be hard to realize that the further we are in a wrong way, the further we have to go back, just to start at zero again. How many people turn around???
At the bus station 1 guy asked me where I go. I usually rely on local information, otherwise there is no way of knowing anything. The problem is choosing the right candidate for my questions. This wasn't a candidate, and I made a mistake of telling him Mysore. He then didn't get away from me. He was coming back and back, pointing me to the right bus. I thanked him but continued sitting and reading a book, I wasn't ready yet for another hectic bus ride, I needed to get my senses back together after the walk. He didn't board the bus until I did. He kept me a seat and told me to sit beside him, I really didn't want to, I wanted to be left alone at peace, and he looked suspicious to me anyway. I reluctantly sat, but continued to read the book and to ignore him. Thank god a middle aged man shooed him off, since for a single man and a single woman to sit next to each other is almost forbidden. He was standing behind me in a packed bus, talking and talking and talking, I wasn't listening, and wasn't replying to him. He kept on talking. I heard him make a phone call and saying "Mysore" ... this can't be good. The book I was reading was in Russian, at some point a finger was jammed into the pages with some question, I slapped his hand hard and told him to move away. He was saying a lot of "ok-ok" phrases, very popular in here, which doesn't really mean anything. He finally said that he gets of here "ok-ok?". I kept on reading. He didn't go to Mysore as he said, I didn't really know what he wanted from me. Really annoying!
I'm thinking a lot these days. I can't change this place, this culture of 1.2 billion people. I try to change things, and I try to tell people what I think. But how can you fight something that is?? Especially as an outsider?
Again I notice more and more that there are no women outside, especially walking. If there are women, they are usually either travelling somewhere (very small amount) or selling some fruits/veggies. I was walking for hours in the city, and after getting tired of constant stares, I put my head down, and was looking into the ground, a habit that still stays me with. It keeps my nerves in a better shape. I got a little headache from my sunglasses, and hung them on my shirt. One old man, short, traditionally dressed, was walking towards me, and grumbling something. Once he got near me, he started spitting on me. What's going on?? I have long pants on, covered t-shirt, I look down and the sunglasses went a little bit too low and about 1 cm of my cleavage was showing ... oh the drama!
And now for the famous head wobble. Every Indian wobbles his head probably 90% of his waking life. At first I was very confused by this concept. The different meanings I found throughout my journey are: yes/no/maybe/it's nice/no thank you/you're welcome/I like it/I don't know what you're talking about/aha. So pretty much it means everything and nothing at all. What I think it means is just an acknowledgement of what you said was being heard.
In the restaurant one evening, an Indian family sat at my table. As usual they initiate conversation, they want to know my good name (or sweet name), everybody's name is "good" in India. Where I come from, why I came to India, how long I stay here, and what I think of India. After a few minutes I was invited to stay at their house. I didn't really want to, but how do I say "no"? An idea kicked in!! I wobbled my head and got away with it :) I was so happy with myself, I managed to generate a response without giving an answer :)
Went to Bangalore especially to see the aerospace museum … I'm such a girl!! :)
I asked a tuk-tuk driver to take me to a specific hotel. He stopped at some other hotel, and said it was the cheapest one for $16/night. Take me to the other hotel I said. But madam, this is the cheapest hotel you'll find. It's good, family oriented.
- Take me to the hotel in the book
- But madam, this is a good one, go take a look
- Take me to my hotel
- But mad...
- Start driving
- Madam, this hote...
- Stop talking, start driving!
I must have said "Take me to my hotel" at least 10 times. I'm learning not to give up! Hopefully it will become useful in real life, although I'm not sure if my defense will kick in unless I'll have an annoying tuk-tuk driver to combat.
"My" hotel was perfect. It was nice, modern, clean with excellent service at the reception, well minus 1 guy. It was in a very good location, and for $10. I had to wait an hour until someone checked out, because single rooms are unheard of in India, who in their right mind travels on his own? My computer's battery was dying and I asked the guy at the reception to plug it in. He said no. Look at all these cables, and they will go from a reception desk all the way to me. No madam, I'm very very sorry, but it's impossible! I got so angry! In my mind I thought, maybe your country wouldn't be such a shithole if not everything would be impossible!!!!!
Overall I've been to 3 different internet places. All have the same rules that you need passport info to use the internet. Some require an actual passport, some would do with a photocopy, and some would just let you write the number which I remember by heart. Same things, different rules. We all live in the walls that we build ourselves!
It took me an hour to get a train ticket with only 3 people in the line. Why do things in here take so long??
And on I went for a day of adventure. I only had 2 days in Bagalore and tons to see. I was taking tuk-tuks all the time, which was a bit uncomfortable since the maps in LP on different areas weren't connected, and I had no idea where I am and how far places between each other are. I overpaid by a lot these days, but at least I got to see everything.
Went to a sultan's palace which was very boring and really not worth at all. Nearby was a temple. I'm not too excited by temples anymore, but this time there was a 10 year marriage ceremony which was fun. They took 2 gods which symbolize man and woman, carried them all over the temple, put holy water on them, some flowers, walked around with the fire. Then took offering plates, and put some flowers, powder, fruits on a plate. Put them on, took them off, put them on, took them off. Then made people pray to bananas and coconuts, repeat some chants while constantly ringing a bell. The holy men didn't look too holy, they stood there bored with their hands crossed, looking somewhere to the side and chanting and chanting.
Then I took a bus to see 2 more temples. It's never possible to get lost on the bus, absolutely everybody will look after you, ask where you're going, and will make sure that you get there. In the Ganesh temple, the Ganesh was huge and fat, and with so many flowers around him that you couldn't see him at all. Nandi (Shiva's bull) temple was a bit better, and you could actually take pictures in there. Bangalore is a modern city, and pretty big on steakhouses. How could I miss such an opportunity? I went to the most recommended steakhouse. The meat was good, but they put too much black pepper on it, and I spent a lot of time scrubbing it off. Nevertheless it was great to eat steak in the middle of India where you say "Holy cow" as the juices tingle your taste buds :)
The center of Bangalore is very modern. It's one of the Indian software capitals, and you would see posh modern buildings on one side with men dressed in business suits caring suitcases and iPhones, and garbage rotting on the other side of the road. I went to a very nice coffee house, where I had one of the best coffees ever. It was packed, and I was sitting there people watching. One girl caught my attention. She wore tights, tight t-shirt that showed a cleavage, ballet shoes, modern short(!) haircut (Indians are very proud of their long hair), and she was smoking! I got so excited, I almost asked the permission to take her picture :)
There were different coffee facts written on the walls of the cafe. One of them was "Turkey passed a law that a woman can divorce her husband if he doesn't provide her with cup a coffee each day".
I then went to a technology museum and a very expensive mall that's full of Rolex, Luis Vitton, Armani brands. Beautiful mall, no customers :( I wished I had a date with me in Bangalore. The restaurants were extremely beautiful! 5 star decor and atmosphere with the most expensive dishes going for $10 ... if even.
Was a bit disappointed by aerospace museum because I wanted to see space shuttles, but there were mainly planes :( Although MIG was on display and a heat shield for a satellite. Except the models, there were mostly pictures of different presidents who came to see India's space program. See ... we can be important too!
pix are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/MysoreBangalore

3 comments:

  1. which hotel did you stay at?

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  3. hey hi dear..want to enjoy this week end with your family..Blindly you can choose br hills resort and also near by place bandipur resorts..damn sure you can enjoy a lot..because its really an awesome place..

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