Archive for the category "Bangalore"

Bangalore to Mysore

Today was the day we travelled from Bangalore to Mysore. Another early morning and photographing before we packed up our things and set out to the train station in Bangalore. Over breakfast Cara had informed me that there seemed to be two types of times at the train station. Empty or sardine style crowds.

Upon reaching the train station it felt like we were most likely going to be set up like sardines. We stuck out like painfully white sore thumbs. 12 white people with large bags in the middle of a densely populated Indian train station. There was no hiding that we did not belong there under normal day-to-day pretenses. We arrived at the station about an hour and a half early so we could spend some time photographing before we set out by train. The train station was organized by a series of 10 platforms and a walkway above connecting them all. Some of us head up to the walkway above the train yard. We were met with a strange wave like frequency of crowds. Every so often a train would come in and the walkway would be packed for a good five minutes. Then no one. Then a train would be departing soon and a massive crowd would flood in from the opposite direction. When the two met on the rare occurrence it seemed like a navigational nightmare. I just stood next to the wall and waited for the waves to pass. And of course being there wouldn’t be complete without more people wanting to take pictures with us.

After a bit we loaded up into the train and set out for Mysore. Traveling through India by train is truly an amazing experience. It was so wonderful to watch as the city and urban sprawl slowly receded into nothing as they became replaced by small farms, streams and mountains in the distance. Apart from this you see so many people near the tracks as you pass through small towns in the rural areas. A man teaching his children to harvest their crops, a woman washing her clothes in the river, kids playing volleyball and people simply walking down the tracks. I found these little instances to be beautifully crafted in a way. You saw such a short snippit of these people’s lives and were forced to somewhat invent a story or at least a reason behind their actions. It was truly a snapshot that passed too quickly to even take a picture of. Every second away from the window and you missed something breath taking.

However, I could not ignore the environment of the train. I decided to get up and snoop around the train cars a bit. I found that each train car was painted with a surprisingly different and refreshing color palette. Where one would be a mint like green, another would be a muted pink or an underwater blue.

In seemingly no time at all we were in Mysore, or as one man called it “the Beverly Hills of India”. Mysore is quite a popular destination for those studying yoga. So the sight of white people did not seem as shocking here. Which, I must admit, hurt my ego. A whole day and no one asked for a picture with me. Just when I thought I was developing quite a following in India. Anyway, we came into Mysore and were greeted at the train station by three cabs. So the group split up and I landed a cab with Emily, Kelsey and Jessica. And it was glorious. We weren’t a minute away from the train station when the driver looks at me, slowly turns up the volume to the radio and begins to serenade all of us. Grinning ear to ear he went on for almost the entire car ride. Only stopping at the end to finally make introductions and small talk. Even when we had come to a stop in traffic he would begin to play air guitar to the song and nod me on as I tapped my hands to the beat.

We reached our destination, a small residence in the suburb of Bangalore. We went in and were greeted by the two most gentlemanly dogs I have ever met. One of the owners, Anu Ganesh, led us in a cooking class where learned how to make Indian cheese, a spinach and cheese entree and a delicious chocolate dessert. After the class we sat down and enjoyed a meal. One of of the dogs lay on the floor with his front paws crossed over one another as a man would cross his legs and sit back in relaxation.

We ventured out into Mysore to take some pictures around dusk. I teamed up with Jade again as we made our way down the main street where we turned off and found a small neighborhood park where a group of kids were playing cricket. We took some pictures before a ball was hit our way and I embarrassed myself trying to throw it back. Cricket balls are not quite like baseballs I found. At least not the one they were using. As we walked our way back to the house we saw so many kids playing in the streets and it was the most enjoyable thing to watch. A sight that seems to have become less frequent back home for some reason. But it was just lovely to watch kids have fun without anyone worrying about the new flu strand everyone has or people stealing kids away from their parents.

We met back up at the house so we could be shuttled to out hotel. Two cabs arrived and a group of four of us had to hang back while they dropped off the rest for the class. SO we sat on the roof of the house drinking chai and eating some of the most delicious pie I have ever had. Adam had brought up my pies before to Anu earlier as she taught us how to cook so she insisted we try her pie. I humbly admit defeat. The pie was amazing. Chocolate, banana, cinnamon and crust living together in perfect harmony.

When we finally made it to the hotel I found my way up to a spectacular 360 degree view from the roof. A nice quiet spot to gaze out on the bumbling city as I watched on in a sort of exhausted silence.

Bangalore

The first day in Bangalore has come to a close. And now I am tasked with the seemingly impossible task of summarizing it. But I shall do my best.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to the sounds of prayer coming from a mosque down the road. At first hearing that was slightly worrying until I realized what they were. At which point I turned over and began to sleep for another hour. Around 7 I made my way outside and into the street of Bangalore. It was fascinating watching the city wake up. People stumbling out of their houses, still groggy from not enough sleep. After spending some time on the street I retreated back to the hotel. We were treated with a delicious breakfast of toast, fruit salad, coffee and mango juice. Which, by the way, if you’ve never had tastes like nectar from the gods.

WHen our group came together we headed out to take pictures. Our first stop: a little street not far from the hotel. We split up into groups and Jade and I decided to be partners as we enjoy wandering. So we started off but were promptly stopped by some religious men who asked if we wished to see their temple. We obliged them and were lead down a narrow alley to a small building. We removed our shoes and soon everyone in the class was doing the same. We stepped through the door and were greeted with incredible admiration. We were given a show of the temple, blessed with a ritual and then bags of fresh fruit were gifted to us. We made our way outside of the temple where we spent a good ten minutes being photographed by the people of the temple. What would ultimately become quite a common occurrence. The combination of my pale complexion and above average height instills a need for a picture for some reason. Thus far I have posed with nineteen strangers so they could have their picture taken with me.

From the temple we made our way North to a city market. A massive city market. Once again Jade and I walked off and explored. We were offered carrots by a very insistent tradesman who became irritated we would not take his free carrots. We put them in our pockets. We made our way into a massive structure that served to house the roofed section of the market. It was at least four stories tall and very open. While making our way through we ran into this group of kids playing on a roof. They posed for us and were delighted to come and speak to us about who we were and who they were and what we were doing in India. They were no older than 12 and already had better social functioning than many college students I know.

We then left the market and went to eat at a local restaurant. We ordered up a hodge podge off the menu and had a delicious communal feast. I got up to go to the bathroom, which was on the second floor. And as I went I realized I could go further up the building. All the way to the roof in fact. Which lent a beautiful overview of the city as well as a chance to take the pictures of the people who made their home on the roof. Everyone wanted their picture taken.

We exited and left for a local tourist spot. The Palace of Tipu Sultan. Who strangely enough weaponized the use of rockets in 1755. I was skeptical but sure enough they had some of the rockets. From here we went over to another temple. I was lagging behind the group at the entrance but when I came in their was a man holding a chicken and a woman splashing water on it. Right then I knew this day would not end well for the chicken. As I made my way through people in the group began to come in and say they were killing the chicken. So I went out and sure enough they were killing the chicken.

After some discussion about how far a Botanical Garden was we began our walk on foot. We were given conflicting reports on wether it was 500 meters away or 20 kilometers away. Soon into our walk we took rickshaws the rest of the way. We spent the time exploring the park and being bombarded by groups wanting to take pictures with us before making our way back to the hotel.

After running out to dinner we organized a ride home in rickshaws. Shelby, Jessica climbed into one and Jade into the one next to us. She was quick to egg our driver into racing back to the hotel. A move that would prove near fatal. We were no more than one minute into the drive when I realized I had made a huge mistake on rickshaw choice. We were zipping through traffic at a much quicker rate of speed than any other rickshaw. Darting to and from, scraping in between other vehicles and slamming on the brakes. We were making other rickshaw drivers scared if that says anything. Soon we were lost. We decided to turn around and the rickshaw driver hops over to the opposite side of the road and proceeds to race towards oncoming traffic. We did make it back thank god though. An end to a truly horrifying ordeal.