Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Mysore to Paris
Mysore to Paris
Our window at the Hotel Sandeesh the Prince continued to afford us entertainment besides the construction. A beautiful Brahiminy Kite used a perch just outside to survey the city. A school girl across the street watched traffic with us. At nightfall, tens of Rose-ringed parakeets screeched as they came in to roost for the night at the big corner tree, and the ever present Giant Fruit Eating Bats came in from their country day roost to feed on the city's tree fruits.
Our driver, Uday, strongly suggested visiting the Mysore Palace and, surprise, he knew a guide! We took him up on it and what a pleasure his advice has been. First he took Marion into a post office so she could mail things, then he brought us to the palace where his friend was waiting. The guide quickly got us through admission , security, and checking our cameras.
We then had a wonderful tour of this Raj era palace- sure beat the royals in London for wow factor.
Then we headed back to a silk outlet along side the hotel and were once again awed by the number of staff. You know how you go into a U.S. store and no one seems to work there? Now imagine you have 5 staff members for yourself, following you around. You can feel crowded or you can relax and enjoy being the Maharaja for once.
Lunch in the hotel where more waiters come over to talk about america.
Then off to see Chamundeswari Temple, up on Chamundeswari Hill, high on a granite hilltop above Mysore. The temple was not particularly interesting although there was a troop of macaques who seemed intent on torturing the people lined up to go in. Lots of shopkeepers, hawkers and beggars worked the crowds. Not very pleasant nor peaceful, so we walked around the back side away from the crowds and I looked back at Sally, Marion, and George who were being followed by a small boy, holding a golden ball. He seemed to be asking them something repeatedly, but clearly not asking for money or food. The two word phrase meant nothing to them and they kept shrugging and saying that they could not understand.
Suddenly the boy saw me watching them. Ah, someone new to try! He walked up, repeating the two words, but the suddenly he looked right at my chest, a broad smile appearing on his face and he pointed to my chest and said loudly, SCHOOL PEN! He was pointing to my pocket pen. I instantly pulled it out and handed it to him. He trembled with pleasure holding it as if it was Excalibur.
In fact, I had just given him my only Amherst College Class of 2007 purple pen. I had him pose with the pen (although he panicked when I tried to rotate the pen in his hand so that I could see it in the photo. Viola!, A future AC student from Chamundeswari , India.
Ok, so it is time to head home, but without Uday. He has gotten sicker and so has everyone in our party save Marion. Uday brings on a replacement driver, Kumar, who Uday says is just as good. Not true! He is a bit more aggressive then Uday but a fine driver. However he knows little English. We tell him we want to see a 1000 year old Banyan tree off the road to Bangalore and he says, sure, sure. Sure.
Off we go careening around trucks, motorbikes, dogs, goats, and the ubiquitous cows. An hour goes by. We have many incomprehensible conversations with Kumar and my companions begin to wonder if we will see the Banyan or even Bangalore. O ye, of little Faith!
He pulls off the main highway and heads off through dusty towns on a crazy rutted road. The sun sets and gloaming gathers around us. Half an hour later of blinding dust we pull into a parking area near the 1000 year old Banyan. The tree is the size of a city block, but the gate is closed and old man waves us off. Our driver, Kumar, says something with great emphasis and the old man, pauses, heaves a great sigh and walks off to return with a weak flashlight. He takes us through the gate for a spooky walk through and around the great tree, charmingly called, "The Big Banyan". He carefully explains everything in the incomprehensible Karnada language and George laughs to see me nodding, and saying "amazing" every so often. The old man and I understand just enough - the story teller and the listener, the Ancient Mariner and the wedding guest.
We continue the wild ride into Bangalore and arrive back at the Taj Residency Hotel where we are greeted as returning heroes. Sally and I have dinner in the Cafe Mozaic for Indian food and the Host comes by for a farewell chat. He leaves and comes back with a gift cake for us that says Bon Voyage. We leave with great ceremony and hand shakes all around.
The ride to the Bangalore Airport is quick and painless. we put our luggage into the hands of waiting baggage men, who whisk us through crowds and security and drop us at the Air France desk.
An uneventful flight takes us over Kuwait, Iraq, and Lebanon before entering the European Union. We now sit at Charles De Gaulle airport awaiting the flight to Boston.
See you all soon!