|I think Ganesh now knows I have a
crush on him.
November 14, 2007
I was expecting a lot coming here. There wasn’t one person who didn’t rave about this city’s beauty.
The first thing I did was go to the big palace. It’s truly beautiful. But I specifically planned to be here on a Wednesday because
this is when the palace is completely lit up and you can walk through at night. According to my Goan taxi driver, this takes
place on Wednesdays. But in reality, it happens on Sundays. The good news is that there was no way my stay in Mysore would
have fallen on a Sunday so I don’t need to kick myself for anything.
While at the palace, I got my fill of what life would be like being a celebrity and being hounded by the public. I thought I knew
what this was like in China when a few people wanted their pictures with me. No, siree. It started when I walked onto the
grounds of the palace. I had my camera out to take some pictures. Then masses of kids started coming around me so that I
could take their pictures. The more I took, the more kids continued to come. They were surrounding me. I finally had to tell
them that I couldn’t take any more pictures.
Before entering the palace, you have to surrender your camera. It’s all about the ‘mental picture’ to serve as the memory to
this elaborate building. But once I entered, a group of boys started chatting me up. It was fine at first…but then they kept
bringing more and more of their friends and I couldn’t even walk. And (surprise, surprise) I kind of was interested in looking at
the palace. They kept asking my name and where I was from. After a while I had to tell them that the show was over and the
white girl was going to walk around the palace. Okay. I didn’t really say it like that. But I did tell them that it was time for me
to part ways with them. They would continue to come up to me and wave to me – I ended up passing on looking at a room
because I just needed to walk around in peace. As I said, I began to understand what a celebrity’s life would be like. It would
plain suck. Other times, there would be pairs of kids that would come up to me and ask my name. These kids tended to accept
a smile while I told them my name and then they went off smiling. I guess it’s a pretty rare thing out here to talk to a white
girl? That’s at least how they were acting. Some of them got so giddy and excited when I would smile and wave. It was quite
Even upon leaving the palace, I got my camera back and took some pictures outside. Once again, the masses came. This made
me realize that this palace is much more of a tourist attraction for Indian tourists than for foreign tourists.
I went to the main market out here. A nice change to only see fruits and veggies, flowers and powdered dyes. No skinned
animals. Phew! The thought of meat still haunts me a bit from when I was up in Srinagar.
My walk home turned out to be more eventful than I bargained for. It’s common for rickshaw drivers to stop every chance
they get to try to get you into their rickshaw so that they can make some rupees. But one rickshaw driver turned and stopped
right near where I was walking. He was out of his rickshaw and put his hand out to shake it. In the beginning, I shook kids’
hands in Goa before finding out that they were carrying some notebook so that you could write how many rupees you were
giving them. Yeah, right. So when this guy put his hand out, the last thing I was going to do was shake it. Though I knew he
wasn’t carrying a notebook, the real reason is that so many people out here have their fingers up their noses half the time and
are sneezing in their hands and the last thing I want to do is have my hands come into contact with them if I don’t have to.
Rude? Yes. But honest? Yes.
So anyway, he put out his hand and said “Don’t you remember me?” This is a pretty famous line in India, too. I was carrying
my canvas tote and while his one hand was held out, his other hand moved to my shoulder. I don’t think he was prepared for
me reaction when I pushed him away and told him to “GET THE F&*% AWAY FROM ME, YOU A%&HOLE!!!” He looked at
me like ‘white girl has gone crazy’. I can’t say for certain that he was going to take my bag. But I can say that there has never
been a time when a person in this country has put his hands anywhere near me (other than offering a handshake). And it was
odd that he got out of his rickshaw – most drivers just shout out from their vehicles. I’m still giving the guy a tad of the benefit
of the doubt because, truthfully, I just have a hard time believing that a person in this country would be capable of that after all
of the wonderful people I have met. The funny thing is that this situation didn’t rattle me a bit. I am always very aware and
now I know that I need to keep it up – even if it does come across as untrusting.
Onto a different topic - It is such a change from Bangalore out here. I went to a restaurant that my Lonely Planet gave stellar
reviews. It raved about the atmosphere. I thought it was just ‘okay’. But if that’s the best that this city has, then it’s enough to
say I already miss the endless options in Bangalore.
Tomorrow I am going to hire a rickshaw driver to take me around. Maybe doing it this way will make me see more of the
sights and beauty of this city.
November 15, 2007
I love days like this when I unexpectedly meet cool new people.
But before I get to that, let me give myself a few props for taking Mysore’s public city bus up to a place called ‘Chatamundi
Hill’. There aren’t too many times that I will say this…but it was a beyond pleasurable bus experience.
This hill was a bit different than I was expecting. I thought it was just a place to catch a view. But I was wrong. It is also home
to some temples.
Let me digress for a minute. One of the temples was a ‘Swami’ temple. Call me an ignorant fool, but I never knew swamis had
to do with Hinduism. Wasn’t there a swami on one of my childhood cartoons? Maybe the Flintstones? Was it ‘The Great Nanu’
that was a swami? These were some of the major thoughts going through my head while I was up on Chatamundi Hill.
When it came time for me to descend to the bottom, I opted for the stairs. I almost opted right out of this when I saw that it
meant passing a number of fighting monkeys. Up until this trip to India, I used to think all monkeys – even the urban ones –
had some ‘cuteness’ factor going on. These thoughts have changed. Some of this has to do with reading the newspapers while I
have been in this country and finding out that two different people in Delhi have been killed by these disgusting Rhesus
monkeys. They are like massive rats that seem to do nothing but procreate. Now, my fondness for monkeys in India only goes
as far as the ones I see in the jungle.
Once I found a break in the monkey fighting, I made my way down the stairs. I stopped and made a few people’s days by
posing with them in pictures. Yes, I am an instant celebrity out here. Even more so than I was in China! But being a celebrity
has its disadvantages, too. There are times where you just want to take everything in while having your mind wander. But this
is impossible when groups of boys start following you and keep asking what your name is and what country you are from.
Providing these answers isn’t enough. They want to remain attached to you as long as possible. At home, a simple ‘Okay. Good-
bye (with a friendly smile and wave)’ would normally give somebody the hint. But not here. Then I tried to tell them I was just
going to walk by myself. That didn’t do it either. I had to go to my last resort – pulling out my ipod. Rude? Yes. But necessary?
To keep my sanity, yes!
At this moment I felt a large amount of sympathy for celebrities (or maybe I should say ‘empathy’ since I was able to relate to
them at that moment?). I normally don’t run across them…but if I ever do, I will simply see them, get internally excited and
then move on with my day. Ohhh…the profound things I’m learning and discovering while in India.
I was almost to the bottom of the stairs when I met my future friends. They envied my choice of footwear (hiking shoe types of
things) and I felt for them while watching them getting down the stairs in flip-flops that didn’t have the traction needed to not
fall back on their heads. We all ended up chatting and by the time we got to the bottom, they invited me into their car with
their driver to move onto the next place.
Sarah and Marla are friends/roommates who live in Los Angeles. They are on a 3-week trip out in India and are spending
most of their time in Mysore and Goa (for a yoga retreat). I haven’t really met that many people while traveling through India
(a lot of the places I have gone tend to be a bit more for Indian tourists) so meeting these two was especially great.
Our night ended at Brindavan Gardens – apparently the backdrop used for many o’ Bollywood movies. We read that they light
up the place once the sun goes down and the water moves to the sound of Hindi music. That was enough to pique our interest.
Talk about a hot-spot for Indians! There were masses of people here – and I mean masses. And in these masses, there were
(no exaggeration) three foreigners. We posed for a picture here and there to make some people’s night complete. We also
posed with an 8-foot tall man (I might be a few inches off but I think this is a pretty good estimate). We watched water with
colored lights move to music (think ‘Bellagio’ on a much smaller scale – oh, and no Andrea Bocelli). And, of course, in true India
fashion, the electricity went off as we were leaving the gardens.
I am so bummed that I officially made plans to leave tomorrow morning (I arranged everything for Ooty this morning). It
would have been so much to hang out with Marla and Sarah tomorrow, too. Oh well. I know that when I am in L.A. next
time…or when they are in S.F…we will hang out again.
At lunch with Sarah and Marla.
At th e Mysore Palace.