|Adventures in India||
I was interviewed the other night about absentee voting from Bangalore and the article came out in today (Sunday)'s paper.
Staying calm when life gets crazy
Our visit to Mysore started with an autorickshaw debacle in which Glen, Sasha, and Anita were whisked away by an auto that simply disappeared. Working out where they were and why they hadn't followed our auto, involved punctured tires, an irate driver, and finally our driver taking all 7 of us into his auto. Then somehow, instead of the relatively short ride to Chamundi Hill to see the temple and the Nandi monolith, we were talked into a 30km drive out to see the old Hoysala temple at Somnathpura (check out earlier blogs on that) and our auto driver was calling a friend to take Glen and family. So our couple hours away from the hotel turned into 12 hours away but, perhaps all the best days are unplanned.
Our first goal after Glen, etc's arrival was to get away from the maddening crowd. We did a fairly good job by going to an agro-resort outside of Madikeri (Coorg). Rainforest Retreat is an organic agroforest that produces coffee, cardamom, vanilla, and black pepper and offers cabins in the woods along with guided treks. We were hoping for an all day trek into the natural forest but due to the high volume of tourists (Dasara festivals) they were only able to offer the short treks that all their guests go on.
Traffic jam on our way to Madikeri
Glen, Sasha, and Anita visited us from 19 Oct (really 20 Oct by the time they got here from the airport, it was about 1am when they arrived) until the 25th (Glen) and 26th (Sasha & Anita). They are our first visitors and we were a little nervous about planning their trip, especially since Glen announced that all they really wanted to do was get away from people. In South India? Is that possible? During Dasara nonetheless. But we managed to find a agro-resort in the hills of Kodagu (Coorg) to spend a couple nights in (not away from people really, but it was away from cars and high-rises), then made up for the relative seclusion with a couple nights in Mysore surrounded by the madness of the Dasara rush.
New traffic light at Mill & Sampige Road intersection
The craziest thing happened while we were off at BRT and MM Hills. We came back to find a traffic light at the intersection near our flat! There wasn't one when we left and there was a functioning one when we came back 3 nights later. It may not sound so remarkable, but I have only seen about a dozen traffic lights in the entire city and zero stop signs (I have not seen a single stop sign since leaving the U.S.) -- to suddenly have one near our house was just short of amazing.
It doesn't help much with crossing the road since the left-hand turn arrow (they drive on the opposite side of the road here) is always lit so it's actually easier as a pedestrian to cross further from the intersection.
The drive to BR and MM Hills is pretty long but in between the areas where I need to be are places I'd like to be. We were, however, with a Driver. As a Driver he is a Getter-From-Here-To-There. He is not a dawdler in the places in between and so most of the tantalizing places I saw were just glimpses through a speeding car window.
Things here in India are both more structured and more spontaneous than life in the US. This morning's spontaneity came in an email. I was just about to reprimand Tim for turning on the internet the instant he got out of bed when he said "hey, message from the school -- it's been cancelled for today!"
Our hotel room in MM Hills
After our quick trip to BRT we drove back out to the sorta-main road, then out to the other side of the same range of hills to a village called Male Mahadeswaram Hills (MM Hills for short). I was surprised as we drove into town at how big it is. But, like BRT, it houses an important temple and is visited by many pilgrims. We arrived pretty late in the day and were met by Mr. Narayanan, the ATREE representative in that area. He helped us check into our hotel and showed us where we could get supper, then arranged to meet us the next day to show us around.
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