Arriving in Mysore concluded one of the longest days of my life. I have trouble sleeping on planes and I was sitting in the middle the whole time, thank god for spinal twists. I got into the airport and paid for a taxi to Mysore which was about $80 for a 4 hours trip. It was 3am and my only option until 9am. Pretty easy decision to make.
So I get my driver, he is very nice and respectful, etc and we drive for a while until stopping for tea. Now this was an obviously milk based tea, in India they call it tapas, and I was very happy to not get sick. This is when I started to realize that nobody here really speaks english, but some can communicate a little. I need to learn Hindi.
I arrive while the sun rose, though there wasn’t a sunrise due to the fog. Trash is everywhere. So is shit. So are stray dogs. Cows line the streets. Some are yellow, probably from eating curry and such, it didn’t seem to be a problem of malnutrition because a lot of the white cows were eating trash too.
So the driver found my hotel and I knew that I would have to stay up as long as possible to beat the jet-lag. So I strapped on my Vibrams, took out my camera, and went to go explore Mysore.
The first thing that really caught my attention was the stray dogs. They are everywhere, and you can tell they are nocturnal because they were active in the morning then slept in the afternoon. So they litter the streets, searching through trash and tend to be individuals, at least from what I saw, there wasn’t much pack behavior during the day.
This brought me into the streets. Litter is everywhere, though there isn’t too much fecal matter on the sides of the streets, because it’s mostly in the gutters and in random grassy patches.
So I spent the day meeting people and taking their pictures and just generally trying to be friendly and nice. People here are extremely nice and just want to share a smile, I think a few of them think that me taking their picture is a big deal. Most just make jokes with me about it when I try to take their picture though.
So I headed over the palace after a while, I wanted to see where the Ashtanga Yoga Shala was because I have to register today. I got lost.
There’s nothing quite like being lost in a foreign country with no knowledge of the local language or customs. It’s like a whirlwind of trying not to get hit by cars or scooters as you walk, avoiding stepping into a big pile of cow dung, trying to find a bottle of water, telling rickshaw drivers to leave you alone because you just want to walk. Seeing weird crow-like birds, stray dogs, cattle pulling carts, markets with random stuff I have never seen before makes me feel free in a way that nothing else can. There is a lot of pain and suffering here, but there is so much happiness. I’m writing another post about the people, so you will see some faces in my next post.
So I made my way to the palace after finding a map and it was 200 rupee to enter. 3 bucks, pretty expensive for India. Inside, some kids saw me and wanted to take pictures with me and as soon as one saw that I was responsive, the whole group started taking photos together with me. It was fun for a few minutes while we were messing around and I was trying to get them to take serious and funny pictures, but a line started to form and people started to encircle me. I was not down with that so I said thanks and took one more, then left to keep walking around. Here are my good pictures from the palace:
The architecture here is amazing. There is a juxtaposition of rich and poor, so close in proximity that you see such nice things surrounded by absolute poverty.
After my trip to the palace, I headed back to the hotel assisted by a rickshaw driver that definitely took advantage. Instead of about 10 or 12 cents, it cost me half a dollar. Suffice to say I am putting my game face on and that is not happening anymore (I am on a strict budget). I don’t like people trying to take advantage of me because they feel they deserve my money, because they don’t unless they provide enough value in their service to earn it. I don’t like charity or donations, because economically it is unsustainable and I usually find there is a lack of responsibility behind how the money is used, making it wasteful. How can I know if that driver used my money for his own booze, or for food for his children? I can’t and it’s not my responsibility to know.
I’m always kind of surprised at how impervious I am to people selling me things and trying to convince me of things. Must be all of the propaganda I am regularly exposed to. What can I say, it is the American in me to be skeptical of everything.