Monday, March 02, 2009

Chamundi Bus? Chamundi Bus?

Hanging out with Arjuna at the palace.
So last we left off in Mysore. I am thinking about the first time I came to Mysore, all alone. I wanted to go up to Chamundi Hills and the Lonely Planet Guide led me to the bus stand. Well, fine. So, I get there and start asking the locals, "Excuse me, can you tell me which bus goes to Chamundi Hills, please?" Blank stares. I asked again, same thing. ACK. Just then an Indian man who was watching me came up and said in perfect English, I might add, "You have to just say, CHAMUNDI? BUS?"
I laughed when I realized that I was making it too complicated, especially with my California accent and all. Then Ravi, believe it or not Ravi Shankar, there are many in India, and they do not all play the sitar, said to me that I might need a little help getting on that bus, pointing to a line of about 100 adults and kids cramming onto the Chamundi bus! Whoa now! Ravi offered to go with me to Chamundi Hills because he had nothing better to do as he was also a tourist visiting from Bangalore. Being incredibly lonely, I accepted his offer. Of course, we missed that bus but it wasn't long before another bus to Chamundi came along. "Just get behind me and don't you mind the pushing and shoving", Ravi said.
I finally did make it on the bus with both kidneys intact, as there was indeed major pushing and shoving. I had never experienced anything like that before in my life. Ravi had saved me a seat too! So off we went, me and this total stranger. Don't worry, he didn't turn out to be a mad rapist or anything! The ride to Chamundi Hills was fun and so was the temple at the top of the hill, where we stood in line for way too long and received a "drive by blessing". But I was really looking forward to walking down the 1000 steps to the bottom. You can also walk up the 1000 steps if you want to, but that was not in my agenda! So after visiting the temple and the other stuff up there, Ravi and I walked down the 1000 steps stopping halfway down to visit Nandi the bull who was carved from one giant rock in 1659! Nandi 1659
Then off we went to the Mysore Zoo, the most depressing zoo I have ever been to in my life.
But Ravi, who had never seen a gorilla before wanted to see one, so we went, and he saw a gorilla alright. A huge black gorilla sleeping in the corner of his enclosure! Now at the Mysore Zoo, instead of a snack bar, they have a man with a huge pile of coconuts and a machete. You buy the coconut and watch him whack off the top and put a long straw in it. So I drank the milk, ate the weird slimey gel inside, and nibbled on the coconut meat. The next morning I discovered that I was allergic to fresh raw coconuts because my eyes were completely swelled shut! Obviously, that was the ONLY time I have ever eaten a fresh raw coconut but every time I go to India, especially South India, where coconut oil is in everything, I get the puffy eye thing, only not as bad as when I ate the coconut! Something tells me it was the weird slimey gel that got me!
I know you've seen this picture before but it shows the coconut allergy thing just perfectly, and it's not even the first year, but the second. I hadn't eaten a coconut that year, but I definitely ate something with coconut in it. I could barely get my eyes open!

The view of Mysore from Chamundi Hills. Yep, smog.
So that brings me to the present and Eileen and I going to Chamundi Hills. Of course, it was my 4th time there, and I was still looking forward to walking down the 1000 steps! However, Eileen's knee was bothering her that day and we knew that if we walked down those 1000 steps, I might be carrying her the rest of the time in India so we took a rickshaw instead. Our rickshaw drivers name was Samir, a very nice man indeed. He gave us a cool tour of Mysore Hills as well, and told us, "India is like an outdoor zoo!" Yes, indeed. Samir shows us a sandlewood tree.This is a male monkey but I had to edit because he was just a little too excited to see us!After I gave some snacks to this cow, she rewarded me with a head ram to my arse and slimed me with her nose as well! Hmmmpfhhhh!I had to holler out to Eileen because this monkey was jumping up trying to get her snacks. Notice a little calf is also following her around. I can't remember what that plant is called, but the pods taste and look like little peas. I ate some too! They are quite yummy. Mona probably knows what they are....

A fun little band and procession on Chamundi Hills. At the end of the video hear my relief as I find Eileen who I lost for a minute or two!

The view from our hotel near Mysore Palace, and finally, have you ever heard the Muslim call to prayer? Well now's your chance! Sorry, it was really dark but you can hear the singing, or prayers just fine....I want to point out that the first time I heard this in 2002, waking me up at 5:30 am from this very hotel, I was scared to death. I had no idea what the hell it was! I think you will agree it is both haunting and lovely at the same time. (I really should learn to shut up when I take videos, bla bla bla!)

Have a lovely day!


13messages said...

Wonderful post. Thanks.

lime said...

oh man! they whack off the tops of coconuts in trinidad so you can drink them and then split them so you can scoop out the jelly too and i really enjoy that on a hot day but i am so sorry you found out the hard way that you are allergic! not fun at all!

glad ravi was such a nice travelling pal for the day though.

Breazy said...

It is a good thing Ravi assisted you. The Muslim call of prayer is beautiful!

thanks for sharing Susie!

G-Man said...

You mean the monkey's red rocket?

Mojo said...

Susieji? Have you heard from Monaji lately... things are pretty tough for her right now, and you're the closest one to her. I mean literally. She's in CA with her sister.

Love the photos, I'm just a little distracted at the moment.

Mojo said...

Nope. Just a picture window.

None of us can do much more than pray, but I was really hoping she'd be closer than 8-9 hours. Still beats 4-5 days though. Which is how far I am. The double whammy was just too unfair.

S said...

If Mona really really needs someone, I will go, Mojo!

barman said...

Darn, I guess I am going to have to eat the coconut cream pie I made for you than. It is for your own good. LOL

You neutered a monkey? Poor monkey.

Boy even the monkeys spot a tourist a mile away. I know, you have been so many times for business you are hardly a tourist but I am just saying.

I have heard bells of something but never the chant like that. Wow, that would be very different until you knew what it was.