Tuesday, January 08, 2013

India Lite

The joke around here is that Mysore is "India Lite." And - it's true!
The last time I was in India, a rat dropped out of the sky in Old Delhi, red worms wriggled up out of a hotel sink in Mumbai, and bed bugs visited me in Goa for my 28th birthday. (Okay, a slight exaggeration: a mouse fell out of the sky and then I saw my first rat, which was the size of an obese cat). I got sick sick what seemed like every second day and the monsoon washed away the train we were going to take from Goa to Mumbai. And, of course, the all pervading poverty and heat and rain (monsoon! monsoon!) and and and. So, this time round I was expecting a real challenge.
Except that Mysore is really nice. Not just Gokulam, which is yogi heaven, but Mysore proper. Okay, I've only been to the city centre once, but seriously, it's really nice.
Last Saturday Y. and I went to the famed market. It was a 70 rupee (about $1.30) auto rickshaw ride away from Gokulam, the suburb where the shala is located and where we're staying.
Incense and coloured powder are really big at the market:
 Oh, and roses. Pretty!
I bought a couple bottles of essential oil and the vendor gave me incense! For free! (Which means I probably overpaid for the oil, but still. It was a nice gesture. And the incense smells heavenly - my favourite is Kashmiri flower. FYI - this area is known for incense). 

I experienced a lot less hassling around the market from walking vendors - people hawking trinkets, jewelery, etc, than I expected. And there is less obvious poverty here, too. Bangalore, India's IT capital, is just down the highway (drive safe!) and I wonder if the whole area has benefited economically from the industry. Or perhaps it's just always been this way...

After the market, we went to a bookstore, and then we had lunch. Thali!
Served on a banana leaf! At RRR.
South Indian food tends to be lighter than Northern fare. From left in the little dishes: a sweet honey-like (or maybe it was honey!) dessert, a brothy, spicy curry, curd, another brothy, spicy curry, and a coconutty curry. That's a papadum on the far left. They refill rice and the little mounds of curries. The middle was eggplant, my favourite. All you can eat with a Sprite for 98 rupees - just under $2. 
Oh, and I haven't gotten sick yet (knocking on wood...still knocking). 

It's possible that my next trip to the centre will completely contradict everything I've written, because this is India, after all, and India always throws unexpected things, like rodents, at you. 
This is a house in Gokulam. It's really nice.

And lest you think this is complete paradise, I experienced three black outs today and my shower was cold. But still. It's nice here. 

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