Mysore – Photos with Narration – Famous Sights in and near Mysore

20130228-003514.jpgMysore is a very green city with lots of lush trees throughout the city.20130228-003647.jpgSome yellow saffron remains from a recent festival.20130228-003814.jpgLaundry dries on the median.20130228-003936.jpg

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20130228-004244.jpgI visited this little one-room pre-school that is open to the road. The wife of my rickshaw wallah is a teacher in one of these but on the other side of the city. 20130228-004415.jpgIn government schools, the children salute their greeting.20130228-004600.jpgThe cook tried to get this little guy to take a nap, but he refused to lie down! Far too exciting a time when the first foreigner to ever visit is here! Must . . . . .not. . . . . .sleep. . . . .20130228-004835.jpgSome of the school decor which the cook could not read, she was illiterate. She was happy to have me visit though, because the teacher went away to a wedding for three days and left her in charge! My rickshaw wallah provided interpretation here, the only known language by these students and cook was Kannada, a regional language with its own system of writing.20130228-005234.jpgWe ended-up staying a long time when a French couple got a flat tire nearby and my rickshaw wallah helped them.20130228-005423.jpgChamundi Hill overlooks the city of Mysore and has some important Hindu sites.20130228-005612.jpg20130228-005634.jpg20130228-005708.jpg
The temple of Chamon-deshwari is the most prominent feature of Chamundi Hill.

20130228-005805.jpg20130228-005838.jpgThis fella knew it was time for his dinner, at one of the snack shacks near the temple in Chamundi Hill.20130228-010015.jpgViews from the top.20130228-010124.jpg20130228-010156.jpgNandi is carved from one piece of stone and is the carrier of Shiva. Located at another site on Chamundi Hill.20130228-010420.jpgOn a quiet country road I learned to drive an auto rickshaw. (Not well)20130228-010613.jpgGorgeous Mysore Palace was only built in 1912 (replacing one lost to fire) and lived in for just a few decades.20130228-010754.jpg20130228-010844.jpgWhen lit, 97,000 lights make a fairy tale setting. When I was here, it was lit for one hour on Sunday evenings.20130228-011034.jpg20130228-011106.jpg20130228-011124.jpg20130228-011201.jpgA chai wallah on the left and my rickshaw wallah on the right. We stopped for some hot, milky, sweetened Masala tea every few hours. They mostly come in 2 and 4 ounce servings. Large thimbles.20130228-011410.jpgWhenever I try to accept being choreographed, I feel like a dancing cow. However, I thought I was just being silly, I didn’t realize there are actually dancing cows. They don’t really dance though, more like sway to the music.20130228-011651.jpgThis is Sai Baba plastered all over this temple. He died in 2011 but he accomplished some great works. Numerous free hospitals, orphanages, and water projects are funded by his followers. He preached a very inclusive doctrine accepting all religions. He had centers in 114 countries at the time if his death.20130228-012016.jpgAn aqueduct. Old school.20130228-012139.jpgThe ancient Island Fort town of Srirangapatna lies fifteen kilometers outside Mysore. Here I pause on an outer wall, first constructed in 1454. 20130228-111513.jpgMy rickshaw awaits as I wander around the ancient walls.20130228-111633.jpgPlastic. It is everywhere. I’ve not shown it for a bit, but I could have.20130228-111828.jpgThe next photos from this temple on the river island Srirangapatna. Originally constructed in 894 and expanded in 1454 when it became contained within the Fort.20130228-112107.jpg20130228-112149.jpg20130228-112220.jpg20130228-112256.jpgCarts outside the temple.20130228-112354.jpgThis cart is pulled by people. I could barely lift the end of the long pulling-chain.20130228-112514.jpg20130228-112543.jpg20130228-112600.jpgShowing the size of the metal wheel.20130228-112702.jpg20130228-112727.jpgThis a water prison within the fort. It was carved into the ground alongside the river. Using a mechanical device, they allowed water in to neck level. All the time. You can see the protrusions from the wall to which prisoners were chained. British soldiers were imprisoned here when caught during their attempted raids. I wrote more about this, they story will be in my book! (In case you were wondering, this prison is no longer in operation.)20130228-113114.jpgThis mausoleum called Gunbaz, built by Tippu for his father. He and his mother are also inside.20130228-113309.jpg

20130228-113518.jpgLooking up, back in Mysore.

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I have written full stories about my very pleasant time in Mysore, that will be included in my book of travel adventures. Most of the photos on this blog serve to illustrate stories I have written, here you find just a sample story from nearly each place I visit.

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Visiting the Welcoming Locals in Mysore, India

I experienced a very friendly, local Mysore. The people here were warm and inviting, into their homes, into their community, into their workplaces. I highly recommend a visit to Mysore. Feel free to contact me for my homestay recommendation, I stayed with a great family and I enjoyed the neighborhood.

Local Mysore – Thursday, February 21, 2013.

Having accepted that I may have just met an honest driver in India, I set out to see Mysore like a local, with a local.

We start our day with a wander through a produce market. It is relaxed and quiet here in the afternoon. The vendors comprehend that a foreigner is not here with hopes of buying kilograms of produce and happy to pay many times the going rates. They don’t try to sell me anything. Samir chats with a few of them as we look around. I ask what a pile of tall-sided terra cotta bowls with circular holes in their sides could be for. They’re bird houses. Can I take a picture? Sure.

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We cross a threshold into a meat market. This is a completely separate market because many Hindus are vegetarian. I could not describe this as a clean place where one might be tempted to purchase food. Really, this is like a very dirty barn. Sheep hang on hooks, skinned. One in particular reminds me of the “bodies” exhibit. Live sheep wander about, a mother has just given birth to two babies. This morning. A little boy proudly lifts-up one of the new babies to show me; the mother bleats in protest.

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It seems strange to see animals living in a slaughter house who are not immediately destined for slaughter. Lamb is not eaten here, the young ones have many months of growth ahead of them. An older woman with over-sized glasses stands over a table of sheep hooves. Some are hairy, others have been roasted over fire. On the ground a man is removing the footpads from charred hooves then throwing the hooves into a bucket of murky water.

Charred sheep heads look a bit shocking to me. Apparently delicious, I am not tempted to sink my teeth into one of these ready-to-eat faces. I do, however, put my own face close enough to two heads to join for a photo.

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Samir tries to hand me a leg. I would handle a leg of lamb as presented in a Western market, but to hold a hairy leg from a sheep carkus seems so very different. I do not put out my hands to accept holding this, it makes me step back. We remove ourselves from the realness of eating animals in the West, to most of us meat is just meat.

Before we head-out onto the street, Samir shows me a little alter to Christian, Hindu, and Muslim Gods. “Everyone welcome,” he tells me proudly. This uneducated, illiterate Muslim rickshaw driver is more broad-minded than many highly-educated, middle-class Westerners.

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Our next stop is to visit a labour-intensive wood-carving workshop. There is nothing for sale here, these are long-term furniture building projects. When finished they will go to showrooms. Various types of woods including mango, sandalwood, and others are intricately carved into very delicate floral and pictorial cut-outs. These are then laid onto the larger wood surfaces of tables, chairs, dressers, etc. and traced. Now the larger pieces are painstakingly carved out so that the various coloured woods can be inlaid.

This kind of laborious work, a skillful art form that takes artists many years to be able to achieve this degree of intricacy, is not really appreciated as art in India. Well, the work itself may be, but the artists creating it definitely are not. The craftsmen (they were all men, many occupations seem to still be tied to specific genders) are classed as labourers rather than artists. They definitely make a low salary.

The kind of communal type of living that the labour class affords causes the craftsmen to barely notice strangers wandering through the workshops and watching over their shoulders. They are very used to having people all around and in near proximity, so much so that to be alone is probably a rare condition.

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We continue to wander through the colourful side streets. I capture the attention of a small group of kids around six years old. They are happy to practice their greetings and after chatting a bit they ask me to take their photo. They want me to remember them, which is sweet. I often stop myself from taking intrusive photos of people so I am more than pleased to take this picture of three nestled in a bicycle and two standing behind. Four boys and a girl.

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Up the road we encounter a cow house. It looks like a regular little house, except inside there are five cows. They are tied side-by-side and are as long as the home is deep. It is not crowded, they could probably fit seven cows, but then they couldn’t turn around. Taking them through a normal door must be awkward.

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Next on our little tour of interiors we visit a bidi workshop. Bidis are a cheap Idian version of cigarettes. They are hand-rolled tobacco inside leaves. Ten or so men sit on the floor in a small open space organizing today’s work. All morning they rolled them and now they are binding them into little bundles. These bundles will be wrapped in paper with some labeling and then ready for sale. “These are all-natural, healthy smoking, not like cigarette. No chemicals.” The fact that tobacco, when burned, forms countless noxious and poisonous chemicals is lost on my rickshaw wallah. “No, no, chemicals are something people add. These ones, no chemicals adding.”

“Only men make bidis?” I ask as we sample one of the healthy delights. “Yes, women make incense. I show you later.”

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Around the corner a man and his young helper (perhaps about twelve years old) paint signs onto styrofoam sheets. The styrofoam is primed bright red, orange, and yellow before writing and designs are painted on it. I am told this is also the base-work over-which flowers and yarns will be glued, to make wedding arches. According to the posted price-list, a basic arch is 300Rs ($6).

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This story is to be continued. . . . I will update it when next I have time.

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Mysore – Photos – The Homes of Mysore

I was enchanted by the lovely city of Mysore. These cheerful, friendly people paint their homes in cheerful, friendly colours! Middle-class and lower-class alike enjoy these happy-hued homes. Nowhere did I read or see mention that Mysore housing was fun to look at, but it really was!20130226-010118.jpgThis is in the neighborhood of my homestay.20130226-010241.jpg20130225-183148.jpg20130226-010334.jpg20130226-010429.jpg20130226-010507.jpg20130226-010620.jpg20130226-010650.jpg20130226-010719.jpg20130226-010747.jpg20130226-010804.jpg20130226-010836.jpg20130226-010911.jpgThis one was my homestay.(above)20130226-011044.jpg20130226-011205.jpgI only saw one condo building like this, here it is! 20130226-011339.jpg20130226-011401.jpg Even lower-end housing was often fun and colourful in Mysore.20130226-011527.jpg

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20130226-012114.jpgThe beige buildings are where they keep the bribe-takers. I mean Indian Police Officials.

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Bangalore – Photos with Narration – Wires

To the Western eye, much of the wiring in most of India looks like a random, shocking disaster mess. It seems like a marvel that things often work, even usually work! If we saw anything like this kind of wiring in the west, we’d hold our breath and wait for the electrical fire.

Bangalore became a place of “solitary confinement” for me, in that after a few days I found it necessary to have no interaction with the locals whatsoever. I have experienced many challenges everywhere in India, mostly to do with scams and cheating, but this was the only place in India in eight weeks of accumulated travel so far, that I ended-up having to completely avoid and ignore strangers (ie.everyone). It came to the point when I had to assume everyone wanted to cheat and steal from me, which was a horrible feeling. I would have been a lunatic to adapt any differently than I did.

Because of this I invented projects to fill my time, taking photos of sidewalks was one such distraction, and on this afternoon I decided to take photos of wires.

I am not suggesting that Bangalore electricians are not highly-skilled professionals who take pride in perfection in all aspects of their work. I’m just showing you some wires that I found in one afternoon walking around downtown. You can come to your own conclusions. Personally, I would not suggest HydroOntario set-up a recruitment centre here, but that’s just my opinion.

20130221-192944.jpgIf you have a good little climber in your family, these can also double as jungle gyms! These little localised transformer stations are everywhere, often blocking the sidewalks sending pedestrians into the road with the very safe traffic.

20130221-193202.jpgPerhaps the true purpose of the beautiful, mature trees is to serve as pylons to carry wires. But actually, if they’re already there, why not use them. Not sure why they are also used for extra wire storage though.

20130221-193451.jpgJust a lamp post, etc.

20130221-193636.jpgThis is a commercial application as seen from the sidewalk. The red is frontage of a KFC.

20130221-193743.jpgSo many separately-hanging wires.

20130221-193852.jpgA bit of a mish-mash.

20130221-193957.jpgSince we’re looking at wires, this is the wire of my best headphones that was ripped during my attempted mugging on Residency Road. I wasn’t the one doing the mugging, in case you were wondering.

20130221-194153.jpgI really love the look of these little coil thingys.

20130221-194253.jpgThese must be on every street, at least they seem to be.

20130221-194423.jpgIt doesn’t seem like electricians take huge pride in the appearance or organisation of their handiwork.

20130221-194617.jpgAnother commercial application on the busy sidewalks of Brigade Road. I just wonder, if you are with little ones, do you need to be careful that they don’t end up playing with frayed wires? Especially when it rains? These carry 220v too, not the sissy voltage we use in North America.

20130221-194900.jpgA close-up of the same. “Just play with these pretty wires for a few minutes while Mommy does some shopping.”

20130221-194955.jpgA high-tech security cam amidst the mess of wires.

20130221-195139.jpgA commercial application above the sidewalk in Brigade Road. The underside of a store canopy.

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20130221-195534.jpgDon’t forget to look down to see wires, these ones on a sidewalk that we walk upon.

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20130221-195947.jpgTraditional type.

20130221-211227.jpgThese cylinder-things always seem to have open door-less compartments where wires are attached to wires. I’m not sure what they are and why they are always this shape.

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20130221-211605.jpgI do not know what we are looking at here, but the wires did connect to other wires at the building.

20130221-211822.jpgIt just seems like it is possible to be tidier. There seems to be a wire surplus in Bangalore, they seem to have more than they need.

20130221-212036.jpgPerhaps someone will comment as to what these set-ups are specifically for.

20130221-212209.jpgAnother multi-purpose tree.

20130221-212338.jpgSome more traditional.

20130221-212455.jpgThe wire surplus is very evident in this photo.

20130221-212611.jpgThis is the previous photo, continued.

20130221-212739.jpgIf wires were my thing, I could re-wire lots of phones, cables, and electricals with the street-side panel boxes that are often open, sometimes door-less, and never seem to be locked.

20130221-213115.jpgJust an overhead wire.

20130221-213245.jpgThis little hanging-directly-in-the-sidewalk-mess was like a web trapeze for miniature monkeys.

20130221-213904.jpgI’ve shown this pic before, but it’s topical. If his stream happened to hit a frayed high-voltage wire he could end-up a changed man.

20130221-214127.jpgArt installation or actual wiring?

20130221-214401.jpgProbably phone lines?

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Bangalore – Story – Grumpy Days

Grumpy Days in Bangalore

After my first two days starting on the wrong-foot I have not had success creating stories in Bangalore so I will simply share journal entries from day three onwards. Most of my stories are journal-like anyway, so this is not very different.

Friday, February 15. Journal Entry.

After yesterday, I really do not want to leave my hotel.

My best headphones torn in two during my attempted mugging, I put on my extra earphones, the plain ones that have a low profile and are comfortable to wear when going to sleep. Today I intentionally dress-down, a silly T-shirt, dark glasses, ball cap, and jeans. I hope dressing poorly will make a difference, but it doesn’t.

Twenty meters from the hotel a tuk tuk is already trolling beside me. I will no longer engage even to say no, I have learned that here in Bangalore the driver will not accept that I do not want a drive. It only seems polite to wave him away and let him know that I am out for a walk, but since he will only elongate the interaction if I acknowledge he exists, I must just look forward, walk forward, ignore. On my other side a man is now calling to me, “My friend – my friend – my friend – my friend – over here!” The shopkeeper is not my friend. If I even look his way to tell him no thank you, chances are very high that he will take that engagement as encouragement. He will tell me that he just wants me to look, not to buy. He will walk alongside me and argue with me to come back to his shop for as many as four blocks. I may end up going in a direction I don’t want to go trying to escape him. Yesterday I went around a block trying to escape someone, and when I happened upon him again he continued his harassment as if without pause.

I am not a person to these touts. I am a walking bag of money that they are desperate to get inside. They do not see me as a fellow human, they treat me like I am an encumbrance to them attaining wealth. I have it and they want it. Whether or not that is true doesn’t matter, it is how foreigners are viewed. If only they could somehow get me to open my wallet. Certainly I have, too many times. I even knowingly allow myself to be grossly cheated at times when fighting is not worthwhile. But, even as an affluent Westerner I can not afford to accept the constant scams. They will take as much as possible, for as long as possible.

This is not pleasant for me. I have a friendly, sensitive nature and interacting with locals when I travel is the only reason I travel. Here it has become impossible to interact with those who approach me. Being hyper-defensive is exhausting, I hate it and it puts me into a nasty mood.

I take a longer route going to the main commercial district so as to avoid the auto rickshaw stand where I was mobbed by so many drivers yesterday that I could hardly breath. One after another they came up to me on foot. Some were aggressive and actually blocked my way. I nearly became violent myself, trying to get past the long queue of harassment.

I find my way to a familiar Indian Coffee chain and order a croissant and a coffee for my late breakfast. No nutrition, just empty calories, but I’ve experienced food poisoning from their pre-made food and this seems like a safe choice. They have no change. Having no change to break your bills is an epidemic problem everywhere in India, at least for the foreigner. So now I have used up my small bills in this sizable coffee chain that seats at least seventy five people on two floors. Having only thousands (same as $20s) really limits my ability to have any transactions now. If I need transportation, they will try to consider as much as 800 of the 1000 as a tip by them not having change. I’m not kidding, with an accumulated 10 weeks in India now, this is just what happens to me. It will be the same at most any restaurant too. Sometimes I can find a Visa sign on their counter and escape the scam that way, by presenting my card for payment rather than cash. Perhaps all businesses truly do not have a cash float to give anyone change, but I really think that most of the time it is just a hopeful attempt to keep the change from foreigners. Even when the change would be four times the purchase amount. People can be very bold here.

I just don’t know how to break my Bangalore funk when everyday I start being targeted and hassled minutes after leaving my dirty hotel. Apart from a few temples, churches, museums, and parks, Bangalore has very little to offer if I cannot enjoy wandering the streets and interacting with locals.

This morning I woke up to relentless knocking. I got up, put on some clothes, opened the door. “Would you like to send anything to launder Sir?” If you do, you can call the front desk. That’s what is says to do. I slam my door and go back to bed. I hate this hotel more every day.

Bangalore has made me want to just call-off my travels and go home. I even look into it. I’d lose $2900 in prepaid unrefundables plus tickets home in the next few days would cost an additional $5800. I figure it is probably not worth $9000 to avoid three more weeks of travel. It’s just that Bangalore has become a complete failure. The nice locals are not introducing themselves to me and I can’t seem to find them. I am too busy fighting-off the scoundrels.

Saturday, 16 February. Journal Entry.

Before going on a bus tour I try to order lunch at the hotel restaurant, but they have decided that 12:30 would be a convenient time to do some sort of in-house maintenance. I recognize the room cleaners who are now doing something to the tables. The rooms are so dirty, it seems a bad idea to distract them from their already incomplete work. They send me to a nearby Chinese restaurant that slowly serves me overpriced barely-edible mutton after I have asked their suggestion for something fast. Fat, bones, and a bit of meat mixed into rice for $20. How can these places exist? I must have had the foreigners menue.

It is always a mistake to show a tuk tuk driver where to go on a map. You may understand where you are going, because you can read maps. But he apparently cannot. Maps confuse Indian drivers, at least the few dozen I have dealt with. I have walked everywhere since my arrival to Bangalore because I have learned not to trust drivers. This is sad but true, I have had too many bad experiences from hiring cars and tuk tuks. If I am with an Indian of course it is no problem, but travelling alone it always is. (Perhaps I shouldn’t generalize, but it always has been.). Unfortunately, my elongated lunch has made it necessary to get a drive to my afternoon tour. After consulting with several people nearby to be able to take me to a very local address, it’s basically right at the South corner of the large nearby park, my driver refuses to use his meter. Get out and miss the tour, or accept being cheated. Stupid criminal. It’s not like I could hope another driver to follow would be more honest anyway, I know that’s very unlikely. I agree to 250Rs, I figure its probably three to five times the appropriate rate for a five minute drive, twenty minute walk. Whatever the case, it is a better deal for him than using the metre.

At my destination I give him the exact 250 Ruppees. He challenges, “I said 450!” Perhaps he was counting on me not having exact change, but $5 for this 5 minute drive is already way too much. “Oh no you didn’t! This is already way too much! I can’t believe you!” “Just another hundred Ruppees then, please Sir?” NOT A CHANCE! I am really pissed off. They all just look at me like a potential lottery win. He was already highly overpaid and now he wants to get a days wage for five minutes.

I cannot imagine having to stay several more weeks in India. The more you know, the worse it becomes. Doing anything, going anywhere, it’s becoming a constant struggle here and sometimes it feels too hard. Why can’t I just pay for what I need, why does it always have to be a battle against theft?

Inside the tour bus the guide opens the curtains. My entire window view is now obscured where the curtains tie-back. I try to adjust them and end up breaking a wire spring that bounds up to the passengers in front of me.

I had hoped I might meet some Indian tourists on this tour, but with the assigned seating, no one is beside me and as usual people seem to be in groups. As I come to realize this tour is just poor transportation between boring tourist sights, I abandon it at an industrial museum not too far to walk back to my hotel. It may have taken me to the important sights too, but I am too grumpy and I just don’t feel like being the lone guy in the midst of groups today. I wonder if anyone will notice that seat thirteen is now empty? Who cares.

I don’t know what Bangalore is really like. All I know that for me it has been a rude, harsh, nightmarish city of dishonesty. I have heard that this is a prosperous IT city, it has the largest number of new business start-ups per capita in India. Perhaps having a sizable growing professional middle-class is causing anger and corruption in the lower classes? Is this why I find myself to be a moving target, why I am constantly approached with scams? India really needs to abolish the kick-back policies of most tourist stores. Of course people keep wanting to take me shopping, they could offset a months salary in just a few minutes. If I spend $200 on some scarves, they’ll collect $100. That is too much temptation and it creates touts all around me. Some aggressive, some just unrelenting. Either way, I am really hating every moment in Bangalore.

I venture to an open-air pub that I’ve researched. It’s a fun, upbeat place, but everyone is in a group. I drink a beer by myself. It’s Saturday night, people are out with their friends. If I could just make one local friend it would probably completely change the trajectory of my miserable stay in Bangalore, but it doesn’t happen. I just don’t know how to meet a nice person here. Visiting this city has been a personal failure. I finish my drink and leave having not spoken to anyone. I do not see any group where I could possibly interject myself.

Sunday, 17 February. Journal Entry.

Tuk tuk drivers hover like annoying flies as I head North from my hotel today. I have come to realize that I am staying at exactly the worst spot in the city when it comes to getting hassled. Coming and going from my hotel, I wonder how much of my Bangalore experience has been destroyed by these blocks of daily annoyance. I am much more successful at ignoring them today. As for the shop-keepers, I hear them calling but no one steps in front of me blocking my way this morning.

Last night I decided to take photos of local sidewalk obstructions. The messes that cause pedestrians to walk on the streets in traffic so often. They are what made my attempted mugging possible, a motorcycle could not have swiped me on the sidewalk.

I enjoy my wanderings today, but I have not yet had a single positive interaction to write about in Bangalore. A kid waved at me from a portable shrine, that was very nice but not a story. A woman stopped me in the street to warn that she could see money coming out of my back pocket. I keep small bills in all of my pockets to give to beggars so I don’t need to pull out my wallet in public. This was nice of her too, but not quite a story. The money in my pockets is practically not mine anyway.

The beggars today were really nice though. None of them came at me for more, they just accepted what I gave them and let me go on my way. That was very pleasant. Perhaps Sunday is a friendlier day.

I go to my usual coffee shop and sitting there a young boy approaches me, he has been sitting with his Mother and Sister nearby. He just wants to say Hello. I give him a few other easy English conversation phrases to keep it going for a moment, he is obviously wide-eyed and excited to meet a foreigner. They are on their way out. His mother says, “Now say goodbye to Uncle.” “Where are you from?” she asks. “Welcome to India,” she smiles and says warmly. This moment is the first authentic friendly moment I have experienced in five days and it makes me feel emotional. They seemed like such a nice family. One drip of humanity and now I think that Bangalore can’t be all bad. I feel like I am locked away from experiencing any kindness that must exist here, and I just saw it through a keyhole.

I really don’t want to end my day by passing the vultures on my way back to the hotel, but there is no other way. To bypass the walk by being cheated in a car or tuk tuk would be no better anyway. Why must they always do that. I guess it is just their nature, like the friendly scorpion who kills his friend after promising not to.

Monday, 18 February. Journal Entry.

Yesterday I found a foreign supermarket and was able to buy nice-looking fruits, vegetables, bread, and cheese. This enabled me to take a day off, I did not leave my room today. I did not have to deal with anyone, not even the nasty room service. The only thing I missed was being able to make coffee. The kettle in the room has maggots in it, even cleaned or replaced I would not use any kettle here after seeing that. I took a cute little video to show their movement, the photo didn’t do it justice.

Tuesday, 19 February. Journal Entry.

This is a real shame. The adventure stops dead when one stops taking chances. That has happened to me in Bangalore. I will not go anywhere with anyone anymore and I distrust everyone I meet or who approaches me as having dishonest motives. A taxi driver who wanted to take me sight seeing today, he seemed like an honest guy, but they usually do. There are so many things I will not see in this city because experience has taught me that I cannot trust strangers here, that I will be openly cheated, held hostage by being taken somewhere I don’t want to go, or worse. If I could rent a bike I could possibly cover some ground, but that in itself would be too dangerous given the lack of traffic rule adherence.

Bangalore just did not work-out for me, I met all the wrong touts, I stayed in the wrong hotel, and I had no luck meeting locals through websites such as meet-up or couchsurfers.

I go to my usual coffee shop and there is a loud drumming group out front. I take a short video before going inside. My coffee person tries her best to explain what the drums are for, but its so odd that it is confusing.

So, here is what she explained. The owner of this small commercial building has not paid taxes in five years. Now, the government wants him to pay. In protest, he has hired a band of drummers to make a loud commotion outside. They’ve been playing since yesterday, she tells me.

Seriously? That’s the silliest reaction to a tax bill I have ever herd of! Might they reduce his bill or back-off because he is disturbing the neighborhood? Clearly there are no noise bylaws for him to break, that seems obvious everywhere I go. What will be the outcome of hiring this drumming troop to deal with his tax bill? Is this normal?

Later, over dinner on my last evening of a trying week in Bangalore, a group of MBA students approaches me to make friends. I leave in the morning, I need to pack tonight. If I had met these guys early on I may have been able to enjoy social activities with them throughout the week. That would have completely altered my experience of Bangalore, a city I just want to escape.

Some things just don’t quite work out. But, if that wasn’t the case, life would not be real.

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Click on the image below to witness my kettle.
February, 2013.

In the next video, see how a wealthy landlord tries to convince the government to let him out of paying his taxes. He’ll bother all the neighbours in protest until they say it’s okay, he doesn’t have to pay his taxes afterall.

The following video just shows walking around some motorcycles parked on the sidewalk.

Bangalore – Photos with Narration – Downtown Sights

I did not have a brilliant week in Bangalore. However, the streets and sights are most interesting.

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20130219-152600.jpgElaborate temples fill nooks and crannies throughout the streets.

20130219-152716.jpgHere you can see how the temple blends into the landscape.

20130219-152814.jpgI tried to explain to her that frowning uses more muscles and actually takes more effort than smiling. Clearly she does not have extra calories to waste on frowning. But she didn’t speak English and just wondered why this lunatic foreigner was speaking to her. But you can see her child-like joy here after I gave her some money to take her photo. Heart-warming.

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20130219-153524.jpgA portable shrine moving through the streets on Sunday morning. I have a video of this too.

20130219-153637.jpgIndia has a lot of people. Streets tend to be busy.

20130219-153806.jpgIt was not at all apparent what this equipment was hoping to accomplish on this narrow lane. Was is dropped in by helicopter? Has it been abandoned?

20130219-154026.jpgWhatever the case, it certainly works as a traffic-block.

20130219-154138.jpgA neighborhood wedding. The colors are made of flowers and yarn.

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20130219-154329.jpgMy favourite sign. Useless, but great to see.

20130219-154431.jpgSomeone missed the sign. Or they decided not to complain instead.

20130219-154531.jpgA cow having lunch. The holy animals of India enjoy a constant buffet of plastics mixed with rotting compost.

20130219-154722.jpgI love this home, it’s kind-of magical in its dilapidation, it looks as if from a movie.

20130219-154902.jpgA flood way?

20130219-155001.jpgPretty colourful!

20130219-155334.jpgI love street art. This is in a park.

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20130219-155927.jpg“Do not sit or walk on the grass.”

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20130219-160200.jpgIs this like a “no u-turn” sign? Is it okay to urinate everywhere else?

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20130219-160334.jpgSo this is convenient, but what about the girls?

20130219-160447.jpgYou can buy your child happiness in India. Isn’t that wonderful!

20130219-160601.jpgSad to need to be on a sign.

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20130219-160931.jpgIt seems like the wording on this sign is too specific.

20130219-161051.jpgMy room in Bangalore. It’s much dirtier than it looks.

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20130219-161437.jpgI just took this photo in the coffee shop where I have been working on this blog.

20130219-205159.jpgIt’s a kitty! On a sidewalk! (I know, doesn’t look like one!)

20130219-205446.jpgThe main commercial strip of Brigade Road.

20130219-205550.jpgSome drunken optimist came up with this road sign!

20130219-205700.jpgThe choice of Indian Monks.

20130219-205757.jpgThere are some amazing trees on Bangalore. You will see them prominently in my “wires” posting.

20130219-210011.jpgFantastic traffic barricade!

20130219-210104.jpgStray dogs are everywhere and they all seem really friendly.

20130219-210212.jpgHis ears, being equal, look intentional.

20130219-210326.jpgThey sleep in the oddest places, this was a really busy spot of sidewalk in the main commercial zone.

20130219-210508.jpgThis was on a pole at a construction site.

20130219-210608.jpgI didn’t see the middle-class suburbs, but this downtown construction clearly is. These are condos.

20130219-210737.jpgI wonder if an entire guitar was originally attached to this tree?

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