If you visit southern India, you’ve got to head to Mysore. Aside from the awesome side streets that are perfect for wandering about and the very cool Chamundi Hill which gives one great views of the city, the Mysore Palace (in the top image) is incredible. Be sure to pick up the free headphones for a brilliant tour (so informative but not an overload of info) and try get there for a Sunday night, or Public Holiday, when 98,000 light bulbs illuminate the palace from 7-8. It’s been one of my highlights to date.
On the train to Mysore I met two very cool Danish birds and it was great fun hanging out with them. Kris and Signe are studying here for a semester and had just arrived in India so I introduced them to a few dishes (not too mention Chai) at some great local places.
I’d made my way to Mysore from Bangalore where I’d been hanging out with Ravi, a friend I met in Prague. It was wicked being at a mate’s apartment (just relaxing and chatting about life in India, catching up on the blog and picturess and getting some washing done) and I so enjoyed busting out the dancing shoes when we went clubbing with his flat mates. The red converse hadn’t seen light of day for some time! Ravi, wicked catching up my man.
Right, some inside info on the train! I booked a ticket to Mumbai the day before I was hoping to leave. Wait list 45. Ouch. But … I’m told to come back at 10am the next morning (my train was at 3) to apply for a foreign ticket (they hold back some tickets to give to foreigners at the last minute). I was duly back at 10 and after dropping in the form and inquiring at 11 and then 12, I got a ticket. It was actually all very efficient so keep in mind if you’re looking for a last minute ticket (I think it helps that there aren’t heaps of foreigners going from Bangalore otherwise, I may have missed getting a ticket).
I love the train rides here. People are constantly walking up and down with food as well as “Chai, Chai, Chai”), not too mention all sorts of other random crap, and I met some fantastic people. The hospitability is unreal and if you’re fortunate enough to be seated with a family, they will no doubt insist you join them for lunch/dinner.
I’ve so enjoyed the past few days here in Mumbai. I’ve been in a few peak hour train/subway rides but the one I had here, backpack and all, was something else. I remember thinking that if there weren’t heaps of people getting off at my station then there was no way I would make it off in time! Most of the city is completely chaotic, the traffic is fun and games (there’s constant hooting it seems) and the sheer number of people is something else. There are also far more beggars here and it’s been very sad seeing such poverty.
I continue to meet great people. I’ve always said that it’s the people who make traveling. One sees and does heaps of awesome things but it’s the people you meet and the friends you make that are the real highlight for me. I’ve spent most of my time here with Jen and Hil, two super girls from Santa Cruz in California while yesterday I met Pauli from Orange County in California and we’ve had great fun hanging out the past 24 hrs. The girls and I went to a Bollywood movie on Friday night, which was great fun. Unlike most places where there is complete silence during the movie, Indian movie theaters are the opposite. People chat on cell phones, sing along with the music, pass comments and chat to one another.
Speaking of Bollywood … I made my acting debut this past weekend “starring” in a fruit juice commercial. The theme of the ad is a game show and I was one of the contestants. The aim, wait for it, was to stay on a mechanical mango for as long as possible (like the mechanical bulls you see in bars except that this was a plastic mango!). Unfortunately I didn’t last very long but seeing as I was the only foreigner there (the client wanted at least one white guy I was told), I’m hoping I get some TV time. To top it off, there were four midgets dressed up as mangoes (they “wore” a yellow hollow mango and had had their faces painted yellow) and the director kept shouting “Jump mangoes, jump”. All in all a great day out and a phenomenal experience and I look forward to seeing how it turns out when I find it on You Tube.
When in Mumbai I also recommend dancing as hard as you can at one of the many clubs (the girls and I found ourselves in 1 after heaps of whiskey at a local bar), the Gandhi memorial (the house Gandhi stayed at when he visited the city from 1917-1934 has been converted into a museum) and the Dhobi Ghat at Mahalaxmi Station where 10,000 people do hand washing for hotels, hospitals and laundry companies (it’s quite something to see
Tonight I head off to Rajasthan, which I’ve heard is spectacular. The Proteas kick off their campaign in Delhi on the 24th so I’ve got 3 weeks to explore and I’m super excited.
PS – Jen and Hil, thanks for the gorgeous blueberry muffin and I hope we bump into each other at some point. Paul, likewise my man.