Our first guests arrived early in the morning Sept. 26th from Canada, and Michael was there to greet them – in Germany! It so happened he had business in Finland and came home via Frankfurt. So he arranged to surprise Lynn and Taras and got the same connecting flight they were getting. Even though Lynn saw him first (that blue MEC jacket gave him away) they were surprised.
I must say, these two are machines – not a sign of jeg lag. They are up early every morning and ready to go, go, go. Within the first two days they had toured the village near our house, Lynn bought herself a salwar kameez and had her first dose of Cipro (Bangalore Belly). They got to experience the festive atmosphere of Dasara as well as puja for all mechanical things. Everything from cars and tractors to rickshaws, buses and trains were decorated with flower garlands and palm/banana leaves and taken to temple to be blessed.
I described the Dasara festival in the last blog but there were a few things I left out. Like the train ride. First of all it takes an hour to get to the train station and we arrived an hour early. Then there was a two hour delay (you do the math). We did a lot of people watching – good thing the people here are interesting!
The funny/crazy thing that happened while we were waiting on Platform 9 was when someone came over the loudspeaker and said something about our train, the Tippu Express. We didn’t understand but all of a sudden everyone around us start jumping down onto the track and climbing over and up to another platform. Evidently the train was coming to another platform.
We were lucky an Indian lady told us to follow her to a safe place to cross. We could see a train coming so hurried to cross before it got there. But then another announcement and she confirmed the train was coming to Platform nine after all. All these poor elderly people and people with huge boxes and luggage going back and forth – chaos.
The train ride was pretty good, 1st class AC chair, basic seats but comfortable for 2 1/2 hrs. Only about $12 Can. Got to Mysore in the evening and walked to the hotel. Lynn and Taras got their first lesson in crossing the street. As Lynn took off I’d yell “look right” and then when she got to the middle of the street, “stop, look left!” There is a certain rhythm to crossing and they mastered it quickly.
The next day we all had a good time with the troupes (you have to read the previous blog). Taras and I got pulled over to one group to have our foreheads painted while the others were mesmerized by a group of drummers and dancers. There were some pretty wild costumes and the cats were the best with the amazing body paint.
Alanna still has not embraced India so the experience with the mob put her over the edge and she started crying which prompted us to come to our senses and get out of there. And as we were jumping off the truck Taras felt a tug at his pack that he had over his shoulder. He pulled it around to the front to find it had been slashed with a knife. Luckily he didn’t get hurt and the MEC pack was thick enough they weren’t able to slash through it or steal anything.
That night the four adults went to the palace and we were able to see the elephants, still painted from the days event. They were quite spectacular, but chained up. Always a sense of sadness when you see those great beasts unable to move about – much better to see them in the wild, on safari.