with seth in tow, we departed early yesterday morning from bangalore on a long bus ride to the town of mysore. there is a whomping big palace there that they light up at night with about a million incandescent lights. nice to look at, and the street food leading up to the palace is to die for. seriously, readers: when in india (or any country for that matter) go street food. it's cheap, usually fried (read: safe to eat) and it's what the locals eat which means your getting a little culture, too. one more masala dosa or thali with white rice and i'm not going to be pleasant to be around.
we also, at eliot's behest, visited the rail muesem which was dull beyond words. there was a big saloon car that was pretty neat. if you've ever been to see THE THING in arizona, it's a lot like that. but no car hitler owned. or, you know, a MYSTERIOUS THING. a little fed up with crowds, pollution and honking horns, we headed for the evergreen-laden mountain resort of ooty ...
... only to find crowds pollution and honking horns. now granted, the accomodations here are excellent (YWCA for the win), the temperature is downright cool and there are tons of big trees around the lake; but there is still garbage everywhere, pushy hotel barkers and the otherwise lovely lake smells not-so-good. sometimes these indian towns can be a real bummer. there's nice stuff here to be sure, like the tiger reserve we drove through on the way here. we got to see wild peacocks, elephants and monkeys. but even there, the peope through their garbage everywhere. call me an ignorant white male, call me pretencious, hell call me that most begrudged world in the travel community - American - but listen to me: India has got a SERIOUS culture surrounding littering, garbage burning and polution in general that needs to be reigned in NOW. if this place is going to the most populous nation on earth (it will) and one of the most powerful (that too), it's got to do something about a billion peope who urinate and spit anywhere they please and chuck their garbage into rivers flowing through nature preserves. it's cultural, it's systemic and it's pandemic. there, i said my peace.
all of that having been said, each place has redeeming qualities. no, i'll say that another way: most places we've visited have had such an abundance of cool and kindness that it overshadows these other problems. i don't care how crappy Alibag ever gets, The Goddess and Kunal will always provide enough kindness and heart to overtake it (Alibag's actually really nice, just making a point here). Bangalore has horrible traffic - so does Dallas. I have friends in both cities that make them worth putting up with. Wherever there are people, there will be garbage and waste. But there's also hope and family and food - and that makes it worth while. Failure to bend with the bad, means failure to thrive with the good.
moving on, we're going to get up in the hills around ooty tomorrow and hopefully do some serious hiking. being away from my bike for the last 5 days or so has me feeling restless. i started a workout regime just to fill the lack of energetic activity. i am getting lots of good pictures now that we're on foot. next time i hit the internet cafe, i'll bring the cable for my phone and load up the pics.
the two-to-three week culture shock thing has worn off which is nice. for those who have travelled for long periods of time before, you'll probably remember hearing the following timeline as standard traveller psychosis: weeks 1-2, absolute bliss and adventure; week 2.5-3 culture shock; week 3-4 adjustment; week 4+ engrained, calloused. 3 weeks to a month is a perfect time for a vacation. as of tomorrow, i've been out of the country exactly 1 month. starting to wear thin around the edges. things here are still amazing, and the feeling is to be expected. but i miss some creature comforts, food and friends. would i trade those things for the freedom and adventure of the rambling road? today, perhaps. yesterday, certainly. tomorrow? we'll see.