I’ve written about my last trip to India in sections and it’s annoying to find each section and read them separately so I’ve compiled them here, in one story.
The trip from Stl to Bangalore
So it has been an interesting 3 days so far but hey, when you’re in India, everything is interesting.
We finally made it to Kannur. We took a train from St. Louis at 3am to Chicago. We arrived at Union station at 10am, then took the subway to the airport. We got there at 11, plenty of time to get to the Lufthansa counter.
There was a homeless guy playing drums on a box and as we passed by, he asked: “excuse me, is that candy in that bag?”. Is was 3 bags of fruits and we gave it all to him, he was so happy.
We finally arrived at the gate and there were about 10 people sitting and waiting. I asked them “is this the flight to Frankfurt ?” I guess my question was a welcome change to their boredom because most of them replied happily that it was but that registration didn’t start until noon. I looked around and figured that we might as well get a head start and stand in line.
About 15 minutes later, the German stern stewardess started rearranging the little maze they have you walk thru and said: “you don’t need to stand zere becauss i am changing ze configurration of ze lines” to which i replied: “that’s ok, as long as get a piece of cheese at the end.
I’m not sure if she appreciated my humor but nonetheless we moved to the beginning of “ze line” and everyone followed suit.
We had coach fares and i thought American airline was bad but the coach in Lufthansa made me feel like a sardine . Hey, at least the booze was free.
8 or 9 hours later, i don’t know how long, i was in a daze, we arrive at Frankfurt with our feet swollen and stiff neck. I had no problem passing security, even with my “terrorist” scruffy beard. Well, i guess, next to the 18 Saudis that were behind me, i must have looked like an angel. Hey now, come on, i didn’t start this stereotype, I’m just helping its propagation, lol.
We got some food at the airport and proceeded the the gate for India. Now, you know how Germans are organized and disciplined…the boarding from Chicago to Frankfurt was flawless and seamless. Now imagine the exact opposit and you’ll get an idea of what the Indian gate boarding looked like.
The Germans had 5 different lines next to each other that ranged from first class to business class and different sections of row seating. As soon as the Indian stewardess got on the intercom the announce that we will preboard families with children, everyone got up and rushed to the gate and thus created this bouquet of clusterfuck.
We decided to let the herd go first. Most of what happened later was a blur since i tend to passout once my ass hits that chair and the captain turns the fasten your seatbelt thing on.
Yea, so now we’re in Bangalore airport, sleepy, confused, numb and in line for the custom agent. Once outside we greeted my Maya , Nandini’s sister and two hours later we crashed in bed at their mom’s apartment.
Bangalore, or Bangaluru as they say it here, is a pretty big city. It’s the fastest growing city in India. The cool thing is they can avoid the same mistakes that Delhi and Mumbai did.
We slept at usha’s apartment, actually it’s her cousin’s apartment. We arrived at 1am, got to the place by 2 and were in bed by 2:30. At 6 i was awaken by usha’s cooking. She was making breakfast. So here’s breakfast: fried rice with green chilies and other spices, i believe there were round peanuts in it as well, yogurt, chai , mangos and papayas. Maya had spent the night so it was the 4 of us.
After breakfast, Maya took me to see her dad down the street or up the street. I never can figure what makes a direction up or down. He is a Dr. In homeopathy.
How can i describe the walk, hum, let me first start by telling you that in India, everything is next to everything. Let me explain, i saw a rollsroyce driving in a sea of rickshaw and other deadly contraptions they call vehicles. It all seems to work though. Everyone honks about every 2 seconds just to make sure you know they are there, much like echo location used by bats, dolphins and certain blind people.
You can also see hotels the size and beauty of the Taj Mahal next to a shanty town. Which leads me to the walk to Maya’s dad. I was bombarded with exquisite smell of incense one second and poop the next, oh and i forgot the smell of urine. If you think that bothered me, you’re sadly mistaken, i love it all. Of course, it’ll probably take some adjustment for some of you if you overcome here but my advice is when you come to India, leave everything behind. Leave all expectations, hopes, sense of time, etc…
So we get to the third floor, leave our shoes outside and step over the beautiful mandalas drawn every morning with white rice powder. Maya’s dad, a very simple looking man wearing a simple loin cloth much like Gandhi use to wear, greet us inside with a big smile.
One thing leading to another much like train carts, i end up being diagnosed by Dr. Dad and with a bag full of homeopathy medicine that is sure to heal me. I won’t be able to try them out until the States cause they might interact with my Ayurvedic treatment.
Our stay with daddy came to a stop when my mom called and said to meet them somewhere so that we may buy sim card ( little card u insert in your phone that allows you to use the local network ).
And we’re off. We walk by the incense/poop/mangos/urine smells again and off to the market…
So after passing by a few cows in the street and a few temples we finally reach my mom. She was waiting by a mango tree in the shade.
We then marched on to Sim card city and also decided to purchase airfare to Mangalore.
The goal was to reach Kanpur and to get there is…a bit complicated. So on our way to the travel agency, we stopped at an ATM that had a guard standing in front. When i say guard…well some guy with a uniform with sandals which brings me to this point. My mom told me to pack nailclippers before we left because apparently India doesn’t have nail clippers.
“How do they cut their nails then?” I asked
She said they just bite them off.
Hum, this security guard was wearing sandals and his big toe nail was sticking out at least half an inch. So of course, i wondered if he used his teeth to chop his toes nails off. You’d have to be pretty flexible…hey, maybe that’s how yoga was invented, people just trying to bite their toenails off. I’m on to something, ok, maybe not.
Ok so next day, tickets in hand, we board the plane and take off for Mangalore. Mangalore is on the coast, north of Kannur . It is still in the state of Karnataka.
At the airport, by the luggage pick up area, some guy runs toward me pushing an empty cart and starts yanking my bag begging me to let him carry it.
I cordially pointed at the fancy wheels underneath my bag and send him on his way. He quickly finds another victim.
So we were planning ( I know, right? Planning in India? ) to take a cab to Kannur but upon arrival we find out that there is a general strike of busses and cabs. Apparently gas went up 8 rupees and the populous weren’t too happy about that. Train it is then! We get a cab to the train station, fight our way through the beggars, people sleeping on the floor, the heet and finally come to the ticket master.
“Two tickets to Kannur with air” i begged the attendant.
“Air” means you want air conditioning and don’t feel like suffocating in the metal box.
With air is is then. By luck, the train leaves in 20 minutes. We rush to platform number 3 grabbing some food and water on the way. By the time we rush all the way up platform number 1, climb the 3 story bridge over platform 2 and down again to 3, we are soaked.
Toot toot toot! Here comes the choo choo train.
On the train to Kannur
So we’re soaked from sweat on the train going to Kannur but hey, at least we’re moving in the right direction. I dare not touch anything around me cause it’s all covered with grime. The air kicked in as soon as the pile of metal started to move.
About 15 minutes into the ride, we decided to eat our special packed meals bought at the station. Did i mention that most people don’t use silverware? Well they don’t so needless to say we didn’t get any. I open the hot aluminium box to find a shitload of white rice and about a teaspoon of super hot sauce. I grabbed the cardboard lid and folded it and used it as my goto spoon.
We had just finished eating our dry meal when a woman sat in our section. She had a brown sari, a Christian cross around her neck and a moustache. Yes, u heard me. He asked where we’re from, where we’re going, etc. The usual Indian conversations. We returned the favor and she replied that she was on her wait to Calcutta, or something like that. I was trying not to look at her moustache but that was a more difficult task as i had anticipated.
I asked the obvious: “are you a Christian?”
She said proudly: “yes i am, we teach the new testament of Jesus. Have you heard of it?”
I told her that i may have heard something or another about it and then quickly turn my attention to the passing scenery outside. I didn’t travel all the way to India to hear about god and Jesus. I have enough of it in the States.
But…my intuition radar kicked in and i felt that this hairy Christian wanted something. It took me a while to figure out that she wanted to lay down. You see, my mom was across from me by the window and next to her, the brown robed cross bearer.
I was by the window as well, thus she could not lay down.
I was wondering how we would play her hand and then i heard her say: “you know, in the seats over there, pointing at the single uncomfortable ass holder, you can see the ocean very well!”
I told her i could see it just fine from where i was.
15 minutes later, while we were dozing off, i heard her stomping to the single seat with her suitcase. She dropped her bags loudly and pulled the curtains.
Now that i think about it, i saw her with her with her eyes closed holding her cross. I think i can guess what her prayer was like.
“Oh god please give me the strength and patience so that i don’t slap the shit out of that dude across from me!”
Anyway, we were 30 minutes from Kannur, our final stop.
So we finally get to Kannur, grab a putput (rickshaw) and head on down to Mascot beach hotel resort. This where the ayurvedic clinic is and also where the doctor that will fix my back works.
We arrive in the lobby, sweating profusely, and ask for the doctor.
“Dr. Rajesh? Oh, Dr. Rajesh is on vacation in Malaysia and will be back in 10 days!” Says the gentlemen bobbling his head left and right.
“….er…where’s the clinic?”
“Oh, the clinic sir, the clinic is no longer here!”
Anyway, after talking to a few people and see a few places, we end up in some apartment for rent. The place smelled a bit but it had a fan and wifi. We spent the night there and woke up covered with mosquito bites, lol. I also found a condom wrapper on one of the window ledge which made me think that someone was purposefully placing condom wrappers on window ledges in India. It must be a local custom for luck. 🙂
Anyway, we woke up bumpy and hungry. We walked until we found a hole in the wall with food and fresh juice. It was all delicious. By the time we got back, a car was waiting for for us.
“Hello, I’m Dr so and so and Dr. Rajesh told me to take care of you while he is gone. I am to show u your apartment and you will have this driver to take you to and back from the clinic”
Well then, things are looking up! We arrived in the apartment and it was really clean, beautiful and had AC ! Yea!
I started the treatment after my diagnosis. Apparently I’m Pitta/Vata and Vata is the culprit.
I need to slow everything down and have a whole lot more nurturing in my life, especially from me to me.
There was a list of food to avoid and some that i needed.
I was to get 30 days of treatments.
On my first day, i was ushered into a beautiful room by my therapist. Here men massage men and women women. When we’re both in the room he turns to me and says.
“Sir, you must take clothes off”
“Take my clothes off?”
“Yes Sir, and put on Sir”
He opens a drawer full linens and things, but not bath and beyond, and hands me something that appears to be a g-string, a giant one size fits all g-string. So, coming from a western world, i had assumed that he would somehow leave the room or a least turn around as i removed my clothes. Nope, fat chance. He just stands there facing me as i try to negotiate putting on this underwear contraption.
I didn’t want to be prudish so i did all that and hopped on the table.
Now, I’m not sure they told them the reason for the g-string because during the treatment he kept moving it around if it got in his way and his purpose was to apply this special medicated oil all over my body. When i say all my body, i mean all. There wasn’t an inch of my body that he missed. At one point, laying face down, while he was going up and down my leg, i’m not certain but i believe one of his fingers actually went up my butt.
I figured that was part of the treatment, lol.
Anyway, the treatment was really good and then i had to take a shower. I was allowed privacy then after he wiped my feet of the oil so that i don’t slip on the marbled floor.
Ok, Indian bath room. If you don’t know what an Indian bathroom looks like, and actually this is a westernized one, let describe it for you.
The whole room is tiled. There is one drain. There is a toilet bowl with a small showerhead hose next to it. Yes, that’s to wash your butt, no toilet paper here. There is no shower curtain, just a shower head in the room with a big bucket and a small one in it.
You can take a shower, and wet everything in the room or fill in the big bucket and use the small one to rinse.
The next day i come for my treatment but this time i tell the guy that i brought my own G-string. He says ok and we start.
One of my favorite treatment was a very simple one. It consisted of him rolling some dough and create crater-like oval that were applied on 2 places on my back. Then he would put hot medicated oil into the mini-craters. I know it’s nothing fancy but it made me feel so good.
This time i didn’t get a finger up my butt and went through the same process.
The last treatment was my favorite. It was done with 2 people. Two young men. They used cloth balls about 4 inches in diameter, medicated with really hot oil. They tapped my body with them and then massaged it in synchrony.
At one point after they talked for a while, one of them says:
“Sir? Are those underwear for gents or ladies?” Pointing at my cock.
I chuckle and replied that they are for gents.
When the treatment was over though, i felt so much energy and vitality. By the time i got to the shower i had a fullblown hard on. I didn’t know what to do because they told me NO SEX during the 30 days treatment!
Hum, dilemma, i decided to just ignore it. Eventually, it went down a little and then i could pee and that helped. When i got out my penis was a little engorged but at least not erect. I’m not sure they would have cared either way. I think i heard one of the therapist fart during one of the treatment.
I got out and they saw my package and stared at it. Lol. Afterwards i put my clothes on and face him for my ritual sandalwood dot on my forehead (Krishna) and the other powder on my crown chakra.
Off we go for lunch and to the apartment complex.
As we walk up the steps i see we have a new guest. Some one is swinging on the ratan chair. I can see a beautiful shape from the back. She’s swinging from the hanging ratan chair. Yes, it’s a girl, a pretty girl. I paused… she got out of the chair, looked at me with a big smile and said hello as she went into her apartment which was right across from ours…
“Hi, I’m jeanjoel. What’s your name?” That’s what i told this pretty girl extending my paw.
“Hi, I’m Yvonne” she said with and big smile. Her eyes were pure sky blue and stared right into me.
During the following days we hung a few times but i don’t think she was interested at all. She is from Germany, just like my ex…well, one of my exes.
Sometimes she would turn and turn in that hanging chair and i would try to get a glimpse of her….er…nevermind.
Eve, that’s what I called her, and i became well acquainted. We went out once to Mascot hotel restaurant. It’s on the cliffs. It’s beautiful and very windy. You can feel and smell the salty air. I love it.
Before we got there, we had to find an atm that worked. So we began our excursion after sunset and to my surprise there were lot’s of people out. It became clear why, it’s cooler at night. There were coconut vendors, food, drinks, cows, dogs, cats, motorcycles, lights, all interacting with each other seamlessly. People were strolling around just enjoying life and so we’re we.
We hopped on a rickshaw toward city-center to get money out of the ATM and then the restaurant for some chow.
Sitting at he table i realized that it was fun hanging out with her, it was a nice change of pace. It felt like a date, yes, i believe it was a date. Not in the American sense though, in the European sense where two people just go out together and it doesn’t mean or imply anything.
At the restaurant, she got a ton of food. I guess my German friend was starving. I listened to her stories while she stuffed her face. She was so cute putting that last piece of nan in her mouth or whatever bread that was. They have about twenty-six types of bread here.
After the meal, i wanted to show her the rest of the hotel so we walked along the path next to the cliffs. It was an enchanted evening. We found a spot to hang out and talked for a while watching the rocks below and listening to the waves crashing in them. The light-house to our right was doing its job flickering around and the moon was lighting the sea.
I did notice however that she would remove her hand if my hand got anywhere near hers and when I say near I mean even one foot. I guess she wanted to make sure she wasn’t sending out wrong signals.
After an hour of blah blah blah we decided to go back home on foot. It was a beautiful night. I also decided to walk every time after I eat my meals. Back in the states I tend to do the opposite.
The walk was great, we kept teasing each other like we knew each other for a while.
At the hotel, we had to wake Nissan, yes that’s his name, up to unlock the big glass doors. We could see him through the glass doors laying on the floor dead asleep. It took a few knocks to wake his ass up.
Once awake he let us in, she stayed chatting with him a little bit. I suspected that he was a bit jealous and she seemed to try to explain why she was with me. I let them to their drama and headed to my la la land.
Using my intuition, added to a few comments she dropped during the night and i think i can figure out what she was doing there, in Kanpur, by herself.
Here’s the story i came up with:
She fell in love with an Indian dude, went to meet him in Delhi and when she got there she realized that Indian men, no matter how much they care about a foreign girl, will always put their family first. He probably couldn’t even tell his family that they were dating.
I came up with this story with intuition and two bits of information. Its also how she said it…
First info is that when she was in Delhi, (heehee, i feel like a detective) she said that she was staying at a friend’s house but when they went out, one cousin told her not to mention where she was staying. Second piece of info: when i saw her swinging in the chair, i later told her that she seemed really happy to which she replied.
“No, i wasn’t happy at all…quite the opposite…”
There you have it ladies and gentlemen! I rest my case.
The next day, she sent me a message saying that she thought we should go and hang out with the elephants. I wanted to but it just wasn’t part of my treatment plan. I don’t think elephant rides would be a good thing to do while I’m healing my back. But as it turns out, we decided to leave Kannur that same day.
We had to explain to the doctors that the treatments, however beneficial to my well being, weren’t doing much for my back.
They wanted us to stay and explained that ayurveda is a slow process, yaddi yaddi yadda, three hours later, were in a cab on our way to Mysore, the city of oils and incense.
Mysore here we come…in six long cab ride hours…
Before we started our journey for Mysore, the driver who spoke not one word of English, decided to stop at some garage. He turned around and explained (using various hand signals) to me what I understood as “My heart is looking for a midget” but as it turns out he was saying that we’re waiting for his son, a smaller version of himself.
Once the kid arrived, we embarked on our journey, again. At this point I realized that we were not just paying customers, we were all embarking on this journey as a family.
To get to Mysore we would have to cross the mountains and some wildlife reserve. We could see the mountain peeks up ahead. The mountain top stretched for miles.
It took us about 4 hours to meander our way through the mountains. The crew kept wanting to stop to eat or drink chai but I just wanted to get to Mysore. I didn’t know how much more of this my back could take.
I guess their stomach took over and decided to ignore me and stopped to get some chow. We decided to follow, decided to flow.
We get out of the car and follow the hungry convoy. It feels good to stretch out my legs.
The driver goes “lockey lockey?” pointing at the car.
“Yes” I replied “lockey lockey the car thank you”
We duck into this dark place with a few benches and park our butts into one of them. They order something and end up with a banana leaf with a mountain of rice in the middle. They immediately dig out a crater with their hands just in time for the chef to splash some curry gravy in it. They use their hands to mix and shove their happy meal into their hungry mouthes.
I opted for the fried fish and was glad to see that I was awarded a banana leaf as well. My fellow cab driver/friend ordered some other stuff for me and I ate all of it. It was delicious.
After 20 minutes of feasting, we washed our hands and went back on the road.
I was half expecting to see some tigers on the side of the road but no such luck? I did see a peacock on a tree though, maybe he was hiding from the tiger.
We finally get to Mysore!
The palace… They are about to light it, this happens once a year…
Mysore! Oh wow, that’s a serious city. What a change from my little village of Kannur. Mysore is huge and beautiful. Apparently one of the Maharaja build quite a few beautiful structures that withstood the test of time.
Man at the market…
Back to Bangalore
Mysore was a feast for the senses. We got a ton of incense and oils. I also bought some necklaces I was assured was coral. It’s probably plastic but I don’t really care.
At the market they were rolling incense by hand. One guy showed us how to do it.
That market was so cool that we went there almost everyday, actually we got into the habit of walking after every meals. I’ve lost about 20 lbs so far. I’m not really trying to lose weight, I’m following the Vata pacifying meals. I feel much better and my back is much better as well. It’s all due to the ayurveda Vata balancing stuff nd and some physical therapy.
Near the market, oh wait, I forgot to tell you that I’ve started wearing the traditional Kawi. It’s a skirt-like piece of fabric the men in the South wear around their waists. The Indians love to see me in it. They are very proud to see me wear their clothes.
I also bought some underwear because sometimes the wind blows and lift my kawi pretty high and I don’t think they would appreciate that, especially the Muslims.
The funny thing is that the underwear have front pockets! Heehee. It’s awesome, and they are called pick-pockets.
After a few days in Mysore we decided to go back to Bangalore. In Bangalore we found a hotel, actually we found it online but upon arrival it was clear that they misrepresented their rooms. The room we got smelled like urine, my tablet’s screen is bigger than the tv which you could not see if you laid down on the bed because of the angle. The room was so small that we could not both be standing at the same time and the wifi didn’t work.
We were tired and hungry after that long cab ride and decided to walk around looking for food. We found food and another hotel, a really nice one. So we moved.
This new place is so cool and centrally located. We went to Shivaginagar almost everyday. I so enjoyed drinking the fresh crushed pommegranate juice and ooooh the freshly crushed sugar cane juice. They add lime to it here. I could not go one day without drinking coconut water and eat the cream either, yum!
I found a taylor that could reproduce my favorite shirt so i bought some fabric and put him to work.
In Shivaginagar the temples, mosques and churches are built right next to each other. I have to say that I did have some apprehension seeing all these women covered in black from head to toes but it is so beautiful and entriging to see them walking around. All I could see were their beautiful expressive eyes and their feet. I’m a sucker for pretty feet.
Some of them looked at me with smiling eyes and I wondered what the rest looked like…my mind wondered of course, straight to the gutter.
I thought of buying one outfit to bring back to the states and have someone pose in it for me 🙂
Every time I walked through commercial street I saw this girl, a gypsy. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t stop smiling at her. She returned the smile, always. I have a thing for gypsies. They are poor and of a lower class here. I started fantasizing about bringing to the states…you know me, always dreaming and in love.
The sound coming from the minarettes calling for prayer snapped me out of my daydream. I never saw her again.
On the way back I found this silversmith and had him make me a ring, a simple silver ring.
Here’s the video of him making it.