Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moon Day Tourist

I got my first TWO mozzy bites yesterday. They're big and red and freaked me out. (DENGUE FEVER! MALARIA!! ARGGGHHHHHHH!!!) I hadn't brought any citronella oil or mosquito repellent with me, so went out to the store to look for some. The stuff they have here sound like HARDCORE, HEAVY-DUTY, POWER stuff. To the point where I saw the list of chemicals listed and thought "Is this even safe for human use?"

When I turned the bottle around, it was as if it read my mind and I saw printed on the bottle "Safe on skin". Yeah, but "safe" is all relative innit? "Safe" according to WHO? (and I don't mean the World Health Organization. I was shouting out the word "WHO?!")

I bought the lotion anyway (something's better than nothing, right) and also found a mosquito net. They assured me it would fit a double bed, but LOOK! It's just a tad too short. How retarded. Oh well, something's better than nothing, right. I think I'm growing up. They had a hot pink mosquito net option or this blue one. Something told me that sleeping under a hot pink net would just be a tad too bright, so I went for the blue option. It kinda matches the sheets too. :)

Since today's a Moon day holiday with no shala practice, I arranged with my friendly neighbourhood rickshaw driver, Maney, to go sightseeing before lunchtime. While waiting for him to pick me up, I realized my landlord (who lives below me with his family) has customized his front door with his initials. HAHAHA! I love this retro door grill full of S's!

I've just realized I completely FORGOT to take a photo of Maney in his rickshaw. Just in case you think I'm a slavedriver who's sat in the back of an actual rickshaw (y'know... where a guy runs and pulls you along in a carriage behind him, Tintin and The Blue Lotus-style)...

...I'm actually referring to what they call "auto-rickshaws" here. In my part of the world, they call them "tuk tuks", like in Thailand. Y'know, kinda like the 3-wheeler vehicle that's always in Mr. Bean's way.

I sat in the back, flanked by 2 very random posters. I LOOOOOOOOOOVE the random posters they have in India! Apologies for the shaky shots. A rickshaw ride is EXTREMELY bumpy, plus there are plenty of potholes in Mysore roads! One's an almost-soft-porn cartoon poster saying "You are always there by my side", and the other's of a baby saying "You Are Welcome". (see what I mean by RANDOM?)

ZERO SEATBELTS in the backseat. In fact, you could pretty much tumble out on the side where you got in!

At 9am when he picked me up, he brought me to Durga Bhavan for breakfast. A truly local hole-in-the-wall. I had 2 Idly's (a rice flour puff with spicy coconut dip and the other was another spicy red dip with tomatoes) and he ordered me an Upma too (the one on the right - I think it's made from semolina and mixed with dahl and all kinds of tasty spices). Pretty heavy and stodgy compared to my regular muesli with rice milk back in Amsterdam! Of course, I had to have a black coffee with brekkie too. It tasted kind of different, like it had some kind of spice in it. We bumped into another yogi who also knew Maney and I made my first friend in Mysore (OK, not friend, more like acquaintance at this point!) She said maybe it's Chicory they have in the coffee here that makes it taste different. :)

While we were there, Maney pointed out another lady and said "You know Tina's restaurant? That's Tina there! Also having breakfast here!" I didn't know of Tina's restaurant so Maney said he'd show me where on the way back.

On the way to the market in the middle of town, we passed by rows and rows of what looked like carpets on the side of the road. "EH?!" I asked Maney... He replied "It's the washing! There's a laundry service in this area!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This road is probably the busiest around, with loads of dirt and dust being kicked up by the passing traffic. It's probably the dirtiest clean clothes around!

Here comes the obligatory Out-Of-My-Way-Cow! shot. TWO cows, in fact.

We passed a bamboo village on the way to town. The whole area pretty much lives on bamboo - from the shacks they live in, to the weaved baskets they sell. (Sorry, more shaky shots from the back of the rickshaw!) See the wall lined with bamboo? It looks like a wall made from dirt bricks and bamboo, and the whole village of shacks has walls built just like that!

Finally, we get to Devaraja Market. HOLY MOLY! This place is pretty insane! It's just rows and rows and rows of stuff for sale! There are different sections for vegetables, fruit, meat (I didn't really wanna be confronted by hanging carcasses so declined to go to the meat section), incense, oils, frying pans... you name it, they had it. In some sections, the vegetables were just tumbling onto the sidewalk and you had to walk around them.

It's pea season, these pea pods were EVERYWHERE!

I thought this was soap. It's actually some form of sugar. BLOCKS OF IT!

Then I met Adil, whom I've heard a lot about through my good friend and first yoga teacher, Denise. He sells oils and incense, and is also your friendly neighbourhood foreign currency exchange dude. He's so lovely and sincere, and took out a photo album of past yogis who come and visit him every year. Another one of my old yoga teachers is also in his album.

Maney and I sat down and had a chat with him and AMAZINGLY, they both know my old teacher from Sydney! Maney said "Eileen? You are her student? I like her very much! One of Guruji's most senior students!" HOLY HELL, this Ashtanga world is SUPER SMALL, innit? Everyone down to the rickshaw driver and oils seller in the local market knows so-and-so and so-and-so?! I find this so MIND-BOGGLING!!

Adil treated us to a cup of Chai (look at me, drinking Chai from EVERYWHERE now... Delhi Belly?! Pffft! AS IF!! Heh.) And then he showed me what you can do with those colourful powders available from every other stall. He mixed a hot pink powder with water and drew a floral pattern on the back of my hand. After the water dried and left a trail of powder on my hand, he just wiped it off and it left a stain of the pattern on my hand! (kinda sorta like henna, although it's not henna). "You can use these powders for everything! Painting, Staining..." Adil said.

Since Adil sells a whole bunch of essential oils that smell real good, I asked if he had citronella (y'know, anything natural's gotta be better than that chemical anti-mozzy repellent I just bought!) He said "Anti mosquito? Then you need Water Lily oil, it's better than Citronella."

Ehhhhhhhhh? That's a first for me! And Water Lily Oil sure as hell smells much lovelier than Citronella. I mean, Citronella smells much better than my chemical lotion but still, there's something sharp and pungent about it... Why not try something different? Rs300 for a 30ml bottle. That's like €5. I didn't think to bargain coz that seems cheap enough, plus there's something about him that I trust. Oops, call me a sucker already, hahaha!

After the market, Maney said he'd take me on a tour of Mysore city. As for visiting the actual tourist attractions, he said "Mysore Palace? Chemundi Hills? You wait till your friends come then I'll take all of you together" (Hear that LiAsh, Tova, Owl and Claudia? I've got our tourguide sorted already!) ;p

Scenes of the Mysore Palace exterior and the big roundabout in front of it.

Maney drove me up a small hill to the Lalitha Mahal Hotel. It's one the Maharajah's other palaces that's now a hotel. He insisted I walk inside and ask them how much a room is per night so that I could check out what the inside of the rooms look like. (HUH?!?) So weird! ...I walked inside and just went round to the back to check out the swimming pool. It looks big and grand on the outside, but is a little crusty and crumbling on the inside. I kind of like that oldskool crustiness about the place. As I was walking back out, I passed by a room that was being made up so got a peek into the room anyway. It felt a bit rude to whip out my camera to snap photos, but er... the room was also oldskool-crusty, complete with princess bed and frills. The whole place just felt like it could do with a big scrub down and fresh coat of paint, but I kinda like that it's a little bit tatty on the edges. :)

I didn't get a good shot of this other random Indian poster. I wish I understood Hindi coz I can't for the life of me begin to comprehend what the heck this is trying to sell! It's a man flanked by the heads of two other men, and below them are 2 heads of LIONS. Yes, LIONS. I mean... HUH?! Right...?

Maney also took me to a few other shops on the way back, but by this time, I was getting kinda overwhelmed by the noise and the people and basically of the people trying to sell you stuff. Every shop he took me to, it just felt like the salesmen were giving you their used-car-sales pitch. I felt like a walking thousand-dollar bill... Y'know, "Eye on the prize. HERE COMES THE FOREIGN SUCKER! LET'S GET HER, BOYS!" Maney kept telling me "Don't buy anything today, just ask the prices first so you know what's out there."

HAHAHA! I must've been Indian in a past life, coz that's pretty much how I shop anyway. Kinda scope out what's out there before I decide on buying anything. He kept reminding me I'm here for a month, so there's no hurry. It's kinda cool with a local looking out for me!

By lunch time, I was pretty much SPENT. Sensory overload. Maney had pointed out where Tina's restaurant is, and I was glad to see the sign said "home cooked food". Compared to all the other places I've eaten at, Tina's prices are pretty pricey (I paid DOUBLE for lunch here than everywhere else I've had lunch so far), but the food is definitely full of home-cooked goodness. And even at double the price, I still only paid €1.30 for lunch. HAHAHAHAHAHA! (Yes, that's ONE euro and thirty cents). And I haven't had a non-Indian meal at all since being here. :D

I am loving India! But I feel like I'm eating my way through India... Can't wait to get back on the mat tomorrow. I might be the only one who comes here for a month of yoga but goes back fatter than when I arrived!



  1. Ha ha ha, you will not go back fatter, I think is the novelty of it all, I love the food there too, but the last time I was there it wore off after a few days. Loved the post, great pix, I will twit, is almost like spending the moon day right there with you! :-)

  2. i totally thought i was going to get fat, but instead i got a tummy bug :P but even before the tummy bug, i just felt like the intensity of the practice there and the schedule that i kept to be up for practice made it so that it just wasn't possible to over eat.

    when i went to the travel clinic before my last trip the Dr basically said whatever is in the bug sprays is better than getting dengue. there isn't a cure, there isn't a treatment, and if you look it up on line, is sounds pretty sucky. not to freak you out, but, me, i wear the bug spray :)
    i think you should be able to buy these funny little things you plug into an outlet that work really well for repelling mozzies. and also supposedly keeping the fan running helps keep the buggers away.

    and i will totally walk chamundi hill with you! you were planning on walking, right? not having maney take you up? only 1000 or so steps :)

  3. Claudia - Haha, at this point, I am sooooooo not planning on cooking a thing AT ALL for a month. Let's see how long this will last. I'm just seriously freaked out about using any water from the tap at all. Maybe you can show me where the other non-Indian eating places are. :)

    Tova - AHA! I've finally found one good thing about a tummy bug now that you've mentioned it. HAHA. About dengue - yeah, TWO of my best friends got hit by it... IN SINGAPORE!! And it does sound pretty nasty. I have one of those anti-mozzy plug outlets in my room already... But I still got those 2 mozzy bites, which is what got me freaked into buying the lotion AND net. HAHAHA! It's YOU! You're freaking me out with your dengue stories! HAHAHA!

    Chamundi Hill - 1000 steps? Hell's tits! OK, you're on, let's do it. I need to build my thunder thighs to help my Laghuvajrasana anyways (Laghu only when I get back to the Dam of course, not while I'm here. haha)

  4. lol, sorry :) my feeling is, you take the precautions you can and hope for the best :)
    as for water, if you don't have a purifier in your flat, you can order pure water, i think through shiva. pretty sure i didn't get the tummy bug from the water i was using. i'll tell you where i think i got it, when i get there :P
    w00t! chamundi hill! yay!

  5. We got big 5 gallon jugs of water that really were safe. The place was a little storefront close to the shala, and lots of Guruji's visiting students used it without problem.

    That "spicy red dip"? That's Sambar! Yum!

    And don't don't DON't miss Tina's fruit salad and ginger tea. One of my best post-practice memories!

  6. Hey Tova! Yup, we have one of those big gallons of water cooler type things in the apartment... but it kinda seems like a waste to wash veggies in bottled water, no? Maybe I should wash them in tap water first then do a final rinse with the bottled water.

    And Fran - SAMBAR! That's right, forgot what it was called. Will definitely check out Tina's fruit salad and ginger tea now that you've recommended it. :)

  7. I'll do Chamundi Hill. And I don't know about everyone else but I'm up for pictures, no problem.

    I'm bringing bug repellent. Yep, that's how lame I am. WAIT til you see what all is in my big suitcase.

  8. That's not lame, that's smart. I should've brought citronella bug repellent, so DO IT! DO IT! (although this water lily oil now smells like incense on my skin and I don't seem to be getting any bites. Maybe it's the mozzy net too. Haha.)

  9. This is better than a Travel&Leisure/National Geographic combo Mag!

  10. You can use my 'American' bug repellent if you want. Maybe I'll try your water lily oil, LOL.

  11. Oooh, I LOVE the market, the random posters and the very chic 'S' grille on the front door, hahahahaha! Maney sounds like a great guide to have to bring you around and help you eat your way through India (which I'm very excited to read about)! :)

    As for me in Mysore...doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon, but who knows?? My husband will def not want to come along so it's a matter of making the leap on my own :)

  12. Dear Jaime
    They tend to fatten the girls over there during their stay, don't they? Tina's is famous in the ashtangi world. Supossedly (and i get all my scoop from blogs, haha) it's where to go to eat if you do get the Delhi Bellis. But then, who am I to say when you're going to be surrounded by the cybershalamates, who've been there before?

    Thanks for explaining the color powders in the pictures. I was wondering, coz it looked like jellys. Reading the stories of your sightseeing as told by you make it feel like one is there with you.

    It's possible my old teacher C. is there now. She tends to go at this time of the year. Besides the people you mentioned, Laruga and Tiffany are there.


  13. I lost a lot of weight during my two trips to Mysore, mostly because I don't care that much for Indian food (the sacrilege!!!).

    Chamundi Hill is evil. Get ready for some sore calves!

    And don't wash veggies in tap water! Seriously, don't. Or use one of those water purifier tablet thingies (not sure what they are made of, I saw other people use them when I was there but I never cooked, only ate out).

  14. And I can't believe you really thought there's be seatbelts in the auto(-rickshaw)s!!

    Ooh I wish I was there ... ! One day I will go I swear!! In the meantime you (and others) have to keep on posting your adventure stories!!! :)

  15. 5'2": BAHAHAHA! There's probably less swearing in those doccos. I suppose swearing makes things more fun. Hehe.

    Danielle: OK, I'm gonna document my food photos too, just for you! And it's perfectly fine to come here on your own. I DID! BAHAHA! There are lots of other single females travelling on their own too. I've met quite a few already who have left husbands and boyfriends behind (one for THREE MONTHS!) You can do it! ;p

    Arturo - Laruga and Tiffany? Which blogs are they on? Don't recall reading them (but I also tend to get real names and blog names mixed up a lot...)

    V - I have decided too that I fully intend NOT to cook at all this whole month. Eating out is cheap! Plus, I love Indian food! And at less than GBP 1 for the average meal... I mean... WHY WOULD I COOK?!? Haha.

    Susie - Yeah, I guess you're right. I suppose what I meant was "they really OUGHT to have seatbelts in the back!" ;p

  16. Dear Jaime
    Laruga's is PeaceLoveYoga. She's there with her SO. Lovely couple. Tiffany's is Yogini's Quest.

  17. Why would you cook? If you want something with maple syrup, that's why. You can get some from Tova if you've forgotten your own :)

  18. Hehe! Where Tova's staying there's a cafe that does western breakfasts. And there's another place I know of too that does western brekkies/ meals too! All for super cheap... That's why I wouldn't cook! ;p

  19. hi Jaime,

    Your stories so interesting, and i wonder how much it cost to study at Mysore?

  20. Hi Jean, as the shala doesn't advertise shala fees on their site, I don't feel it would be right of me to blare it all over the internet either. If you're serious and interested in studying with them, you can email them to inquire. Link is here: http://kpjayi.org/the-institute/studying-in-mysore

  21. I was in India a few years ago and water lily oil worked like magic against mosquitoes. Do you remember if the oil was from blue or white water lilies? Thanks for your help

  22. Hi Kaelyn,
    Sorry for the delayed response, I've been travelling! I have no idea what kind of colour flowers they came from, but I know the essential oil itself is green in colour. Is there a difference in what kind of flower you use?

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