Traffic for 2011 January 4 (entry 0)

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[Comments] (1) fiddler on the roof: I instructed Sandeep my driver to pick me up at 4 pm today so I could get my hair cut this evening. He said ok. Then when he picked me up I asked him where the nearest barber was and he said "Oh sir you can't get your hair cut on Tuesday or Friday. Such shops are closed those days." Well. Even if I was unaware of this tradition, why did he not mention it this morning?

But he and I sat in the car and hashed a few things out today. Namely, protocol on car repairs and having him chauffer us to Pondicherry in Feb. I told him it's over Valentine's and I have to spoil my wife because hotels, food, massages, flowers, etc are so CHEAP in India compared to US. For example, I bought a beautiful arrangement for Sumana's mother Nagalakshmi and it only cost US$4. Something like that in the states would have been $30+ easy. He laughed with me, so apparently Valentine's Day translates across borders easier than does the barber's holiday.

Mysore was a fab trip. We stayed with Nagalakshmi in her beautiful house and had the upper wing to ourselves. We visited the zoo, which had an otter and some beautiful giraffes (my favorite). Everything else was just ok. We also went to Brindivan garden, which is next to the dam and aquadect that provides water to Bangalore. We got there at dusk, boated across the lake, and witnessed the nightly fountain show and otherwise enjoyed the grounds all lit up. It was beautiful.

Places like this are tourist traps but they are also quite entrepreneurial. We chanced upon some individuals that, for $1 extra, have already waited in line and pre-purchased tickets so we didn't have to wait in line. Yes, I'll pay an extra $1 to not wait in an hour-long line! The kids especially benefit because any time we have to queue they get thronged. Susie is normally opposed to this practice but I find their ingenuity to make a buck charming.

We also went to Chamundi Hill. People thronged us there, and I think they were also impressed by the hiking carrier Maggie rode in up the mountain. The view of Mysore from up there was grand, but unfortunately the air quality is quite poor. I'm unsure if it's smog or something else.

We also visited the Mysore Palace, which costs 20 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners. I wonder if the US could EVER get away with something like that; methinks not. The palace was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the hand-carved doors. Upon exiting the palace, we chanced upon camel and elephant rides and who could resist? The camel ride was a bit scary at first. I was on the back of the hump, without a seatbelt, holding Maggie in place on the first hump with nothing to hold myself in place. The back hump does not leave much room for a man to sit comfortably. But it was rather smooth and a neat experience. The camel ride was $1.50 for the whole family and $7 for the elephant ride. Prices are cheap, we speculate, because these companies do not fear lawsuits and therefore do not carry liability insurance.

Mysore also has these quaint horse-drawn richshaws. We rode one completely around the palace, with buses, pedestrians, and autorickshaws sharing the road with us. That cost about $2.25 and was quite nice with the breeze it provided. In the evening they light up the palace and it was really pretty. I would imagine it gives the locals a certain sense of pride. The palace is quite famous, as we saw more white people here in one day than all month long in Bangalore. Susie and I have decided the palace was good enough for us and we will most likely skip the Taj Mahal.

We saw some toy autorickshaws and could not resist. The first guy charged us $3.50 but we talked him down to $2. We then asked Sandeep how much he would pay for one and he said 50 cents. So I gave him $1 and told him to go get us another one since the kids were already fighting over that one and he could keep the change. Apparently the rule of thumb that foreigners get charged double is a misnomer; they get charged four times as much!

The trip there and back was hard. It takes four hours to go 100 miles. Just getting out of Bangalore takes one hour. There is a four-lane highway but unfortunately it goes through each town rather than around the town like in the US. This means stop lights, speed bumps, etc. Every time you make good speed, some cow gets in the way and ruins everything. It's not that I was in a hurry, but Maggie gets motion sick here.

Today for lunch we discovered that, for US$3.50, we can get a big bowl of pasta that comes with the most delicious chocolate waffle topped with ice cream. We just added another option to the work lunch menu!


Posted by Erin at Tue Jan 04 2011 15:16

You guys are so adventurous! I think I would feel uncomfortable standing out in the crowd so much. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us who aren't so much so. Take care!!


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