Well, after 30+ hours of travel, i finally made it to my accommodation, Good Touch Apartments, in Mysore India - arriving at midnight. What a full on experience this entire journey has already been and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s to come.
Last night, at around 7.30pm Bangalore time, I was walking out of a surprisingly modern and polished airport into a chaotic sea of people and cars and buses and tuk tuks - everyone yelling for your attention. “Let the assault on all senses begin” I thought.
I was. however, impressed by how ‘under control’ all the Indian’s were though. I was warned of, and expected to, have swarms of people trying to grab my luggage and pull me from one direction to another in order to collect a fee for their services, however this wasn’t the case at all. All the men where piled against one another pushing against a barracade like wild animals trying to break free from their cages. Because of this, I was able to walk along the row of people, only half a metre away from them all, to read the names on the A4 pieces of paper people were holding. Wedged amongst the hundreds of men was my driver, Pasha. I was thrilled to see my name in bold blue ink on the scrunched up piece of paper he was holding.
Pasha was a lovely, chatty man, in about his mid 40’s. He was so very polite - helping me to find my seat belt which was jammed between the seats (he told me it is extremely important to wear seatbelts in India - crazy driving), playing Hindu music for me, offering cups of tea (I had to pass on this. The look of the stall hidden in a ditch on the side of the road was not so appealing. I at least want to make it a day without getting gastro). Pasha also insisted on the air conditioner being on for the duration of the trip as the pollution from outside is too intense. At one point Pasha did put his window down and it was as though I instantly couldn’t breathe. The combination of dust, smoke and diesel was overwhelming. I ended up breathing through my shawl for the next hour or so whilst the smells faded away.
The drive took almost 4 hours from Bangalore to Mysore. I managed to sleep in a very awkward position on my pack for about an hour or so - broken sleep of course. The constant stopping and starting whilst moving through the most unimaginable chaotic traffic was not condusive to having a relaxing sleep. That and the 129+ speed humps you must drive over during the 141km journey. Whiplash anyone?
Although the trip was in complete darkness, I was intrigued by the gigantic billboards that line the streets. Everywhere are monstrous sized, colouful billboards - advertising everything from a show of some sort to hot potato chips. What the? All this energy is placed into these advertisements yet the rest of the city is falling to pieces - literally. Never before have I seen such poverty. Disheveled, falling apart buildings which appear to have been rotting forever, huge holes in the ground everywhere where it looks like once upon a time someone had a great idea to excavate an area, got part way through and then decided “bugger this” and stopped. And then of course, there are the animals which wander the streets, looking as neglected as the rest of the city. It’s phenomenal and certainly makes you appreciate the wonderful luxuries we have back home - like side walks, roads and street lights - for example.
I spent an hour or so on Skype to Owen last night, mostly crying - not from fear but from wondering how I am going to get through this next 3 months. My room, although clean compared to what I had just witnessed, is certainly not the sort of clean I would prefer…. With mosquitoes swarming around the lights and filthy wash buckets in my shower area, it was enough to upset me to a point of crying. I think, however, this was mostly due to how overtired I was. With near no sleep in 48 hours, I was exhausted.
This morning is another day, and after a cold shower (not by choice) with my mouth firmly closed so as not to drink any of the water, I am ready to step outside into the chaos which I had the pleasure of waking up to.
As I said to Owen last night - this is all part of the yogic journey. It is through putting myself into these sorts of situations that I can truly come to appreciate life and all the wonder it has to offer. These experiences are enlightening and I know it would be nowhere near as powerful had I done my training in Australia. So I have no choice but to get my shit together and embrace this.
Bring it on India!