Mysore Diaries: First Impressions
Three smooth plane rides and 34 hours later, we finally landed in Bangalore. Our taxi man pulled the car up and helped us load all our goods in the trunk. He had a red bindi on his forehead and a missing tooth, and was exceptionally tired, given that we landed at 3:20am. So tired, in fact, that he fell asleep while driving us to Mysore several times. Only for a few seconds at a time, but still. He stopped twice during the trip - once for coffee, and the other we're not so sure; he just parked and left us in the car without saying anything. It's a thing here. Along with the coffee he ate little hard candies to keep himself awake and aware, but I watched his eyes fade to close from the backseat and my mama bear instincts took over. Without thinking, I gave him a tap on the shoulder.
Apparently this is not the thing I should have done. Nothing bad happened, really, and it worked because he didn't nod off again after that, so I don't regret it. But he did turn around and give me a serious expression of "Do not touch me. I've got this." I've since then learned that, basically, as a woman in India, I shouldn't touch a man for several reasons. But you put a woman in the backseat of a taxi with her baby, whom she loves more than anything in the world, and then you fall asleep at the wheel, you best believe she's going to give you a friendly little wake up call. Just saying...
The roads quickly became heavy with traffic as the day began, and so noisy! Everyone honks as if to communicate where they are on the road rather than an expression of anger like in the West. I think the road signs and traffic lanes are more of a suggestion than anything else because most people drive wherever they well do please. They'll cruise right on top of the white dotted lines, run red lights, weave in and out around cars and motorcyclists with seemingly no real method to the madness beyond a "honk, I'm on your left side." There were even cars parked in the lanes on the highway! I trusted our taxi driver despite his sleepiness- he was clearly an Indian road beast with a lot of experience. I didn't think it was possible to squeeze through so many small spaces with that Toyota Camry, but he managed to prove me wrong time and again. I seriously felt like I was in The Night Bus from Harry Potter.
I enjoyed having an early arrival time because it gave us the opportunity to drive through the streets of India as the sun rose. The transition from night to morning was very cool to witness. Suddenly everywhere we looked, there were children walking to school, women balancing baskets of fruit on their heads, and homeless people emerging out of their roadside beds. People began congregating around coffee stands, smoking cigarettes, burning trash, sitting in malasana on their front porches, reading books, selling necklaces and lamb carcasses along side the highway. The cows munched on grass in front yards and stray dogs wandered aimlessly into rush hour traffic... the streets absolutely beamed with life on every corner. It was incredible!
We arrived in Mysore four hours later.
These first few days we will be staying with a Brahman and his wife in their home, about five minutes away from the yoga shala. We were told to surprise him with Ghiradeli chocolate bars as a thank you gift, which apparently the Brahman loves and cannot get so easily here in India. He was very grateful! He and his wife are both incredibly kind and respectful, and head over heels for Connor. They always want to hold him and feed him and they're exceptionally thrilled when he gives them a high five. It's adorable.
Mysore is so beautiful and, at least in the neighborhood where we're staying, practically the opposite of hectic Bangalore. The neighborhood is calm and inviting. There are still piles of trash and cow poo to look out for, but it's not overwhelming or even that off-putting, honestly. It's just India; wild and unashamed.
My original concerns (and other people's fears that I had taken on as my own) were put to ease instantly upon arrival. The colorful homes and cafes, the green foliage, the people all feel like a respite; a place to experience slow living and embrace deep healing. I am thrilled to be here and looking forward to this next month of Mysore adventures.
Now to get over this jet lag!
For love, with love.