Mysore Revisited

There are two sorts of images that come to my mind when I think of a package City tour in India. It is either a bus full of devotees and elderly crowd on a mission to visit the holy grails of the religion or it is a band of foreigners who are out to see the land of snake charmers and elephants. So when we(me and my friend and colleague hereafter referred as SD) booked a ticket on Friday on a one day package trip to Mysore, the latter image was on top of our mind. But one look at the people waiting to board the nice Volvo and we understood that it was neither. The crowd was an eclectic mix of elderly, families, newly weds (who incidentally were finding it extremely difficult to get their hands off each other through the day), group of men who seemed to be out on a mission and of course foreigners. Anyways having met with a bit of disappointment at lack of interesting people in the bus, nevertheless we started on what promised to be a visit to the city of palaces or "palices" as our tour guide Ravi would keep pronouncing through out the day on the audio system.

Our first notable stop was at Seringapatnam, which incidentally was the capital of prince Tipu Sultan. We visited Tipu Sultan's summer palace which is also known as Dariya Daulat Bagh. The palace is internally made of wood and is remarkably cool even in the blazing sun outside. The wall has exquisite paintings depicting the 4 Anglo Mysore wars that were waged by Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali against the British. The palace is actually quite small but has a very intricate feel to it and one cannot help but wonder at the time gone by.

Having visited the summer palace we went to the Seringapatnam fort which is supposedly on a natural island on the Cauvery river. There is not much of a fort now with it being completely razed to the ground by the British in 1799 when it fell. The only notable structure standing inside is the famous Ranganathaswamy temple which is more than 1000 years old. Built of solid stone, you cannot help but wonder how it was put together in that era without the modern help of science. Everyone on the bus was specifically told to get back in 30 minutes but a couple of people were found missing. A small search and wait of 5 minutes revealed that one of them had bought a Texas style cowboy hat. Now who would think of buying a cowboy hat from a stall in front of a temple in middle of Karnataka. Apparently there are and we decided that during the course of the day we would borrow his hat to take a couple of pictures ourselves.

The first stopover at Mysore was the St.Philomena's church. It was a lovely church with an unique underground altar. It was pitch dark down there and just had a bunch of candles burning. You stand there and have a feeling of serene calmness. It is a different thing that on our way out in a dark passage I could not see a thing. And I was really struggling had it not been for SD who apparently was comfortably able to see everything, I would literally have to grope and feel my way out. A detailed discussion about this difference between our level of night vision revealed that SD indeed had the traits of a night predator with wider than average aperture in his eyes.

Lunch time and the topic of discussion and debate for us was whether the restaurant would be vegetarian. While I am a strictly non-veggie like SD, I am veggie on Saturdays at the behest of my mom. So while I was praying for the lunch place to be veggie, SD kept insisting that if it were a non-veggie, he would order extra plates of chicken and mutton just to keep it in front of me. And so it happened. While I had to make do with gobi manchurian and naan, SD feasted on mixed fried rice and chicken. Thankfully the chilled beer to go with lunch was at least vegetarian.

Mysore "palice" was really one of the best palaces we have seen. As our guide Ravi repeated probably 10 times on the intercom that all the materials in the palish was imported and only labourers were from India. Even today morning when I was attending a teleconference, I could not but remember that we still are the "labourers from India" even though I might be working in a sophisticated environment, moving in a comfortable car or flashing a blackberry. Anyways back to the palace and the grandeur impressed everyone. Whether it was the beauty of the Belgian glasses, the fusion architecture styles of Saxon and Persian or the elegance of the Diwan - i - Khaas. The Durbaar hall is wide, open, sweeping and overlooks the huge courtyard and garden below. Standing there you imagine the amount of power the king would have experienced being surrounded by his ministers and royalty and with thousands of commoners down below. No that is real POWER.

Anyways we visited Chamundi hill next and it really provides some breathtaking views of the Mysore city below. We came down the winding roads and made our way to the famous Vrindavan gardens in the evening. We had heard so much about this place but to be honest it did not live up to its reputation. The garden is nice but there are two basic problems. The maintenance really sucks and one can see plastic bottles floating in the fountains, dysfunctional fountains and moss and dirt in the structures. The second problem is that it has way too many people. I mean if you follow the TV series Big Bang theory and you really feel like agreeing to Raj's statement from a couple of episodes back - "I tell you there are way too many people there(India)....and dude they are everywhere". The fountain light and sound show was also a dampener. So all in all a nice place but needs some serious thoughts on maintenance and crowd management.

The trip back was largely uneventful apart from this incident at the place where we stopped for dinner (thankfully this was a pure vegetarian place). I was looking at the menu thinking what to order and an elderly person from our bus sits down besides me and just takes the menu from my hand (and I mean literally from my hand while I was looking at it), calls the waiter and orders. I mean how rude is that???? I was speechless for a couple of seconds and even SD who saw it was in awe. Unbelievable people there are!!!!!

Anyways a very enjoyable day overall...A day we enjoyed thoroughly and we have decided to plan for a bigger trip in the coming weeks.

PS: I will post a photo blog of the trip soon. So watch out for that.


Okay this is kinda landmark for me...Can you believe this is my 100th post??When I first started writing in 2005 the objective was purely the joy of expression. While this basic drive is still there, many other reasons for the blog came up in due course of time. It became a way to recollect the happenings of life, reminisce the good old days gone by and then ISB happened. I promised myself that during my stay at ISB I would try to give the prospective applicants a glimpse of life of an MBA grad and the emotional ride he goes through. Now that is over it is more about my life and happenings and feelings again. Anyways I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the readers of my blog. Some of you have been the source of inspiration, critic and your inputs have been invaluable to me personally.

It has been quite sometime since this post was overdue and I kept thinking what it should be. Well to be honest I have not decided on let the post be another of my rants about life in general and things that affect each of us.

"I Need someone to make me happy" - You hear this over and over again from people at different phases of life. While the basic tenet of the statement is undeniable, I think the finer and important point that most people miss out is that no one can make us happy unless we try to make ourselves happy. Each of us must "practice the art of being happy". People around us can try to make us feel special and happy but ultimately the onus is on us.

"You need two people to make a relation succeed" - Again an oft repeated and beaten to death statement. You need both parties to give an effort to make a relation succeed. Of course this is true but is there more to this? On the face of it this seems very natural but I think many a times it doesn't take two people to make a relationship work. It takes one person who has enough patience and maturity to ride out the difficult phase. Every couple goes through turbulent phases in a relation and the key to the relation is how to deal with this phase. And I think if one person gives the other time and space to sort things out on their own, things look really bright. Well the key assumption is that when things are better both people put in an effort to sustain it.

"You should never trust anyone unless they earn it" - In today's world you can literally be ripped apart if you do not follow this. Time and again it has been proven that we should be extremely careful as to whom to trust and how much. I somehow subscribe to a different view. Somewhat a judicial view that everyone is trustworthy unless otherwise proven. Does that mean I blindly trust people and get taken for a ride? No that would be foolish. All I am trying to say is not to look at everyone thinking they are there to cheat us. There are enough good honest people around us still. Sure you can end up getting hurt, loosing money and so one and so forth and hence I would advise you to think of the cons if you want to try this path out.

"Money doesn't buy happiness" - I am a total believer of this. But at the same point many people who use this statement are people who have money. The thing is while money cannot buy happiness it surely goes a long way in making our lives better. I mean these days you can literally throw money at any problem you can think of and get a temporary respite or a momentary high. But once the effect wears off you can be sure that feel good factor is going to vanish too. So in effect money is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for happiness.

I would like to end this very heavy philosophical post with a thought. Each of us are inherently nice and we have the ability to make some people around us feel special and help them be happy. We should give this a serious thought. Trust me it will make you happy too. So go ahead spend sometime with you neighbourhood elder whom you typically ignore or play with the naughty kid whom you generally find irritating or gift something to the hapless or just Say Thank You to an important person in your life whom you never told how special he/she is.