Log of my trip to visit friends in Bangalore
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Tue Jan 6 15:28:51 IST 2004 finally got the weekend's pictures uploaded. The network connection has been bad the last two days, something about a transatlantic cable being down.
Distant relative Ravi brought Sushma's son to visit. Sushma is Gaj's sister.
For New Year's Eve, we went to dinner with Rohan's family from downstairs. Rohan is one of Yeshas's primary playmates. From left: Yeshas, Rohan, Rohan's little brother, Madhavi, Tejas.
The other side of the table: Nirmala, Sridhar, and Silly-Gaj.
The first weekend of the new year, we went on a trip with Pramodh, Aanjina, and Aavinash (Kruti stayed behind). We got a late start on the first morning, because the rented van was about an hour late picking up Pramodh and family. Rentals in India generally come with drivers. According to Gaj, it actually costs more to rent a car without a driver. In any case, we hung around outside waiting for the van to arrive. Nagamma appeared after an absence of several days, and Madhavi told her we were going. Shashi spent the weekend with her parents and brother at the family farm -- the backpack is hers. We dropped Shashi and Nagamma at the bus stop on our way out of town. The exact moment here, the van had arrived at the front gate, but was having difficulty negotiating with the guards to let it into the complex. From left: Aanjina, Toyota Qualis (the SUV we went to Georgia Sunshine Village in with Barag, Sujata, Sachet, and Sujay), Nagamma, a guard, Tejas, and Shashi.
Finally, we can start loading the van. From left: Aanjina, Madhavi, van, Gaj, Parmodh, two guards, Tejas, Shashi, and Nagamma.
The first day, we drove to Mysore to visit Gaj's parents. The Kabini River Lodge was a 2-3 hour drive beyond Mysore, so breaking up the drive over two days was nice. In any case: stuck in traffic. Notice the laborer riding on top of the haystack in the truck. I don't know why "KING OF KINGS" is painted on the truck at right; perhaps some Christian thing.
At an intersection, a police officer directs traffic, as twenty five million scooters wait to come across. Note the schoolboy running against the hand. Also, note the truck of CNG containers. These containers are used both for cooking and for powering some of the auto-rickshaws (the ones that don't output acrid smoke).
At a gas station, a group of five girls, aged 3-10, sold flowers.
Passing a truck. Note the "PLEASE SOUND HORN PLEASE" painted on the back. Note also the advertisement painted on the building at left. There are lots of billboards, especially in cities. In the coutryside, though, houses near roads are brightly (!) painted with advertisements for various products. Often cement. One fairly common ad brags that some cement brand is "Perhaps the best cement in the country."
There had been an accident or something, and a crowd of people blocked the road.
Standard road craziness: a resourcefully overloaded scooter; a truck passing a bus in a village. On the left, a watermelon vendor under of the ubiquitous blue plastic tarps, and some billboards.
Much of the drive from Bangalore to Mysore is on a high, dry plain. Barren, with some dramatic rock formations.
A ouple standard roadside stands.
Road scene. The buildings are painted with ads. The driver of hte van kept a stuffed dog head hanging from the rear-view mirror.
In a town.
A temple by the side of the road. These pictures were all taken from a speeding van on a bumpy road, so not everything is framed perfectly. :)
A village, with a common mixture of concrete (the rectangular bldgs) and woven-palm-frond (the triangular bldgs) construction.
Woven-palm-frond bldg. I have no idea what the people are doing.
An ambulance.
A good view of the dangling dog. On the dash is a generic little ganesha, with flowers.
In Mysore, we went to dinner at a government-run restaurant in one of the old palaces of the former King of the region. The palace is now an expensive hotel -- room from $200 -- so the crowd was rich white tourists. And the food was bad, definitely not up to SFBA restaurant standards.
A better view of the diners. At the back you can see two musicians sitting on a three-foot stage: a tabla player on the left, a veena player on the right. They were playing Hindi film songs in a sort of vaguesly classical style, which amused the Indians at our table. Gaj, Madhavi, and Gaj's father were all humming or singing along.
The next day, on the road from Mysore to the Kabini River Lodge. The dog in profile. A poorly timed shot of an oxcart. Sometimes the people driving the oxcarts looked asleep. I guess the animals know where they're going. I saw few tractors, and many oxen.
A surprisingly well-timed shot of a village. Thatch-roofed brick buildings, and a toddler hanging out with the goats. Goats were everywhere.
Those big lumps are haystacks.
A town.
Blocked by goats. On the left is a bakery. Note the plastic jugs hung on the pole in front. These jugs are everywhere. I don't htink I got a picture of it, but one of the standard sights to see was an old man bicycling town the road with an improbable number of empty plastic jugs assmebled into a huge bundle.
Rice paddies. The workers were living under the tent. The mound behind was possibly the workers making bricks.
An oxcart in a village. The ellipsoidal sticker on the windshield was quite irritating.
At the reception bldg of the Kabini River Lodge. Note the contrast to the bldgs in previous photos.
The Lodge owned a stretch of beach along the lake formed behind a dam on the Kabini River. the rains have been light the last few years, so the level of the lake is low. Hence the odd low-tide appearance of the landscape. Here are Pramodh and Aanjina walking on the shore.
Two women bathe in the lake. The water was not particularly clean.
The Lodge customers were a mixture of Americans, Europeans, and Indians. Note the Club Med t-shirt on the girl at center. At right are Pramodh and Gaj. The eating area was open-air, netted in to keep out birds. The food was very good.
That evening, we went on a jeep ride with a ranger through the neighboring national wildlife refuge. This type of monkey was everywhere. There are at least three monkeys in this picture. This is a different species from the standard city monkey.
Wild elephant. Note that the brush has been cleared for about fifty feet on each side of the road, so that tourists can see the animals more clearly.
The elephant strikes a pose.
The most common speices of deer was the "spotted deer" -- which, sure enough, has spots, looking like a really big faun. One thing that surprised me was how much the different species socialized. In particular, the monkeys and spotteed deer were closely correlated. The ranger said the deer liked to stay with the monkeys because, from up in the trees, the monkeys could see predators better.
When we got out to the newly-reexposed plain, things started getting a bit surreal. The stumps are from the forest inundated by the dam. Then, over the last cople years, the water level has dropped again, leaving a vast plain. Here you see a herd of elephants, including some babies (you'll need to view at full size to see them). Behind them are big, big bamboo stands. The elephants are huge themselves.
Some of those lumps are rocks, some are stumps, and some are animals (boar or bison or deer). Looking at the picture, now, I can't tell them apart. In any case, this should give you an idea of just how vast this plain was.
Bison: really big cows.
Finally, a decent shot of some bison.
Bison grazing in front of some bamboo thickets that look like they have elphant damage.
Another tourist safari jeep looking at the bison. Our jeep was much less fancy (think WWII-style). The driver would turn it off for downhills, and start it in gear when he decided he wanted to go faster again.
Can you count the spotted deer? I can't.
A leopard sleeping in a tree. Obviously, it needs to get busy killing deer and making more leopards!
Looking the other direction from where we had stopped to see the leopard. The plain at sunset. Under the sunset are several tens of bison. To the right are hundreds of deer. This part was a real wonder moment for me. It seemed like a picture from a dinosaur book where they cram all the species together in one picture, and you think "That is so unrealistic -- big animals are never together in such numbers and variety." But there they were, and there I was. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough light to get a really good picture, and the animals were very far away. Also not shown in the picture is how orange the sky was. Something about the sensors in the camera differing from those in my eye, I suppose.
The folks in our jeep looking at the leopard from the stopped jeep. I was on the hood, obviously. I think it's really funny the way Tejas is just sitting there, drinking milk from a sipper. From left: Madhavi, Tejas, Yeshas, Gaj, Aanjina.
More elephants, this time quite close. It was getting dark.
A peacock in a tree at dusk.
The next morning we dorve around in the jeep again, went on the river/lake in a motorboat (and saw crocodiles and birds and fish), and went on a very nice elephant ride. The elephants were super patients and quite affectionate. The one I was on was 45 years old. They can live to 90 or 100 in captivity, apparently. Afterwards, had breakfast, then packed up our stuff to go. Here are Aanjina and Pramodh, waiting for the others in front of the building where our rooms were.
We drove back to Mysore, had lunch at Gaj's parents' place, then drove back to Bangalore. Lots and lots of driving for one day, especially given the air quality -- the van did not have A/C, soe we had to keep the windows open, which meant inhaling all manner of nasty particulates and CO from two-stroke and diesel engines. Pictured is a village we drove past.
A village where we stopped to buy some water.
We parked while Gaj went looking for water to buy. So you get a good view of the "highway" we were driving on.
Some houses in the village. Note the front passenger seat tilted forward. The van had three openings -- two in front, and the back. So fro the other passengers to get out, I had to get out first, and then my seat tipped forward. Did I mentiont that the van had no safety belts?
Gaj had to try several different stores before he found water. This is a picture of somewhere else in the same village. You can't see it well in the picture, but the bldg at left had about ten people stuffed into it.
One more shot of the same village.
A nice, clear picture of the haystacks.
Oxen (and at right a buffalo) being driven along the road. On these roads, one found cars and vans going 60-70 km/hr, along with oxcarts going 3 km/h, bicycles, scooters, busess, and trucks of all kinds. Which makes for an exciting trip. And no safety belts in the van.
Much of the countryside was very dry.
Road through rice paddies.
Road through rice paddies.
Road through rice paddies.
In a big town on the way back, We were stopped at a traffic circle and I saw this ad. The man has lipstick marks all over his torso because women just can't resist his "Bacteria-resistant" "EURO French cut Brief". "Perpare to get assaulted". Note also the "GENUINE 0% INTEREST SCHEME", which includes "New Features".
Leaving Gaj's parents' house in Mysore after lunch. Madhavi at left, Gaj's mother at center.
Outside of Mysore there is this huge aqueduct thing.
A differently-shaped haystack.
I'm really curious what crop this is.
Another ridiculously overloaded truck. PLE ASE SOU ND HO RN The AP means it's from Andhra Pradesh.
Sitting at a traffic light.
Big sticks, little truck. Passing van.
Men stuffed into the back of a truck.
Watermelon stand. Also, reflection of knee.
Dry dry dry.
The big town in this dry region between Bangalore and Mysore.
Traffic craziness: we're passing a bus, and a bus is coming towards us. Many bus drivers drive maniacally. It's not uncommon to see traffic rise over a hill on BOTH sides of the road, one bus overtaking another. And pedestrians have to watch out, because the buses move fast but are slow to change velocity.
More traffic, and more people in the back of a little truck.
Looking over the train tracks, on our way out of that town.
Foreground: construction materials in piles (standard Bangalore thing). Behind: slums where laborers (mostly construction workers?) live.