Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting to India and my first three days here!

December 12, 2010 – Day 1
IAD -> DOH -> BOM -> MAA
It’s 9:30am India time on Sunday December 12th and I’m sitting here at Chennai Airport waiting for my flight to Mysore and blogging my journey thus far on my netbook. This is good, because writing is allowing me some time to reflect and savor every moment.  It is 11:15pm US time on December 11th.  This means I have been traveling for more than 24 hours straight – I could REALLY use a hot shower right now ;)
My flight from DC to Doha and then onto Mumbai were fine. I slept most of the way to Doha and then read a little of my book “Planet India” to pass the time on the second leg.  As the plane approached India I grew excited inside and as soon as touched down a big smile automatically appeared on my face.  It’s still so surreal that I’m in India already. Thank goodness for my BB – it’s allowed me to tweet, facebook, and call so that friends and family can keep track of where I am and know that I’m ok.
Transferring to the Domestic Terminal from the International Airport was an experience. With two suitcases, one hand luggage, my purse and being tired it felt like an obstacle course. Once I figured out where to go though, I loaded my bags onto the bus and sat in the shuttle bus to be transferred.  Check-in with Kingfisher was quick and easy and I would recommend flying with them!  It’s too bad I was in the security line and running tight to catch my flight because I saw Om Puri! I really wanted to stop and take a picture or say hi but it just wasn’t happening. I’m sure I’ll catch a few more celebs on my travels here.
I have about 90 minutes left to my flight departure.  I think I’ll go grab a snack and read my book a little more.  I still can’t believe I’m here already!

Sunrise going into Chennai

So after a total of FIVE different flights I made it to Mysore!  The cab and driver I had arranged for greeted me at the exit with my name on a placard.  He helped me with my bags and then we were off to Hootagally Village. 45 minutes later we pulled up outside Parashur’s place and Pareesha, his daughters and Ode another volunteer from France greeted me – boy was I happy to see some nice smiling faces.  I was beyond tired and stinky at this point so I first took a warm bath and spent the rest of the day trying to stay awake.  In the early evening Pareesha, Ode and I ventured first to CCD in Mysore and had some snacks and caffeine ( I love CCD!) and then made our way after haggling with some rickshaw drivers to Mysore Palace. It was magnificent!  On holidays and Sundays the whole building gets lit up and it was wonderful.  We spent some time there admiring the majesty of it all and taking photos. After haggling with a few more rickshaw drivers we made our way back to Parashur’s place for a healthy balanced South Indian dinner. Pareesha gave me some Tylenol PM which helped to knock me out even further and I slept like a rock!

Ode and P at CCD (Cafe Coffee Day)

Mysore Palace at night!

December 13, 2010 – Day 2
Rani- Parashur’s wife made a delicious South Indian dish called “Avvalekki” – it’s a rice based food that was delicious and along with some Mysorean coffee was a nice way to start my first full day in Mysore. After showering and brunch, Pareesha and I made our way to Odanadi and spent the day there.  My India phone had not been working since I arrived so we took a detour to a Vodafone store and had it checked out and the balance refilled. Having a phone makes life so much easier J
Since we had a late breakfast, lunch was just some mango juice, animal crackers and some Haldiram mix.  In the evening however we were again treated to some deelish home food. Parashur’s family is so warm and welcoming.  Him and his wife are both good cooks and tonight we were treated to Wild Boar that had been marinated in a dry spice rub – the boar had been hunted by Stanly’s friend earlier in the day about 80km away from Hootagally and they were really excited for us to try it!
The small bananas available here look so good , fresh and free from chemicals. It’s too bad I’m allergic to them L But, knowing this Rani cut some pineapple for me and that was my dessert after eating the wild boar with fried rice and egg.  They are beyond hospitable and I feel like I’m at home. Jansi the youngest daughter provided entertainment throughout dinner as she did her own renditions of MJ’s moonwalk, and Shakira’s hip-shaking along with BharataNatyam and Kathakali – this girl has way too much energy! It was a lovely way to close out Pareesha’s last night here before she leaves to re-join her family.
You can read about my first few days at Odanadi here.

December 14, 2010 – Day 3
Two phone calls from the US disturbed my sleep at 12:30am and 2:30am. I didn’t answer as the rates are expensive on my US phone and I was also out of it. I have no idea who it was, but small note to all folks – please keep in mind the time difference and call my India mobile if you have to – thanks! As a result I could not really sleep properly again and was up and writing by 8am. 
Pareesha doesn’t want to get up right now as she still has to pack and it’s her last day here. I can understand – I have an inkling I’ll be feeling similarly when I have to leave next week also.  My body still aches a little from my trip here and am slightly jet-lagged, but that will pass as I get adjusted to being here. I think I should go and shower now, eat some breakfast and head to Odanadi!

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