By the time we got to Bangalore it was indeed just gone 7 and with the baggage claim scenario to go through we could both chill in the knowledge that the 7.15 Flybus was gonna be impossible to catch. We would just have to settle for the one at 9, take our time in gettin’ on through before the last stages of a journey which started early morning in the misty hill city of Gangtok capital of Sikkim. Of course it was barely an inconvenience, the extra wait that is, as we were able to have a little bit to eat an’ drink after sorting out our Flybus tickets by way of buying them at the Flybus kiosk, storing our luggage in the hold of the bus which was on the stand fully parked up, ready an’ waitin’ to take us west. Turned out to be a pleasant hour or two, sittin’ outside the airport enjoying the balmy evening weather, plenty of seats, plenty of tasty lookin’ food and drinks stands busy with people. It was fun to be chillin’ after the thrill of having made it outta the hills, back to the heat, back to the plains of the south. Back to Bangalore, Indian mega city with serious splashes of high tech around its edges, a city which was now an overwhelming experience to drive through in terms of size – highway chaos, endless crowds, a million high rise apartment blocks – as if every time you blink your eyes another ten new vistas of the inexplicable appear on the horizon.
It was a half dream shuffle ride once we got going on the Flybus out of town for the four hour trip to Mysore. It was barely full, in fact there were only 10 of us on board, but at 800 IR a pop for a one way trip it really didn’t need to be packed to rafters. Probably made just as much with those few punters as a normal bus did when full, reason being that 800 IR from Bangalore to Mysore was really quite a lot of bread to splash, well beyond the means of so many people in that part of the world, no doubt about that. We could count ourselves among the lucky few, those who could afford it without really having to think twice, whilst so many others in that part of the world were never going to be in such a position of luxury.
The Flybus ride after a certain point was all a bit of a confusing jumble, a blurry bag that I was tryin’ to punch myself out of after I spilled in and out of sleep, sittin’ on my seat, waking up not knowin’ where we really were as regards to our place on the road. After the inspector had checked the tickets of the passengers he pulled some bedding down from a rack above some seats towards the back of the bus, then made it up before lying down to sleep. Easy livin’ for some once they’re in the sway, and it meant that if any of us wished to use the chemical toilet at the back we had to carefully step over him as he lay there flat on his back snoring his head off.
Been down that highway so many times before, the Bangalore – Mysore road, but as I looked out the windows on this particular rollin’ ride, coach tankin’ along in the late evenin’, it was difficult for me to pick out familiar places, difficult for me to know exactly where we were, guess it must have been the rigours of the journey from out of the hills once again catching up with me. All became clear just shy of Mandya, where town buildings rose up by the side of the road, all cast in night shadow but still with a few people millin’ about like spectral figures in a land of no sleep. So different to how things were in the bright light of day, when an intense busyness and colour exploded from those street scenes as we rode on past. Now it was all change, night time was the time when there was far less in the way of action, just hazy neon, street dogs prowlin’ the southern town, dead beats in the alleyways and the sound of cicadas.
After Mandya I stayed awake for the rest of the Flybus ride until we hit the centre of Mysore at around 12.30 am, pulling on to the main bus stand in the centre of town. Sonam Tashi was waitin’ for us down a side road in his Scorpio and after a quick call to him by Dawa Dolkar to confirm our arrival, he swung around from out of the shadows and pulled up right in front of us. We loaded ourselves and our luggage into the big black cab of the Mahindra, ready now for the final leg of our rollin’ ride all the way from outta the high hills of the north back down to the settlement. It had been a long one, the ride that is, a bit of a bone cruncher when all was said and done, especially when on our way out of Mysore Sonam Tashi drove over a speed breaker that he simply didn’t see, drove over it at speed, nearly sent us all flyin’ through the roof and into the warm southern night as a consequence.
So the journey was a long one, maybe in days gone by it would have all washed over me, causing barely a ripple in terms of what energy it took out of me and I would have taken it in my stride, but now at 55 years of age I could feel the wear an’ tear. No doubt about it, on this last leg I was longin’ for my bed, longin’ for some sleep and deep oblivion to fall into, as once again, seemingly effortlessly, India had put me through the mincer, left me crawlin’ through that wreckage of body aches and pains as we finally neared our destination. An immense country, a hard road, a tough road, no doubt about that, packed with sights incredible and what seems like a lifetime passin’ by in the flash of an eye, but it all does come with a physical price to pay.
We stopped just once on the way back to the settlement from Mysore with Sonam Tashi, for a midnight glass of hot chai by the side of the highway and in my case a coupla sweet buns known as bum rotis due to their round, white, smooth appearance. For some reason I was feelin’ rather hungry and devoured those bums on the spot, sweet fresh buns for barely 10 IR a pop, chewin’ on them whilst staring out into the southern night from the roadside, nearly at the end of a long, long journey down the length of India, now really what could be better than that?
Bright sunny mornin’ as I write this back down in the south, hot plains breezes blowin’ in through the open doors and windows, birds singin’, distant cry dogs in the settlement makin’ themselves known to me. The day after a long journey and slowly, slowly life rolls on. Let’s face it, I’m on the solo path, soul trader in the solitary way of doing my own thing, whether right or wrong. Guess I have spent too many years crouchin’ down upon the meditation highway, deep within the dust tracks, in some way, some shape, some form to ever change now.
What do I do? Elevate prana so as to bathe in the grace of the face of the guru shinin’ by the light of the 3rd Eye – not to put a too finer point on it. And so I find myself down here in South India meditatin’ in the early mornin’ time between the hours of 4 and 5 when it is still deep dark, where silence still lies within the night heat, before later in the day doing another piece of trip writin’. Meditatin’ in sight of the holy hill of Betadapoor, beacon on the plains risin’ up out of the red earth of Karnataka, risin’ up in the shape of its contours so as to be seen for miles around. On top of the holy hill an inner temple, inner sanctum with a fully operatin’ and venerated Siva lingam, column of invisibility in pure Vedic essence. Cosmic energy in representation of the unknowable, indestructible formless core of all reality. So there it is, little old me, back on the button, raisin’ shakti to rest upon confluence, all done with the intention of partaking in realisation of the universal One. Ya wanna come fly with me?
Article image taken by the writer.