Tiruvannamalai to Bengaluru & Highgates Hotel

End part of a trip I made to the holy South Indian pilgrimage town of Tiruvannamalai in the state of Tamil Nadu where I stayed at the Athithi Ashram which is run by devotees of the great twentieth century spiritual master Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Once my time at the ashram was done it was just a question of taking a taxi ride back to the city of Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka.

So the interstate swing back from 19/2 went something like this. First of all I knew that was it, my week in Tiruvannamalai at the Athithi Ashram was over and now there was to be no lookin’ back. I had done all that I could do and really in all honesty it had gone better than I could have ever expected – the meditation, the talks with Swami Hamsananda, the mesmeric shrine times at the end of the day in the dual temples of Ramanasramam, staying fit, staying healthy, no bad stomachs or stuff like that – which had meant that I was happy, more than happy as a matter of fact. Turned out to be a bit of a rush after my parting talk with Swami as my taxi was already waiting outside the ashram gates and I still had a bit of this and that to do with regards to packing my case and clearing up which meant I would have to get my skates on. Before going back up to my room I told my driver who was sitting in the car on the other side of the gates that I would be about 10 minutes or so and bounded back up the stairs to my room in order to get myself together.

The ride from Tiruvannamalai to Bangalore turned out to be a bit of a fast one as once we got to the town of Krishnagiri we joined the main highway which more or less runs the length of the country, with more than one or two pinch points in between, and where signs to Varanasi indicate it is over 1700 km away in a direction which was pretty much due north. So it was speedy, a Grand Prix shakedown on a four lane highway where weaving in and out of the traffic in front of you whilst travelling at high velocity was very much the order of the day. It was one of those rides where I sat in the car with the back windows wide open instead of in a nicely chilled a/c bubble, and the reason for this was that my driver had a stinkin’ cold which I most definitely wouldn’t have minded not picking up in any way whatsoever. In fact, although I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, paranoid thoughts that he might have Coronavirus passed through my mind, making me wonder if it was worth asking him if he’d driven any or many people from the Chinese part of the world recently. Glad to say I managed to resist the temptation, mainly because I knew that with his very limited English and my non-existent Tamil, it would have been too damn complicated for me to break on through and get him to understand what the fuck I was talking about. So anyway, we rocked on through the Tamil countryside with the warm air blasting through the open windows of the car from any direction you might care to choose, no problem with that really, sure the air was warm but it wasn’t hot and within that lies a very big difference.

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Bengaluru Touchdown

So here we are in India again, me and Dawa Dolkar my wife. Time switch on arrival at the Southern Star on Lavell Road in Bengaluru means 6.55 London becomes 10.35 India as we jump ahead 4 and a half hours in consequence. Sense of dislocation rolls over in waves as I’m sitting by the coffee table in our room with an Indian Railways advertisement flyer on the glass top in front of me – Food Journeys / Hubli Rice Bath – or to break that one down, take a train to Hubli and have a dish there called a rice bath and pretty tasty I’m sure it would be too, except of course we were not going to Hubli but later in the day instead to Mysore on the Tippu Express and from there to the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe by car. Hubli by the way is an eight or nine train journey north of Bengaluru into the heart of Karnataka and the nearest town of any size to the Tibetan settlement of Mungod which is just up the road from the sunshine state of Goa. Further on up the track from Hubli is a town called Hospet and if you get at Hospet you are then not too far from the magical ancient city of ruins called Hampi which is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Need to find the time to get up to Hampi again, last visit I made that was back in ’89 in another life.

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Flybus – Kempegowda to Mysore

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.

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Saraswathipuram III

The third of a three part account of a day trip to Mysore and the Saraswathipuram area of town in order to buy furniture.

After that second battery charge in Saraswathipuram our luck finally ran out on one of the main roads out of town, the Hunsur road, just opposite the offices of the Mysore Deputy Police Commissioner. The Mahindra simply died on us and we came to a complete halt on what was a very busy road, so busy in fact that it soon became apparent that it was quite a dangerous spot to have broken down. This was compounded by the fact it was now Mysore rush hour time and the traffic was heavy, full on relentless as a matter of fact. It was now dark and there were plenty of vehicles trying to move along at speed, shining their bright lights directly at us as we stood about feeling like sitting ducks on the roadside next to the Mahindra. After trying for quite a long time, Sonam Tashi somehow managed to get through to the Mahindra garage in Mysore which was still open despite the fact it was now gone 7 on a Saturday evening. The good news was they told him they would send round a Mahindra recovery truck, which would be painted a bright yellow and red, and that it would take about 45 minutes to reach us. There was then little else that we could do after Sonam Tashi’s phone call but continue to stand there by the side of the road, hoping like hell nothing crashed into the back of the Mahindra and took out a couple of us in the process.

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Saraswathipuram II

The second of a three part account of a day trip to Mysore and the Saraswathipuram area of town in order to buy furniture.

After the four of us had an enjoyed a leisurely and very tasty lunch at the Shree Devi Andhra Style restaurant in the middle of Mysore we were all back in the Mahindra Scorpio driving across town in the direction of Saraswathipuram to again hunt out some more furniture.

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Saraswathipuram

The first of a three part account of a day trip to Mysore and the Saraswathipuram area of town in order to buy furniture.

Well it was it was the four of us who made the trip up to Mysore from the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe in South India. There was me, my wife Dawa Dolkar, her brother Sonam Tashi and his daughter Passang Dawa and we all set off together in Sonam Tashi’s black Mahindra Scorpio after breakfast one morning for the two hour car ride to the Sandalwood City. It was with the express purpose of buying furniture for the newly constructed first floor of our house in the settlement. Specifically we were looking for wardrobes and beds for the bedrooms, plus a sofa set for our new spacious living room.

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Shrevanabelagola

Day on the road yesterday to Shrevanabelagola for the Jain mela, the Mahamastakabhisheka, and the anointment of the Bahubali Gommateshwara statue, something which happens once in every twelve years.

Left the house at 8 or just gone, after the usual pot of coffee with my wife on the veranda of our house in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe in South India. Out and onto the Karnataka plains, me with Sonam Tashi behind the wheel. We were joined by an American, Adam Schmidt and a Tibetan, Nyima Dorjee. They were from a neighbouring house in the settlement over from the United States for a holiday in India and who were also coming along for the ride.

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Another Shatabdi

An account of a journey made on the Shatabdi Express from Mysore to Chennai in March 2017 with Anita for company and Black Ice from AC/DC on the cans.

The ride from the Tibetan settlement to Mysore was a quick one, as the road was relatively clear, it was a Sunday morning and the traffic seemed a little lighter than usual, although I knew that being in India things could change very quickly, that from almost out of nowhere you could suddenly feel you were slap bang in the middle of the busiest place in the world. We had a short stop at the Anapoorna, a well used restaurant which was by the side of the road in Hunsur, a town about halfway to Mysore from Bylakuppe. There both Anita and I had a double coffee which tasted pretty good – hot, strong and sweet – in the mid morning highway heat. It would keep us going until lunch time in Mysore that as for sure.

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Mysore Day Trip

This is an account of a day trip which I made to the city of Mysore by bus from the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe in March 2018.

Been feelin’ rough these last few days, little appetite for food but still managin’ to get some down me, little appetite for meditation but still knockin’ in those sittin’ hours as well, but it is all a bit flat.

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On the Shatabdi Express

This is an account from 2016 of a journey I made on the Shatabdi Express from the city of Mysore in Karnataka to Chennai, state capital of Tamil Nadu.

The Shatabdi Express from Mysore to Chennai was due to depart Mysore at 2.30 pm so I got to the ticket office at around 12.45. As soon as I saw the queue that had already formed at the reservations counter for the departure that afternoon I had a bad feeling. This was confirmed when 20 minutes later, after I had gone to the trouble of filling out the obligatory reservation form, I was told in no uncertain terms by the man behind the counter that I would only be able to travel as far as Bangalore, just a couple of hours down the line. I would not be able to go the whole way to Chennai as the leg of the journey between Bangalore and Chennai was already fully booked.

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