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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Indian Pacific: Cook & The Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide

The third of a three part account of a journey undertaken with my father on the Indian Pacific from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia visiting places along the way such as Kalgoorlie, Cook and the Nullarbor Plain.

Eventually of course a town did appear after the endless miles of plains but it was not really a town in the normal sense of the word, just the remains of one. Not really the remains of one of truth be told, but the remains of a small settlement of people who had once lived there in the middle of the vast emptiness of the Nullarbor Plain. Yes, we had arrived in Cook! It was around 11 when Dad and I got off the train and we had about 20 – 30 minutes to explore the place for ourselves, although to be honest you could have seen all there was to see in about 5 minutes flat. But that was not the point; it just felt so good to be able to stretch our legs and to walk on the earth of the Nullarbor. There was something about the freshness of the air blowing in through Cook and the silence of the plains which was fascinating by way of the sense of immensity the whole scene engendered. Mid morning and now the sun was high and bright, the sky was a brilliant blue and as we walked away from the Indian-Pacific I turned around in order to see for the first time just how long it was and realized that if Cook had had an actual station the Indian Pacific would stretched way out the other end of it.

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Indian Pacific: Kalgoorlie & The Nullarbor Plain

The second of a three part account of a journey undertaken with my father on the Indian Pacific from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia visiting places along the way such as Kalgoorlie, Cook and the Nullarbor Plain.

We had left the hinterlands of Perth and the Swan Valley a long way to the west behind us. It was now only small towns we were passing through as we made our way further inland, further into the interior. There were many farms which were clearly quite huge, we were right in the middle of the wheat belt after all, and slowly but surely the land was beginning to appear more untamed and less inhabited. At one point we passed a series of strange colored pools and lakes, probably caused by mineral deposits, and there was a beauty about their appearance which in the late afternoon sunlight was both haunting and mesmeric. The quality of my thoughts changed as well, and as if reflecting the lands we were riding through they were becoming less crowded. At this stage there was a sense which I can only describe as slate wiped clean; no religion here to speak of, people in this part of the world were too busy, too far away from anywhere to worry about things like that.

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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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