On August 17th our Boss St from the US came to Bangalore. He was here for a colleagues wedding in Kerala and stopped to see all of us at Bangalore. On 17th afternoon, my friend Subbu and I started our tour with St. We had worked out a detailed plan for him and assured him that the two of us would guide him through his travel in Karnataka. According to the plan, we left our office at around 12:30 PM and headed to Mysore, on the way had lunch at coffee day near Maddur. St was all amazed by the driving discipline or perhaps lack of it. :-) He was surprised by the motorcycles with around 4 to sometimes 5 passengers. We tried to explain the difference as much philosophically as we could. :-)
We stopped at Jagmohan palace to view some Ravi Verma Paintings. We then drove to St. Philomena’s church which I think is a magnificent structure from late 1800’s. After taking a tour of the church we moved to Cauvery emporium, where he bought some gifts for his family. As per the plan we drove next to Chamundi hills, but it was already dark and the temple was closed. So we had to be satisfied with the night view of Mysore from the hill top. Our next stop was Hotel Wind Flower. St checked in and we waited for him at the Restaurant Olive Garden. The ambience of the resort is amazing and the food was good too. After dinner, Subbu and I left to town and checked into a hotel. It was already 10:30 or something, but still we decided to take a walk around the royal city. Subbu having studied in Mysore had lots of stories and facts to talk about and hence our long walk around the entire palace compound went by with good conversation and what seemed like no time.
Next morning, I got up at around 6:00 and decided to take a walk, something I enjoy doing always when I stay in some new place. I love to watch a city, town or village wake up with its daily chores. Anyways on that day Mysore woke up to not a very pretty sight where I was walking. :-) A few middle aged prostitutes were on a verbal attack mode over a younger one who seemed to ignore the talks but definitely looked disturbed. The fight attracted many onlookers and a waiter from our hotel gave me the information about the whole scene.
At Wind Flower...Mysore
So after that eventful morning, Subbu and I left to Wind flower. St was ready and we drove to Dubare Elephant sanctuary. On the way Subbu and our driver stopped to buy some mushrooms from a villager who had fetched them himself from the forest. A deal was struck at 120/ packet from what started as 300. So that wasn’t a bad deal I guess. Tender coconuts on the way refreshed us and gave St a hint of natural energizers we Indians mostly love.
Dubare Elephant camp was something of a surprise. They had caught a wild elephant few months back and it was caged for 6 months. A mahout would be always beside it to build a rapport with the hostage. Elephant had been named Lambodhara. Mahout Kumar, has another pet too, a parrot but whose wings he has trimmed out of love so that it never leaves him. :-) He spoke to the elephant occasionally and fed bamboo to it which it relished.
A small construction made of Bamboo and dry leaves is a school for the Mahouts kids and a teacher from nearby village comes to educate the students till standard 4th. We took a short walk into the wild and saw two other elephants feasting over the bamboo bushes.
St was very impressed by the camp and I am sure has taken back this among the top memories of India. We next drove in search of Wind flower hotel in Coorg. Subbu’s friend knew this place so we traced the directions given, which passed through slushy, muddy roads, deep into a coffee estate. But the final destination was a beautiful resort though under construction offered splendid view at the woods. I must say it’s a treat to bird watchers like me. I spotted a wood pecker, oriole, Magpie robin and several other birds chirping its way across the resort.
Since the hotel has not opened completely yet, their kitchen perhaps was not set that day but they decided to place an order for us themselves and several dishes landed on our table, including the head chef who came along with his visiting card and told – “If you need any changes to the menu call him. I am Ashok Kumar. “ :-)
The trip ended there and we headed back to Bangalore. We met two other friends at Bidadi and our team had dinner at SmarKhand on Infantry road which boasts to have some good Afghan style cuisine. Anyways we were not in a mood of eating a lot after one and half days of eat-outs so I thought it was extremely expensive and not worth the price.
It was a nice trip and I enjoyed guiding an American friend around my country. His perspectives were insightful to know ourselves better and also it puts one on a test of how well and beautifully we can present our country to a foreigner. This was a trip to remember for several reasons.