Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12 - Ooty to Mysore

We departed from our lovely but very cold hotel in Ooty and set off down the scenic twisty road to the plains to the north. Ooty is located in the Nilgiri Hills where the Eastern and Western Ghats (Steps) meet. The road down has 36 hairpin bends and many signs with skull a cross bones warning about a high crash area. One even listed the number of fatalities each year at that particular corner and had an ambulance parked nearby. As we dropped down from 7000 ft to 1000 ft, the vegetation changed and we passed through areas with what looked like Century Plants and agave and then down into coconut groves, sugar cane, corn, and even rice. Part of our trip was through the Mulamaiden National Park and Tiger Reserve but all we saw were monkeys, spotted deer and an elephant tied to stake at the warden's office. On the way into Mysore we passed many bullock carts and small trucks loaded with sugar cane and high heaps of bags of potatoes, rice, etc.

Our hotel in Mysore is very nice with a huge 5 story lobby and guards wearing extravagent Indian regalia. From our window we look down on the swimming pool, a minor road, roof tops, and in the distance the twin towers of St Philomena's cathedral. The road is pretty free from traffic but interesting things go on, including a cow being dragged away from the fence by its horns and shued along the road, a boy learning to ride a bicycle with training wheels, a wandering horse, and various women and men going home from shopping or work.

After lunch, Suresh our driver took us on a tour. He is not a tour guide - but did a great job. First we went to St Philomena's church. In case you didn't know St. P was an early Christian martyr and she has a relic in the crypt below the church. The church itself is 20th Century Gothic and very impressive. Churches, temples and mosques all seem to do very well in India.

Then it was down to the old market. We parked on a busy road and then walked at a very good pace (no Road Scholar shuffle) down the same road we walked with the Road we walked with the Road Scholars when we were here before. It seemed much more comfortable this time - but also much busier with Saturday shoppers. We then went into the old market with its fruit section, banana section, vegetable section and so on. We bought a custard apple, peeled it and ate it. Custard apples are new to us and have kind of a leafy skin. Inside there are segments like an orange but very sweet and only on big pip is each segment. The market was very busy and very interesting. We walked around the shopping area for probably about 2 hours and felt that today was a good day for exercise.

We ate our lunch and dinner in the hotel restaurant. We are so enjoying the Indian food now that we have parted from the Road Scholars. The buffets that were prepared for them were so disappointing - bland and tasteless. But now we eat what the locals eat and it is always very tasty and fairly spicy. Tonight's meal was probably the most spiced - pepper chicken, rice with vegetables (and hot peppers), naan and razgola (coconut balls in very sweet juice). Delicious! The waiters hovered more than usual expecting us to change TV showing sports - mainly cricket. Of course there were some ads and one that amused us was promoting a Draino-like product demonstrated on both a Western toilet and and Eastern toilet!

The weather here is much warmer than Ooty and tonight there is a full moon. We only have 3 more days until we head for home.

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