Indian Travel Diary
Chapter 9: Mysore

February 27th, Mysore

The train pulls into Bangalore City at 6:30 a.m.; it's still dark. The day dawns. From the window it's a typical grubby Indian railway station platform, though not many people around. Two new passengers enter my compartment.

The train pulls out at around 7 a.m. We pass the usual shacks built by the railway lines, made of palm leaves, plastic, various bits of linen material, whatever can be salvaged from the numerous rubbish dumps.

One of my fellow-passengers has a dossier indicating that he works in the Indian space program, the liquid propellent department, but after answering the usual questions about what country I'm from and how long I'm staying in India, I don't feel like conversation, not having even had a cup of coffee yet. Eventually a man comes around with coffee and I get a cup, but I haven't brought anything to eat and apparently breakfast is not available on this train. I lie down while the train trundles on toward Mysore, thinking how much I dislike travelling on Indian trains, even in first class.

I study the Rough Guide for possible hotels, and decide that the Dasaprakash seems OK, not expensive and centrally located.

The train pulls into Mysore on time, around 10 a.m. As I'm leaving the station a man named Ravi offers an autorickshaw ride for ten rupees into the center, so I accept the offer. Seems Ravi's in league with the manager of a hotel, the Deepak Royal, who gives me a leaflet which says rooms for 350 to 625 rupees. He says the hotel is new, good, right near the Dasaprakash. I agree to take a look.

We arrive at the Deepak Royal, they show me a room for 385 rupees, quite good, but I want to look at the Dasaprakash also. Ravi drives me a couple of blocks to the hotel. It's old, with several storeys around a leafy courtyard. An aged hotel porter takes me up a couple of flights and shows me a room for 195 rupees. It's fairly basic. I prefer the previous hotel.

Ravi is taking me back to the Deepak Royal, but I think I'll look at another hotel first. The Ritz? Only four rooms, says Ravi, sure to be full. The Park? Lots of mosquitoes, says Ravi. He suggests the Bombay, quite close. We go there. It looks quite good. They show me a few rooms, similar in price to those at the Deepak Royal, but not as good (some even lack a window), and they don't do Western breakfasts. So it's back to the D.R., and I negotiate a price of 330 rupees (US$7). The room (this one on a higher floor, and with a view) is good value. Maybe Ravi gets some commission, maybe not.

After a shower and shave I discover that room service provides Western breakfasts. I order scrambled eggs on toast and a pot of coffee, all for 48 rupees (US$1). The scrambled eggs are cooked as they should be, and I devour them hungrily, having eaten only a banana since my light dinner last night. The coffee is good. I'm satisfied with this place. Arrival in Mysore has gone quite well.


Boys with monkey
(Click on images to enlarge.)
I go out at about 1 p.m. It's quite warm. I go to the tourist office, where I wait awhile for a couple of ladies to come to the counter. They're polite and friendly, but don't have much to offer in the way of information except a fairly useless map of Mysore with, however, quite a bit of stuff printed on the back. I ask about the Mudumalai game sancutary. Eventually they bring a book which has some information about the sanctuary and accommodation. They kindly photocopy two pages from this for me.

I get an autorickshaw to some place where I hope to find a couple of internet places. No sign of them. The Maharaja's Palace is visible in the distance, looks interesting, but it's too hot to visit now. I walk around a few streets. It's the usual crowded, dusty Indian city, but some of the old buildings are interesting. A couple of boys come along with a monkey on the shoulder of one of them. I take a couple of photos and give them ten rupees. I stop off at the bar attached to the Shilpashri restaurant for a welcome Maaza, then return to the Deepak Royal, where I sleep for a couple of hours.


I go out for dinner to the Shilpashri restaurant on Gandhi Square. There are twenty or so tables on a rooftop, under the night sky. It's breezy and very pleasant. There are several Western tourists, of all ages. I order a fresh lime soda, which comes with plenty of fresh lime juice, and a chicken curry with rice (all for 98 rupees). The food is good. A cat appears beside my table, miaowing for food. So far I've seen very few cats in India. I give it some bits of chicken from time to time. It's probably learnt that Westerners are an easy touch.

I find a hole-in-the-wall internet place. They have only one PC. It's not fast, but adequate. And they have a printer that works too.

It's 10 p.m. and the streets are becoming deserted. I return to my hotel, satisfied with the day. At midnight there is complete silence over the city.


February 28th, Mysore

I sleep well and wake at 8:30 a.m. Amazingly, there is hot water. Having grown used to shaving with cold water in India it is a luxury to be able to shave with hot water. The Deepak Royal hotel was a good choice. I'm almost ashamed that I bargained the price down to 330 rupees from the 400-plus listed price.

I order breakfast from room service: omelette, toast and a pot of coffee. The hotel boy omits to bring the sugar, but a call to room service rectifies the omission quickly.

The morning newspaper, The Times of India, has been slipped under the door.


It's 1 p.m. I get an autorickshaw to the Maharaja's Palace. Hawkers are hawking postcards, incense, silvery bangles. I buy some postcards for twenty rupees and a pack of incense sticks for fifteen. The incense turns out to be fake. Some fragrance was added to the outside of the pack to fool unwary customers, but the sticks themselves, although they look like incense sticks, will later be found to give off no fragrance at all.

On entering the gate the palace is an impressive sight. An ornate structure of five storeys and many columns, topped by numerous orange domes with spires. There's no ticket office, but I see a sign saying: Deposit cameras in the camera room. I'm carrying my Nikon in my shoulder bag, and I don't feel like depositing either.

I walk down the path toward the palace. I come to a place where everyone is depositing their shoes before entering the palace. I do likewise. There are a number of soldiers in khaki uniform around, but they aren't carrying guns and seem very relaxed. I walk down an aisle to enter the palace and come to a security checkpoint with one of those airport-type walk-through detectors. I walk through and BEEP! There are two soldiers and a woman seated at a table. She asks me to put the bag on the table and open it, which I do, but she doesn't look inside. "Camera?" Yes, I reply. "You're supposed to deposit cameras in the camera house. No cameras allowed inside." "Oh," I say, "well, in that case I'll just come back later without the camera," and I turn to leave. She calls me back. "But if you give me ten rupees you can go inside with your bag and camera, but don't use your camera, or I'll get into trouble." OK, I say, and give her ten rupees.

I proceed and come to the man selling entrance tickets. It's fifteen rupees and — surprise! — there's no "special fee" for foreigners of ten or twenty times what Indians pay. It seems here in Mysore there's not the predatory attitude to foreign tourists which emanates from Delhi and is found in numerous other places.

I walk along one of the wide balconies of the palace. The ceiling is ornate, decorated with many 3-meter-wide lotuses. There are large showcases, which I don't particularly attend to, but a guard points out to me a palanquin made of pure gold, 80 kilos of it.

I now enter the inside of the palace. It's all decorated very ornately and is most impressive. It was designed by Henry Irwin in "Indo-Saracenic" style and constructed between 1898 and 1912. I walk along and come to the octagonal Kalyana Mandapa, the royal wedding hall. It has a very high glass ceiling through which the numerous tall columns surrounding it are illuminated. As with the other halls in the palace the decoration is ornate, with both geometric and plant (especially lotus) forms. The predominant colors are blue and gold. On the surrounding walls are painted scenes of elaborate parades and ceremonies held during the 19th and 20th Centuries when the ruling Wadiyar rajas were at the height of their power. Clearly this was a splendid age, with no expense spared in the art, architecture and court ceremony.

I walk on and come to a large space, open to the outside along one side, and with dozens of thick columns ornately decorated. Along the opposite side are numerous paintings, mostly of Hindu goddesses. In addition to goddesses which would be known to many Westerners, namely, Mahalakshmi, Kalika Devi, Navadurga Devi and Saraswati, there are less well-known goddesses: Rajarajeswari, Gayatri, Bhuvaneshwari and Mahishasuramardini. All the goddesses are portrayed as richly-dressed and beautiful. Curiously, they all seem to have the same face — could it be the face of the then-current maharaja's (main) wife?

I continue on to the conference hall. Again the decor is stunning. There is again a high ceiling (though not as high as the royal wedding hall) made of stained glass, through which light illuminates the hall. Here as elsewhere there is much intricate wood-carving to be seen. A guard points out to me the abundance of gold paint, the woodwork with inlaid ivory, the silver door and other features. As I'm leaving he says with a grin, "Gift? gift?" He's a sympathetic character. I give him ten rupees.

Outside I collect my flip-flops and pay the required fifty paisa (half a rupee). As I leave the palace grounds the hawkers again try to sell me stuff. I get a rickshaw back to Gandhi Square and go to the icecream shop within the Dasaprakash hotel, where I have first a pistachio icecream cone then a butterscotch one. Both are good. It seems to be the Indian custom not to eat the cone but instead to throw it in the trash receptacle.

It's just a short walk back to my hotel. The day is warm. I lie down and sleep for a couple of hours.


I go out for dinner around 8 p.m. There's a power outage (the hotel's backup generator had kicked in, so there was power in the hotel). The streets are dark, but some illumination comes from the lights of cars and autorickshaws, and from candles and lamps in the shops casting some light in their immediate vicinity. Some shops have generators powering flourescent lights (presumably blackouts are common). The streets are as crowded as usual at this time of night, and it's interesting to move among the throng of people, autorickshaws, etc., mostly in the dark. Everyone is fairly relaxed, as usual.

I buy a new flashlight for fifty rupees, replacing the quite inadequate one that I bought in Bolpur to replace the one that lasted only a day. This one is quite good, and I can easily hold it in my teeth so as to use two hands.

I go to the Shilpashri restaurant again. The rooftop, under the stars, is again pleasant. I order fresh lime soda, mutton curry, rice and papadams. The food is good. I spot the cat from last night moving between tables, and in anticipation of its coming around to mine I save some choice morsels of mutton for it, but it doesn't and I don't see it again.

After an hour on the net at the nearby internet place I return to my hotel. By 11 p.m. the streets are practically deserted and all is quiet.


March 1st, Mysore

After a decent breakfast I go out to the internet place. I buy some raisins from a street vendor for fifteen rupees. They're good. I get a glass of fresh lime soda from Shilpashri's bar for eighteen rupees, which is nearly four times what I pay if I get the same from the juice shop in the street next to my hotel.

I wander in the streets around Gandhi Square. This city, despite the crowds of people, is quite pleasant. And the people themselves are the most polite and friendly I've yet met in India. Mysore impresses me quite favorably. Then I remember how hot it will get in summer and how wet during the monsoon, though perhaps here the hot and wet seasons are not quite as bad as in some other parts of India.

Vegetable vendor
I go to the Devaraja market. It occupies the equivalent of a couple of city blocks and is full of shoppers and vendors selling incense, fragrant oils, flowers, locks and keys, all sorts of vegetables and fruit (many banana vendors), herbs (including some delicious-smelling mint) and bangles. I see no meat or fish section, presumably because this is South India, where people are mostly vegetarian. I wander around, take quite a few photos, and buy some fruit for lunch (eleven rupees) and some patchouli incense sticks (ten rupees). It's 1 p.m. and I return to my hotel.

I discover that room service offers milk shakes with icecream. With memories of the delicious pineapple milkshakes with icecream that I had in Kanchipuram I call room service to order one. But although room service understands "milkshake with icecream" they do not understand "pineapple milkshake with icecream". A hotel boy comes to the room to find out exactly what I want. I show him the item on the room service menu, "milkshake with icecream" (he probably doesn't read English anyway), and say I want a pineapple milkshake with icecream. But he does not understand. So I settle for a simple "milkshake with icecream". He returns soon after to say with a smile that he will be bringing it "in just ten minutes, sir".

Twenty minutes later the hotel boy arrives with a plastic container. It says "The Viceroy" on the side, the name of a hotel. They probably had to send someone to this hotel to get it. It's a strawberry milkshake, with a couple of dollops of strawberry icecream. Not bad.

It's 3 p.m. and warm outside. The back streets are quiet. Hawks are circling lazily in the sky, looking for mice. I lie down and sleep for three hours.


I go out for dinner. Where to? I've eaten at the Shilpashri for the last two nights. I go to the vegetarian restaurant at the Dasaprakash hotel, but the menu is very limited. So it's over to the Shilpashri again, for a plate of mixed noodles. OK, but nothing special. The cat puts in an appearance, but does not stay around to plead for food. It probably had already done well enough from the earlier diners.


March 2nd, Mysore

I sleep well and wake at 8:30 a.m. Room service sends up breakfast of orange juice (delicious), coffee (good), toast and boiled eggs (two, hard-boiled and neatly sliced into quarters).

I calculate money spent in India. So far it's averaged about US$17 per day (for everything, including food, accommodation and travel costs). In any Western country I'd pay at least US$20 only for accommodation.


I give some laundry to the hotel boy and go out for an hour on the net. I buy some raisins from the same street vendor as yesterday. This time a young man comes up and starts talking to me. "Smoke?", he asks, and produces a couple of small bags of what looks like ganja. "Not in India", I reply, being particularly wary of people in India who might sell you grass then turn you in to the local cops, as I've heard is common in Goa, and perhaps also to some extent here in Mysore, another place popular with tourists.

I go for lunch to the Pizza Corner near Harding Circle. It has a very Western decor (similar to most Western fast-food places), and is expensive by Indian standards. I get a medium pepperoni pizza for 150 rupees (US$3) and a coke-with-unlimited-refills for 40 rupees. The pizza is good.

Flower girl
I reflect on what to do between now and Friday, when I'm due to take the train to Poona. I decide to visit Madikeri (Mercara), capital of the hill region of Kodagu, three hours by bus from Mysore. I go to the Central Bus Station and make a reservation on the Lux bus for Wednesday morning.

Blue house
In the street outside the bus station vendors are selling fruit and flowers. There's a charming girl selling flowers; I buy a length of threaded small white flowers (she asks twenty rupees, twice what an Indian pays, but accepts fifteen) and I take some photos of her, much to her delight.

I walk back to the hotel through some back streets. I pass a house painted blue with colourful figures carved and painted on the facade, and I take some photos. Later I meet children playing in the street and take some photos and give them the raisins I bought earlier.

The people of Mysore seem happier than Indians I've met elsewhere. They laugh and joke among themselves easily. There are beggars, but there's not evidence of abject poverty here as in some other Indian cities, and even the beggars seem contented, begging only because they somehow find themselves in a situation where begging is expected of them, like it's their duty.


It's 7 p.m., half-an-hour after sunset. The temperature has dropped and the evening is balmy. There's a gentle, cool breeze and sounds of cars honking.in the distance.

I go out for dinner. I decide to try the RRR restaurant on Gandhi Square, a place frequented almosted entirely by Indians. There are the usual South Indian palm leaves on the tables, on which rice, etc., is placed and mixed with other items before eating. They have a menu. I order roast chicken, rice and a mango drink. The roast chicken arrives as pieces, coated in black spices, on a small plate, and the rice comes with several small bowls of various unknown things. The chicken is quite good. One of the bowls contains something which looks like dal, or some kind of mixed vegetables in a yellow liquid. I spoon some of this onto the rice and eat a few mouthfulls. It's quite hot. Having consumed the chicken pieces I leave most of the rest. I'm not yet entirely comfortable with South Indian cooking, and probably never will be. I go to the icecream parlor at the Dasaprakash hotel to finish dinner with a couple of icecream cones, mango and tutti frutti.


March 3rd, Mysore

I wake at 9 a.m. I decide to try the cornflakes with cold milk for breakfast. It's not especially palatable, and the buttered toast is nothing special either, but as usual the orange juice and coffee are good.

This morning I want to visit the Zoo. First I go to change a couple of hundred dollars at a local tourist office, unofficial and quickly done. Then I get an autorickshaw to the Zoo and pay my fifteen rupees to enter (same fee for foreigners as for Indians) plus a ten rupees camera fee. The Zoo is quite large, with plenty of room for the animals, but there are not many animals to be seen (the tigers are mostly in cages behind wire mesh). I spend an hour walking around and see little noteworthy except a few giraffes, gaur, elephants and assorted reptiles and birds. As with all zoos, the animals are mostly bored stiff, though at least they have enough space not to be driven insane, as sometimes happens in small zoos (such as the zoo in Bremerhaven, Germany).

I get an autorickshaw back to the hotel. It's pretty warm. I sleep for two hours.


It's 4 p.m. and not much activity in the street. There is a warm wind blowing over the city.

I go out for dinner. I'm passing the Ashoka Book Depot, so I step inside. There's a wallfull of paperback novels for tourists. At the back they have a wallfull of books on spiritual themes, covering Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other topics. I notice a book titled "Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition" by M. Govindan, M.A. This is the tradition within which Ganesh Baba taught. So I take it down (it's slightly knocked about, but OK), look through it and decide I have to have it. I buy it for 120 rupees. It tells me a lot about the tradition of Kriya Yoga that I didn't know before, is rather interesting and goes well with what I have learnt in my own explorations of the supra-physical world.


March 4th, Mysore

I sleep well. Breakfast as usual. I spend an hour sorting through my papers, looking for stuff to throw away, so as to reduce the amount of stuff that I'm carrying (way too much).

I get in a half-hour on the net then go to the City Bus Stand and get a #201 to Chamundi Hills for five rupees. The bus ascends to about 1100 meters and during the drive there's a nice view out over the plains.

I visit the Godly Museum, which has a series of panels and display cases which tell of the dissatisfactions of worldly life and the advantages of practising raja yoga, with diagrams showing how the divine consciousness at the center of the universe radiates out and manifests through saints and those doing good in the world. Very nice. One panel displays the vision of progress toward a final perfected state of a unified world in which there will be one government, one religion and one language. There's a book counter near the door and I ask the man there, What is the "one language" that will be present in the final perfected state of the world? "Kannada", he replies, the language of this part of India. So we'll all have to learn Kannada. Well, at least the script (which is like Cambodian script, quite different to Western writing) is quite nice to look at.

Chamundeshwari Temple
I walk in the direction of the Chamundeshwari Temple, along the usual avenue of stalls, but here as many are selling mundane goods such as bags and suitcases as a selling images of the goddess. The temple has a large gopuram above the front entrance. I enter and come to the entrance to the temple. Non-Hindus are allowed inside, so I join the queue. We come to a railing where brahmin priests are taking the pilgrims' offerings into the inner sanctum where there is an elaborate image of Chamundi. They return with a tray containing a lamp; the pilgrims pass their hands over its flames and touch their heads. One places a few coins or a small banknote on the tray.

I leave the temple and proceed to walk around it. There is an enclosure in one corner in which a dozen or so people are busy counting coins and banknotes, all quite openly. The temple's takings so far today are in several piles of coins and a large pile of banknotes. The pilgrims are generous and there are many, so there's plenty of money to be counted before being taken to the bank.

Sadhu
Outside the temple grounds there's a sadhu seated on the ground. He's an amiable character, but speaks no English except to say "Give me something." I take a couple of photos and give him ten rupees, which satisfies him. I walk along a path which goes around the temple. I come to another temple, this one has just a few visitors. A brahmin priest is sitting inside the gate leaning against the wall. He seems to have little to do.

Sadhu
Back at the main temple there's another sadhu, looking somewhat scruffy and emaciated, but cheerful. He gives me a flyer which shows a temple being constructed somewhere ("his temple" of course) and requests money. I give him twenty rupees and take a couple of photos of him sitting cross-legged and holding a Shiva trident, obviously having just entered a state of samadhi in which his consciousness has become one with the divine Shiva consciousness. Then it's back to the main square and the bus stand. I catch a bus back to town.

It's 2 p.m. and rather warm. I get a chocolate icecream at the Dasaprakash icecream parlour. It's good and I have a second one. Then back to the Deepak Royal. I'm tired from the excursion and the heat. Also I don't feel well. I lie down and sleep for two hours.


It's 8 p.m. I'm definitely feeling a bit sick. But I have something to do on the net, and I figure I'd better eat something, so I go out. I'm thirsty, so I grab a fresh lime soda from the juice bar next to the hotel, then I go to the Shilpashri where I have another fresh lime soda. It's good. I order chicken curry and rice. When it comes I eat only a small part, since I'm not feeling well and have no appetite.

After a half-hour on the net I go back to the hotel. I just get into my hotel room when I have to throw up. I barely make it to the bathroom. Some of the vomit goes up into my nasal cavity and I have to blow it out through my nose. Yuk! But having thrown up I feel better.

I don't feel like packing in preparation for departure to Madikeri tomorrow. Not sure I'll be able to make the 10 a.m. bus. I rub some Tiger Balm on my chest and lie down under a gently whirling fan. The room is lit only by dim light from outside. The Tiger Balm produces a pleasant cooling sensation on my skin, and the smell of the menthol is refreshing. An hour later I'm feeling better.


March 5th, Mysore

I wake at 7:30 a.m. There's time to get up and to catch the 10 a.m. bus, but I'm not feeling very well. Not really sick, but definitely low energy. I decide not to go to Madikeri, and go back to a troubled sleep.

I get up at 9:30 a.m. and order breakfast. I'm still feeling very low-energy. I tell the hotel reception that I'll be staying a couple of days longer, pay them some money, and request my room to be cleaned. The hotel boys come and clean my room and provide clean sheets and towel. It's 11 a.m. I lie down and sleep for another four hours.


At 3 p.m. I get up and order a pot of black tea. It's strong and revives me a bit. I finish reading William Bramley's The Gods of Eden, which I had begun a few weeks ago. This book contains considerable truth and even wisdom. The truth is of two kinds: mundane and supramundane. The mundane truth has to do with how wars and human conflict have been fomented by Machievellian forces which profit from that conflict, how the rise of fiat money systems have given enormous power to private "central" banks and created huge government debts and crushing burdens upon populations, how industries such as the pharmaceutical industry have foisted their products upon the public and thereby made enormous profits.

The supramundane truth is more controversial and concerns the influence of extraterrestrials in human affairs, how the Machievellian organizations which have fomented wars and conflict in human history have been founded by extraterrestrials with the purpose of keeping humans in bondage and ignorance, physical, emotional, economic and spiritual.

The wisdom in Bramley's book has to to with his perception of the nature of a Supreme Being and of the individual spiritual entities which it has created. He points out how most of these spiritual entities, at least those inhabiting human bodies, have become trapped in a materialistic viewpoint which prevents them from understanding their own spiritual nature and their relation to higher spiritual realities.


It's 6:30 p.m. and as usual the power goes off. Soon the hotel's backup power comes on and lights are restored.

I'm not totally recovered, but feeling better. I go out to the internet place and to have dinner. The Deepak Royal gets its food (at least, the main dishes) from the Hotel Viceroy, said to have a quality restaurant, so I go there. It's a rooftop restaurant. I order their fruit cocktail and their Chicken Pundinawala, "chicken cooked in a delicious mint-flavored gravy," with a bowl of plain rice. The chicken is good and the mint-flavored gravy is certainly unusual.


March 6th, Mysore

I'm still not feeling entirely well, and have diarrhoea.

I wonder about whether I should take the train to Poona tomorrow (for which I already have my ticket) or rather head via Madikeri to Mangalore then up the coast to Goa. I read in the Rough Guide that in Mangalore there is the "tenth-century Manjunatha Temple ... an important centre of the Shaivite and Tantric Natha-Pantha cult. Thought to be an outgrowth of Vajrayana Buddhism, the cult is a divergent species of Hinduism, similar to certain cults in Nepal." That's enough for me to decide — I'm going to Mangalore.

I go to the railway station to claim a refund on the 1583 rupees (US$34) I paid for my first-class ticket from Mysore to Poona. In India I expect such things not to go particularly smoothly, but I am pleasantly surprised. I'm given a short form to fill out and my money is refunded without fuss, less a hefty 25% cancellation fee. Still, I'm satisfied with getting 75% back.

Then I go to the Central Bus Station, where I previously got my now-worthless ticket to Madikeri for Wednesday, and I book a seat in the bus for tomorrow. I won't be sorry to be leaving Mysore. The heat and the dust are getting to me (and the heat is not great compared to what it will be here in April and May).

I walk back to Gandhi Square. There's a beggar sitting on the pavement outside the RRR Restaurant. He's there everyday, sitting in the same place, leaning against a lamppost. It's pretty warm, and the lamppost gives him little shade from the sun. Physically and mentally he seems in a bad way. All he can do is gesture feebly to passers-by for a coin. I usually give him a couple of rupees, and he always smiles his idiot smile in response. I observe him for a few minutes, to see how many passers-by give him something. None do. I walk over and say, "Hey, how come they're aren't giving you anything?" Naturally, he doesn't understand, but he smiles vaguely. I put a five-rupee coin in his hand and he smiles his idiot smile again in thanks. Perhaps he's fully enlightened.

An hour on the net — it's particularly slow this afternoon. Then to the Devaraja Market to get a few oranges. It's 3 p.m. and pretty warm. I head back to my hotel and grab a welcome fresh lime soda from a drinks shop.


Around 8 p.m. I go out for dinner. Don't feel like Indian again. I go to the Pizza Corner, where I got a decent pizza the other day. But don't feel like a whole pizza, so I order a plate of minced chicken fingers and potato wedges and a bottomless coke, all for 150 rupees. The coke is good, but the chicken fingers taste a bit like cardboard and the potato wedges are rather starchy. I don't eat much.

I get an autorickshaw back to the hotel. The thousands of cars, autorickshaws, motor cycles and motor scooters in Mysore, all pumping noxious fumes into the air, is getting me down, not to mention the crowds and the dirty streets. Thank God I'm leaving tomorrow for the Kodagu Hills.

It's 11:30 p.m. The back streets are almost deserted and the city is quiet. Everyone has found some bed, cot, corner, crevice or hole wherein to spend the night.

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