Last Day in India

Well, almost 5 fantastic months later, we’ve made it to our last day in India. We ended up going on a bit of a roadtrip with a friend from yoga, Viola from Vancouver, and her friend Prashanth from Mysore/Bangalore. All of us feeling like we needed a break from the city, we hopped in a car (with a driver of course – it is basically essential here) and took off.

We were going to go to an area called Coorg which is in the Ghats, but being India, things ran a bit slow and we didn’t have time. So we went to some waterfalls, about 2-3 hours drive from Mysore, off of serveral small and bumpy roads.

At first I didn’t think I’d go in the falls, but thanks to the heat it was too tempting to pass up! It was really fun because, unlike Canada where you would be freezing under a waterfall in 30 seconds, you could sit in the waterfall for like 30 minutes and be totally warm!

India has been great, and tonight we are off to South East Asia!

Kelly and Tanya vs. India Post

I thought I’d post about our experiences and time spent on the simple task of mailing home some from stuff from India:

Day 1 – Because of our new plans for the remainder of our trip, we decide it wouldn’t be feasable to continue to hall our bikes around with us and thought “hey – what don’t we just ship them home…no problem”
Estimated time: 15 minutes

Day 2 – Tanya does some online research to find out the process for shipping from India – and finds no information of any usefulness

Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 3 – Kelly and Tanya decide to go to the main post office to find out the info from the sources – and again receive some vague info about prices but no concrete answers

Estimated time: 1 hour

Packing, putting everything carefullly in the box

Day 4 – Kelly and Tanya thought “hmm…maybe using a courier like DHL would be a better way to go”. They take a rickshaw to DHL, explain a few times, to a few people, what we want to do and get an estimated cost that is much more money than our bikes are worth.
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 5 – Kelly goes to get packing boxes – despite our lack of information about mailing them. Kelly finds out that apparently boxes are worth something in India and nobody just gives them away…we pay 150rs ($4 – a lot for India) for 3 cardboard tv boxes.

Estimated time: 2 hours

We took our wheels apart to save weight.

Day 6 – Kelly decides to skip yoga, buy a beer, and take the spokes out of the wheels (to save space). He gets two wheels done instead of four (perhaps due to the beer…).
Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 7 – Tanya does a preliminary dig through all of our stuff to see what we want to send home. Kelly takes the rest of the spokes out.

Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 8 – Kelly takes apart the rest of the bikes while Tanya cleans each and every dusty, dirty bicycle part

Estimated time: 3 hours

Day 9 – Tanya and Kelly pack the bicycle parts into the boxes.

Estimated time: 1 hour

First attempt, but no room for the driver

Day 10 – Tanya does some research on customs requirements and ends up more confused that when she started
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 11 – Tanya realizes that they need a list of every item in each box, so Kelly helps Tanya take everything out of the boxes and bags to write these lists

Estimated time: 2 hours

Day 12 – Kelly and Tanya finally have packed and taped up boxes ready to go! They then realized that they have no idea how these very large and heavy boxes are going to get to the post office…it’s not like in Canada where you always know someone with a truck.

Estimated time(to figure out what the heck they are going to do): 30 minutes

Box on the roof, anything is possible in India

Day 12: Kelly thinks he’ll be able to flag down one of the water cooler delivery trucks and pay them to drive us to the post office, he goes and tries but comes home with just a regular rickshaw and a very confused looking driver
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 12: A small crowd of people gather to help do the impossible…get two huge boxes somehow into and on top of the rickshaw…I didn’t believe for a second it would work, but I realized that this is India…anything works!! What we did would never meet safety or legal standards in Canada.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: Kelly, Tanya, the rickshaw driver and the two boxes make it to the parcel wrapper-upper place…whew!

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Repacking our 2 overweight boxes into 4 boxes with weight restrictions

Day 12: We unload the boxes from the rickshaw and Syed, the parcel wrapper-upper guy and his two helpers, get to work. They weigh our boxes and realize that we are way over the weight limit…so our carefully packed boxes were thoroughly and completely dismantled
Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: The parcel guys totally re-arrange the boxes (which have now become 4 boxes instead of 2) and Tanya realizes that she needs to write new lists with all the stuff in each of them
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 12: The parcel guy gives us the customs forms to fill out, we realized there is only a tiny little place to describe every item that is in the box. Tanya and Kelly fill out a total of 8 customs forms (2 for each box). Once completed, the parcel guy basically tells us we filled in half the things wrong and scribbles all over them. We need to fill them out again.

Estimated time: 2 hours

Altering our boxes, now smaller and within the weight limit

Day 12: While the parcel guys are preparing our boxes (every parcel needs to be wrapped in light cloth that is custom sized to the box…I think it is a make-work project to keep more people employed)…Kelly goes to get snacks and stops in at the post office…we find out it is too late to send a parcel today and guess what…tomorrow is another holiday…so have to wait.
Estimated time: 30 minutes

Day 12: Kelly and Tanya deliberate about whether or not we should keep the parcels with the parcel guy for 2 days or if we should find a way to get the now 4 boxes back home, and then back again to the post office. We decide to trust the parcel guy and keep them there.

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Sewing the package up

Day 12: After three hours with the parcel guys, we pay and we go home.
Estimated time: 15 minutes

Day 13: Kelly and Tanya take a well deserved rest day from dealing with anything related to the postal system

Estimated Time: None

Day 14: Tanya and Kelly head back to pick up our packages from Syed. Each box is intact and accounted for. Syed then pastes on our now fully complete, but probabley still inaccurate, customs forms.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

The Custom Forms

Day 14: Now four of us each pick up a box and walk the half block to the main post office. We were informed of the price by the postal clerk (which hurt the wallet but is still cheaper than brining them back on the plane with us) and paid up. We were then informed that the two largest boxes, in addition to the required custom tailored cloth covering them, also need to be in a special bag that we need to purchase.
Estimated time: 1 hour

Day 14: We finally get a rickshaw home, Kelly buys a beer and we do nothing!

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Total time: 32 hours X 2 people = 64 hours

It’s a good thing we have more time than money!!!

Now all we can do is wait…and hope all of our boxes arrive into Canada and that we don’t get charged for import customs (which we shouldn’t because pretty much everything we’ve sent back was bought in Canada!)

All in all, this was a typical Indian experience we will never forget.

(oh yeah, and if anyone is in Mysore – we recommend Syed as a great parcel wrapper-upper (that is, if all our stuff makes it to Canada!)

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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The Dog Days of Mysore

Like everything we’ve done on this trip, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when signing up for a month of yoga in Mysore. But, also like every other unknown thing on this trip, it has turned out great!

Prana Vashya Yoga

Based on the recommendation of a previous yoga student, we decided to do our yoga with Vinay Kumar, a young teacher but has spend most of his life immersed in yoga. He is a fantastic teacher, encouraging, caring, and very dedicated. I would recommend him to anyone debating which yoga teacher to study with in Mysore!

As in a previous post, we do yoga twice a day (well most days), 5 or 6 days per week. The morning class is similar to Ashtanga yoga, in which you do the same series of yoga asanas (postures) everyday, it is challenging due to the fact we are both usually sore from the day before still! The evening class is more relaxed and is more focused on increasing flexibility, and everyone in the class does something somewhat different.

Tanya enjoying the shade

As for our accomodation during this time, we found a really great place ran by a guy from France (who we have not met because he went home to France just before we arrived and will be back after we leave). It is really well set up, there is a fully stocked kitchen with anything you could possibly need (this is very unique for India), such as things like a pannini press, a blender, coffee maker, a fridge (!), and more! There is wi-fi internet, hammocks in the garden out fount, and hot water. There are also two Indian ladies who are here everyday to wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, etc! There are 4 rooms here and we’ve met some great people also staying here. In any other place but India, I cannot even imaging how much it would cost to stay here. Everything we need is within about a 5 block radius, like…Nilgris – a great market with things like cheddar cheese and basil, and Mahesh Prasad – the tasty restaurant always packed with locals and some yoga students.

Where we get our grocieries

We’ve really enjoyed our time here, and could easily stay longer…but believe it or not, 4.5 months is not enough time for India.

They know you what we are going to order here before we tell them

Kelly making lunch

The Mysore Palace (for Tanya and Kelly)

Inside the Palace

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Divine Nectar

Over the last weekend, Tanya and I went to a small village on the boarder of Kerala in the Western Ghats (near Coorg). There is a small village there that is starting to produce a biodynamic farm producing aromatic crops for essential oils. The activities ranged from getting to the village to making compost. This is how to make Amret Pany (Divine Nectar), an organic seed bank and soil that is packed full of great micro-organisms.

All the seeds (will the future seedbank)

This divine nectar is used to introduce micro-organisms into the soil which will increase the quality of the soil. A seedbank is important thing to have (as most farmers will tell you). A seedbank will reduce dependency on corporations to provide your seeds. Over time and a process of selection, a seedbank will have plants that have been selected for that climate and area and is a great resource. Micro-organisms in the soil are very important, if you think of the farm (or forest) as one big organism, the small part of the farm/forest/ecosystem (like the plants, insects, soil) are like the organs. If you remove some of the organs, the organism doesn’t do to well.This is the main arguement against using chemicals to fertilize and control pests, the are simplified methods that use one or two components to fix a problem. It is like take a multivitiam to fix a problem in the body, although it may work the best option is to eat right in the first place. Continue reading

Posted from Madikeri, Karnataka, India
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Biodynamic Compost

Over the last weekend, Tanya and I went to a small village on the boarder of Kerala in the Western Ghats (near Coorg). There is a small village there that is starting to produce a biodynamic farm producing aromatic crops for essential oils. The activities ranged from getting to the village to making compost. Here is how you make biodynamic compost.

You need a bunch of mulch: sticks (to provide air flow), dry leafy matter, green matter, cow dung, rock phosphate, lime powder, and some plant extracts.

Tanya Gathering Leaves

We went to collect what we could locally, and everyone helped out, it was great to see the villagers (and westerners) all working as a team. Raking dried bamboo leaves, chopping fresh green leaves and picking sticks, everyone helped out. With the piles collected we could start the compost. Continue reading

Posted from Madikeri, Karnataka, India
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Biodynamic Times

Over the last weekend, Tanya and I went to a small village on the boarder of Kerala in the Western Ghats (near Coorg). There is a small village there that is starting to produce a biodynamic farm producing aromatic crops for essential oils. The activities ranged from getting to the village to making compost. Here is the story of how the trip went.

Early morning roads (notice the Aum on the left side of the windshield)

I thought the alarm clock was set for 3:43am, however I mixed up the am and the pm. There was knocking at our door at 4:15. It was Kristen, a nice person who loves to help people, woke us up. Our ride was supposed to come at 4:30, which isn’t a lot time to get ready, especially when there is only one bathroom in the house. Our ride was late however, so we were rushed, and then we waited, for over an hour. We are picked up by a Tata Sumo, a diesel powered SUV, although there is enough to seat 8, you often 15 or more jammed into these things. There are no seat belts, and on the windshield OM is painted blocking the view of the passenger. Continue reading

Posted from Madikeri, Karnataka, India
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Berries

Once in while you come across something truly amazing. The other day it was literally outside our front door. It was these berries growing off of this tree. The name of the tree escapes me. But the taste of the berries will never leave my memory. Tanya describes the taste like cotton candy jelly bellies. This is not an exaggeration. These things don’t taste natural, they are so sweet and so tasty it is amazing, so amazing I thought I would do a post about them. One of the best things is that the tree grows outside our door, and every day I have one or two these berries.

It is like coming across a huckle berry stand. However in this part of the world there are so many things that grow so fast and produce so much that it really improves life (more so then an iPod would).

They are small but sweet

The flower of the tasty berry

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Holi

The other day was the Holi Fesitival in India. It is to celebrate something (like so many things) that I don’t understand about India Culture. This is what happens. A bunch of people (mostly early teenager to mid 20’s India Boys) get some dye (powdered or mixed with water) and they throw it at people in the street. I saw it once in a commercial and thought it looked pretty cool.

As I was riding my bicycle down an alley, I saw some people covered in dye (red, yellow, purple and pink). I looked ahead and there I saw a couple of eager boys holding something in their hands. I was riding my bicycle and as I passed them, they threw the powder at me. I was covered in many colours. It was crazy, but funny, and when I got home, Tanya had quiet the laugh at my multicoloured face/shirt/feet/shorts. I wish I had some ammunition to throw back, but I didn’t. A day and a shower later and I still have some evidence of festival on me.

 

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Put the lime in the Cocconut

A line of coconuts, ready to cut open and drank

In India there are these carts in which coconuts are stacked. Usually around these stands are people sucking the coconut juice out of the coconut with a straw. It looks very tasty and interesting. Today we decided to find out what exactly a coconut drink was like.

We went up to the stand and asked for one (Rs15), the guy at the stand picks one up, spins the coconut around so that it is positioned perfectly in his hand and then with a curved knife, he swiftly chops off the top of the coconut.

With great skill, he opens the coconut with a machete[/caption]

He does it very quickly (I was only able to get one photo of him doing it). Then you put a straw in it and start drinking.

This is your cup

You would think it would taste delicious, and exotic. But you will be surprised that it tastes like salty water. It wasn’t that tasty, and I’m not sure why they are so popular here. Maybe they are really good at replenishing your electrolytes (palm trees are very tolerant of salt water maybe because they store it in their fruit). Maybe if we tried a different type of coconut we will have better luck.

When you are in a different country you have to try new things and we did. Sometimes you find real gems (like fish tacos) other times you find things like this.

Update

Although I wasn’t a huge fan when I first drank this stuff, it is actually pretty good after you have done something physical activity. Kind of like a natural Gatorade, I cam to love this stuff after the yoga practice, a perfect way to cool down in the 30 degree weather. Another note, it is pretty good for hangovers as well.

Daytrippin’

Since we were back in Mysore and wanted to make sure we were good and healthy before we left again we decided to do some day trips to some sights around Mysore.

Chamundi Hill

The summit of Chamundi Hill is 1062 meters, and on top of the hill is a seven story temple.  You can walk up 1000+ stairs to get there, or you can take a local bus straight up to the top…we went for option 2, the bus.  We though it would be more difficult to figure out which bus to take but it was basically the only bus with English on it so it was easy.  It was crazy busy at the top of the hill (it was a Sunday of course), with hundreds of people waiting to get into the temple.  We didn’t want to stand in the hot line so we just walked around and then walked down the 1000 stairs back to town!

Holly Cow!! Tanya

At the summit of Chamundi Hill

Srirangapatnam

Due to the success of our first local bus experience, we decided to try again.  We were headed to an 18th century fort about a one hour bus ride from Mysore.  There are lots of sights to see around the area, including more temples and mosques and a royal palace.  It was a worthwhile day trip, the bus back was crazy packed with people!!

Mosuleum at Srirangapatnam

Painted Deities

Brindavan Gardens

If you’ve ever watched a Bollywood movie or two, you’ve probably seen the Brindavan Gardens, as apparently many scenes are shot here.  It was quite a process to get here, we just missed the bus when we got to the station so we waited about an hour for the next one, finally we got on and 10 minutes away the bus broke down and we had to wait on the street for the next one.  When we finally arrived to the bus stop for the Gardens, we realized we had to walk a bit to the entrance, and it was 4 kilometers!  But we finally got there and were glad we went, it was very relaxing, and the gardens were quite beautiful.  Apparently it gets extremely busy on weekend and in the evenings because the gardens are all lit up and they play Bollywood film tunes over loudspeakers, would have been cool to see but we didn’t want to wait around that long.  We ate lunch at a really posh hotel, and lunch was surprisingly affordable.

Giant Chess Board

Brindavan Gardens

Market (added by Kelly)

I went back to the market, if you remember a couple of posts ago we said that the Mysore market wasn’t very lively or colourful. When I went back (around sunset) it was a different market, well maybe not entirely different, but it was more lively and more colourful. My only goal was to practice taking some shot with the camera and improve my skill. I took a lot of shots and didn’t come back with a lot that I wanted to post, here are the ones that I liked.

Movement

Lost of seats

Dyes

Tomorrow we are going to try to leave mysore, we shall see how that goes.

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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