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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Schedule

When you stay put for a while you tend to get into a routine. Being at Mysore to do Yoga is no exception to this rule. Over the past couple of weeks we have developed quiet a routine. The routine is as follows:

5:45      Alarm goes off
5:51      Get out of bed and use the washroom (those that know me know that this is an important and time consuming part of my day)
6:07     Get Tanya out of bed
6:15      Eat breakfast
6:49      Leave for Yoga
7:15      Start the morning session of Yoga
9:17      Go get a coconut (I like them now, especially after yoga, they are so refreshing)
9:21       Get breakfast from Mahesh Prasad (it is so good and for $0.42, you can’t go wrong)
9:45      Have a shower
9:52      Make coffee (this is new luxury that has been missing from most of my travels in India)
10:01    Read my permacutlure textbook and drink coffee
10:50    Practice tablas
12:12    Leave for Tabla Lesson
2:02     Arrive back at home from tabla lesson and eat lunch
4:37      Get ready for the evening class of Yoga (if I go, I find doing 2 classes of yoga a bit much for a guy like me)
7:16      Go get some dinner (at Mahesh Prasad, it is so good and for $1.50, both of us eat (a Masala dosa and some Naan, and get a drink, like fresh juice, grape or pineapple).
8:07      Arrive back at home
9:28       Go to Bed

Although this doesn’t sound like the most desirable lifestyle, it is pretty close. Life is good here. It is kind of like being unemployed, and traveling at the same time. The place we are staying at has a kitchen. In the kitchen there is blender (we made watermelon mint juice once, and cashew butter). The house is so nice, with a garden outside and good coffee that only thing that is missing is my computer.

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 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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From Pondycherry to Mysore

For the rest of our stay in India, we will not be riding any more. We have signed up for a yoga class and that is where we will be spending the rest of our days (about a month). As such there will not be as regular posts. There will still be posts, but when you are staying in the same city for a month, there isn’t a whole lot to see. There will not be a post every two days (as I’m sure you guys have noticed).

Over the past few months we have had an average of 72 people visit our site a day (which is amazing, I didn’t know I knew 72 people), and I thank you all for reading (or viewing the pictures) on the site.

Mysore Palace

Before arriving in Mysore we spent some time Pondycherry. After leaving Sadhana forest (which was a great experience) we booked into something a little more luxurious (which means there was a toilet and privacy). It was good and we enjoyed eating the French food.

As there is not a lot to see between Pondycherry and Mysore, and it is getting hot we opted to take a bus to Mysore. We booked on a sleeper and we both got a bed. Having a bed on the bus is great, you can sleep in comfort and time flies by. Before we knew it we were in Bangalore, hoped onto another bus and we were in Mysore in no time.

A window in Mysore

We signed up for our yoga class and have been to a few classes. They have been great, two classes a day at two hours a piece. A total of four hours of yoga. It isn’t the relax and try to touch your toes yoga, you hold a pose and every breathyou push with your hands (usually towards your feet or the ceiling depending on the pose) on the inhale and the push with your feet on the exhale. The result is a constant stretch for 5 long breaths. Then you switch sides and do it all over again.

For anyone who wants to say that doing yoga isn’t a real exercise, I challenge you to come to India and sign up for one of these courses. Within 30 seconds of the warm up I am sweating and within 5 minutes my shirt is saturated with sweat. My muscles are extremely sore, every time I move I am reminded of lactic acid that has taken residence in my muscles.

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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