Tuesday was another epic day for me here in India. The purpose of the trip was to go visit the Indian vendor partner and project teammates who live in Mysuru. So the day started with a trip to their offices, with a retrospective meeting on our project. They made sure I met *everyone* involved with the project, including developers, testers, managers, etc. and then showed me demo after demo of their capabilities. It was a bit overwhelming to be led into one small room after another of people lining the walls waiting to meet me.
Then I had lunch with the dev team, where we chatted about random things, including movies, family, sightseeing, and local sweets and candies that Mysuru is famous for, and that I had been asked to bring some back with me. After lunch we took pics. The first couple pics were very professional, but after that one of the devs said “Hey can I get a selfie?” and then they *all* wanted a selfie. So we took some fun pics too.
With business concluded, it was time to do some sightseeing. One of my hosts accompanied me on a tour of the famous Mysuru Palace, the seat of the Kingdom of Mysuru. The family of the kings of Mysuru still inhabit the private parts of the palace. It is the second-most visited palace in India after the Taj Mahal. We hired a tour guide who pointed out all the little things that I would have missed; I was taking pictures, a little hesitantly at first, because I was unclear what I could snap and what I couldn’t. Apparently I was too timid for our tour guide, who proceeded to grab my phone and took about 100 pics for me. He had to take every pic in both portrait and landscape, and was fascinated with the “moving eyes” of the paintings on all the walls. See my photo captions for more details of the palace.
After that, we drove up to visit the nearby famous hilltop Chamundeshwari Temple. I didn’t get too many pics up there because it is prohibited in many areas of the temple. As we approached the temple, I was reminded of the moneychangers drove out by Jesus, because it’s like a street carnival of cheap trinkets (for example, emoji pillows), bright lights, junk food, holy symbols and beggars all along the path to the temple itself. Of course, we had to remove our shoes. The most shocking thing about the temple was the fact that there were literally dozens of live, wild monkeys running around, over, and throughout the temple! I mean, I’d seen lots of wild cows, goats and dogs running around, but that was interesting. Just search YouTube for “Chamundeshwari Temple monkeys”… Anyway, after leaving the temple, we stopped at a public vantage point where I captures some panoramas of the view.
We headed back to the office to pick up some other coworkers who were going to the next stop with me. On the way, we stopped at a roadside cocoanut vendor, where I enjoyed my first cocoanut water. For just a few rupees (literally like 50 cents), they slice open a fresh cocoanut, stick in a straw and hand it to tyou. Pretty good!
Our next stop was dinner at Brindavan Gardens, lit at night by thousands of colored lights. The gardens sit next to the Krishnarajasagara Dam. We had dinner on the balcony of the Royal Orchid Brindavan hotel, which at one time was sort of a “little” summer cottage for the royal families. I enjoyed dinner greatly as my hosts brought me lots of samples of Indian cuisine. Our waiter and I talked quite a bit about my daughter being a cook, and his ambition to be a chef, and his plans to move to Vancouver very soon!
By this time, it was 10pm at night, and I was exhausted. As we drove back to Bengaluru the next morning, I was handed a large box, FULL of Mysuru sweets (and chocolates Denise Lett Arland!) to take home, along with other gifts. Completely overwhelmed.
It was a great day. All through the day, I was impressed by the pride of the Indian people in their history, their country, and their attitude of ingenuity in everything. When you first arrive in India, you only see things with your eyes — the pervasive piles of filth and garbage, animals running wild, insane traffic, poverty everywhere. But after awhile, those things kind of fade into the background, and you start to see more with your heart — as you experience the wild hospitality, joyfulness, pride and ingenuity of the people at every turn. I am humbled.
I sit here in my hotel room ready to travel back home, and everyone I’ve met has been asking me not *if*, but *when*, I will be returning. The idea that one might not want to return someday isn’t even considered. Of course, I couldn’t make any promises — who knows whether I will ever be able to return?