Monday, January 30, 2012

gone fishin'

Balan, my jewelry teacher, after a long day of making jewelry... Fishing for prawns.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

beautiful coorg

we drove from mysore to the hills of beautiful coorg and spent one night on a coffee plantation. it was tranquil and gorgeous!

Friday, January 20, 2012


We went to Fab India.. Is there really more to say.. 5 women at Fab India. Running around looking at all the cool stuff. Trying on clothes and getting excited about it all. We purchased our ‘items’ as an Indian would say and gathered into 2 rickshaws to go to the market…

Oh but before I forget, a sort of panicky thing happened. On our way to Fab India, we stopped at an ATM. The machine swallowed one of our cards. I ran into the bank and the first guy I talked to said. ‘Sorry Madam, the card is automatically destroyed’. A small, tinge of pain went through my body, but I knew better… So, I asked to talk to the manager. He said, “No problem Madam, the man will be here between 4 and 4:30, it is best if you come at 5 or 5:30. Your friend will need her passport and we will have the card.” Ok.. That was a much better answer.. And we were on our way to Fab India..

So.. After Fab India two rickshaws to the market.. Devaraj Urs market is spectacular, unless there are 5 Indian guys following you around with gourd flutes and small trinkets. We could not, for the life of us get rid of them.. So, we tried to ignore their insistence. We wandered through the fruit section, the flower section, the stainless steel kitchen items section, and of course the puja offering section. It was time to have lunch.

mmmm… Traditional thali at the Dasaprakash, of course, we all mmmmmm’d our way through the meal and that was that.

It was a busy day. One thing after the next. So we then went to the scarf shop and whirled our way through, making a thorough disaster, looking at so many things. We had to go though and meet Kumar and see his workshop so we took a rickshaw there, spent an hour with him, asking questions and seeing what he does. He had to leave. So we wandered through the goldsmith section of town and I tried to explain what I could of goldsmithing in India.

It was time to check in on the ATM card. We went back to the bank. He got the card and handed it to her. Yay!!! India success...

We made our way back to our hotel for a short rest before going to Kumar’s jewelry shop. Again. More shopping ladies. So much fun.. Beautiful jewelry came back to our hotel with us.

We had a lovely dinner at one of my favorite places in Mysore. Tina’s cafĂ© and then, after a very very long day. We crashed..

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Day 2 was spent with Kumar. He is the master of many things, one of which includes, epic and amazing journeys. He was kind enough to take a day off of work and take the ladies and I to a beautiful temple outside of Mysore.

We left in the morning, and drove to Melkote, a region about 1.5 hours outside of Mysore. The main Temple at Melkote is a temple for Narasima, a lion God and incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Although, we are not sure exactly how old the temple is, it is nearly 2000 years old. In India, temples are built, on the highest spot, to be closer to the heavens. So, we climbed the well worn stairs to the top and were blessed by Narasima. The carvings at this temple were magnificent. The energy was strong and we all enjoy a fresh coconut on our way back down.

Many people who are trying to have babies go to this temple at Melkote and pray to the God. If they then conceive they return and thank the God at the temple as well as at our next stop, Kalyani, a 2000 year old bath.. surrounded by stairs on four sides down to the bath. We sat there for a minute.. and rested. We saw babies being dipped in the blessed (and dirty green) water and the happy parents thanking their Gods for the blessings of their child.

From there we enjoyed a beautiful snack prepared by Kumar’s wife. Idly is a steam rice and lentil cake. We dipped it in coconut chutney and we mmmmm’d our way through.. This time Latha (Kumar’s wife made special pumpkin idly and it was fantastic).

We drove from there to a special spot with no name and no explanation, but kumar thinks they were going to build a temple there and never finished. It is a beautiful spot with intricately engraved columns.

On we went to Sri Rangapathnum.. phew.. the day is not over yet.

Another temple, this one to the Lord Vishnu, in his laying down form. It turned out to be an auspicious day. They had just dipped his entire body in butter and decorated him. I don’t know the significance, but there were hundreds of us there waiting in line for peak of Vishnu and his blessings…

We then had a cup of chai by the river, watching people dip there bodies in to receive her sacred treasures of healing and protection.

Then to the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, the man who defended and protected the Mysore area!

All that by 3pm and we had lunch waiting for us at Kumar’s house. Wow.. We were all speechless, after such a lovely day and amazing meal of bissy belli bhat, curd rice, wada, coconut chutney, special dosa. Mmmmmmmm

We all felt completely blessed.. Day two ended with some wine and beer in the gorgeous garden of our hotel… zzzzzz goodnight.

Monday, January 16, 2012

shankranti 2012

Here is a short video of our experience of Shankranti, the harvest festival devoted to the cow.. thanking the cows for all they give us! Enjoy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

S. India tour; day 1, Bounty

Day 1.


Today is Shankranti, the harvest festival. A day to be thankful for the fruits of the labors of the cow. Kumar said, “We are worshipping the cow like our mother, because the cow gives us milk.”

It is day 1 of the 2012 S. India tour. We’ve had an adventure to say the least.
The ladies arrived from Bangalore around 11 this morning. They settled in and we had a meeting to go over the ‘details’ of this journey. We had a fabulous lunch with many Indian delicacies.. mmmmmm…..

Kumar picked us up at 3:30 for the beginning of what was to be a grand adventure. First stop; Chamundi Hill. The Goddess Chamundeswari protects all. We explored the top of the hill and entered the sacred temple hoping to receive her blessing for a safe journey. In my mind an auspicious way to start.

Kumar suggested we walk part of the way down to the big Nandi Bull and he would pick us up. We agreed it was a fabulous idea. There are over 1000 steps to get up to the top of Chamundi Hill. We did not climb them today, but it was fun to walk part of that path down to the sacred Nandi Bull (Shiva’s vehicle). Kumar was waiting there for us.

On we went to a spectacular event. The running of the ‘bulls’ of sorts.. During Shankranti, people decorate their cows in honor of the festival and bring them to an event where the cows jump over the fire. We drove down from Chamundi to an open field and Kumar said, ‘Here we will see the cows jump over the fire’. So we parked and thought maybe we should leave and come back, but suddenly, we heard drums and 20-30 decorated cows proceeded around a corner running toward us.. We all kind of hid behind the car and the cows ran past us. It was totally amazing. We followed them into the field and took photos. They stood throughout the field in their colorful array of decoration. Kumar said to me, “Samia, shall we go to the rooftop?” The owner of the building across the street invited us up to the best view in the house. It was quite amazing! We were so lucky and everyone was excited. After they lit the fire and the cows ran through, it was said and done in 1 minute and 45seconds. We all felt like we had to come down after that high.. Emily said, ‘Ok, now that I saw that, I can go back to NY.”

But, we had more plans for the evening. Kumar took us to the temple near his home and we had coffee with his family and then on to the palace. In Mysore the palace only lights up on Sunday nights. We drove there and as we were driving the lights disappeared ☹, we approached the palace and everyone was coming out. Kumar, convinced the guards to let us in. So, we swam upstream and saw the majestic palace, in the company of each other. Then, the police came and told us to leave.. We snuck in a few more shots and Kumar took us back to our hotel..

Phew.. that’s a lot for 4 hours.. Today we are off on another adventure..

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The luck of the draw

I just spent 2 lovely (and kind of crazy) weeks on Koh Phangan, a Thai island. The energy there was strong. I thought I would be relaxing on the beach with some friends, but little did I know, we ended up spending many nights dancing til the sun came up. I think I’ve had my dose of that for a long while and am happy to be in India now.

But before I go into my India love. I must tell this story. I arrived in Bangkok the day before my departure to India. I wanted to wander a bit, see some temples, do the tourist thing (for a few hours at least). Just outside my guesthouse, a tuk-tuk (rickshaw) driver was sitting, I went up to him to discuss.. And out of nowhere a man came up and started talking all about Buddha week and how lucky it was to be here etc..

He asked if I had a map. I did. So I gave it to him. It was perfect because I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. He started numbering places on the map. First go here, from there go here and so on.. He marked several places which would add up to a nice day of touring. Perfect and all for $1 in the rickshaw. Wow. How could that be?? Only $1 for being driven around all day. I was a bit skeptical of this good news, but I went with the flow and knew if the energy shifted I could jump out. So.. first stop, Big Buddha. There is a huge standing Buddha just around the corner from my guesthouse.. and it’s not on the map. It was beautiful. Second stop.. Thai export showroom, this is where the glitch in the plan came, but it was fine. During this Buddha week, there are all these showrooms open and everyone can buy high quality jewelry and not have to pay tax. Plus the drivers get a coupon and make money taking people, like me to these places. It didn’t bother me, I thought it would be fun to look at the jewelry, it was ok. Totally not my style, but nice to look at. Next stop black Buddha, this was my favorite temple. It was serene and surrounded by many black Buddha’s, each Buddha was sitting in a different position representing something auspicious. I felt calm and excited at the same time. It was absolutely gorgeous. Next stop the Lucky Buddha.

Now this was amazing. It is only open to the public one day a year and it just happened to be the day I was there. It was non-descript and definitely not all fancy like all the other temples, there was only one man there, praying for good luck to his family. He spoke for a while telling me how lucky I am to be here today and that tourists never come here. I gave Buddha a little bow and did some prayers for myself and others and spoke to the man for a bit. He explained the subsidized driving and the export expo and Buddha week. He kept saying you are so lucky!

It’s true, I am a very lucky person. Go with the flow and let the feeling take me. That’s what I like to do. Traveling expands my being and I feel so lucky.. so very very lucky!