Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Oh, Mysore, my sore ass, that is. . It did not take all that long to reach there, I took frequent breaks, a coconut here, some chai there, etc. and eventually reached the city center. It was not so hard to find a room as there are many lodges clearly marked and in competition with each other.
The best price I could get, however, was 300 rupees, though this was a nice and clean hotel with HBO, and attached bath. The porter/bellhop fellows sleep on the floor, and give a gentle knock on the door to offer up coffee and newspapers both in english and hindi.
Taking a little evening stroll, I found an internet cafe, and also had a talk with a man by the name of Syed, who gave me the "lowdown" on some of the places in Mysore. I told him "I am my own guide." and he said, no, just for friends he would show me. I dodged it by saying I needed to write on the internet, which was true, and at the moment in Varkalla, I am at least three or four entries behind. .

When the morning came I decided to stay another night in Mysore, noticing out of my window that there was a sort of auto-parts/ mechanical bazaar behind hotel of Ashoka road.
A breakfast of Puri Baji, and I took out my tools to remove Rocinante's broken sissy bar, which had been causing me trouble, what with my guitar flopping around at high speeds and such. Taking the parts through the narrow alley, I found a welding shop with no problem. The smell was familiar to me, the smell of burnt oil mixed with soil, and old grease on auto parts with the acrid and unmistakable aroma of arc-welding slag.
I knew this place. Indian Gear-heads. I signed to the man to put a bar into the tubular steel of the sissy bar and weld it into place. He seemed to understand, and told me "thirty minutes. . " Good, this gave me some time to go browsing in the "bazaar."
This was no ordinary bazaar. You might be thinking of brightly coloured clothes and spices an such, but this was an auto-parts bazaar, and the bizarre thing about it was that they were all delineated into what each one would sell. One stall had only bearings, another tires, another had body parts. Headlights. Rims, axles, and any other conceivable part that could be gleaned from the carcass of an old or torn-up automobile.
Remembering the hassle I had trying to find a 30 mm wrench with which to tighten Rocinante's chain, I took it into my head to buy one. Asking around sure enough, I came to a stall that had just tools. A 30 mm large wrench cost 100 rupees, but if I was ever to have a puncture, though I might have a spare tube, there would be no way I could remove the rim from the cycle without it. Also the weather gets a little harsh out in the desert areas, to say the least. One must be prepared in India.
I tried the old bargaining thing, but the man was set in his price, so I parted with my hundred rupes. There was a man there a little cleaner than the rest, educated, and with good english, so we talked for a bit over chai, as is the custom. People here fully understand that the American people are good people, and indeed that all people are mostly good people, it's just our governments that hate each other. An obvious fact, but with patriotic fanaticism everywhere, people in most places do not really care about politics.
Speaking of politics, in many states in India there is to be an election for seats in parliament, of which there seem to be very many. I did not know this at the time, but I was to be slightly affected by this election. . .
Finishing up with the tool men, I went and paid my 40 rupes to the welder, who had done a superb job of patching up the bar. Back on Rocinante for the morrow's ride to Ooty, a hill station in the mountains where it is said to be cool, and one can even get a proper cuppa joe.

Coming out of the internet cafe in the afternoon, my old friend Syed saw me walking down the street towards the Mysore Palace, and offered to come with me. . "just for friends," he said once again. Syed actually turned out to be good company, teaching me a little more about eating with my hands (yes, there is a proper way to do this) and a couple of words more of Hindi. I treated him to a dinner of dosa, and as we sat in the Dhaba, it began to rain. Hard. Thunder and lightning, the whole nine yards.
Syed told me that this was the very first rain of summer, and certainly it was the first I had seen since the mini-monsoon in Arumbol (see an earlier entry for this.)
Syed seemed a good man, but soon I found out the rub: He wanted to tke me to see his "friend" a "doctor" who sold sandalwood oil. .
Aha! But, I thought, what the heck, the man had been fun to hang around with, so we took a rickshaw out to the Doctor's house. The "doctor" is a man of 40 with glasses, and a gold tooth that he flashes frequently as he smiles. He put some papers in front of me to read, about which oil cures what, and which is good for love, etc. .
I got the grand tour of Indian oils, and managed to get out of there with some good inscense and a bottle of sandalwood oil (which I do like) for about 300 rupes. This is much too much for this, as I found out later from some merchants in the bazaar (not the auto parts one, the proper market), and I should have paid abotu 100 or 150 with the incense . .
So I did not get taken too badly, but later in the Market, the oil man there ( a young man) showed me a book of the comments people have made about his place, a sort of testimonial book that many merchants seem to have to prove their credibility. In this book were many comments about the "doctor, and of people spending 700, and even more for less than I got. The doctor is a scam artist, and Syed gets a commision on bringing them in for him.
Beware the "Oil 'doctor' of Mysore!" People apparently get taken and cheated out of their money by this man. The best place to buy oils is in the Indian marketplace, and for sandalwood, at the factory. . .
I have to get out of Mysore, this place costs too much money. . I must say, however, that, though I paid perhaps a little too much for the sandalwood oil, it could have been much worse, and it is of good quality and smells wonderful. . .

All in all, Mysore I found to be a highly friendly and accessible city, as Indian cities go, and I felt comfortable there the whole time. Worth a visit for anyone, just beware the "doctor. . "
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