Hampi part 2, Hampi Magic

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

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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

With Rocinante all tightened up and ready to go whenever I choose, I set off to explore Hampi.
Breakfast at the Mango Tree restaurant was lovely, overlooking the river, and eating my usual fruit and curd, though this time with muesli, European style. There is a sort of esplanade by the river, with many stairs, and many people washing clothes and bathing in the river as well. Stepping down the hundred stairs or so and sitting on the side of them, I saw what looked to be an elephant lying in the water being scrubbed by a couple of men. At first i thought that perhaps it was dead, and they were preparing it for some sort of burial, or some such, it's trunk was under water, indeed, it's whole head was for quite a time. After what seemed like ages, though it moved slightly and raised it's trunk out of the water for a breath. Apparently they wash the elephant every day at 8 am or so. The elephant was thouroughly enjoying this attention. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.
Of course I became surrounded by children, who seem to be the best at speaking some of my language and are eager to practice on a real english-speaker. They asked the requisite questions, where from, married, etc, and as I was trying to communicate two orange-turbaned men came down the stairs toward myself and the half-dozen children who had gathered round. "magic show! Magic show!" they shouted, expressing their desire for a little entertainment. I figured that though the show cost 50 rupees or so, I would pay that so that the children could have a few laughs. . .
The usual sleight of hand stuff, mixed with a few jokes got them going, and the "fakir" also swallowed a number of large stones, only to spit them up later. . the show lasted 15 minutes or so, and I found myself chuckling at dried snake heads talking by ventriloquism, and tricks with stones and coins.
At long last the fakir brought out a book for me to sign, pointing to the amount people had ostensibly paid him. I told him 50 rupees, and though he tried to milk me for more, I thought this was more than fair, and so he took it, I gave him the "wai" gesture, which he gave back ( a sort of praying hands and nodding), and then I found out the real magic trick: Though he had accepted 50 rupes, he had me write 150 paid in the book! Aha! another dodge uncovered. And that is not the '48 dodge grampa has sitting out in the back 40. . .
That's ok, though, the children enjoyed it, and their laughter is reward enough. Also I enjoyed it right along with them.

Later that afternoon I decided to go on a walkabout. Walking down past the gate to the very end of the main drag, I started to come upon more ruins, including a life-size bull, and a small shrine to Hanuman, the monkey king. Finding a trail after that, through the surrealist landscape with random boulders, I came upon a large sunken temple, in which children were playing hide-and-seek, or some such native version of an old favorite children's game.
So much for the holy silence, and spiritual gain. . Children are the windows of the world, and though they may seem irreverent at times, this is only because they have not yet been indoctrinated with what they "should be" doing, and of course this is especially true of children here.
Was it not the Buddha who spoke of the "child's mind?" of being open to everyting, not clouded by the mist of the past, or the unseen darkness of the future. Living in the now is all we have, and why ruin it with something that does not exist, such as past memory, future hope, or what-ifs?? In the past dwells only regret, in the future dwells only disappointment. .
Waxing philosophical again. .

At the sunken wall of the temple, I turned right, having spotted a small temple on top of one of the huge mounds of boulders that pass for hills around here. A hundred or more meters up it was, and I could see no tourists up there. I began to look for a hidden staircase, figuring I would use all those old mountaineering skills to boulder my way to the top if I couldn't find a way. A couple of minutes of searching behind a rock or two, and a crude staircase began to wind it's way up the hill. Sometimes made of the familiar rock columns hewn out of the granite, and sometimes just depressions carved into the solid boulder face.
I did not know what lay ahead, and was surprised upon reaching the top to find that the temple was much bigger than it looked with many rooms, and some hidden chambers containing strange icons and artifacts in the pitch blackness. . Of course there were the ever-present bats. . .
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