After finding a place to stay, I headed to the temple to see what all the fuss was about
. Most of the locals visiting today have traveled hundreds of miles to attend this two day event. Many of them do not speak much English but it seems like all of them wanted me to take their photo. So I did. "Me next, me!". Then they all asked for "copy". When I pulled out my small notebook to collect their e-mail addresses, all communication broke down completely. Have they not heard of the recent invention of e-mail? What I got was a handwritten list of names: Salim, Ajit, Darshan, Lal, and others. I have to admit, I was perplexed. Did they not get the concept of an electronic message in the year 2012? I repeated, "e-mail, I need your eee-mail
". My list of names only grew bigger: Naveen, Mahatna, Dhaval. Once I realized this wasn't going to work, I had to plan my escape which was painless and easy when you just smile like an idiot and say "good bye".
From here, I go back to Mumbai to catch a flight out of the country. India has been good. Many travelers either love India or they hate it. And I was warned there would be a good chance I would hate it. It can be that bad. But in the end, I am somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't love the place but I am nowhere near hating it either. The food is amazing and not once did I suffer from traveler's diarrhea or get a bad meal. I escaped suffrage from the infamous "Delhi Belly". But that's probably due to almost eight years of conditioning from life on the road. Others I met were not so fortunate. I also wasn't put off by the begging, poverty, touts, and scam artists. None of it was that bad really. I found the people to be amazingly outgoing and unafraid to start a conversation. They are extremely curious and not at all shy about asking about you
! Sometimes they are so friendly, that their friendliness becomes annoying (after the 30th person that day). But you certainly can't dislike a place and culture for that. And this is why I came here. To find out if I would love or hate India. As it turns out, neither of those and I think that's a welcome result.
Alcohol is prohibited in the little village of Hampi in Karnataka state. Makes you ask "why come here?" But the word on the backpacker trail is Hampi is unmissable (and alcohol is availabe just across the river). So now that I'm here, I've stumbled into yet another holiday. Normally, there's just backpackers and the native population cruising slowly around the uneventful town and the smell of marijuana that lingers behind the dreadlocked, baggy-clown-pants crowd. But today, it's a mess. There are dozens of tour buses parked nearby and thousands of Indians paying homage to a statue. Hotels are full. Prices tripled. And it's a zoo. Almost literally when you see the temple elephant collecting coins and blessing everyone with her trunk. It's funny to watch as roughly 1 in 5 people are totally slobbered on with some kind of elephant nose drool. Ick.