Boulders and Ruins to City

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Goan Corner
What I did
Vittala Temple

Flag of India  , Karnataka,
Friday, January 27, 2012

Officially a yoga teacher, I am excited to use my new skill to help guide others in their practice. I thought the opportunity would begin with Sampoorna Yoga. Enticed by Deepak's offer to volunteer for the next course in exchange for free practice and or assist with adjustments. But the real draw was the opportunity to teach drop ins. Unfortunately, he made a poor choice in giving his least yogic minded person management power. The new direction left the five of us disappointed and free to go travel India.  

My first stop was Hampi, a land of temples set on a river surrounded by Flintstones-like bedrock. As suggested I stayed across the river and through the rice fields at a place called the Goan Corner. I consider this self-contained hotel the "bubble." It is located on the farthest south end flush up against the boulders; the main reason why the majority of its guests are hard-core climbers. It was easy to pass five days here just chilling out in the hammock, watching the monkeys, looking out at the rice fields and hanging with my neighbors. Some days I never made it passed the restaurant.

There are plenty of ruins to explore here in Hampi and fortunately I had an opportunity to visit a couple with Rajesh, a local I met through Couchsurfing. Rajesh showed up in the equivalent of a Toyota Forerunner, impeccable in a pressed white linen shirt and snazzy leather shoes. It wasn’t until he got out of the car that I felt his 6’5” presence.

Looking like the oddest pair, together we toured Vittala Temple and followed the guide as he pointed out interesting carvings in the granite pillars of the dance hall or explained the relevance of the most impressively sculpted Chariot.

I enjoyed spending time with Rajesh’s and learning his story. Since college Rajesh resides in Bangalore but he is originally from a nearby town. Rajesh spends most of his time managing the family businesses including farming equipment and agricultural property. But a driven MBA graduate, Rajesh is more an entrepreneur. Two years back, he decided to purchase a mine. Unfortunately, on the heels of his investment a ban was passed state wide, preventing its use.

Hampi like many tourist locations in India is congested with Israelis. All of the signs here in Hampi are written in Hebrew and it is hilarious to see Indians speaking the language fluently and in some cases better than they do English. It was nice to spend some quality time with my neighbors, Amir and Yarden. It was apropos that we rented bikes together since Amir runs a bicycle tour company with his family. We had a nice day riding through the villages and taking a refreshing swim in the lake. Another night we joined David to watch The Fall. A movie directed by Indian filmmaker Tarsem Singh, filmed in 20 countries with 85% of the landscape shot in India. David’s whole mission in India was to visit the various landmarks throughout Rajasthan.

We joined forces and made a plan to travel together to Mumbai by bus. Once we got passed the drunks and gypsies at the wrong bus station we set off in a luxury Volvo semi-sleeper. Compared to any other bus I’ve been on in Asia, this bus was a dream. I slept while David watched the Hindi romantic comedy playing on the screen.

I had arranged for us to stay with Aditya, a very nice host who offered us our own room and bathroom. We spent the day shopping the streets of Colaba, stumbling upon Leopold’s Café famous from the book Shantaram and then ending at the Victoria Terminus Train Station. The adventure back to Aditya’s required three rickshaws combined with police involvement. Later that night I joined Aditya and his finance Neha for a friend’s birthday celebration. I learned that the cake serves more as a prop to smash on the honoree’s face than it does for eating. As you can imagine chocolate cake up the nose never ends well.

Mumbai is a huge city with not that much to see. One day I visited the mosque and the Gateway to India, attended an art fair with some other Couchsurfers before we got caught in the middle of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday celebration in the most-dense Muslim neighborhood.

Mumbai is more notorious for its nightlife. I got a taste of it when I met up with Kash, another very nice guy from Couchsurfing. We got a late start but had a few drinks poolside at one of the fancy clubs in Bandra. For a brief moment I had flash backs of posh LA.

Kash was a little preoccupied this night because he owns Fillies and he had one racing in the Derby this weekend. I actually attended the big event with Aditya, Neha and friends and had the opportunity to bet on Kash’s horse. Thank God he came in third, making money for all of us that bet. Like most Derbies, the girls use it as a fashion run way, showing off their best dress and hats.

My recommendation for anyone traveling to Mumbai is to stay in Bandra. On the coast, it offers a slice of the Western world; lined with cute boutiques, trendy restaurants and terrace cafes.
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