Bad Monkey & Late is Late

Trip Start Nov 20, 2012
Trip End Dec 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Shanthi Guesthouse Hampi
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of India  , Karnataka,
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After a heartfelt goodbye to Tsering and her family, I sat on a train heading east towards the fabulous town of Hampi. My bag now heavy with gifts that I bought and the incredibly beautiful (and and heavy) Chupa- Tibetan dress that Tsering gave me. As the train left the platform, I saw her stand and wave until the train is long gone. I wiped some tears off my eyes and leaned back toward the worn and incredibly hot plastic seat feeling a bit empty.

Words cannot express how much this amazing woman has done for me the past couple of days during the Dalai Lama's teachings. Tsering opened her home to me and treated me, a total stranger, as her own child. When we parted she put a Khata (white Tibetan scarf that symbolizes
the pure heart of the giver) around my neck and we touched our foreheads together, with this she said "your family now Micaela". It was one of those moments in life that I will remember forever.

My new destination was Hampi. Magical, dreamy and very Shanthi. Once, the epic capital Vijayanagar of one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history with over 500.000 inhabitants. A UNESCO World heritage site with majestic temples, magnificent carvings, ruby red ruins and world class climbing- all set to the beautiful back drop of emerald green rice paddy fields and banana tree groves. Needless to say, it is a must stop while vagabonding in India.

I was here five years ago and some things have changed. The once buzzeling Hampi Bazaar with it's markets and shops has now been abandoned by the locals who took the freedom to move in and build their own constructional creations ontop of the original ruins. The Indian government stepped in and decided that they want to preserve the original structures and made the locals move out. Now, things happen on India time here, which means the restorations will happen. Eventually. In the meantime, the demolished house-on-temple structures are homes to Hampi’s large Monkey population as well as to a few wild pigs that roams freely around the area. Other than that Hampi is still the gem it was back then.

I score a room at the Shanthi Guesthouse across the river where I indulge in a little bungalow with my own bathroom.  This is such an AMAZING luxury after 10 days of homestay. And the Shanthi house lives up to it’s name; it is chill here. I lay in my hammock, finally finishing "Roots" by Alex Haley (incredible book that everyone that is interested in American history should read) and started on "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand I get massages and shiradora (oil that is pored over your third eye) and I do yoga. My teacher, a slender 30-something Indian man, guides us trough our asana practice with extreme seriousness. I try to concentrate as he almost yells out the postures in a very thick Indian accent. –"Rrrrrrrrroll your bodeeeeeeeeeyyy down to di rrrrrabbit pose and back to di esssssssnake pose", - “A supreeeeeeem meind and a supreeeeeeem bodeeeeeeeyyyy is essential for di practice, now bend down and touch your etoes and the grrrrrrround”, “little by little (accompanied with the famous Indian head roll) you practice day by day, then you touch floor”. I love every second of this class.

After a few rejuvenating days across the river, I take the little boat across to Hampi. There once was a bridge and it mysteriously disappeared and nobody cared to build a new one, to the boat mans delight that is (now the riches man in Hampi) as it is the only way to cross the river. I get a guide and explore the area and it’s temples. We swoosh trough lush palm groves and trough rice fields, butterflies and green parrots are everywhere as well as monkeys and of course, many Holy Cows cross our path.  The ruins shift from orange to ruby red as the sun is lowering in the  later afternoon and I see everything from the Achyutara and Virupaksha temples to the Queens enormous baths, the beautiful Lotus Mahal, the Royal Elephant stables and a gigantic statue of Ganesha, the elephant god.

Hampi draws a lot of Indian tourists and I feel like a rockstar as they rather snap pictures of me (yes they want me to be in their family picture) than pictures of the temples. I believe I will end up in at least two-dozen Indian family vacation travel albums he he. Sunset is spent at a lookout spot high over the town along with some chillum smoking Sadhus (holy men). The day ends with a fabulous mushroom kofta, garlic chapatti and a coconut lassi at my favorite restaurant- the Mango Tree where everything is very shanthi and relaxing until I hear banging on loud metal pots and gunshots! I almost choke on my kofta and ask what is going on the waiter simply roll his head and say –“Ahhh madam, very bad monkey in kitchen”. Right, monkeys in the kitchen, not your typical western restaurant problem. I’m glad this place only serves vegetarian foods!

As my departure morning arrives, I get picked up well before sunrise to make it to my 6.30am train. I have asked to be at the station at least 30 min before departure (so Swedish) and my driver is showing up on time. With sleepy eyes and unbrushed hair, I get to the platform and well guess what. There is a small delay. A small delay of 4-6 hours that is. This is when I practice my mantra –“I AM PATIENCE” over and over again. For 4-6 hours until the train finally arrives. Now the amazing part of this is that nobody complaints, nobody throws a fit, no yelling. All the passengers just hang out waiting. Sweden just had a horrible snowstorm and the whole public transit system collapsed. People were outraged and extremely upset demanding to WHY the busses and trains were late. When I ask the train personnel what happened, why is the train late? They simply respond –'Well madam, late is late” and that is it. This is a great moment for me as I put things into prospective once again. In the west, we are so used to have things run on schedule, to get an explanation on why things aren’t going the way they should, but here people just know that it will come. The train will come on India time. Eventually that is.

Peace, Love and Patience

Yours truly

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Tina Andreasson on

Awesome chica! I could have used that mantra of yours in Cuba... But also the rest of my life as patience certainly isn't a virtue of mine. But I don't have the patience for mantras.... ;)

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