The second week of my stay was stuffed with more or less successful work. My rhythm was work, sleep, work, sleep. We achieved much less than we wanted and waited often for things to get fixed. This time though we spent talking a bit and to work a bit on other stuff.
As usual on these trips the days fly by and before you realise it, its already over and you head back. Its something that one cannot avoid when having busy days in the office. Tuesday though was a bit more interesting. I went back to my hotel, as usual taking an Uber. When I arrived at the hotel, the red carpet was prepared and live Indian music was playing. I mean that wouldn’t have been necessary but well :). I asked one of the guys at the entrance about what’s going on and he tells me that the Indian national cricket team is about to arrive. I have no clue about cricket, its rules and not at all about the national teams. As probably usual when a famous sports team stays at a hotel, tons of police was present and I thought that they are there to protect the players against crazy fans. Oh boy was I wrong. Once the players arrived all the police guys took out their cell phones to take pictures. Screw the security :).
I actually wanted to get a coffee but all the hotel staff from the lobby level was busy taking pictures, so I just joined in. I have no clue who that is but he doesn’t know me either. I’ve seen him though a few days later on TV during the game. With my coffee finally done I took the elevator with 4 players that probably earn 10 or 50 times more than I do… My room though was on a higher hotel floor, so I had the better view… for some days 😂.
During the week nothing really worked the way it was supposed to. So I’ve used the time to meet some colleagues I am working with already for a while. Friday though came and it came too fast. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of the Bangalore cafeteria food so I went down to the food court and went for a Subway. On my way back I ran into a colleague I wanted to spend lunch with and to my surprise he had ordered together with some colleagues some Biryami and some meat. I joined in and again enjoyed the delicious Indian food. I hate to leave but at the same time I am looking forward to come home as I’ve spend the majority of the year so far in hotels rather than home.
During Friday we’ve planned with some colleagues to rent a car or even one with a driver to go to the Mysure Kings palace approx. 150km southwest of Bangalore. Unfortunately some of us couldn’t join so it was only Sathish and myself going there. The Mysore Palace is a historical palace and a royal residence at Mysore in the Indian State of Karnataka. It is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. The palace is in the centre of Mysore, and faces the Chamundi Hills eastward.
During the drive I was talking with Sathish about India, its culture and people and he was equally interested into the Germans and West Europe. The drive itself was longer than expected. We’ve past several temples, several statues of goddess…damn, how many gods to they have there, the country side and a white guy on a bicycle driving on the highway carrying a big backpack and a tent!
That must be an interesting way of experiencing a country. Driving through it on a bicycle must be even more interesting than on a motorcycle. I am wondering though how healthy it is considering the smog and the fumes from the cars.
If you ask someone from Western Europe what they know about India its mostly about cows, religion, spicy and good food and arranged marriage’s. And indeed, you see tons of cows. Cows that walk on the most busy roads you will ever see on this planet. Or simply some cows that stand somewhere in the middle of a shopping street without anyone being annoyed by it. Impressive is how all those religions you see in the streets co-exist without any trouble…at least on the surface. You see mosques, Hindu and Budhist temples, Christian churches and so on.
On the marriage topic though there is no common ground that applies for everyone. Depending where you live in India and how traditional your parents are, you might live life the way you like and choose your partner on your own or you find yourself in a marriage with a person you barely now. In the “western culture” it is considered maybe a bit strange if you still live at your parents with 29 years. In India though it is rather common whilst not being married.
In Asian countries the family bond and therefore the importance of an own family is considered very important. So having your own parents or even aunts and uncles asking why you are not married yet is not very uncommon.
Which brings me to the arranged marriages, and some might wonder how that even works. Well, let me tell you that it is a business on its own!
How do you chose a wife? Who’s organising it and how does the procedure works? Websites and companies are specialised on that and provide you online with a catalogue of women or men, along with their horoscope, educational background and even their current work status. The women in India often are the leader of the family and most often as well the initiator of an arranged marriage. First of all though the choice is done by the men or women. The appearance / look, is like always the first criteria followed by matching the horoscope. If its a match and both parties are “interested” a meet and great is organised where the couple to be can get to know each other…during one hour!!! I mean, how much are you able to learn about a person within an hour. Yes the normal…is the appearance like you’d expect it to be, do you click with the person etc…but really knowing the person? Ok. Assuming everything goes well, the next steps will be initiated and the marriage planned based on the moon, stars etc…You might think that our European marriages can be big with maybe 500 people if it goes out of hand, Indian marriages though are on a different level! Sathish´s brother got married and the party was big…3000 people big! OMG! But what happens if you don’t agree to get married that way and you insist of choosing your own girlfriend / wife? As said, family bonds are strong and important in India. If you brake tradition and want to go to look for your own partner you might face the situation that you need to let go of your family and don’t even dare to come back. Its a harsh reality and to someone not being used to it rather shocking.
Coming back to the palace :). After a 3 hours drive we arrived in the heat of Mysure. The car fair was for the entire day was around 50€ which is more or less like the price on Bali which is a good price considering that you don’t need to drive yourself and just sit back and relax.
The palace is gigantic and each room you enter is more decorated than the one you just walked through. The palace itself compared to the museum has been “recently” built considering that the museum is supposed to be 600 years old. Both though still are in use by the royal family of Karnataka. With all the gold and silver they own you start to question yourself why those rulers eat with a silver spoon while the people outside beg for money, it´s an issue though that each kingdom probably has/had in common. The palace ground though consist more than just the palace itself. Little temples, an elephant kind of stall and a huge garden are within the palace walls. The footprints of Shiva…or was it Krishna… 🤔, well one of both, can be seen behind one of the temples and, of course, they are “holy” :).
The main building rooms are painted in jade and golden colour and decorated with furniture that is actively used while the royal family is present. A lot of rooms…or shall we call them halls within the palace are packed with mirrors and you might think that the king likes to see himself. Funny though is that people stood in front of mirrors like they’ve never seen one or taking pictures of themselves in front of it.
I was wondering while we drove there how the Indians would react to white people. Its a common sight in cities like Bangalore, Mysure though is only a million people “big” and more traditional than Bangalore. So it didn´t take long until people started to touch me and asked to take selfies with me. No matter how often you are asked, you won’t get used to it. Funny though is that most of the white people greated each other, like “OMG A WHITE PERSON”! :). A blond women though was walking in front of the palace and OMG, she was swarmed by people asking to take pictures. So it it really depends where you are in India.
We took the same way back and the roads were luckily not too congested. The car itself isn’t bad, I feel though a bit uncomfortable when driving with a 100kph without wearing a seatbelt. I mean there is one, the female part of it though to secure it, just isn’t. Compared to our talks on the way to the palace we both tried to catch some sleep. I heard a faint snoring from Sathish but for me that just didn’t work out. I am not sure if it’s the thought of the “missing” seatbelt or the bench like backseat, I could not fall asleep. I am seriously wondering if the guys sitting in the back of a lorry in front of were more comfy then I was. While I was somewhere in the middle of this vast country and looked on the map I started wondering how s vacation on Sri Lanka would look like 😋 and finally fell asleep for some minutes till the horn of the truck next to me woke me up.
I’ve enjoyed my time in India and am back in Barcelona. I finally saw my friends again and see some familiar faces in the office…a very welcome sight. It´s good to be home again…let’s see for how long ;).