The Indian transportation system is a funny thing. In some ways, it is a lumbering behemoth, spilling over with passengers and belching exhaust, unstoppable and carried along largely by its own momentum. But in other ways, it is a delicate thing, a house of cards that could collapse at any time.
And so, we just couldn't get out of Hampi. With a perfect storm of human error, monsoons, canceled trains, two extra days, misinformation, a country-wide political protest, suspension of all bus routes - among other things - it was a long, long, dare I say it again LONG day in Hospet before we finally escaped, paying way too much to catch an overnight charter bus back to Bangalore, abandoning plans for Goa. There's probably a colloquial Indian phrase that captures this situation perfectly, but I don't know it.
Bangalore, thankfully, is a transportation hub. You can go pretty much anywhere from here, so it's a good place to regroup. We've ended up in a great hotel just by the market, in the "old" part of town, rather than on MG Road as before. A much better feel. We both love the market and walk around just to look every day. It just bubbles with a kind of unrestrained energy and enthusiasm that you can find at, say, Target, even if you could get the same goods. Many of the vendors put on a whole show, all day long. Just outside our room there is a fellow selling windbreakers - windbreakers - who's working harder than I have my whole life, chanting and clapping about who knows what. But it sure sells some windbreakers.
We're not so big on the windbreakers, but the Indian sense of style is appealing - scarves, shawls, wraps. It's all very nice. And I just can't fault a country where, nationwide, footwear is optional.
The food is our favorite, and we enjoyed some red bananas, fresh figs, and unknown fruit (koki?) yesterday. There are also burlap sacks full of tens of kinds of rice, dal, dried peppers, etc. Out before sunrise this morning, we saw it all being trucked, biked, carried (on the head, of course), and otherwise schleped in. Day in, and day out, it is remarkable how it all works.
It is more difficult to maintain posts/pictures while moving around, but there seem to be internet cafes most places, though you never know what kind of Frankenstein PC you're going to find. Part of the adventure, I suppose, along with wondering what exactly is all this grime on this public keyboard?
Departing for Kochi tomorrow, determined to see the coast one way or another. Still have the yoga mats in tow, and we're becoming experts at rearranging hotel furniture to accommodate a good practice. You'd be surprised at how many Indians - Indians - don't recognize a yoga mat bag slung over the shoulder. They just can't imagine what might be in there. Can you believe it?