Traveling more lightly – Hampi to Bangalore, India

I woke after a decent night sleep and read until it was time to leave. I packed up my bag which I was happy is getting smaller and lighter with every stop I make. I made my way back over the river early so I could roam around for a while before making my way to the train station.

I heard that sunsets were something spectacular from a restaurant called the Mango Tree. I was further than I expected but well worth the effort. I couldn’t really decide on food until I saw someone order a fruit salad, curd and museli. It looked almost as good as the stunning view so I ordered it. And some Dal Fry. And some rice pudding. It was all pretty damn good but the homemade museli was out of this world. I overstuffed myself ofcourse as always seems to happen when the food is too good.

I wobbled down the path towards the bus stand to catch the 6:30pm bus to Hospet. The sun was just about to set but I didn’t want to miss this train so I continued on in the opposite direction. I appreciated the warm hues dusk was presenting on the nature around me. I listened to the birds and insects getting excited about another day done.

As I was passing the barrage of autorickshaw drivers, I put on my very best “thanks but no thanks” face. It seemed to keep them all at bay…all except one. He approached me and I began assuring him I wasn’t interested in paying 150 rupees when I could take the bus for a tenth of the price. He asked me where I was going and I told him. He said he was done his day and had to head that way anyway so he would take me for however much I wanted to pay him. Surprised and intrigued by his offer, I dug out all my change. I counted seventy rupees and he smiled kindly motioning for me to jump in. I was feeling pretty lucky as now we were going towards the sunset. My dude turned up his music and we cruised along towards the town. I wanted to give him a present and found a packet of stickers to adorn his vehicle with. They happened to be footprints of every size and color. Without him knowing, I made a little path all along the sides, roof, and back of his chair.

I was having a grand old time when I remembered my broken running shoe. I asked if he knew of a “mochi” and he nodded with a smile. We just so happened to be passing one on the way. Just then I realized I didn’t have any more money other than what I promised to pay him. I tried to tell him not to stop but he shushed me and hopped out to talk to the cobbler. I presented my sad looking silver trainer and the old man eyed it, turned it around in his hands, and then asked me if I wanted it sewed or glued. I thought gluing would be cheapest and fastest so we went with that. Twenty rupees later, my favorite shoes were wearable once again.

The autorickshaw driver, Ramesh, was ever so kind and genuine. I believed him when he assured me that the fifty rupees I had left was more than sufficient. He gave me a wide toothy grin and informed me it was his pleasure to help me. I was touched by his generosity and floated on that for the next two hours while I waited for my train.

I was pretty tired so I didn’t have much trouble falling asleep on my top bunk sleeper. The ride was uneventful and I woke just at the crack of dawn. I lolled around in my bed until about an hour out of Bangalore. I was pasted to the window watching the city develop from countryside villages and the pace pick up.

When I got off the train, my patient friend Phil was waiting for me with a big welcome hug. Last year at Burning Man, I took on another role besides my normal Emergency Services Dispatch job. I have the honor of being Ranger Caramel and Phil was my mentor. It was really cool to hang out with a fellow Burner, not to mention a fellow Ranger. We caught up over bagels and cream cheese washed down with some good old strong coffee. I was feeling more and more like myself.

I grounded myself a bit and enjoyed the luxury I was blessed with in their guest bedroom. Their house was grand, spotless and tastefully decorated. I felt like I was a princess in a palace. You can’t imagine my envy when I learned they have a mango and a (wait for it)….CHERIMOYA aka. Custard apple tree in their yard. In the center of Bangalore, they are within spitting distance from most of the main attractions. To top it all off, they live right around the corner from the best coconut ice cream that has ever crossed my lips. Needless to say, I spent the next week in heaven.

It was just what I needed to recharge and regroup before heading up north into the “real” India. I had feared that I was spoiled in Arambol for so long and that I had lost my traveling edge. We made a few excursions into the dregs of the city to find things like cell phone protectors and lemon squeezers. It was a lovely city but not what I expected. Much more cosmopolitan perhaps due to the major influx of IT businesses. There is a boom going on here which makes it an exciting dynamic time to experience.

Grateful for recharging.

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