Well, after a 25 hour train ride that included lots and lots of indian kids, numerous cups of chai, train biryani, vinyl seats/bunks, indian style train toilets and a whole lot of cockroaches, we arrived in Bangalore, 1200 kms away from Mumbai. It is SO much nicer here. Much cleaner, cooler (perfect temps of about 30 during the day but dropping to about 18 at night), more modern, organized, socially concious and LESS PEOPLE! Whew. I met my cousins wife and 2-year old daughter, who is infinitely cute, like all indian kids!! Unfortunately it is hard to communiciate with her since she only speaks tamil baby talk. We spent the day shopping at the high end stores ... fabindia!
The following day, we drove out to Mysore with my cousin and his family, a tourist destination. It is 139 km away, but takes about 4 hours to get there. It boggles my mind that we were in a newer model toyota vehicle, but there was no seatbelts, no airbags, no safety features whatever! After holding on for dear life for 4 hours, passing herds of sheep on the highway, goats, people walking, cows sleeping, bikes, a fmaily of 6 on a motorbike, 20 kids crammed in a rickshaw .... i could go on ... we arrived in Mysore. We saw the Maharaja's palace, which is huge and probably the best kept sight in south india. Although that is not saying much, because nothing here is very well maintained. There were probably 100,000 people there. My cousin had a talk with the security guard and we skipped the line. Ah, the disparity here. We spent the night in the swankyest hotel I could imagine (Sandesh the Prince in Mysore, look it up for me, RN!) The next day, we went to a temple, but the line to get in was 3 hours long so we just took pictuers from outside and went to the zoo! The zoo was almost nice, but just not well maintained, so the cages were out of date, and yes, the elephants looked sad. We then endured anohter 4 hour ride down the highway of death. However, the food is still delicious!!
We leave tomorrow to go Chennai, on the east coast. We will spend a few days there relaxing, recovering from all the constant car travel, and see some of the sights! I'm finding the non-touristy stuff is almost more interesting that the tourist destinations, since all you do there is stand in line with a million other people then cram into a room and try not to lose all your family members, then get pushed out again! I've been shopping a lot but I can't wait to do more! It's so cheap and EVERYTHING is pretty. I'm getting pretty good at bartering too!