backtrack to day 2 of the vacation…

We woke up relatively early this morning, but as I am on vacation I pushed myself to relax just a bit. After finally posting my blog from yesterday we ate banana pancakes from the hotel and switched our stuff to the new hotel. This place is half as expensive and nicer. It’s the place where we met the Italian yesterday. With haste we rented bikes and went on our way to explore temples about 500 years old. The difference between temples here and the ones I’ve found in other countries like Italy or Guatemala is that here, they don’t really make too much of a distinction between the renovations and the old temples. Part of that I like; they’re preserving, and it’s not really about what used to be but rather maintaining what it’s supposed to represent. Part of that I don’t like; I wish I could see it as it was and know which parts are new, but I’m not sure why. We spent a very long time in one of the main archeological sites. It’s huge. There are temples everywhere. They’re much bigger and more intricate than any other temples I’ve seen so far in India. Most of them are dedicated to one god or another. I felt really good when I looked at some of the architecture and was able to tell that one god was Ganesha, Laxmi, Shiva, etc. I only know a few gods but they’re the most prominent ones that repeat over and over everywhere. One day I’ll share what I know so far about different gods. For now, here’s just one story.
Lord Ganesha was not born by Shiva and Parvati (Shiva being the main god (the destroyer) and Parvati was his wife and a symbol of all the goddesses and represents femininity; the Shivparvati – half Shiva and half Parvati represents the most powerful god – we think), but rather was built out of mud by Parvati because she wanted to bathe and needed someone to watch so no one would enter the bath house. He stood there and did as he was told. Shiva wanted to enter and became very frustrated when Ganesha said that not even he could enter. Shiva became so upset that he chopped of Ganesha’s head. Parvati asked how he could chop off their son’s head like that. Shiva said that the next animal that walked in would replace the head of his son. That’s why Ganesha has an elephant’s head. Ganesha is also the most prayed to god because of this following story. Shiva and Parvati made a competition for their two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeiya, to see who could go around the world three times fastest. Ganesha’s vehicle was a mouse and Kartikeiya’s was a bird. They both set off and when Kartikeiya was back, Ganesha had finished because he circled around his parents three times, saying that they were his world. For this, Shiva said that everyone would worship Ganesha before starting any pooja because they were happy he circled around him, so they gave him this gift.
That’s my little history lesson of today.
Manoj joined me in my travel game; I like to guess where people are from, sometimes by their dress which is harder, once they open their mouths it becomes much easier. We had a lot of fun with that. Most people are French, German, or Israeli. I became very upset tonight because many of the kids here will ask for chocolate, chewing gum, or as they call it bubbly gum, or 1 rupee. They do it for a reason, because sometimes people will give it to them. I think there are huge implications of these questions and reactions by foreigners. I remember when my best friend went to Sierra Leone and the kids there wrote letters for our project and they basically were waiting for the white man to save them. It’s not right. The only American voice I heard today was at a little shop where we were buying some biscuits. She was beginning her purchase as well and the kid asked her for some biscuits as well and she, in her very American accent, said OK. I became mad at her instantly, but then became, and still am, even more frustrated for myself for not schooling her on what her actions mean. Grrrr.
Most of the tourists, like the Indians here, are extremely nice. In Pune, the foreigners just kind of look at you as if you weren’t there. The Indians assume you’re in Pune for the ashram. No one is really friendly. I still can’t get over that most everyone smiles here, most everyone says Namaste, most everyone here is really nice. At one of the temples a guy about our age asked us where we were from (most people assume Manoj is a foreigner as well, as he doesn’t dress like a typical Indian). We took a few pictures with some families and friends as well. The picture request was much less than in Delhi so I didn’t mind it as much.
There was one tree along the way that had different handkerchiefs or plastic bags tied up to it with different stones inside. It was supposed to mean that from that day on, after you tie your whatever to it, that you’ll have a good life. It was beautiful and ugly at the same time. The stream that ran alongside of many of the temples was beautiful. Twice we stopped to dip our feet in and rest. After nearly five hours of temple visiting we biked to see about my machete. Briefly, we went to get me registered at the police station. The first hotel we stayed in said it didn’t matter, this one said we should. Although I’m 99% sure that nothing would happen if I didn’t register, I didn’t want to take the chance. There was also a chance that while registering I would have an issue because of my expired visa and they wouldn’t know what to do with the small paper that said I’ve applied for my extension. It didn’t matter at all. They had me sign a book and didn’t ask a single question. I also think that they just use it for UNESCO, as Hampi is a world heritage site. We went to the machete guy and his friends around him assumed it was for Manoj. It wasn’t ready at all. We don’t think that they thought we would come back. They asked us to come back after 5 so we went for linner (lunch/dinner) at the most famous restaurant in Hampi called Mango Tree. The food was fantastic, the view was amazing; it overlooked the river. And we were surrounded by foreigners, which allowed us to play our game. I learned some new Hindi words while we were there – to the amusement of our waiter.
After getting the most awesome machete we headed back and I continued my shopping spree. I’m getting excited because I’m coming home soon. I get to get some gifts for some folks. What I realized about here though is that most of the stuff is geared towards tourists. Most Indians, if any, don’t wear the clothes you get here. It doesn’t make them any less nice, it just doesn’t make them very authentic.

  1. I really like and appreciate your blog article.Really thank you! Fantastic.

    • Gilberto Christen
    • January 10th, 2012

    Very good blog post.Really thank you! Great.

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