“India Travel Diary 06”


“From Ooti to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and on to Mysore”

Monday, February 11th, 1991

Leaving Ooty or Udhagamandalam or Ootacamund, and goodbye to one and all in this charming hill station. Where on the next bus and for us  it was some quasi Marx Brothers  old time escape as we tried to get a straight set of coordinates on the game preserve. Things to remember, in India even if two people of authority are standing within three feet of one another, when asking for directions you will be told two entirely different  stories. I have come to believe that  even if you asked  five people  the same question and average out the answers, there is a good chance you will have to give it that extra effort to reach your goal or destination. You will eventually get what you need along with a good story.  We didn’t call it information, we called it outformation, because it would take you out of your way or you would run out of time.

So with much effort and deliberation we finally boarded a bus and slid off to Mudumalai with a long journey through jungle and brush, in the heat of the day, windows barely open as I look out on the encroaching tiger country. Remember the tiger that eats Napo dream…  We arrived at three in the afternoon, the air was still and humid.

We ended up at a dorm with allot of other happy weary travelers from all parts of the world, It was a Lonely Planet moment which is funny because we have been using Lonely Planet as a guide to avoid westinoid gridlocks.  A lot of information in the Lonely Planet guide was off the mark, especially maps, and prices, but it is great for giving you a feel for what you might need find to feel good about your trip.

napo b india travel images 1991
Santos and Napo at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu

On the way in we saw peacocks, deers, elephants, also known as ‘elephas maximus’ and pink assholed monkeys that snort at you if you come close..  Oh yes, on the bus here, I fell asleep to be suddenly awakened by the sudden slam of my window. The woman two seats in front of me was puking out the window and I had been saved from a rude pukalicious awakening.. Sabubu and I slept once we got to the dorm, and it was an odd sleep we woke up at 5:30, she popped into my bed for some hugs then went back to bed, I helped her with her headache, and then we skipped dinner and slept.

 

Tuesday, February 12th, 1991

It was a change dollars day, so we could stay longer in the preserve.

Headlines BURNING BRIGHT: A tiger spotted at the Mudumalai sanctuary in the Nilgiris District.

After a eight mile bus ride, and that’s an Indian eight miles which took me almost and entire days work to go the full 16 there and back, plus the hassle at the bank.  I went to five banks before I was almost able with many employees looking on and questioning me about  the quality of my signature to get some cash from American Express cheques,  remember it’s 1991. The problem revolved around me having to sign over and over and the ample variety of signatures made them wary. Then I remembered something about dealing with authority figures, “ the truth is never good enough”.

So I gave them a very tasty tale about how I once had a friend who deposited checks for me at the bank when I was out of town. After a while I let him sign my checks and deposit them for me. The temptation was too great for him and he stole three thousand dollars over a period of a year. There eyes where huge at this point and I had them on the hook so I continued. This led me to devise a difficult signature in order to make it impossible for anyone to forge my name. If you look at the signature you will notice that the  “S’s” in Brousseau are from Picasso’s signature. The “N” is from Napoleon Bonaparte’s first name without the over stated second “n”.   The “B” in Brousseau is from “Lenny Bruce, a comic I have admired since childhood. Would someone called Napoleon steer you wrong?. So the Syrian Bank gave me rups and now I was able to buy provisions and return to a waiting Sabubu.

Sabubu and I got to pet an elephas maximus which we named bigus dikus, and the mahoot’s son gave a us  white quartz crystals.  We walked in the nearby brush, it was eary, it was hot,  steamy sticky hot with a sharp crisp light reflecting of long leaves in this three to five meter high brush. when you walk in tiger country there is this sliver of fear of being eaten that pushes your perception to it’s furthest limits, it wasn’t so out of the ordinary to have tigers eat people. The eerie way the sunlight shifted the space around us had us walking and constantly looking over our shoulders.  We did about forty minutes of that, and where plenty exhausted, I decided I didn’t want to be eaten by a tiger and so we hustled back to camp by the river. We had supper and then laid down for a short meditation that sorta expanded into a deep sleep, the air was so clean and oxygen rich it worked it’s magic on us. Most of the Indian experience involves moving through clouds of dust and so the crisp jungle was welcomed.  I had a dream about some character named “George le Currieux”, he was famous in New York City, through no effort of his own. At some  point in the dream, George was invited to a party in NYC with the Mayor and the President.

Anyway I was outside a big Broadway theatre, w ishing I had the cash to see Cher. It’ was her last show before she retired, and who happens along but George and he is incognito. Because, a week before he had shot down an F-15 over Manhattan causing a lot of damage to the Chrysler Building. Anyway he comes up and says’ follow me”, so my pal and me go along, and he is such a hero, that the stage manager lets him in. Everyone in the theatre applauds him. On the stage I can see a bunch of monitors with Cher still in her dressing room. She’s in there with cotton balls on her eyes. She is singing ‘I got you babe’.  Then a side view of a face whispering in her ear the name George, barely audible. She koo’s  tossing of her cotton balls – George, and there is a commotion an instant later on the stage a divan is brought out. And Cher comes out, radiant as she calls George to the stage,  he turns to me and excuses himself and goes up , he removes his beret to reveal a bald head. He sits by Cher, they begin kissing very slow, and passionate, then I woke up. Weird what tigers and jungle do to the brain.

Wednesday, February 13th, 1991

This morning tried to get the lodge for an extra day, but no this can only be done from Ooty, but three days before when we tried a trunk call we had been unable to reach the Station Warden. By the way a Trunk Call is an odd thing to call a long distance call, considering all the elephants we see. A trunk call as I have been told is like calling the operator two hundred miles away to patch you to someone who is ten miles away.  So no extended stay at the preserve and  we have to move along little doggies, and piss off to Mysore, But before we go we get to see Santos, the magnificent bull elephant again, Sabubu takes a picture of me timidly reaching around his tusks to touch him.

Entering Karnataka on way to Gundlupet
Entering Karnataka on way to Gundlupet

We desperately flag down a tour bus that stiffs us for 20 rups to get a train from Gundlupet  to Mysore. We got to Mysore, Karnataka and decided to make a Mysore Salad at our Ghandi Square Caligula Lodge. This is on the level, the Caligula Lodge should have given us an indicator of what might be in store for us.  A young Moslem gave us the – “foreigner” with a gob  spit action, we graciously responded but not as impressive, westerners don’t seem to spit as much, he probably had the pann advantage. Mysore is a dusty yellowish large town that is predominantly Moslem. Remember the Gulf war is still going on, and usually travel guides are not divided along religious lines and so we are in a tender part of the country for the time being.

2nd Class To Mysore on wooden benches
2nd Class To Mysore on wooden benches

We went to the night market to check out the veggie action and get our salads fixin’s, it took a while to get the prices right and then finally got carrots, cucumbers and leafy veggies that didn’t smell too much of humanoid manure. Using our iodine water purifiers we washed down the peeled vegetables and repeatedly washed the salad greens. It wasn’t a complex salad, but it was a lengthy procedure, but we worked while watching TV, something we hadn’t done in a month. With only one channel we watched along with probably everyone else in Mysore, it being the only  TV. It was a Rama  Shiva film epic. Complete with super flat visual effects and severe jump cuts, coupled with wooden dialogue, bulbous gods and curvy Diva’s dancing, flying, wiggling eyebrows at super sonic speeds, and spin cycle gyrations of solid hips and tits. Meanwhile we munched rabbit like on our greens while sitting on the bed.  At this point my beard gently grows making Sabubu even more attracted to me. Ram Ram.

Thursday, February 14th

Got up after a night of real bad dreams. It’s malaria prophylactic day. Mefloquine is this pill that will protect you from malaria, with slight side effects, liver damage, heat rashes, affect and blurr eyesight, with possible psychotic episodes, and oh yes, feeling absolutely flat. Hearing the sound of Azan on the loudspeakers at five AM, laying in bed just trying to shake this bad feeling in my heart. There’s something wrong about Mysore but we just don’t know what it is. This morning went to the Raj’s Palace and checked out the Mysore Art Gallery, one floor was called ‘Mysore Artists Paintings, Sabubu and I were kicking out the one liners, the night before we pissed ourselves laughing and to sleep with Mysore Sandal, Mysore Vacation, Mysore Ass, but we didn’t see the Mysore Artists Paintings coming at the Mysore Palace.

Mysore Sandalwood Shop
Mysore Sandalwood Shop

Couldn’t take pictures at the Palace, so to let you know, we saw gravy paintings by Ravi Varma 1809 1907,  and Mysore eyes.  Today being Valentines Day we had to explain to the clerks at the hotel what it was about. We told them that Valentines day is the day of a famous massacre that happened in Chicago, and that Americans celebrate it by invading small countries that can’t possibly defend themselves.

  • Went to Chatmundi Hill to watch the sunset. (to the tune  “On Top of Ole’ Smoky”)
  • On top of ole Chatamundi
  • All covered with monkeys
  • We saw a skinny wild dog
  • Keeping tourists at bay
  • This doggy was bitchy
  • She bit everyone
  • But she licked Sabubu and me
  • And slept at our feet.

Ah, photo op, monkey sitting on a wall at  sunset, then the monkey runs away just seconds before Sabubu can click it in. Have to work on getting more monkeys in the city pics.  Ate at the westinoid hang out, ate some sweet oily flour paste, this combined with a power shutdown because of electricity shortages helped the crappy food go down, the entire neighborhood was candle lit. We wandered the market using our pen lights which all the merchants wanted to trade. A mango for a pen light, ya really, a 2 rupee mango for a 600 rupee torch, get real, bug off, relax.

Hey, read my lips “relax”. I realized the power of that slogo. “read my lips” which is being used by George Bush, probably used the same sentence on his kids when scolding them. So many beggar children today in the market that we taught the kids to say, “ The well is dry”. It’s become our favorite Baksheesh reply once we blow our daily baksheesh budget,     “ the well is dry” , most villagers get it, specially if you turn out your pockets, heave your shoulders up and hands up in the air like Al Jolson, a little shuffle and dance will leave them giggling for your escape.

Went back to our hotel room at the Caligula  Lodge and did some really bad painting.

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