The 7 sisters and time in a mental home

Day 46

For 5 days I have been on the road with my father. His presence does not seem to have cramped my style and fortune of slipping past the hotels and tourist hustlers into the homes organisations and families that are the more genuine India. Watching my father on his cycle is a strange out of body experience. His arms were burning up on the first day and he was holding us back. But I am in no rush. We realised his cycle is actually a lot tougher to power and slower but can't work out why. So I am now riding his to balance out the speed. After our first night above a volunteer hospital we continued on to Mandya where rotary had organised a hotel room. In the evening we went out in search of a beer. My father is having a bad influence on me. I convinced him we must have it in the bar with the locals rather than locked away in our hotel room. They were friendly drunks at our table. A bus driver, building contractor and chemist, who gathered together each evening for a couple of brandy's to relax. They seemed amazed to see father and son sharing a beer together and said that in India, alcohol and family are kept separate. I tried to explain how French and Italians share wine together at the family dinner table with etiquette and respect as you might have for a hot curry and yet in these countries there seemed to be little problem with alcohol abuse. The bus driver insisted on buying our beers and paying a restaurant to serve us dinner. He then rolled off home on his motor bike rather tipsy to share not the alcohol but its influence with his children and wife who had cooked him dinner. The brandy did not seem to make him too stupid or angry, but we were unsure how much of his salary intended for his family it had just caused him to spent on us.

Day 47

We rode through Srirungaputna the old fort town on a river island to see the temple and dungeon used to hold British prisoners of war, then on to Mysore.

A rickshaw driver helped us to find a lodge. When I offered to buy him a coffee for his time he replied, "Well if you want to help me, let me take you to a number of shops." He gets 100 rupees commission for each shop he drops us in, even if we buy nothing.  We agreed and were taken that evening to watch incense sticks being made and receive an aromatherapy demonstration where the smelly oil guru intoxicated us with lotus oil massages on the temples, musk up the nose and a well rehearsed voice of euphoria. All of which still failed in seducing us into buying his expensive oils. We did give a little money for the relaxing demonstration though.

Day 48

The next morning we had a wiz around the ornately decorated Mysore Palace before being put in a car and taken to a further 3 shops. The car was to make us look richer and more likely to buy. After an hour and a half of faking interest in gaudy stitched wall hangings we convinced our driver to release us back to the cycles so we could continue on to Nanjunguru before dark. Here every lodge seemed to be full, but asking for help at a catholic church proved very fruitful. We were directed to a convent to spend the night with the 7 sisters and their band of 62 mentally handicapped which they had plucked of the streets to care for.

Day 49

We observed convent life. Most of the handicapped inhabitants could not speak, but wandered around the grounds in a state of contented unawareness. Some lead calves on ropes, others helped to move wood, and the rest dozed in obscure locations like hidden Easter eggs, none seeming to interact or show awareness of the other inhabitants around them. They all had their quirky traits, sister Hillary told us. One liked to wear only red, one like to gift people with stones he had picked off the road, and another would often make running escapes to the tea stall across the road to snatch an unassuming tea drinkers glass to fuel his addiction. It was inspiring to see the courage and devotion of these sisters and the improvement they had made in the quality of these discarded peoples lives. We witnessed them enjoying a lunch donated by a local man as a way to celebrate his wedding anniversary  then took off to Gundulpet to spend the night in a dormitory with snoring truck drivers.

Day 50

An early start got us to the Bandipur tiger sanctuary by 8:30 am. We were told it would be dangerous to travel through on our cycles so flagged down a truck and were soon cruising through the jungle holding our cycles down on top of a giant bed or rice and spotting for wildlife. We saw deer and peacocks but no elephants and tigers as promised  Once safely on the other side of the sanctuary we lowered our cycles down and continued on the traditional way to Gudalore to spend the evening with Thomas's friend Jose, a battery salesman and his wife Asha.

1 comment:

rose said...

Wicked Shasa! Sounds awesome