Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mysore and Sleeping In Kochi

Rehabilitation Of the Chamindeshwai Temple

Outside Of the Chamindeshwai Temple
We had the morning to continue exploring Mysore so we started off with a visit to the Chamindeshwai Temple. Set high on top of a hill at 3400 feet, this temple is over 100 years old and is now undergoing rehabilitation. It's an active place.
Moped Blessing

We saw a priest bless a new moped. The bike was garlanded and stood on its center stand. The owner smashed a coconut on the ground, in front of the bike. The priest then walked around the bike a few times, rubbed a paste on its headlight, handle-bars and seat and gave the owner 2 small lemons to put under the front and back tires to crush while driving over them. End of service.

I watched with keen interest, I now know how to do this. If you want your Bike blessed in a similar way, my charge is $ 200 per blessing. – A bargain, I saw what the Indian biker paid the priest –
Owner About To Smash Coconut On the Ground
Note Lemons Under the Wheels

Signs were posted around the temple proclaiming a “No Plastic Zone“. This effort of creating zones hopefully will pay off and will reduce the trash that accumulates everywhere in India. Good idea, if it is enforced. Bins were set up to collect plastics.

Hinduism is truly a way of life, people were praying inside the Temple and there were many ‘stations’ where the priests collected donations for a yellow or white bindi or some water to splash, some flower pedals to spread, etc. each activity costing money. It was a busy Temple. Outside, even within the Temple grounds, beggars were asking for help.
Temple Priests Selling Offerings To Lord Shiva
 Monkeys looked on or hopped around. Naturally one had to enter without shoes on. Photos were forbidden. Idols (statues) of the deity Shiva inside the Temple just sat and watched the goings one. The Deity statues were lit up and richly decorated. I believe that Shiva was well admired here.
Large Granite Nandi, Transport For Lord Shiva

On the way down from the temple we stopped at a Nandi; this is the 5th largest Nandi in India. A Nandi represents the transport Shiva uses when traveling. This Nandi was carved out of one large granite rock, which had always been just standing there. People just ‘helped‘ to create an image that they could understand better when they carved the rock. This rock, this Nandi, is periodically washed, oiled and then covered with a mixture of ash and turmeric. This procedure protects it but has turned the Nandi black.

St. Philomena

Now we were off to the airport in Bangalore, a 4 hour bus ride to get there. Mysore has a perfectly good airport, brand new even, but…we have to drive to Bangalore to catch a flight to Cochin (Kochi). The new airport in Mysore was built in 2011 so why isn’t it open by now? Every tourist has to come and go via Bangalore, 4 hours away.
St. Philomena Catholic Church

On the way to Bangalore we stopped at St. Philomena Church, a Catholic Church. She is a Saint and a relic of her was obtained in France and is now in a crypt downstairs in this church. By order of the Maharaja this large cathedral was built to replace a much smaller church that stood in its place. The cathedral is a copy of the Gothic style dome of Cologne, Germany. It was finished in 1952.

Extracting a Green Liquid From Raw Sugar Cane

 We also stopped along the way at a sugar press (factory?). I have a difficult time writing the word factory. Let's say a place where sugarcane is crushed and then boiled down to get raw sugar. It was not on the tour schedule but was a good stop. It had a machine to crush the sugar cane, belt driven, powered by electricity that was the only machine in the whole place. The rest was all done by hand and could have been thousands of years old. The juice of the sugar cane was boiled in a pot until it crystallized, voila sugar. The whole yard, all the rooms were full of sugar cane. People slept there at night,
Boiled Then Stirred Until Thickened Then Put in Molds (Behind
the Stirrer). Tastes A Bit Like Maple Sugar

right on the cane. It was a mess but…. They made sugar, Jaggery as they call it.

The process is as primitive as it gets but the end result were large sugar cubes that were sold in the market place. This is a hard way to make a living. I saw 4 people “living” inside the ‘factory’ but those were just the workers I assume. The whole installation was shockingly low tech.

Now What Do I Do With This?
We had a lunch stop along our route someplace.
It was a busy place, very typical South Indian cuisine. Food was served to me on a banana leaf, utensils were my right hand. The food was excellent. And I could get as much food as I could possibly eat.  Not everybody in our group ate like this but they missed something special. It was outstanding. And an experience besides, because eating with my right hand, just using my fingers to scoop up food, is not what I do often. It is a normal thing in this southern region of India to eat like this. We watched Lakuma eat her lunch on her banana leaf, wow she is good at it. The used banana leaves are fed to animals or used for compost.
Difficult to Tear Bread With One Hand

On this bus ride we leaned the following:
Horses were not native to India; they only arrived with Alexander the Great around 300 BCE. Hmmm!

Face painting for priests. Turmeric and lime mixed gives a red color.  White ash comes from burning cow dung, from temple cows of course. Two red horizontal lines on a priest’s forehead means he worships Shiva, red and white vertical lines means he worships Vishnu. If a person smears these ashes all over his body it will reduce a fever.

Lakuma, With All Her Practice, Ate the Whole Meal With One Hand.
Her Left Hand Is Kept Hidden During the Meal
A priest has a 12 year education to become a priest.

There are words we use in English that are pure Indian words: bungalow, catamaran, etc. I was told many but do not remember more.

Jaggery recipe and other food goodies:
Boil water; add jaggery, ginger and lime then let sit overnight. Good to prevent dehydration. Many South Indians drink this every day.

When hot food is dished out on the banana leaf it absorbs some chlorophyll into the food which is a disease preventative.

Add buttermilk and yogurt in a pot, boil, and let sit…apply on skin when cooled. Good against sunburn.

We learned a lot from you, Lakuma, thank you.
Lakuma said good-bye to us at the airport; she is flying back to her husband.

We are off to Cochin, now called Kochi.

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