Saturday, June 03, 2006


Today's vocabulary words:

Auto - 3-wheeled motorized rickshaw
Baksheesh: bribe or kickback
Exhibition-Cum-Sale: crafts fair

I was sitting in the reception area of the Kaveri Lodge yesterday reading the Star of Mysore when a motor rickshaw carrying a nicely-dressed* husband, wife and son pulled up. The husband and son got out and the former had a quick exchange with Viswunath (hotel manager) in Kannada,and then went back to retrieve the wife and baggage. The rickshaw pulled away and Harisha showed the family to their room. A short time later the rickshaw driver walked in and looked at Vishwunath. While I covertly watched behind my paper, I saw V. slip the driver Rs 30 --- baksheesh for steering the guests to the Kaveri Lodge.

Today was a day off. I went to bed at 10PM the night before and awakened to the call of the Mullah at 5AM... and promptly went back to sleep -- until 9:30. Although I've been sleeping through the night from the day I arrived, I'm apparently still jeglagged. Perhaps that explains why I forgot to lock my door when I left today (Harisha locked the door for me -- this constant scrutiny does have its benefits -- and later scolded me for my thoughtlessness. The good news is that the laptop was right where I'd left it).

Matrika came over and we shopped at an exhibition-cum-sale of Tamil handicrafts at the nearby Institute of Engineers. I'd had a dream that I was in Kashmir the night before and almost bought a beautifully hand-embroidered dress from the area.... but I already have a lot of dresses. Afterwards we ate at 3 Sisters and then headed over to the Southern Star, where like two memsahibs we sipped fresh lime soda by the pool -- until the rain started to pour. We sat in the air-conditioned lobby for a bit but it didn't stop, so we had masala chai and chocolate cake in the restaurant. Now that is living. Someone started smoking and we -- both wearing Indian dress -- looked and saw the source. It was a beautiful young Indian woman wearing jeans, a sleeveless top and a skullcap over loose hair. Very brazen indeed.

We made some enquiries at the front desk and learnt that the hotel, now called Regallis Mysore, has WiFi for guests (Rs 300/day extra); apparently it's not for non-guest yoga students who laze by the pool. Damn. Matrika wanted to see a room that can be rented by the month for about $55/day, and we bombarded the poor porter with questions. Suffice to say there is laundry and room service and a backup generator and satellite TV.

Later I braved the crazed polluted trip to Devaraj Urs Road and bought myself a silver wedding band -- to match my toe-rings. For those not the know, a favorite question here is "Why not married?" A ring on each second toe means you're married and tends to deflect such questions -- particularly when a band on one's poo-hand ring-finger backs up it. (As we already know, a single toe-ring on one foot -- which many western women favor -- means the wearer is a prostitute. Which could help explain why the men here seem to think we're a bunch of ready and willing harlots).


*Just about everyone here who's not destitute dresses nicely. We westerners look like a bunch of slobs in comparison.


  1. Baksheesh is something Ms. Monkka learned all about during her 5 months in Egypt.

    They may have been doing it over there since time began, but few have refined the art of Baksheesh to the level of Chicago & Illinois politicians.

  2. Bye the bye, were are also going to a
    Exhibition-Cum-Sale ~ the Tribune Printers Row Book fair today.