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Aurangabad - Mumbai - Bangalore - Hassan

Manicures and auto-correct

sunny 30 °C
View Indian Caves and Temples Tour 2011 on Grete Howard's travel map.

An early start this morning, as the alarm went off at 05:00 for our full day of travel from Aurangabad to Bangalore via Mumbai by plane and onwards to Hassan by car. At Aurangabad airport I was stopped in security and asked about the nail file I was carrying. After some discussion and lots of head wiggling, both I and the nailfile were allowed through. I suppose they realised that me approaching the pilot and demanding that if he doesn't fly me to Cuba, I will carry out a manicure on him, wasn't really such a threat after all.

Landing in Mumbai is always an experience, as the flight path is directly above the slums – as featured in the Slumdog Millionaire film. The film has brought human scale to the shanty town for me, and I always find it humbling to see, being able to imagine what life must be like living hand to mouth in such squalor.

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At Bangalore airport, we couldn't see a driver with our name on a sign, until we worked out that Mr Great must be us. He showed us the text he'd received stating: 'Guest name Mr Great'. I guess that's what happens with auto-correct on your mobile phone!

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They drive on the left in India; unless of course there is more room or fewer potholes on the right. Cars share the roads with huge trucks displaying the words HORN PLEASE (as if Indian drivers need any encouragement on that matter); three wheeled auto rickshaws designed for two passengers but carrying a family of eight and all their worldly possessions; holy cows taking an afternoon siesta in the middle of the road; bicycles carrying enormous haystacks; stray dogs and playing kids; motorbikes for a family of four with mum ride side saddle; ox carts with enough sugar cane for a crate of rum; slow moving tractors... all weaving in and out, overtaking, turning and topping; all seemingly without any regard for other road users. Incidents that would have shaken me to the core back home and had me talking about the 'near miss' for days; cause little more than a raised eyebrow here.

I really struggled to stay awake on the four hour drive from Bangalore to Hassan (despite all the above, as well as a very ambitious road improvement program causing temporary surfaces to be uneven to say the least!). Sleep seems to have been a commodity that has been evading me on this trip – I have been wide awake at 02:30 every morning so far. Damn jetlag!

Along the side of the road there were cattle grazing; men urinating; farmers ploughing their fields in the time-old fashion with oxen; chilli, rice, sugar cane and cotton plantations; lots of cattle egrets and the odd grey heron, with Indian rollers and malachite kingfishers on the telegraph lines and Brahmany Kites circling above.

South Indian temples are a unique design, and even the smallest village shrine is elaborately carved and garishly painted. Every few minutes a temple would appear at the side of the road.

Once we arrived in the hotel, David went off to find some drinks (for the room – refreshment while I am typing my blog!), while I wandered around the grounds of the hotel with my camera. The porter immediately came up and gave me a guided tour of the estate – the large fruit bats in the trees, the peacocks, the flowers, the statues scattered around the lawns, the swimming pool, the personal introduction to the head gardener, and the up-close hands-on experience with the pet rabbits.

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Posted by Grete Howard 04:23 Archived in India

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Holy fruitbats Batman!

by Helen

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