Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rock And Ruin

A few hours before Talia and I planned to take a rickshaw from Agonda to the bus stop in Palolem, I ran into Daniel, who I hadn't had the chance to bid farewell, so I asked him, and the guy who happened to be standing next to him, to have dinner with us. After a day at the beach, Talia and I needed to shower and pack, so we met up with them an hour later. Both Daniel and the new guy in town, Vincent from Holland, had motorcycles, so we decided to drive down the street to a restaurant at the other end of the village, Talia behind Vincent and I behind Daniel. Halfway there, some rickshaw drivers stepped into the road (which isn't that unusual) and as Daniel stopped, I saw a hand go to his tank. His Royal Enfield sputtered off, and when he looked down, the key was gone. After 15 minutes of searching, Daniel found his key in the possession of a restaurant owner. When we were finally eating dinner, the theory that this was part of a feud between Daniel and the town rickshaw drivers evolved; earlier that day, when a driver tried to grossly overcharge an unseasoned tourist for a ride within earshot of Daniel, he had jumped into the conversation and revealed the correct price. Now he was engaged, and as revenge upon the drivers, he wanted to be seen driving Talia and I out of town, depriving them of their fares. That was more than OK by us, and 25 minutes later, Daniel and Vincent left us at the bus stand.

Hampi kids

temple elephant

In India, they have this thing called a "sleeper bus." It's a great idea, beds in the bus, and we had booked 2 berths. Unfortunately, our beds were in the back, and although we had an enclosed platform to lay on, we were above the wheels and the exhaust system, so rather than sleep, we bounced, tossed, turned, and inhaled fumes all night long. We finally reached Hospet around 7:30 am, January 24, and from there we took a rickshaw to Hampi, then a boat across the river that divides the town, and then found the guest house where Elad and family had checked in a few days earlier.

Hampi roadside shrine

monkey temple

stairs to monkey temple

Hampi is a village of rocks and rice paddies situated within the ruins of an ancient empire; more intriguing than the ruins themselves is the baffling landscape, enormous piles of huge boulders, strewn here and there, perched upon each other at impossible angles, a ruin of another kind. A few days after we arrived, Talia developed mysterious symptoms like headaches, dizziness, general exhaustion, and stomach pain. It may have been a consequence of taking typhoid and malaria vaccines at the same time, and it took her nearly 5 days to fully recover. In the meantime, I took some walks, saw some temples, swam in a lake and a river, climbed some rocks, had some great food, and hung around in my hammock.




There seems to be a higher than usual concentration of hippies in Hampi, and our guest house featured spontaneous singing, guitar playing, and drumming every night. Luckily, we moved after a few nights to a quieter place. You meet so many people travelling in India who are looking for some form of enlightenment, and it's not too hard to understand why; it's such a crazy place that it doesn't matter what you do, and it's cheap enough to do it. What I don't quite get is the concentration of hippies and new-agers. Are they the only people who want the space to "be themselves?" Surely there are a lot of other kinds of people who'd like to have the time to wander around and see what happens.

washing water buffaloes

Well, Hampi was nice, and at another time in my journey I could have spent weeks there. Elad and family left midway through our stay, and when Talia began to mend, we were both in the mood to move. Hampi had the worst internet connections I've seen in India; after a few times waiting 15 minutes for my email to load, getting frustrated, and realizing that I was ruining my day, I gave up. We decided to make a stop in Bangalore, India's "City of Technology," to get caught up on our connections with the rest of the world, and that's where I am now.


Blogger Baudelaire said...

Your travelling is in inspiration. You have that rare gift of taking your readers to those places where you walk and breathe...

Thanks for making my sometimes mundane world of Aristotle and Locke alive with blood and muscle.

Will Geisler, your one-time collegue of all this classical and your forever partner in all things cosmological.

1:51 AM GMT-5  

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