Wake-up call was 3:30 this morning in order to make our 6:10 am flight to Bangalore (now called Bengaluru, the original and more Indian name). Road Scholar thinks of everything - the dining room had been opened for us for coffee and tea, and we had box breakfasts of fruit, pastries and two hard boiled eggs. Most of us didn't eat it all, so we collected the excess and took it to the bus for our driver and his helper. We are sorry to say good-bye to them.
When we arrived at the Jaipur Airport, I figured out the answer to a question that I had in the back of my mind: if Delhi has 15+ million people, why was the huge airy airport so empty when I arrived? Where were all the families meeting travelers? I described in one of my early posts the traffic jam outside the terminal and now it makes sense. Only travelers with tickets and passports are allowed inside the terminal.
Security was interesting. Shagzil had given us bottles of water - bless Road Scholar again, always plenty of safe water around - and told us to put it in our carry-on luggage. He said it will pass through security because in India the water bottles are always filled right to the top, no sloshing liquid to catch the security person's attention. Yikes, I thought, but it worked. We walked through a security gate and were also wanded, then just as we were boarding the aircraft, our carry-ons were inspected for ... not sure, but it didn't take long. The men were wanded again after the second inspection.
We flew on an Airbus 320, two columns of three across and yes, I got the middle seat. I have never seen an aircraft with the rows of seats packed so closely together. When the man in the seat in front of mine put his chair back, there was less than 12 inches from the end of my nose to the back of his seat.
It is warmer here in the south, but not hot. In fact, it's just about right for touring. We drove for about 2.5 hours from the airport to Mysore. Part of the time we just look at India going by, or in today's case snooze a bit, and part of the time Shagzil will talk to us about something that we are seeing or something that has occurred to him, or answer questions we are asking.
On today's drive we passed two funeral processions. There is a platform with the deceased sitting in a chair covered by robes and flowers, and the platform itself is covered with flowers. It is carried in the air by several men, and followed by a long stream of mourners. This sight led to a discussion of Hindu and Muslim beliefs around death and reincarnation.
We also passed a large movie theatre and many, many billboards advertising the latest Bollywood stars. Indians in the south idolize Bollywood stars and cricket stars and other public figures - not politicians! - and often build shrines to them in their homes. This led to a discussion of the best selling cosmetic among teenage girls - a cream that promises to lighten the colour of the skin. Apparently the cream works, but only if the teenager stays out of the sun - no magic in that. Shagzil is a most amusing and interesting raconteur, and we are all grateful that he is our group leader.
Just a short note about our group and then I must do some exploring. We are 21 people: five married couples, three unmarried pairs - a son and father, a daughter and mother (take note, Gillian!), and two male cousins - and five singles - three females and two males. We all get along and mix and match with seating at meals and chatting while touring interesting sites. It's quite delightful and we feel like we have made good friends.
I am posting a few photos I didn't have room to post earlier. I hope you find them interesting.