Into the Country (Melkote)

One thing I forgot to mention in my last report, is that my India guide book was stolen from my bag on the beach when I was swimming – fortunately I put my camera and money belt in a safety deposit box just before, but I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my guide book. So before leaving Palolem, I had a quick look around the second-hand bookshops to see if any of them were “selling” my book. I didn’t see it, but there were plenty of Lonely Planets being sold for around 7 pounds. It all seemed a bit suspicious to me, as I don’t see why anyone would sell their India guide book while in the middle of a trip to India, and the shops selling them for 7 pounds are obviously profiting from the sale, as that is a ridiculous price to pay for a second-hand book (even in the UK). Anyway, the point is that the rest of my trip in India is going to be a bit (more) of an adventure, as I won’t know entirely where to go and what to do once I enter a new town!

After a 16-hour train and bus jounrey, I arrived in Mysore in Karnataka at 6am absolutely exhausted. But after spending so much money in Mumbai and Goa, I was determined to try and save a night’s accommodation, and continue moving on to Melkote that day.

Melkote is a village about two hours out of Mysore that my brother, Hugo, has visited twice to do some volunteering work in a school for disabled children. He keeps in touch with and is friends with the family that run the school, and so he arranged for me to visit them while I am in India.

With my first set of instructions leading me only to Mysore, I had to wait a few hours before I could call ahead for my next set of directions (it being 6am). After several cups of koffie and after leaving my bag at the bus station cloakroom, I got a chance to look around the early morning streets of Mysore. It was quite a handsome town, and everything seemed much more easy-going than in the north: the museums do not have two-tier admission fees for foreigners; shopping is much more pleasurable and less of a hassle; and they even have women police officers!

I was given a wonderful welcome by Surendra Koulagi and his wife when I finally arrived in Melkote, i.e. I was given a good lunch and allowed to rest for a couple of hours! That evening, I caught another bus to a farmhouse another 7km away from Melkote where a lot of the children were staying for the weekend. /the children were all charming of course, but I was surprised when they asked me if I was Scottish. Now, no offense to you Scots, but it’s not particularly usual for your country to be someone’s first choice when woring out where someone is from. It turned out that actually they receive a student or two from Edinburgh University each year, so the kids new a bit about Scotland.

Even more amazing however, was when I learnt from Surendra’s son, Santosh, that good old Jim Cogan (one of my English teachers from school) had visited this school about 15 years ago, when he was setting up his volunteering scheme SPW (Schools Partnership Worldwide).

More interesting stories to come…. (6-inch long scorpions, 4-inch long hairy caterpillars, socialism and agriculture)

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One Response to “Into the Country (Melkote)”

  1. Joosje Hamilton Says:

    Dear Alex

    This is wonderful! It is so much more fun to read your adventures when I come into work every morning than ploughing through legal texts. You seem to be having an amazing time, seeing all the places I would love to visit. Very much looking forward to seeing all your photos when you are back.

    Veel liefs en veel plezier op de rest van je avontuur,

    Joosje

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