The road from Ooty was very narrow with lots of hairpin bends. The driver drove as though he had just snorted speed. He overtook anything and everything whether he could see ahead or not, often on blind curves. Give thanks for Stugeron travel sickness pills. At each stop we made I noticed an increasing number of puke stains down the sides of the bus. Even Nix admitted to feeling queasy and she never gets travel sick. At the first stop a bloke asked me if my arm sleeve tattoo is a sticker. I was too tired to explain or talk at all in fact, so I just said yes. I heard him explain at length to his crowd of mates about my “arm sticker”.
A guy sat opposite us sniffed constantly throughout the entire 5 hours of the journey. This delightful sound was interspersed with coughing fits from his mate sat next to him. Healthy. I reminded myself that they are both one with God. I found this a little tricky to reconcile though as I kept thinking God would probably have just blown his nose once and been done with it. We drove past a large sheep breeding laboratory in the middle of nowhere. Dodgy. Perhaps it’s cover for Ooty’s Area 51.
At the bottom of the mountain we returned to arid plains and dry heat. All the roadside vegetation was covered in a thick layer of dust for as far as we could see. We drove through the Mudumalai and Bandipur tiger reserves and saw.... and elephant. I think he was lost. The tigers must have done the sensible thing and sought out shade. I would have. There were kilometre after kilometre of speed bumps which our driver neglected to slow down for. I think he was looking to be the first Tamil to break the land speed record in a government bus.
Beyond the tiger reserves a tree had fallen down and blocked the road. It was the hottest part of the day in the hottest part of Karnataka – not the ideal place for a traffic jam. This didn’t stop our driver. He ploughed down the side of the road overtaking about 5 other buses and causing another traffic jam against oncoming traffic that had been let through by a police officer. Somehow or another he pushed his way through and we continued.
As I looked out the bus window deep in contemplation it occurred to me that if I had a hotel in Tamil Nadu I would call it “Pongal Palace”. I also came up with a slogan for the Ooty Tourist Board “Get your booty to Ooty, where the sewers are frooty. Don’t delay, it’s your dooty.”
Nix noticed that the Indian distance signage was somewhat erratic. For instance at a town after the Bandipur tiger reserve there was a “Mysore 13 kms” sign, then 20 minutes later there was a “Mysore 23 kms” sign. Go figure. Perhaps the driver was driving so fast that we were travelling backwards in time.
We were glad to arrive in Mysore and get off the bus alive. I left Nix with our luggage at the bus station and went in search of accommodation. Fortunately I found a place within our budget and near the bus station (but not too near). We spent a short while this arvo exploring the market areas. Mysore seems like quite a viby city. There are shed loads of touts though. As I walked past a crowd of people at a chai stand, one of the goodly patrons turned his head and gobbed on my foot. Fortunately I’m currently all about acceptance or he’d have got a slap for that. Mysore is known for it’s soap and incense so we may wander over to the Muslim market later tonight to check out where they make it. We’re only staying one night then it’s back on the bus for us – Mangalore next enroute to Anand Ashram....