Indy in Hindi?

Nay! It was in English! I spent the day soaking up the air-conditioning of the Hyderabad Central Mall while waiting for the movie to begin, and I find - a USB cable at last!

Needless to say I'll be in an internet shop uploading photos to my Flickr album, and putting pics to my past posts all day today.

How was the latest Indiana Jones movie? Entertaining! Which is all I need at present.

And the theater gave an old school intermission right in the middle of the movie!

I got slightly irked by the group of rich indian teens beside me though. They reeked of too much meat in their diets, the smell was coming from their bodies and their breaths, they had tried in vain to cover it with expensive cologne. And they laughed in the manner resembling presumptuous hyenas at the most inane moments.

Warangal and Hanamkonda

Indiana Jones at Warangal

My first experience with dealing with purchasing non-reserved general train tickets (you buy them within one hour of the train's departure). The people there seldom queue and prefer instead to push their way through to the small hole in the glass of the counter for making payments.

In the general queue on the way back to Hyderabad from Warangal, inside the chaos of the pushing bodies, I feel the tickle of a hand gently sliding into my front pocket (I had nothing stored in my back pockets). I immediately turn to face the threat and was taken aback to find the person staring back without any look of guilt of being caught! He simply took his hand out from my pocket and resumed reaching for the hole in the front counter as if nothing happened.

This wasn't the first time, twice in Tirumala I had my backpack unzipped from the back without my knowing. I now have it slung in front of me whenever I have to squeeze into a crowd.

Admission fees for attractions are negotiable! I only realised this yesterday in Warangal >_< While expressing my frustration at the admission fee at the outdoor exhibits, I manage to get my camera in free! Ok so it was only a 25 rupee savings, but at the Fort's interior museum I enter for free! The caretaker initially just wanted his palms greased for half the admission fee (100 INR) but relented when I said I did not have exact change.

Did not make it to Hanamkonda temple on time for a proper visit. Pretty cross with myself for the mismanagement of time.

Hanamkonda Temple

Was fun travelling around Warangal though, mainly because I found a shop that rented bicycles. The fort was some 3km from the train station where I rented a bike with my handphone as collateral. Hanamkonda was some 7km south and it was a pretty frantic pedalling just to arrive there and gawk for 15 minutes before having to turn back.

Charminar, Lad Bazaar, Chowmalla Palace, Golconda Fort

Keeping the Palace Clean in Chowmalla
I spend the morning in Charminar and find out that I'm too early for the Lad Bazaar. The market only opens at 11am.

A young boy who insists his name is John becomes my guide and decides to take me to Chowmalla Palace nearby, while waiting for things to heat up at the bazaar.

The admission fees are by far the most I've paid - 150 rupees per foreign head, 50 rupees to bring in a camera, and 10 rupees for John. This, coupled with a sense of being with dead things devoid of life or energetic information that I feel while walking among the exhibits of furniture, clothes and weapons of long dead Moguls, turns me off visiting the other museums in the city: Salur Jung, the state museum, the science center.

In the bazaar I find a hat to protect myself from the sun. The stitches on the thing were made by someone who was either too unskilled or too rushed to stay within the prescribed lines, or both, as was the stitched Nike Logo on the front.

Golconda Fort

Golconda fort, however, was amazing! And my new hat was a big hit with the locals ^_^. For some reason they think I'm American even though I'm Asian. This is especially so while I have my hat on.

Arch Detail

It is a hassle to take buses when the buses are too full and the conductors are too busy to even try to comprehend what you are saying to give you assistance. So I've been relying heavily on auto-rickshaws most of the time. On the way back, however, I am blessed with being able to find where to wait and what number buses to look out for.

Major squish! Buses in Singapore do get crowded with standing room only, but Hyderabadi buses take the cake! Half the journey I only had space to stand on one leg. I feel a slight homophobic awkwardness, the teen squished up next to me, however, is all at ease and actually starts a conversation!

He is exhuberant, having landed a job with Singtel in India as a software engineer (that seems to be the profession of every other young male in Hyderabad I have met). He beams when I congratulated him. There will be a party!

Just before leaving, he tells an old fellow to point out where I should get off. And then he squishes his way through the crowd hanging on for dear life at the doorway of the bus, and leaps into his bright future without the bus having to stop.


Night HawkerI reach Hyderabad in a contorted state boxed in a private bus for 12 hours with only 2 chai breaks in between >_<. My prebooked e-train ticket was set to take me from Hyderabad to Bangalore on 15th June. Not wanting to stay 2 weeks in Hyderabad I try buying a new train ticket at the Nampally train station to leave for Bangalore on the 1st of June.

Getting the tickets was simple enough - flash passport at tourist only queue. Get redirected to credit card queue because I did not have USD to pay with. Queue for a bit in the credit card queue. Get redirected to the original tourist only queue because I am a tourist. Growl in exasperation at the counter guy for playing ping pong with me. Get ticket.

I did the touristy thing today visiting Lumpini Park and taking a boat out the Hussain Sagar to the largest buddhist monument in India, the Buddha Purnima, sitting in the middle of the lake.

I plan to watch India Jones in a Hyderabad cinema. Indy premiers here in May 30. I hope there will at least be English subtitles!

Tirupati, Tirumala and Chandragiri Fort

Queueing for Darshan Tirupati is noisy! At least the road junctions near the bus station, close to my hotel are noisy. The honking doesn't let up all day and night!

I've been to Tirumala twice now in 2 days and it is crowded! I had been warned by kindly locals against visiting Tirumala for devotional purposes at this time of year because it is busiest during these summer months. Perhaps I should have listened! The first day I was mistakenly taken all the way up the hill when I meant to stop at the foot and find lodging. What followed was 4 hours lugging my 16kg backpack being confused and disoriented! And the crowds were more busy with the business of moving along to help 0_0.

I found my way back down via another bus and lodge near the Tirupati bus station and go back up Tirumala the next day sans heavy luggage - to find the even bigger crowd than the day before!

I very quickly decide that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea for me to get a tonsure and darshan, even though I found the 'special darshan' queue that is shorter than the free queue, and spend the morning instead drinking in the experience of being amongst so much devotion in one location. Though I do feel a pang of envy whenever yet another tonsured devotee walks past me, I do realise that there will be other ways to cast off my ego!

I got back at lunch time with tons of daylight to spare so I spent the rest of the day at Chandragiri fort and the surrounding village.

Children in Chandragiri Fort Park

According to a spanish devotee lady from the Mother Meera Darshans, Sai Baba is no longer at his Puttaparthy Ashram and has moved to his Bangalore ashram. So I've cut Puttaparthy from my itinery and will head to Hyderabad directly.

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

Painted on a boulder on a switchback road on the way up to the top of Horsely Hills.

I had been pondering on whether to spend the rest of the month attending Mother Meera's Darshans. Robert Frost's poem jumping out at me so vividly from the most unlikely of places gave me the answer.

In all honest awareness my desire to stay for a longer period came from the fact that most of the other devotees were staying for the entire period that Mother was in Madanapalle. It was a borrowed desire.

I have miles to go before I awaken!

Horsley Hill Station

Leave Your Shoes and Ego At the Door Before Entering
Yesterday while waiting for evening darshan I sourced out the name of a hill that was suggested to me by the lawyer on the bus to Madanapalle - Horsley Hill. I had been spending the days taking strolls around the town in the mornings, and a day trip would be a nice change. It took alot of asking around in the bus station but I finally got myself into the bus headed to the hill station, just minutes before the bus left, thanks to a kind girl who volunteered the information after watching me floundering about with asking for directions.

It was a 1.5 hour bus ride and the final bit where the bus makes a climb up to the hill station had awesome views. I sat next to a boy (Hluda) from a very friendly family and gave up my window seat for him. Two things I have noticed since coming here about the boys and girls - they LOVE being offered the window seats in trains and buses, and they love having their pictures taken, if only to have a glance at the playback screen on your camera after!

The lookout spots at the very top of the hill past the AP Tourism Bureau buildings offered the best views for me.

I had my first shock of the day when walking back down to the bus stop during lunch time. I found out that the bus back to Madanapalle isn't going to come back till 4pm!

When I was done with feeling trapped and helpless I realised that it wasn't a bad thing at all! All the trouble getting up to the top of Horsely Hill and I end up spending only a half hour up there, and horsing around with my camera! The message was clear: get my arse back up to that look out point, relax and be in the moment!

Throughout the day I kept bumping into Hluda and his family, as well as many other friendly people. So far I have not encountered any of the ugliness that was presented about Indians by travellers in their travel boards at all! If anything, you will be mothered to death as a lone traveller! While working on my 'thereness' at the lookout spot Hluda's mom pressed food into my hands and gave me such a warm smile, then left me to meditate further.

Perhaps in the bigger cities things might be different. But that will be a bridge I won't cross yet!

Mother Meera

Am writing now from an Internet Cafe opposite from the Anand Lodge where I am staying. I had stayed at the Desi Lodge the day before but the Anand Lodge has given me a room that is half the price and twice as clean! Its also close to a number of nice food places, an internet cafe and a phone shop where I bought my Airtel prepaid sim card for SMSing home with.

I spent yesterday painting the ashram with some German devotees who loved speaking in German X(. The plan was to make myself useful enough to be allowed to stay there while waiting for the evening Darshan. Unfortunately there was not enough work to go around so I had to come back later.

Mother Meera is an avatar of Shakti, the divine mother. In her silent darshan she removes obstacles to our spiritual development by touching the backs of our heads on her lap. Then she grants a vision of the divine through staring at her eyes.

In the evening we sat in silence till Mother entered the room and gave us her Darshan.

Mine was extremely unexpected! My heart was already racing with excitement when I approached her and knelt. With my head in her lap she pressed her fingers on it and there was ... movement... inside me. And when I raised my head and stared into her eyes my heart beat faster than I've ever felt before. This was coupled with my mind racing with uncontrolled thoughts at breakneck speed.

My heartbeat did not come down for almost a half hour after the darshan. I was also given a test, or a lesson. This I only realised in retrospect, by reflecting on the events that transpired before, during and after my darshan. This had to do with my samskara of guilt that has been piling grief and limiting my experiences since my childhood. All I will say is I have grown from this experience, and I am extremely grateful!

This morning while doing my daily meditation I found it much less of a struggle to calm my mind and release my self from it than what is usual! The bliss that grew from inside was clearer and more intense.

I am going for another darshan tonight! This time I hope to be more settled and centered - I was still reeking of the clutched thoughts that I've accumulated during my eventful trip to Madanapalle and found it difficult to settle my mind prior to last night's darshan. I think that is why I had such a strange reaction to it.


Arrived at Chennai Airport and took a prepaid cab to the Central Train Station. The plan was to find accomodation there in the retiring rooms and wait it out till 6 in the morning for my train to Tirupati.

The retiring rooms in the station were few and fully booked X(. This left me waiting it out in the main hall of the station as I didn't want to brave the mosquitos and the touts outside the station to find accomodation. Also most of the other listed options were nearer to the Egmore station further away.

The sight in the main hall gave me my second culture shock since my touch down, the first being the way the Chennai motorists drive their vehicles!

The throng of humanity waiting for their trains were asleep on the chairs and the floors. People would line the dusty floor with a cloth or towel and fall asleep then and there amid wandering dogs and flying insects, and the smell of feet. I chose a chair in the middle of it all hoping for security in numbers safe from the mosquitos and thieves.

I did not get very much sleep that night, only several fleeting naps. It was probably the excitement of finally being in India that woke me from the tiredness by the time I boarded the train.

Second class sitting was quite an experience!. From my initial seat I was asked very politely to switch seats two times. The first was from a nice man who wanted to sit next to his family. The second was from another man whose son wanted the window seat I had.

He, his sister, and the family surrounding me were really nice. I am very grateful for having attended the Life Bliss courses in Singapore before coming to India! I could have easily been extremely irked by the sheer physical proximity and lack of personal space encountered since arriving in India. But thanks to the path of self awareness and surrender I have began under the guidance of Paramahamsa Nithyananda's Singapore Center, things have turned out very differently! I can't describe the comfort and lack of impatience and anger I've felt. And mind you I've had children crawl over me and sleep on my shoulder, adults pushing and sleeping on my shoulder (I guess I have nice shoulders), and family members having chaotic fun moments with each other all around me.

It almost seemed that being physically surrounded by that family meant that I was part o the family as well. I was offered food, smiles and good fun the whole trip and everything felt so.. natural!

And arriving at Tirupati in the morning I was given directions to the bus station where I found a bus that would take me to Madanapalle. During the trip a friendly and helpful lawyer worked with the bus conductor to point me to good accomodation. The bus driver was especially nice when he learnt I was headed to Mother Meera's Ashram.

Forgot to bring my USB cable from Singapore 8(. Until I find one or a card reader I won't be posting any photos.

I play with my new camera

I play with my new camera, originally uploaded by Daniel in India.

Taken with my new Canon Digital IXUS 860 IS. I took it indoors and disabled the flash so the camera went to a high ISO hence the graininess XD.