Of tigers, temples and tea plantations
The beast is only 5 feet away from us: We can look him straight in the eye. He opens his mouth, showing us his fearsome fangs: What an exciting feeling, to be so close to a tiger…! But unfortunately only in the zoo of Mysore. We only wanted to see how these animals look in reality. Three times we were on tiger safari in Bandipur National Park (South India). And three times we have „only“ seen deer, elephants and other beautiful animals. But the 100 tigers and leopards were hiding from us until the end in this 800 km2 National Park. It would have been too good to see them – but all the other wonderful experiences we have been allowed to take so far on our trip to India, made up more than enough for the hidden tiger.
For example, the countless black tea plantations around Munnar. Rolling hills, covered with irregular green spots, forming a very charming landscape. We just could not get enough of this unique landscape. Especially nice was that we could share all these great impressions with two other people: for more than three weeks we’ve been traveling with Sebastian and Leah, the youngest members of our Indian „family“. Being in a group makes traveling even more fun, even if sometimes things do not work out as planned: For example, we visited for two days an ashram, a kind of Indian monastery, where people lived according to strict rules of a guru, spending their days praying and meditating. But just after a few hours, we realized that this cult-like states do not meet our expectations: Instead, it seemed to be very appealing to a uprooted Western travelers or very strange Indians. Characteristic of this was a young, arrogant American: He humbly asked the Guru in the public question round for suggestions on how he could be a better person. Despite the wisdom of the „highest authority“, he did not even make it to meet his fellow man with respect by answering a friendly greeting. He is just one example of a very own off-hook person, we encountered there.
Maybe it was the bad karma for our evil mockeries of the bizzare life in the ashram, which brought us a negative surprise: A few days after our „dismissal“ from the Ashram Silvan found himself in the ICU of an Indian hospital. The diagnosis was „only“ a pneumonia, but the situation was anything but funny. It was very helpful for me (Silvan) to have an experienced (and even very beautiful) nurse by my side. Finally, we are grateful that everything went well and we are grateful for Sebastians and Leahs support.
India is religious: Although we have had a little bit too much of the cult of the more than 3000 gods, sacred cows, etc. Nevertheless, it is still fascinating to visit Indian temples. Fire, smoke, water, flowers, animals and all sorts of (to us very strange) rituals offer every time a new drama and spectacle.
After almost 2 months India, we now have an overdose of monkeys: Everywhere one encounters these annoying beasts! With each encounter, we hide immediately our cameras and food, and we are happy if they stay as far away of us as possible! Several times we had our bags or cameras make them into custody. Once even three monkeys stormed our bus (as there are no windows) and had not left until they had stolen enough food from the pockets of frightened passengers. Once, they even have burgled literally in our hotel room and have a stolen a two kilograms (!) watermelon. Ever since, there is a real war between them and us. (No one can imagine how much we were looking forward to that melon that day!!! Stupid monkeys !!!)
An exciting experience was to attend the wedding ceremony of an Indian bride and groom. Spontaneously we were invited to this event and warmly received as guests. What a beautiful, colorful experience! The wedding-couple met this evening for the first time ever. For India, nothing unusual: Weddings are often arranged and driven less by love than financial interest. No need to mention that this can also bring problems.
Antother issue in India are the rights oft he women: Often, unmarried women are not allowed to leave their homes ater 6pm. Som young Indian women told us even about violence against them by their drunken husbands. Fortunately, the situation is getting better and better and a change is in sight. But it will take time – especially in the countryside.
We are extremely grateful to all our new friends („Indian family“), and for the great memorable experiences that we were allowed to do in India. Thanks Luke, Robert, Stefan, Leah & Sebastian. This contrastful country is probably one of the most fascinating that our planet has to offer. It is just impossible to escape the magic of India … Either you love it or you hate it. We love it!
(Key data of the second part of our trip: Hampi, Goa, Kalgot, Udupi, Cochin (Kerala), Munnar, Ooty, Bandipur, Mysore).