Sunday July 19, 2015 (Asia, India)
We didn’t go to the zoo. We said we were planning on it, but we didn’t go and so we lied and we feel terrible about it. The weather was stinkier than expected today (not in a garbage way, just in a rainy way), so we limited our cultural experiences to just one for the day. In fact, we don’t even know how we feel about zoos anymore, so there’s that too. Here’s the new itinerary: Mysore Palace.
But first let’s talk about breakfast at our hotel. We’re staying at the Sepoy Grande in Mysore. It bills itself as both a “Boutique Hotel” and a “Luxury Hotel” depending upon which source you’re looking at. Let me say that our experience this morning was anything but luxurious.
Upon check in yesterday, we were told that breakfast would be served at the rooftop restaurant. Boy, that sounds fantastic! Rooftop! With big smiles on our faces this morning, we rode the elevator to the top floor and strode out. There were a couple of groups eating up there, and yet within seconds of our exit we were being told to leave the rooftop: breakfast is down one floor in the Banquet Hall. Uhh… OK? So we turn around and wander down a flight of stairs to the Banquet Hall.
The Banquet Hall is an empty room. There is a section of the ceiling they’ve stencilled off to paint in gold, but left all of the masking newspaper firmly in place and dangling above our heads. There is a long table to one side with a meagre selection of food. The fruit is almost entirely gone. You can have some toast. Or dosas with a few different toppings. Well… let’s stay positive. It’s not the worst breakfast we’ve had. We start filling up our plates. But where do we take the food to? I wasn’t kidding about it being an empty room – there are no tables. Three of the walls are lined with chairs facing toward the centre of the room. It’s like some kind of AA meeting filled with Indian families and their children. Nobody seems to have a problem with holding their plate in their hands and facing the centre of the room. We’re not huge fans of this approach.
Sandra spots a “table” in the corner of the room. It is covered in a table-runner, but no actual tablecloth. So it’s filthy, because you don’t really clean table-runners. You’re not supposed to! That’s what the tablecloths are for! Anyway, we plop our plates down on this table and pull a pair of chairs away from the wall. I go to grab a drink – the choice is water, coffee, or tea. I’ll take a water. But the cups are in complete disarray. Which ones are clean? I have no idea. There’s just a big mound of cups, some of which appear to be used, sitting haphazardly beside the water dispenser. And behind the drink table, sitting on the floor, one's eye is drawn to the only decoration in the room: stacks of plates, boxes, cushions, paint… it’s all just… there. On the floor.
This hotel is obviously not finished yet. And they have no idea what they’re doing. This really gets me going: why doesn’t somebody just clean this mess up? Who thinks it’s appropriate to be serving your guests at your "luxury hotel" in a room with NO TABLES?! With a pile of refuse just spilling out from the corner of the room? India is obviously wearing on us at this point. Two thumbs pointed emphatically downward to the Sepoy Grande in Mysore. When I mentioned our concerns with breakfast to the staff on the way out of the hotel this morning, they offered to send us breakfast to the room instead. Aren’t we missing the point here, guys?! Get some tables in your food room! Get the trash off the floor! This isn’t difficult stuff!
Ugh. So we walk to Mysore Palace. It’s nice and close by, so that’s a positive thing. The weather is a bit iffy, but it seems to be holding up. Upon entering Mysore Palace, we’re informed that we’re not allowed to take photos inside the palace itself. Which is where all the good stuff is. We ran into this situation in Madurai, and I understand it even less now than I did then. At the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai you were allowed to take pictures, but only with a mobile phone. Not a “nice camera”. So your plan for tourism is to allow only poor photos of your attraction to be taken? No nice photos allowed! That will bring too much interest! Just… I’m clueless here.
At Mysore Palace, you’re not allowed any photos whatsoever from inside the palace itself. Not even on a mobile phone. In fact, we actually witnessed a guard supervising the deletion of photos from the phone of a local family who had disregarded the rules. Shame! They’re serious about this. Which sucks, because I promise you there was a lot of neat stuff inside that we can’t show you. Beautiful halls, stained glass windows, iron columns. All sorts of great things. Just imagine it and feel the wonder, OK?
We took a picture of a camel in a field outside the palace. It started to rain, so we walked home. We encountered cows eating garbage in the street, and had some fun hanging out with them. Sandra and I both love cows. They’re so friendly! And we even chanced upon a a family of monkeys, many of which had crazy goitre-like growths drooping from their faces and necks. Not sure what was going on there. The one I took a picture of looked somehow progeric. Like an eighty year old monkey in a teenage monkey’s body. And I know my teenage monkey bodies!
This afternoon we ate at Depth N Green – a vegetarian restaurant that Sandra really enjoyed. Amazing chocolate cake! Then we headed to the train station to try to reserve a ticket for the train to Bangalore tomorrow. Upon arriving in the reservations area, we were greeted by a room full to the brim of people waiting to make reservations. Take a number. At least it’s organized, right? We have a seat. And then the child in the row in front of us turns around. And stares. And stares. And will not stop staring. I gesture for him to turn around. He does. Waits thirty seconds. Then turns around again. It’s incredibly frustrating. Finally after about forty minutes our number is called. We approach our numbered counter, but there are two customers still standing there who don’t seem to have completed their business.
No big deal. We wait about thirty seconds. Meanwhile, a local guy walks up in front of us and jams his numbered waiting ticket through the window. I grab his arm and pull it back: “Hold on buddy, we’re next!” He tries to pass in his ticket again, talking to the agent. I say again, “Look at your ticket number. You’re 255. We’re 253. We’re next.” But then we glance at the status sign, and the agent at this counter has somehow mashed her button to let through 253, 254, and 255 all to the same counter. I look at the agent. She says, “Sorry, but your number has passed.” WHAT?! We were just waiting for the people you weren’t finished helping to leave. I mean… it’s just getting hard to deal with this stuff. Sandra and I are losing it. We’re becoming angry people. I refuse to leave the counter, explaining that we came forward immediately after our number was called. The agent rolls her eyes. Fine, fine. She’ll help us.
Tomorrow we’re off to Bangalore! With a confirmed, reserved ticket that hopefully won’t have us sitting on sets of benches containing fourteen people. Fingers crossed.