We had a pretty leisure morning which was perfect to have to spend with Monika. We slept in until almost 8am and had breakfast in the hotel. I had corn flakes and coffee, Monika enjoys the Indian fair. We then set out for the market and shopping. We got some great picture taking at an old bazaar, called the Devataja Market, where traditional items were sold, including flower garlands,spices, conical piles of kumkum (the colored stuff for bindi dots on foreheads). We were initially attacked by several beggars and street sellers but split up and got moving to shake most of them. In the end one guy followed me through the whole market place answering my questions (that I was typically asking Monika) and in the end I purchased a few trinkets from him. He told me I gave him good luck for the rest of the day. Oh, well, I appreciated his efforts. We then moved to a dress shop where we tried on Kirtas and Saris. I purchased a long tunic that I'm hoping I can wear to school and impress my Indian students. We grabbed tuktuks, which I will have to talk more about later, to Fab India, which is just a department store in India but with stuff all hand made by weavers and is 50% owned by those weavers. I got a couple more tunics there. Monika then took some of us to a store she had explored on Saturday before we got to Mysore. We got a few more purchases in before heading back to our hotel.
The exchange rate is about 65%, so stuff is kind of cheap. An average meal costs maybe 300 rupees which is less then $5. I gave Monika 2000 rupees thinking I was being very generous. She said, "thanks mom, you know that's only $30 bucks, right?" A tuktuk ride might cost 50 to 80 rupees around town, or 75 cents to a $1.25. Tuktuks are motor-tricycles that sound like helicopters buzzing around town. They are fun to ride in and I don't understand why we don't have them in the US. Drivers in India honk all the time but not out of anger. Rather it's kind of like a blinker. Drivers honk to let others know they are there, they want in, or that they're letting you in. So everyone is honking all the time! My first ride from the airport last week, it seemed so crazy but now I kind of get it. It's very Indian-- almost like honking is a curtesy.
The people here are typically extremely friendly. Last night a man tried to get a selfie w an unaware Monika in it, I photobombed his picture and he turned around and genuinely thanked me. While driving around today, some kids in the back of a truck waved at me and then when I took their pictured they cheered with delight yelling "photo!" So I took another and they clapped in delight. I have enjoyed being greeted warmly by strangers and often asked where I'm from and earnestly offered verbal engagement without anyone wanting me to buy anything. Oh sure there are sellers eager to make a buck like in almost every country I've been to, but even those guys seem friendlier and not quite so pushy.
We took tuktuk rides to the train station and set out for Chennai. Monika had to exit in Bangalore. It's been so fun for us to travel together and I think so meaningful for me to have gotten to experience a bit of her life this summer. She only has 2 more weeks left of her internship and then another 3 weeks before needing to travel to Jordan for school. I'd love to figure out a way to visit her in the fall as well!! I know that after experiencing India this summer Monika will be able to move anywhere in the US!!! I'm so proud of her and what she's been doing. I was so grateful to Sanjay, our tour guide for taking as good care of her as me (even more really) and to all the ladies on this trip who enfolded her as a fellow traveler and friend. My roommate, Gail, was so generous to let Monika stay with us, not once but twice!!