I board the bus, rivalled only in magnificence by the megabus, having trudged a kilometre of god only knows what, charmingly up the back of my white trousers, and to the delight of a retired english teacher, who has NEVER spoken to a english person!!!
Like young lovers he wants to stay up all night talking about the prounounciation differences of a brit vs an indian and other equally thrilling subjects like when the word trousers was usurped by it’s yankee contempory, pants. I kid yee not, it was painful. After almost force feeding me his meal at 11.30, he dropped off to sleep and snored like I can imagine only Pavarotti could match until about 3 am. When he fell quiet, I thought for sure he must be dead, but was too afraid to prod him and check incase he wasn’t. Needless to say I was a little tired that Friday.
Spurred on by the promise of lush ashram food, loads of yoga asanas and the company of friends, I tackled the multitude of people at the bus station who pretended not to understand my pronounciation of the word Natham, despite trying many different combinations, Narthum, Nartumb, Nurtam, Nardhum, Narrttum (you get the picture) but was finally delivered into the arms of my yoga family at the Ashram and Rory and Caty, yoga teacher extraordinare and old work friend respectively.
Safely put on the bus by Sharat, Caty and I leave the simple comforts of the ashram for Madurai to meet JP (old work buddy from OMD) for the next phase of our adventure, heading up to the east coast via the towns and temples of Trichy, Thanjavur and Chidambaram.
In Trichy we reward our rather hot and sweaty hunt for a hotel room with a nice shower and a spot of Indian come dancing on the telly. Woken from the magic spell the TV casts on us by pangs of hunger, we are directed by well meaning residents in a 6 km circle when we decide, despite the monsoon downpour, to walk to the Bazaar. Admitting defeat and boarding the bus, we arrive mud spattered and lurred by the view over the bazaar,to eat the most disgusting meal any of us had had in India. Feeling unsatisfied we returned to our hotel after a night cap of OJ and devouring some chocolate treats.
The next day we ascend 437 steps to the Rock Fort temple where I fool them with my offering into thinking I’m a Hindu and make my puja with Ganesh. We survey Sri Ranganathaswamy’s magnificent gopura’s of it’s 6 temples from a rooftop vantage point and visit the smaller, quieter Sri Jambukeswara temple, one of 5 Shiva elemental temples, dedicated to water, before templed out we return to our part of town and devour mmmm more chocolate.
And I leave you with us the next morning travelling to Thanjavur’s Big Temple, whilst I go get me some lunch!!! Enjoy your breakfast, I’m still dreaming of M&S’s lovely cranberry & orange infused Granola… mmmmm Granola….
To be continued…