Friday, November 5, 2010
A Posh Hotel, a Grand Ole Pastel Palace, and 3 Sisters
Day off! I love days off. Claudia and I sleep in. By the time Jaime returns from her class, we are up and about contemplating breakfast. So we go off together to sample Regalis’ Saturday breakfast buffet.
On the way there, I spot a vendor on one of Mysore’s main avenues. Hanging from rope was a familiar site, a mysore mat in colorful stripes much like what I’ve seen from friends—reportedly from Mysore. We ask our auto-rickshaw driver to stop. We each decide to buy one, haggling the mats down from the original R180 to R500 for 3. Were it not for strict weight restrictions, I would have bought one of each style!
Despite an endorsement that Regalis was a hot spot for yoga students on Saturdays, we are the only western yoga students there. Regalis, formerly the Southern Star, turns out to be a plush hotel. It’s dining room stylish and modern, the likes one would see in 4-star hotels in Manila. For less than R300 each, we indulge in a selection of Western and Indian food. The food was delicious and truly value for money. Though easily twice, three times, even more as much as we could spend for breakfast, it was nice to have the full service and the choices.
The pool is also open to members. And like everywhere, membership can be arranged with a copy of your passport and 2 passport photos—usage for pool is then R200 per use, per person. (Make plenty of copies of passport and visa as well as a stock of passport photos. I am on my last 2 pieces and will have probably have to take more as everything seems to require a photo: the shala, SIM card purchase, even pool membership).
Having full bellies, we continue with our “tourist” excursion to Mysore Palace. There I am amazed at the quantity of Indian tourists. They are so many, that as we file in and out of the rooms and galleries it is as if we have joined a thick soup of people as we pour in and out of rooms.
The biggest shame is that photographs are not allowed inside the palace. The colors and details really tickle the eyeballs. It is the same sensation of the flavors of India on one’s tongue. Foreign, fabulous, and far out! Soft turquoise columns lead to bright stained glass ceilings, picturing peacocks, feathers ablaze. The marble floors too have patterns and colors, while the walls display murals picturing the Maharajah of Mysore’s past dignity and stonework have carvings of elephants and lions, gods and goddesses. Everywhere there is detail. Everywhere there is color.
Quite visually worn out after a tour of the palace and two adjoining temples, we decide to scout out the 3 Sisters, a place we’d heard about from friends who had made the trip to Mysore before. Here we’d heard, we would be able to experience a castor oil treatment, one that is highly recommended by the shala, for removing the heat in your body and lubricating joints. We also hear that they serve food and juices, so with an address, tel no and a map drawn into my notebook we are off. The rickshaw driver still gets lost. I show him the map. We ask for directions. As a last resort we call and still manage to make it the long way around.
And it’s no wonder we don’t see it. We pull up in front of a blue door. There is no sign. There are, however, three sisters. They lead us into their simple abode and into a small room where 2 students who look familiar from the shala are already sitting.
Amidst the simple setting me meet the nicest Indian siblings. Harini, is the yongest—and she says bossiest. She is the expert in oil massage. Is a yogini, a student of Pattabhi Jois himself who is in the process of building her own yoga shala. The third sister is the master cook and juicer. We order a juice each. Claudi and Jaime take the beet, carrot and ginger. I ask them to hold the beet for mine. Super yum!
We also make appointments for this castor oil massage. Castor oil treatment is pricey at Rp1800. But we were given advice to try it 3 Sisters first then after seeing how its done to purchase the necessary ingredients ourselves in Loyal World Super Market and doing in ourselves at home.
While we are there, it starts to rain, giving Harini the chance to tell us stories of the old days, of Guruji, and of the old shala in nearby Lakshimpura. She gives us tips on where to buy cloth and where to we can visit a silk factory.
On the way home, we make a trip to the Rama Krishna Ashram, we browse through a pretty serious collection of books, many of which are devoted to Swami Vivekananda.
Exhausted and tired from all of the day’s varied outputs, the posh hotel, the colorful palace, the three sisters and the yoga bookstore, we grab a simple dinner at the Green Leaf Canteen—where I have a tasty masala dosa duo for Rp30 and a banana lassi for R30. Dinner at R60—the cheapest meal so far!
* Regalis is also known as the former Southern Star Hotel
* 3 Sisters is located beside Hotel Keval in Mysore, tel no: 08212522788