Recently, I happen to meet a nice French lady in my office. Talking to her was rather enlightening.
“I suppose you’re closed on Fridays?” she asked in the middle of our conversation.
“Huh? No. Why would we be closed on Fridays?” I was confused.
“Oh, it’s prayer time for Muslims, right? And with so many Muslims in India, I assumed all Fridays are holidays.”
A pause. To me, it sounded like the innocent questions children usually ask and amuse us. “No, that’s not how it is..you see, we are a secular country with a lot of religions being practiced…..”
Later that day, I was still amused. It dawned upon me that so many people coming to India come with misconceptions in plenty and ideas of their own. Of course, you may argue that with globalization and with the onset of information age, travellers are more aware than ever. But you know what? Travelling to India requires one to be region specific. It is so diverse in all respects, a little more help and guidance won’t hurt.
Being a proud Mysorean, I’d like to dedicate this post specially to travellers coming to my city.
Few misconceptions about Mysore
1. It is too hot
Nay, it isn’t. Never worry about the climate if you’re coming to Mysore. It has one of the most pleasant climates you will ever come across. Obviously, summers can get hot and winters cold. But rarely will you experience anything extreme. The rainy season may not annoy you either. Strangely enough, it mostly rains at night. So you still get to enjoy your day outside.
2. You can’t move around easily because of heavy road traffic
Heavy road traffic is characteristic of the tier-1 cities of India. Mysore can prove to be a huge relief if you’ve seen Bengaluru, for example. Except for the city center, Mysore has open roads and a cleaner air. In fact, a Belgian friend of mine once stated that he longs to be back in Mysore if he happens to be out in other cities of India.
The public transportation is pretty good. KSRTC buses can take you almost anywhere in and around Mysore. You can even take the Volvo buses. They are super comfortable and they usually play music inside to make the ride merrier. But if you’re a person who likes privacy, Ola or Uber cabs may suit you very well. All you need to do is download the respective apps. They arrive within minutes of your ordering a cab, no matter where you are.
Auto rikshaws are there too, if you’d like to get a taste of the authentic Indian way of transportation (ok, not as authentic as a bullock cart or a horse carriage!)
Also, (and this is brand new information) the Mysore City Corporation will be launching the Public Bicycle Sharing Intiative in mid-2016. That will make Mysore ever more beautiful!
3. People speak Hindi
Kannada is the local language in Mysore. However, many of us are bilingual and you may find that people are more than willing to speak to you in English. (Not to mention Hindi, Tamil, Telugu..)
4. Food is always spicy
Not really. There are many things you can eat that are mild and won’t burn your tummy. For breakfast, for instance, you may have idlis. Idlis are themselves very bland and are eaten with coconut chutney and sambaar. Sambaar can be spicy again; but you may choose to leave it. For lunch you may have curd rice. It’ll keep you cool for the entire day.
5. It is a filthy, dirty place
My dears, Mysore has been declared as the cleanest city in the country (don’t expect it to be like Europe though).
6. There are dangerous people lurking around
All cities have their share of criminals and Mysore is no different. One has to be on their guard although there is no need to be paranoid.
I’ve covered most of the points I could think of. However, there are more things I would like to share with a would-be visitor of Mysore and that will require me to write them in future blog posts. Till then, so long!