Our last 3 days in Pune were fairly uneventful, although I did find time to do some shopping at the “Bombay Company”. It was only a few blocks away from the hotel and I enjoyed shopping and carrying my two big bags of stuff back. I was tickled to see two “Tuk-Tuks” (Auto Rickshaws) slowly following me, hoping that I would decide to catch a ride instead!!
There was a small mall just across the street which provided the perfect place to buy a small suitcase to get the purchases home!!! As I entered the mall, I walked thru the ever-present metal detector and put my purse thru a scanner as well. I was alarmed to see one older lady removing a HUGE knife from her bag but was happy to see it in the hands of guards and not her!!!
I also wandered thru a local grocery store and was surprised that they used a plastic zip tie to close my purse before I entered. They very wisely advised me to take my cell phone out before they zipped it up, because Michael called me while I was wandering around!! After shopping, I passed the “take-out” section and bought two Samosas for lunch….wonderful!!!
Our hotel was older but was extremely comfortable. I read that this area of town was established when the British were still in India and I can totally see where the hotel fit into that context.
…and a very cool wall hanging…..
On Sunday night we decided to visit the local Marriott hotel for dinner and drinks. We had a marvelous night, complete with excellent food, great ambiance, and a medium size fruit bat flying thru the dining room!!! The staff did a great job of cornering and removing it with a minimum of distraction, although Michael (who worked on bats for several years) offered to carry it out for them…..they declined!!!
We have grown to love Kerala and were looking forward to our return to Trivandrum. Unfortunately, we found out that our hotel reservation had been messed up and we were being transferred to a different hotel when we returned. We were initially disappointed about this but have really come to enjoy our time at this new hotel. It is part of the same chain, “UDay”, and has a bit quieter atmosphere.
The staff has been magnificent, first retrieving our stored suitcase from the original hotel, then helping us pay for an item that was being shipped to us, finding someone to give me a Henna tattoo and working to make sure that we are happy!!
The complex is very pretty, especially at night….
It is decorated with 3 dimensional wall murals….
This butterfly obviously enjoys it…..
Michael’s host, Hema, told him that this is a “Southern Bird Wing Butterfly” and is endemic to this area in the southern part of the Western Ghats. Whatever he is, he was huge and beautiful!!!
Michael was supposed to have been working on Friday (September 2nd) but there was a Nationwide strike happening so they closed IISCER down and told the kids in the course to stay home. Strikes here can often get violent, especially when you are found in a vehicle on the road. So, we took the advice and stayed close to the hotel for the day.
The strike began at midnight and the night before we had gone to dinner in town with some of Michael’s colleagues. As I looked over the ledge of the hotel, I could see the men standing around with torches in their hand…..
…sadly, it reminded me of the Ogre hunt in Shrek!!!
On “Strike Day” we did venture out to the beach, about a five minute walk away, however we avoided the corner that had men holding clubs!! We passed a group of young men playing Cricket…
…the perfect pastime for Strike Day!!! We enjoyed watching them for a few minutes and could tell that we were the topic of conversation and the source of much laughter.
Michael and I have wondered whether the strike was just a way to get a 3 or 4 day weekend. Monday is a holiday in some areas as it is the start of the Hindu Ganesh Festival and in much of Kerala as the start of the Onam celebration. People certainly did seem to be enjoying themselves!!!
We arrived at the beach, stopping to watch a few fishermen working on their nets….
We new that we had to at least stick our toes into the Arabian Sea…..
……. but Michael got a little carried away…..
One other interesting thing from the State of Kerala….. it is illegal to sell alcohol on the 1st day of each month. The premise is that, since most people get paid on the 1st, they can protect them from spending all of their money on booze. Based on the length of the lines on the last day of August, I am not exactly sure that it is working!!