Sunday, 8 February 2009

The National Sports Of India

Spending time with Charles's family you get a glimpse of a disappearing world.

James, Charles's uncle, is an endangered species. An old fashion gentleman, an Old Etonian, he belongs more to the days of E.M Foster, to the days of "A Passage To India" than the Britain we know these days. A source of knowledge for everything, he would be the perfect Trivial Pursuit partner, as long as you didnt have any pop culture questions.

He arrived in India in 1973, having just graduated from Law School, with a dislike for life in the UK, and a trust fund, and decided not to go back to the motherland.

We also got another glimpse of that bygone world when visiting the Maharani Palace, the main attraction in central Mysore. It was built in 1912 to replace the old one that had burnt down at the end of the previous century.

Charles and his cousin...

Built, like most old grand buildings, with taxes on an already poor country, and the use of forced labour, its another monument to and reminder of the dangers of absolute power.

The building itself is stunning, clearly Indian from the outside, but with Muslim influences.

However, the inside, its Main Hall for example, has an undeniable Victorian flavour. It reminded me of St. Pancras station in London that has just recently been restored.

Even better was the Court room, an arcade where Fortnum and Mason meets Moulin Rouge. Once again it's all bright colours, the Fortum and Mason blue/green shades, all high camp. But nothing beats the Palace lit up at night, it is like Christmas by Jack...

Although Mysore is so leafy and middle class you can still see in it's people the traits that make Indians the nation that they are. So in no particular order I have listed what I consider to be India's national sports:

* Spitting - I will never get used to it. Men, women, children. I am surprised the cows don't do it. I only have one thing to say...yuk!!!!

* Staring - This really is a national sport for men. We are not talking of subtle checking of totty as he passes by. This is plain, almost invasive, staring. Charles is a constant target. At 6'5" he towers well over everyone..."how many height? movie star?"!!!!

* Cricket. Now we're talking serious obsession here. There is a blo*dy Bollywood movie about it. It's, what's the word...DULL!!! I'd rather watch my laundry dry.

It would be faster. And a lot more entertaining.

Off to a bird santuary ...

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