My Sweet Lord

January 30, 2018

The summer palace of the Wadiar rulers of Bangalore.

A European-style castle with ivy-colored walls and stone turrets with parapets.
A mosaic-floored hall overlooks a square.  Stools made from the feet of  elephants and other animals sit on benches, on display.

Falooda is a sweet dessert drink, often made with small tapioca balls and shredded noodles. Yellow raisins and vanilla ice-cream made it great for a hot day.

A straw and spoon stick out of a bright pink drink with ice cream on top.

The seat of the state government of Karnataka.

An enormous stone building with columns, culminating in a pointed dome with three lions on top.  The Indian flag of orange, white and green horizontal stripes flies in the breeze.
Inside a glass building, an enormous stone figure sits behind a castle wall covered with flowers.
The sun sets over a lake, behind a man with a goatee, messy blond hair, and preposterous sunglasses.
A stone plaza before two small and one quite large temple building.

Bangalore, India

Nonperturbative and Numerical Approaches to Quantum Gravity, String Theory, and Holography, the program I attended, had a half-day Tuesday program with a free afternoon. We arranged cabs into Bangalore, where we visited the summer palace–which could be better kept up–and followed the audiotour through the public areas, court, and private residence of the British-collaborating rulers of the state of Karnataka.

We stopped at a souvenir shop, where I spotted a lassee shop across the street. The traffic in India is controlled chaos—there are essentially no stop lights and no pedestrian crossings: one must simply cross with caution and confidence. I enjoyed a falooda, which my friend Vesna recommended before my trip. It was… weird. There were small tapioca balls and shredded rice noodles, topped with vanilla ice cream and yellow raisins.

From there we made a short stop at the Parliament and High Court en route to the botanical gardens. Parts of the gardens are very nice, but it’s very hard to ignore the abundance of litter. The highlights were the greenhouse seen above, an abundance of beautiful, wild song birds, bonsai trees, and a still lake with lotus lillies.

The cabs then took us through rush-hour Bangalore traffic to Ishkon temple, a main temple of the Hare Krishna. As I was wearing shorts, I had to put on a doti before proceeding to the shrines. As we made our way to the first shrine, we passed a special staircase for worshipers where with every step they alternate the mantras “Hare Krisha, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare” or “Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

When we reached the main shrine, a monk or priest had us touch flower blossoms and sprinkled us with perfumed water. Then we joined a group of worshipers as another monk rang a bell and sprinkled the blossoms around an idol. He swung incense and chanted, and finally sprinkled the crowd with the remaining perfumed water. As worshipers leave the shrine, they put their hands over the flames of candles and touch their faces with their warmed hands.

For dinner the different cabs split up before heading back to campus.

January 30, 2018

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