India was a place I always told myself I wanted to go, but year after year it got pushed around, forced to the back burner by the priorities of life. When my girlfriend came to me and said, I want to study Yoga in Mysore I knew this was our chance. Within days we walked into the travel agency and purchased our tickets, 6 months before our departure date.
The truth is, if we didn’t book them early, we may never have, and then another year would pass us by. It was the first time in my life that I felt as though I could commit to something that far in advance and let me tell you from experience, it felt wonderful.
When I look at some of my most productive friends, they are always making plans ahead of time, good plans, interesting plans and they stick to them. Me, I’m more of a day by day, week by week kinda guy, so I’m glad I had the forethought (and the partner) to recognize my weaknesses. And now here I am, in India, finally.
[Photo: Sonnie Trotter]
From the plane, Bangalore looked a lot like any other city – an oceanof lights stretching beyond the horizon – but after we landed and thedoors opened, I knew we were somewhere unique. A security checkfollowed by customs check, left us standing by our luggage. We booked ahotel and walked out of the airport, stepping into India for the firsttime. The smells were so thick I could taste it on my tongue, breathingit in heavily and then spitting it back out on the streets. It tooksome time to get used to.
The culture shock was enough to keep me awake for the first three days.The Delhi Belly I picked up has since gone into dormancy, so I wasfeeling pretty good. Hampi is the place to be if you like to Boulder.They got temples here from 3000 years ago, of course they are overrunwith monkey bastards; they are worth the visit all on their own. Acrossthe muddy river you will find a place called Goan Corner, this has beenmy home for nearly three weeks, climbing, resting, writing, reading andeating. Not a lot going on, some mini adventures here and there, likethe time a monkey stole my clothes, or when the Rickshaw driver left usan hour and a half walk from town because of a dispute, or maybe thetime I avoided getting mugged, or swimming up at the lake, which may ormay not have crocodiles, (nobody can say for certain). But all thataside, it’s climbing, breathing and taking it all in. Being comfortablewith a change of pace, dreaming about that one move you just know youcan stick if you dug a little deeper and taking the time to get to knownew people, world travelers. Stretching is pretty important here aswell, the yoga feels good, it’s so warm here that your muscles arealways bendy and you will want to take advantage of that with someAshtanga, about an hour per day. It’s a good chance to let the blisterson your fingertips heal.
Last week I went to Mysore for a break. My girlfriend Lydia and Irented a scooter. They don’t look like much and I never imagined Iwould climb aboard one of these dainty machines as motorcycles alwayscarried more manhood. But alas, there I was cruising through town andbeeping my horn. The Indians use their horn for every single thing.Horns for turning, horns for passing, horns for stopping, horns forlooking, horns for gliding. It can be a little much in a city of 4million people with streets packed tightly bumper to bumper and tire totire. But I was able to make sense of the driving techniques and aftera few blocks felt quite confident on the roads. What threw me off (andI never did get used to) was seeing cows roaming the streets, walkingthrough intersections as though it was an open field, goats too, pigsand chickens, everywhere, and all of them eating garbage. The mayhem ishard to freeze. There is so much happening it’s impossible to captureit all in words or even in a photograph, it must be lived.
Now back in Hampi, things are much slower. You can walk or ride abicycle pretty much anywhere you need to go, but the begging is stillrelentless. Today, I need to go climbing. My friend Paul and I arehitting up the double arête, a classic line of nearly perfectproportions. Next week we are off to Badami, a crazy, dirty little townof unlimited sandstone and then on to Goa for a swim in the ocean. Ifeel as though I am at a theme park sometimes, a carnival of sorts withroller coasters and spinning contraptions. I paid my money for myticket, boarded the plane and stepped into the ride of a lifetime. It’sbeen 6 weeks since arriving in India and we have four more to go. All Ican do is smile and hold on tight.
[All photos by Sonnie Trotter]
Sonnie Trotteris a Patagonia rock climbing ambassador. He is focused on free climbingroutes that are in jeopardy of being bolted to show that they can bedone in a cleaner fashion. To see Sonnie in action, check out this video from Cobra Crack (5.14) in British Columbia. He also posts regularly to his own blog, Roadlife, on his personal site sonnietrotter.com.