When I got started this morning I saw that my pump and 2 luggage straps have disappeared. This is the first time on this journey that something got stolen from me. My bicycle was parked in the ground floor of the hotel - and there was supposed to be a watchman. But either the watchman did not watch or the watchman himself was the thief. Of course I became pretty angry and started a longer discussion with the hotel boss. He was not very helpful though. His english was very basic (and my Tamil is non-existent) - only thing he could communicate was that the watchman would only return at 8pm and that they had no way of contacting him. That was not the information I wanted to hear and despite the lack of a common language I made very clear that we would have to find a solution for this. I am a completely peaceful person, but sometimes being very tall is pretty useful - just to impress in an otherwise endless discussion. When they realized that that angry foreigner wouldn't just go away by just waiting they started to search for a solution. I was promised that they would call me as soon as the watchman would come in that night - yeah, sure. I didn't believe a word of that. To put up some pressure I took one of their keys hostage and offered a deal: I would leave with the key and once they call me and I get my stuff or a refund they will get it back. They did not like my offer too much. After telling them that I had already wasted more than an hour they came around with a refund offer. In the end we agreed on 200 rupees (which won't buy me a pump but should be as much as I need to get some air at bicycle shops whenever necessary through the next months) and I could finally leave.
Considering this bad bad surprise in the morning it became a surprisingly nice day. There are some temples dedicated to celestial objects in the area and fortunately the moon temple was just a little detour away. It was a very small temple, but as such it had a very authentic feel. The sadhus were waiting at the entrance, the families were picnicking under a tree and everyone was very interested in my bicycle. One guy even tried it out - and did surprisingly well!
After leaving the temple I took the small side roads to Kumbakonam. Every 12 years the Mahamaham, a festival with a couple of millions visitors is held here - all keen to wash off their since in a tank surrounded by temples. After visiting the tank and reading a bit I got to know that a smaller version of that festival, the Masimaham with just about 100.000 visitors will be held in only 3 days. I quickly checked with the hotel if I could stay some more days: no problem - sooo, I will stay in Kumbakonam until the festival. The day after Masimaham is the day of the big colour-throwing festival of Holi. I was told that Holi is not celebrated here in Southern India, so I will cycle on this day - nevertheless I guess there is a possibility that I will end that day much more colourful than when I start.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Day 247 Thanjavur - Kumbakonam