Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

...In which the advanced party get their first taste of Mysore

Sunshine in the morning, rain in the afternoon –that seems to be the standard rhythm of the weather in the hotter parts of the world. Today is different though. We called up the weather gods, you see – lovely people – and asked them to switch it around a bit for us. That meant that, after some morning drizzle, we got warm rays of sunshine for virtually the whole afternoon – cue poncholess bliss! And what better way to pass the time on such a beautiful day than to be treated to a trip to one of the real jewels of Karnataka? I speak, of course, of the city of Mysore.

If you’re wearing a neck brace then Mysore simply isn’t for you. There are just too many awe inspiring sights vying for your attention to make keeping your head still a certainty, foremost amongst these being the palace, of course – more on that in later blogs! As our thirty minute drive from Field Base nears the city, we begin to get swept up in the atmosphere of the place, pressing our faces against the windows to take it all in as though we’d wondered into an urban version of Jurassic Park. “Little” Manju drops us off amidst the hustle and bustle of the tuk tuks and Simon, our programme manager, ushers us into an upstairs restaurant called Shilpashri. Here, next to an balcony view of the streets below , we are treated to the most revelatory lunch of lamb masala, chilli-fried cashews, butter naans, chicken “lolypops” and vegetable koftas: a truly jaw dropping menu by any standards and all here, in the city’s heart. It’s all so exquisite that we take some hours to snap out of our happy trance.

The group tuck in
Whilst the trance holds, however, we decide to go for a trot around town and soon find ourselves in the cool, shaded environs of Devaraja Market: a respite from the traffic noise as much as from the sun. No sooner had we entered, than an animated young gentleman named Khan came and said hello to us all and, before we knew it, he had swept us into his shop and proceeded to show us, with great enthusiasm, the art of making joss sticks. Khan’s shop is but one branch in the tree of his family’s commercial affairs. For the last seventy years, his relations have been successfully selling scented oils and now market their wares to such luminaries of the perfume industry as Calvin Klein, no less!

The visual feast of Devaraja Market
Surely the most eye catching aspects of the market are the mounds of kumkum – heaped bowls of vibrantly coloured powders made from turmeric or saffron used for markings in Hinduism. If I’ve seen such hues before in my life, I can’t for the life of me remember where. It’s like being given eyes again having never been able to see. Meanwhile, in front of us men empty sacks of grain and spices throwing intoxicating scents into the air. Our cameras are clicking out photographs so regularly by now that we must have sounded like human pocket watches.

Stallholders hard at work


As we emerge back into the sweltering heat of Mysore, we can’t help noticing that for one four-legged local, the task of staying awake has become too much like hard work. Perhaps he should have indulged in a cool sip of coconut water from the nearby street vendor’s stall. Still, he’s clearly not too bothered! It’s a sign though that perhaps we too should be winding down and head back to the relaxed surroundings of Field Base to take stock of what has been a truly mesmerising excursion. Through the armada of traffic comes “Little” Manju – punctual as always – and we set sail for home.

Next time on the Raleigh India 12I Blog: The remaining avengers assemble!


  1. I am jealous of the adventure you guys are having and the good deeds you are going to do, tell Laura O'Reilly that her semi ginger, bearded boyfriend can't wait till she is back.

  2. To communications officer Mitch
    Hi Mate just been catching up with your latest blog and pics, looks amazing such beautiful colours. The food sounds great also, I hope you are collecting recipes so we can experience some of the dishes on your return.Don't forget to get in some of the pictures yourself it would be good to see you as well as read you.Take good care, look forward to you next edition. Love Mum&Dadx

  3. To Ellie Cree
    Glad to read you are getting down to the concepts of providing sanitation, albeit just for personal use at this stage! The early post look like you were having far too much fun in the markets and we were concerned your considerable skills at retail therapy might result in advanced parcels arriving home sooner than expected!! Yes, get in the pics Ellie! We all miss you but very happy it is going well.
    Much love Mum, Squid and Resi xxx