I'm in Mangalore, in the state of Karnakata.
Wandering around yesterday, I met two german girls - fresh out of high school and travelling for a year before they go off to uni. We decided to spend the day together.
This town doesn't have too much going for it (for us, it's mainly a place to rest between 16 hour bus/train journeys).. however, we tried to hit all the spots.
In the morning, we walked up a hill to the Catholic school, and checked out the painted chapel ceiling - I know I should be used to this by now, but it's really really strange to see a bunch of white people worshipped in India. It just doesn't seem right.
Afterwards, we went shopping... Mangalore is the cashew nut export capital of India - and can be purchased for around 3 dollars per pound.. I never used to like them, but I thought i'd give them another chance, and found that I actually liked them!
The german girls were in rough shape - They're in India because it's cheap, and spiritual..blah blah blah. However, they don't really like Indian food. They spent the better part of 10 minutes trying to get a waiter to bring them steamed veggies with white rice - no sauce, etc... not an easy thing here.
I love Indian food so much, that I completely forgot about the fact that a lot of visitors probably aren't too crazy about it - the strong flavors, the intense heat and spice of dishes.. mmmm.
After that, we took a rickshaw (my first ever rickshaw that used the meter!) to the Sultan's Battery, a mini-castle, and the last bit of colonial era stuff in town. We arrived perfectly in time for sunset, and so got to watch the sun go down over the water, while sitting on top of the ramparts.. Quite romantic (but alas, they both have boyfriends).
We spotted a fair-ground on the way to the Battery, and so we got the rickshaw driver to let us off there on the way back.. So much fun. We rode on a few very dangerous looking rides, ate a bunch of carnival food (which is much better here), and were almost celebrities. All the Indian guys wanted to talk to me, shake my hand, sit next to me..etc. For the girls, it was a change, because they are usually leered at (and sometimes flashed) by the Indian men. However, now that they were with a foriegn man, they were 100% ignored by the massive crowds of young Indian men... no one talked to them, no bottoms were pinched, and so they were actually able to enjoy themselves - all while I happily wagged my head (see earlier message on Indian head nods), smiled, said hello to everyone, and shook hands with more people than I could count.
Clearly, the experience for Men and Women here is completely different. For the girls, they have to worry about people hitting on them pretty much non stop. However, I can walk around by myself, and know that most of the time, people are just interested in why a foreigner has come to their town. Unlike Thailand or other places, people know english because they learn it in school (whereas in other countries, the people who know english are the ones who want your money).
We had asked a waiter earlier on about the existence of an english-language cinema - and he happily gave us a name and directions. Thus, after the fair-ground experience, we hopped in a rickshaw, and headed to the cinema... Once we arrived, we found that 1. the last show was at 7PM (long gone), and more importantly, 2. This cinema could best be described as for bachelors only (thus explaining the huge grin on the rickshaw driver's face as we told him where we wanted to go). It probably would have been an experience to see a porno movie in India, but one I can quite happily go without.
While the girls were buying fruit, I started chatting with a chap on the street, who (in addition to giving me free sweets) told me about a mini-theatre 1k away that showed English films... Thus, we headed off in search of it.
It turned out to be just that. On the 3rd floor of an office building, someone had installed about 6 rows of crappy cinema seats, and hooked up a projector to a DVD player - where freshly pirated films were shown. And so, for 30 rupees each, we got to see American Pie 4 (awful, oh so awful), in a black market illegal cinema. How cool!
Today, I'm off, by bus.. not sure where yet, but I think i'm going SW-ish towards the Coffee Growing areas of Karnakata.