On the final day of the Soul of India tour in the south, we had a five hour drive back to Bangalore where some would fly home, some would fly to Goa for a post-trip and we would fly to Delhi to join our next group for a tour of northern India. Even though the traffic congestion was bodacious, Charles has an expert sense of timing and knew we could pause for two more "learning and discovery" experiences as he always called them. Yesterday we saw the sugar cane being harvested; today we saw it being processed. The bull carts brought in the stalks which were crushed by an ancient looking machine. Then the juice was boiled, fired with dry bits of cane stalks. The steam clouds smelled sweet and we had a chance to sample the dried bits of unrefined sugar.
Yesterday we saw how the silk worms reproduce and are raised and today we stopped at the largest silk commodities market in India. When we think about all the beautiful saris we have admired for the last month, it is understandable how much silk needs to be produced. The farmers bring the cocoons here and sell them for prices somewhat regulated by the government. Much of their product is purchased by the cottage industry weavers, who will spin and weave the stuff in their homes. The market was as busy and noisy as any stock or commodities market we have seen.
After lots of hugs and good byes, we headed to the airport. One from our group was traumatized by having her suitcase randomly selected for special security inspection. She had to wait so long, she was afraid she would miss her flight home. She was taken away to a small room where four officials who spoke little English went through everything in her case. The Indians are rightfully security conscious, since their Pakistani neighbors cause them endless problems, but spending all this time on a little old lady from Maine made absolutely no sense. Here I always have to go through a separate security line from Ken since men and women are segregated and I cannot run interference for him when he gets nailed. This time I lost my manicure scissors and he lost a larger pair which he forgot to put in the large suitcase.
Our suitcases both arrived, a man with a sign with our names on it was waiting at the exit and we were whisked away to a lovely hotel where we will be spending the next five days - two on our own and three with the next tour group. Here too, we went through security. Men looked under the car with mirrors on long poles and the engine compartment was checked. Our suitcases and our bodies went through screening, too. This should make us feel more safe, but instead serves as a constant reminder of how tenuous things are in our world these days.
It will be nice to have a little down time in our beautiful high tech digs before the tour of the Heart of India tour begins.