Time just flies by…first 15 days of the year already past and am yet to write about the new year trip I made.

I took mom for a 3 day conducted tour arranged by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation to Mysore, Ooty and Coonoor. I never thought of very highly for state conducted tours but when it’s just two people traveling, it’s not very economical to hire a cab. Surprisingly, the whole trip went great and I was pretty impressed by KSTDC services and arrangements.

The Delux Non AC bus tickets costs you INR 1930 approx and covers 3 days journey and 2 night stays in pretty decent hotels.Our guide told us, they actually put the tourist in Hotel Mayura which is under renovation these days. We started on 31st Dec at 7 am from Bangalore Corporation Bus stop near Unity building. The itinerary included Secundrabad, Tipu Sultan’s fort, Mysore, Mysore palace, Vrindavan Gardens, Bandipur wildlife sanctuary (we only passed through this while on our way to Ooty) Ooty and Coonoor.

Amongst the places we saw my personal favorite is Coonoor. Amazing scenic beauty with views of mountains, river and tea plantations. Coonoor’s main attraction was Sims Park.

We also took a detour(we paid the guide INR 125 per head for it) to this place they call the mini Switzerland of southern India. The journey back from coonoor to Ooty was particularly mesmerising. I am not very good at expressing nature’s beauty in words, so my pic will tell.

Mysore palace was magnificent although I have heard if you see it at night it’s even more stunning with all those hundred thousand bulbs lighting up the palace.

Vrindavan Garden was a huge complex but nothing great about it. The musical fountain was quite funny, it was playing Bollywood hits from the likes of Rangeela, Roja etc. The crowd their totally freaked me out so I stayed away from it. Mom went out of sight for a while amidst that crowd adding to my worry. Clicked a few pics standing far behind the crowd.

Mom was very happy to see the places, she just loves travelling but it was tiring for her. The first day was particulary hectic and all the tourists on the bus were wishing they had more time in hand for each spot.

Although I felt, the fact that you have a limited to spend at each spot, is actually a pro at times. When we travel on our own, we travel at leisure, which is good but then these are places which you can actually cover in a day. Being on your own you end up spending more time than required thereby spending on lodging and boarding. But I managed to do some street photography too amidst the tight schedule.

We had two Israeli women with us in the bus. They both are teachers of English literature in their country, visiting Bangalore for a conference on English teaching in the Bangalore university.

I obviously got quite friendly with them. I am friendly and extrovert, but those are not the reason why they liked talking to me so much the ease in communication . One them said, “I must ask you, where did you get your English from.”

I didn’t know what she meant, I said, “Well, I just went to an English medium school.”

She didn’t quite agree it was that simple. “But how come you don’t have an accent, how come your English is so different from everything I have heard ever since I came to India. You know it’s so embarrassing people talk to me in English and I can’t understand one word”. She particularly couldn’t believe I have been taught by Indian teachers.

Wow, I didn’t know it was that big a deal. There were other things about India they were absolutely overwhelmed about. Like, just how big is this country, that when they have only travelled from Bangalore to Ooty. Israel they said can be covered in a day. I could only say, “welcome to my Incredible India”