Troubles while biking in Hampi

Eventually, every foreigner visiting India will find themselves completely exasperated with this country. You'll look around and think to yourself that you are truly standing in the middle of the most insane and quite inane civilization in the world. And you'll wonder what the hell you're still doing here.


Better understanding of the culture will not alleviate the condition. It's precisely because you have a greater grasp of what's going on that you get so fed up with the country and the people you meet. So if you find yourself in this situation, don't panic. Take comfort in knowing it happens to everyone.

Alex reached this point right around his second day in India. For me, it was a much slower burn and most of the time, I brush it off as a minor inconvenience. But Hampi did get under my skin more than most others.

For background, Hampi is a small town in South India built right in the middle of an ancient city called Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. It's now a UNESCO world heritage site and a bustling tourist destination. Alex and I came here on New Years Day.

Here's one of the city's famous ruins, a stone chariot (plus Alex):



The city is absolutely stunning. It's as photogenic as a super model. But what got to me about this place was the corruption.

One example, Alex and I rented a motorcycle but when we drove into the main part of town, we started getting harassed by people asking where our bike came from. Some townspeople informed us the reason for this was because rented motorcycles are banned in the city. If you're caught driving one, the police will stop you for bribes. And why? Because the tuk-tuk drivers lobbied the police to ban motorcycle rentals so they could secure their place as the only means of transport for tourists. In fact, it's often the tuk-tuk drivers who will notify officers of offending rental vehicles.

My brain melted at the thought that tuk-tuk drivers successfully ganged together to create such an asinine policy. Assuming the townsfolk were speaking truly, this would be a new low in my experiences with India.

A photo of our new baby the day we brought her home. I named her Bunny.
I still debate my feelings for Hampi as a functioning city and as a cultural heritage site. Breathtaking historic and spiritual sites come packaged together with backwards-thinking regulations. It's like a microcosm of the kinds of the challenges facing the whole country. In the meantime, I'll likely not pay a return visit anytime soon but I do appreciate all the beauty this place had to offer during my short stay.

Other photos from Hampi:

Sunset at Vitthala Temple
Another sunset shot at Tungabhadra River
Overlooking Virupaksha Temple. Photo by Alex Iliev.
Bunny posing by the roadside
Planting rice in the fields
Waiting for blessings at the Virupaksha Temple
Local monkey family
Banana puri for breakfast
The head chef of the local dining establishment as he prepares my lunch
Riding free outside of town

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