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  • Theresa Vernetti

Tamil Cinema and Henna Tattoos

April 5,  2006    Mysore, India

Mysore is a town I wouldn’t mind visiting again.  It features a huge, centrally located palace which lights up Disney style on Sunday nights.  We had an amazing muslim guide—long white tunic, full beard and white cap—who had a very commanding presence.  He  could shoo away looky- loos or locals who were blocking our passage with a single, stern, bug-eyed glare.  It was very amusing to constantly witness this technique.  The collection in this monument (rebuilt 100 years ago after the original was destroyed by fire) was a series of paintings in “Indian Mona Lisa style” in which the eyes, shoes and shadows of the subjects in the painting would follow you as you moved from one side to the other—amazing, really—no idea how this works.

Numerous moto-rickshaw trips and rides in old school Ambassador cars which made us feel like VIPs of the 1940’s.    Our host in this city was Ali, who arranged for our every need—from drivers, to lunch at his home, to henna application by his daughter’s friend.  Most of my left arm is covered with hindi designs which wrap around my bicep like a vine and attract a lot of curious interest by local women who normally paint their palms and forearms.  It is tricky for two women carry their daypacks, ride in a moto-rickshaw back to the hotel and figure out payment  without smudging the freshly painted designs on thier hands and feet.

About half of the group went to a local, Tamil movie…..the cheesiest soap opera imaginable, with exaggerated drama, singing, dancing and loud background music which crecendoed to a deafening volume during the most intense and dramatic moments of the film.  I made a getaway at intermission and headed to the outdoor food stalls, a good place to chat with locals who are happily munching on local treats  served on stainless steel plates or banana leaves.  Afraid to risk my health so early in the trip, a nice room service meal and some rest in the room sounded like a good idea.  The butter chicken and chocolate ice cream were good choices…..are 8 trips to my room by the wait staff really necessary ?!?

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