To the Gandhi museum by bus
During my last day in Madurai, I want to visit the Tamukkam Palace and the nearby Gandhi museum. According to the travel guide book, you reach them with buses 2, 3, or 4. After breakfast, I study the city plan and head to the bus station. When I arrive there, I spot two signs with the bus numbers. That is easy, I think, I just need to wait for the right bus to arrive.
But the bus is not showing up
Another tourist is waiting on the same platform, so I ask him if he is heading to the Gandhi museum too. Apparently not, he wants to leave the city. Suddenly bus number 3 approaches. I hop in and immediately walk to the conductor at the back of the bus. No, this bus is not going to the Gandhi Museum. I must take bus number 2. I get out again and wait another twenty minutes, but the number 2 is not showing up. Hence I give up and walk back into the city.
Alternative transport on the back of a scooter
Two blocks further, a relatively freshly dressed, slightly chubby, young Indian comes over and asks where I am going. He proposes to take me to the Gandhi museum on the back of his scooter. I think, sure, and then end up in a store again. So I make it clear to him that I do not want that. No problem, he answers, there are few tourists, he does not want any money from me. I do hear him mumbling something about a tailor shop, though. This will end in yet another store; I realize that all too well.
Only a short visit to the Gandhi museum
My scooter guide delivers me neatly to the Gandhi museum. I walk through the place in half an hour. As the exhibition is quite nationalistic-Indian oriented, I limit myself mainly to some photos and quotes by Gandhi himself. Then we drive on to the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam tank, my second goal for this day. But I am wrong; the Tamukkam Summer Palace is located near the museum, the tank is a temple in a large square bowl.
Yearly wedding anniversary of Shiva and Meenakshi
At the moment, that bowl is overgrown with grass, but once a year in April, it is filled with water. During a ceremony then the images of Shiva and Meenakshi are transported from the Meenakshi temple and sail to the temple tank to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Now the place is arid, with grazing cows in it. Anyway, I sit down and enjoy the peace and the view of the temple.
Ending up in the next rooftop store
Upon our return to the city, we need to stop at a gas station to refuel. Of course, I need to pay. I already knew that from my tour in Pondicherry with Sebastian. I have no issues with that, as my guide has shown me two fascinating locations. Along the way, he thanks me for the gasoline and even treats me for tea. This the first Indian to pay something for me, a minimal victory. And then the monkey shows up; accidentally, we meet his sister near the temple. To keep the story short, I end up in the next rooftop store. Somehow you get sucked in here over and over again.
Buying a Ganesh statue
I walk rather uninterested towards the back of the store to meet my hunter on duty. The more authentic pieces are in a side room, he says. First, he explains the structure of Hinduism. It becomes a fascinating conversation. Of course, this is just a smart salesperson. I was planning to buy a Ganesh figurine, but only not at this time of my trip. The statue that the man shows me is lovely, so we negotiate a satisfactory price for both parties. After this sale, he tries to talk to me inti buying a Buddhist tantra from Tibet for a while. But I stand firm and do not buy anything else.
Madurai is charming but tiring as well
Back outside the shop, my guide is still waiting. He is particularly interested in what and for how much I have bought, to estimate the commission. I offer him another cigarette, we say goodbye, and once I have turned my back, he cannot walk into the store quickly enough to collect his share of the loot. What a day, I have had enough. Madurai is a very tiring city, I conclude, with charms, though.