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India: Day Eight + Day Seven reflection

Yesterday we came back to Bangalore on the train from Mysore. From the Bangalore railway station we took an auto-rickshaw to a spot near ashacat’s cousin’s place. We got back to Sudhi & Anju's "just in time" -- blissfully unaware that a major news event was breaking.

When we got to the house, Anju was watching a cable news channel, which was giving details of a judgment just issued by the Cauvery water commission. The Cauvery river is one of the great sacred rivers in India; it originates in Karnataka state, and flows into Tamil Nadu state on its way to the sea. The Cauvery is a major source of water for both states.

There have been disputes over access to the Cauvery’s water since the 19th century. The present dispute started in the late 1980s. In 1991 the Cauvery water commission was created to adjudicate the dispute. Yesterday it issued its judgment in the 16 year-old case of Tamil Nadu vs. Karnataka ... the ruling was largely status quo, but would require Karnataka to release some more water from the Cauvery to Tamil Nadu.

Bangalore (and other cities in Karnataka) went into a near shutdown with schools, shops, and business closing. Busses and trains between the two states were halted, and Bangalore deployed 16,000 extra police. There was no serious trouble in Bangalore -- but the '91 riots after the Commission issued its interim ruling were on everyone's mind. Various groups are calling for a state-wide bandh (total shutdown) on Thursday. The front page of the Times of India today was entirely devoted to the ruling and the reaction in Bangalore, Mysore, etc...

All of this brewed up while we were jouncing along in our auto-rickshaw through the city. We missed the arrests of a group of protesters at the train station by an hour, and were through the commercial districts before shopkeepers started closing down. We also missed the gridlock as thousands of students and workers hit the streets trying to get home early before any trouble could start.

Luck was on our side yesterday – but it really gives you pause to think about being overtaken by big events when you’re in a foreign country.
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Today was a rest, relaxation, and laundry day. We looked at photos (some Asha had not sent me previously, and the ones we took in Mysore), and Asha beat me mercilessly at Scrabble.

I’m dealing with some traveler’s tummy, and a low-grade fever. Hopefully it’ll clear up on its own. If not, that’s why I packed in this big pile of meds prescribed by the travel doctor. I have a feeling that I shouldn’t have tried the fruit salad Sunday in Mysore.

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