My plan was to go to the AP State Museum where I could view relics of the Buddha. I left my lunch place and hailed a tuk tuk. First stop was the bank and since I had a good vibe from my driver I asked him to wait for me and sweetened the request with a healthy fare. When I came out I told him “Public Gardens Road” and then mentioned museum. The ride was fairly pleasant with a nice tour around the lake where the standing Buddha statue is. I knew it was clear across town but we seemed to ride through every neighborhood, finally reaching the tight congested roads of the old city where I’d been with Rahul and Shakila a few days before. We pulled up to the Salar Jung Museum and my heart sank.
Apparently when you say museum around here it means any museum. He had completely missed the point. Surrendering to the situation, I got out, bought a ticket and went inside. This museum houses the stuff of the Nizam. If you have been following previous blogs you will know that the Nizam ruled this area for quite some time. They had some serious stuff – statues, paintings, lacquerware, cloisonné, furniture, you name it, and that was just what I saw. Beautiful things but a dizzying amount of it. It reminded me of something Trungpa rinpoche said in one of his books. That an uncluttered mind is like one beautiful piece of art in the middle of a room. It’s easier to appreciate that one piece than if one hundred beautiful pieces were in the room, cluttering it up. So I started to feel like this was not where I should be and left.
A driver at the gate rescued me and we backtracked past the markets, over the bridge, turning through roundabouts until he delivered me to my intended destination only to find a cluster of police guarding the gate. The AP State Museum lies within the Public Gardens which, I was informed by an officer, was closed. That’s when I started to lose it. I stated that the tuk tuk had taken me to the wrong place and now it was getting late and it was going to close soon etc. The officer tried to ignore me but I wouldn’t be ignored. I needed to express my frustration and they were the only ones there so they were the lucky recipients. Apparently, I was like an annoying mosquito buzzing in your ear because, after a few minutes one officer took notice. He looked at me and said, “Which country are you from?” at which point I knew I would get in.
I had experienced this same process when we ate lunch at a cafeteria in the country near our hike. We really wanted a cold beer after our hike but they would not serve us because there was a rule about it, not open until 5pm and it was only 1pm. Debu made such a spectacle of me saying that I was a foreigner and how could they treat a foreigner this way, that I expected to be able to drink beer when I wanted etc. They served us the beer. That was the first time I experienced my gorri power. Gorri means white girl. I told the officer I was American and he asked for my passport. I only had my driver’s license and we commenced in a conversation about states, like Oregon was a state like Andhra Pradesh or Telanganu. They asked me again if it was the museum and only the museum I wanted to go to and I said yes, I wanted to see the Buddha relics. Then they let me in. I guess it’s sort of a class thing, because I know that Indians can accomplish this kind of exception but I’m definately at the top of this exception list.
Here are the purported relics of the Buddha found in a stupa in Andhra Pradesh. It has been substantiated by an archeologists finding of an inscription at another stupa that describe the “Buddha’s relics” at the other stupa. The thing at the bottom of the bowl is a bone.
There were many very beautiful carvings both inside the museum and in the courtyard but I didn’t have time to see it all.