Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Malnad Diaries. :)

Back from another Malnad-exploratory weekend!

My first trip was in Chikmagalur district and we covered Mullayanagiri and Habbe Falls. The route to Chikmagalur was serene and a splash of green all around. The roads were nice enough for us to zip through at a good speed and the weather was pleasant throughout. The Homestay was by itself like a bubble of solitude and tranquillity. Simple, comfortable and quiet; the variety of flowers around was a visual treat. Mullayanagiri is a trekker’s delight and the drive was narrow and winding. The pure air of the hills left us rejuvenated for the reminder of the trip. We took a jeep to Abbe falls which is relatively well preserved and easily accessible. The falls by itself is not huge but it appears picture perfect.
Spectrum Homestay
Habbe Falls
This weekend, Dad, Mom and Di arrived in Shimoga on Saturday afternoon and after soon quick and crazy thinking it was decided that Abhigna will join us and soon we worked out all the formalities and started off towards Horanadu. The journey was again beautiful by itself with fields, farms, villages and coffee plantations dotting the landscape. We reached by nightfall and visited the temple and then proceeded towards dinner. There’s something about the food here, the memory of it lingers in you for a long time. I still remember my visit to this temple about 15 years ago and the food was the same; simple yet so satisfying. :)

After this we retired for the day and I spent the next few hours sandwiched and wide-eyed yet oddly immersed in deep thoughts. The next morning, we woke up early enough to watch the changing colours of the sky in the sunshine and took a long rambling walk with no specific destination in mind. Di led the way, (other) monkeys welcomed us on the way and the chirping of a variety of birds greeted us. Post this walk and a visit to a Jain temple; we had our breakfast at an eatery on the street.

In the middle of our meal, an unkempt middle aged man walked in with a stick and began rambling loudly in what sounded like Telugu. He sounded angry and ranted for what seemed like a long time. The customers began to feel uncomfortable and we waited and watched hoping that he would leave. However, he seemed to be on roll and was spewing profanities and the owner had to raise his voice to make him leave. He didn’t leave immediately and his threatening growls could be heard as he made his way towards another eatery.

A few minutes later, another man (fairly well dressed and possibly in his 60s) entered the eatery and made some enquiries regarding the breakfast options available. He bargained for a while and then walked up towards us and started talking. He began with a detailed interrogation of Appa’s details: his occupation, place of residence, education, number of offspring, gender of offspring, reason for absence of male offspring (-_-), education of spouse and offspring and so on. This went on for a while and then Ma started getting fidgety and signalled towards Dad to begin his side of the interrogation or terminate the conversation. He was a retired History teacher from Mysore (which Appa tested by asking him about Battle of Plassey :P )and had worked in the PU Evaluation Board for several years. His children, a daughter and a son both had done MS and the son lived in London while the daughter lived in the country. He was here for the rice-initiation ceremony of his grand-daughter. He left soon after he finished his meal and we heaved a sigh of relief and finished our breakfast without any further interruptions.

Appa being Appa, unearthed some meaning out of this whole experience. In the end, the two men did not have much difference. Yes, one was supposedly well off and the other was not. One was educated and the other was not. Yet both man had a single trait: they wanted conversation. They wanted to talk. They had something in their mind which they wished to unburden upon any stranger on the street. They didn’t mind that it was a complete stranger they were opening up to. They just wanted conversation. The difference lies in the fact that while one is ostracized from society and treated as an outcast because of what he appears to be, the other is treated as sane and normal. Every individual has gone through something that changes them. Sometimes we just need to empathise with people. They aren’t the way they are for no reason; everybody has a story. 

After this we had another Temple darshan and then started back towards Shimoga. We halted at a river bank where Di played for a short while, at Khalasa where we had lunch and had a quick glance at the temple and at Amulya Shodha; a museum of sorts about 10km from Shimoga. It’s definitely worth a visit for the plethora of interesting things on display. The happiest moment for Pa and Ma was when the curator played an old track on an ancient gramophone. The experience transported us to another era for a few minutes. :) ) After this, MaPaDi packed up and boarded the 5pm bus back to Bangalore while Abhi and I reached the hostel and collapsed for the next several hours.

Thus ended another weekend well spent! Here's hoping for many more such beautiful experiences..