Morning newspaper had a photo clipping of Salwar-clad thinly built girls with two long hair-locks (colloquially called ‘chotees’) jumping across an iron-grill gate, since they were late for pre-medical exam.
Nothing attractive about them. No tight-fitted jeans. No lip gloss. No funky tops or overblown assets. No attitude. No X Y Z factor.
Morning newspaper was ofcourse the quientessential boring ‘The Hindu’, read by only two class of people- IAS aspirants or one who dreamt but never became one. They prefer to be called an elite class now. Moment I began counting myself as one, I terminated my ‘Times’ subscription, switched to ‘The Hindu’, and also changed my reading desk from study table to the toilet commode. And then, long verbose facebook posts and blogs followed, in efforts to bring myself in the elite league.
But, this fascination with elite class haunted me since my days in school. Asking for ‘the hindu’ was certainly not in a kid fascination. It was a blue-eyed urbane sophisticated convent educated girl who could speak fluent english. She seemed just out-of-reach, yet I began brushing up my english, practicing a heavily accented english in school backyard. I could never get the girl, instead aced my english papers.
Med-school ragging days followed, where a Bihari senior would gang-up all Bihari freshers and command like a Jehadi commander, “Saale! Tum log sab ke sabb yahan tak to aa gaye. Par aage ka raasta kathin hai. You all should aim for a ‘delhi-waali girlfriend’. “
Now, this was more than plain english. The overtones, the attitude, the out-of-place humour, the food habits, the body language. Delhi-waali girlfriend seemed like a golden-bicycle toy I cribbed for, my parents could never afford. Only way that came in my mind was old adage, “beta! Padhoge to sabb kuchh milega”. So, I studied hard and kept doing well in exams. Efforts were underpaid, when all I could get was a ‘patna-waali girlfriend’ (PWG).
I wasn’t ready to accept any fault in my DNA, instead something was wrong with the country. I moved to US, lost my PWG, and gave up any dream of DWG. This had suddenly brought me to end of road, with no further girlfriends to aim. I made many more friends, with no delhi-waali, no tags, no premonitions. In that country, all India-waallahs carried the same tag as a Bihari in India. The underdeveloped underprivileged unsophisticated accented people, all of them in dream of better opportunities.
Back to India, tilism was broken. I was in Delhi, a city of ogling, groping, teasing men and bold, energetic and lively girls, who would be afraid, self-conscious and listless at times. Delhi-waali-girlfriend would be equally praised and scorned for.
I finally did have an ephemeral delhi-waali girlfriend and a delhi-waali wife, yet the DNA didn’t haunt me ever again.
Amitabh bachhan with his calm yet strong voice and piercing angry looks, Naseeruddin Shah (the Albert Pinto) with even more thirsty grilling eyes, Smita Patil who rarely smiled, typified the anger of 70s and 80s. It was a reflection of society embroiled in unemployment, unrest and suppression particularly during emergency, capitalism growing in most unethical ways and reflexive frequent trade-union strikes, the abolition, the Punjab turmoil, the JP movement……..and so perished yodeleing joyous Rajesh Khannas (professional death) and Kishore Kumars (actual death).
Things have changed a lot since then, with chest-thumping Indians seem to have overcome days of anger. Some spurts of anger in activists and Kejriwals have subdued with practicality. Corruption-a world wide commodity from Vyapam to FIFA had been assimilated in all societies with some arrests, some political mileage, and virtually no consisent public outcries. Short-lived angry men Devgn and Dutt jumping around foolishly in some forgettable comedies, and anger parodies in South movies, have made us shift to a better joyous India.
Listening to some ‘baby-doll’ type ‘dhinchaak’ number, I was manoevring through busy Bangalore roads. Some half-a-mile beeline of traffic, with me sluggishly moving behind a formidable truck, finally felt victorious as I reached near KR Puram Hanging bridge, and then a screeching brake!! A car seemed to have taken wrong way, and was casually reversing. I was stuck between an obliquely placed car moving in reverse direction, blaring irritating horns from behind and a closely brushing heavy-load truck. On top of it, my kid wanted a kinder-joy that very moment. Blasted by decibels in a claustrophobic driver seat with hands bound to steering wheel, feet stuck to brake and clutch, I felt like a chained adamant Rajput King in Mughal era.
(Note : For clueless junta, “Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai?” was some boring low-budget movie)
The anger is unavoidable but what creates Albert Pintos in present India-
1. Emotionally overtangled families: Family is little complex term for Indians. I will get referrals for somebody close from somebody’s family who needs a MRI. Well, he would be the second cousin’s brother-in-law from maternal side. Conflicts begin from home, when you don’t call somebody on his/her birthday, or may be forget to invite somebody in wedding. Anger would take myriad forms from angry arguments to silent cold-wars.
2. Culinary masalas- We love spices. Rice and chicken wouldn’t suffice in raw form, but it would need a oil-soaked biryani rice, with fried marinated chicken, cooked with raw and minced spices, over-loaded with chillies in all existing forms-the raw and powdered red fiery ones, steamed for hour, and will be served with a thick over-spicy gravy. A dinner-table would be composed of sweating red-faced steaming individuals.
3. The workaholics- Most would work on weekends, and afterhours if it pays, or if it pleases the boss. A seething sex-starved (who would gradually become ascetic) spouse and private-tutored children may or may not welcome when people come home. Anyway, who cares?
4. Babus and sarkars- I barely remember an office clerk’s eyes meeting me. He would be busy looking at papers, mentioning the formalities in a tenor that this would be almost a ‘mission impossible’. Then, the touts and bribes, or come back again with some more papers, and then some more attestations, true copies, certified copies, search for gazetted officers, and then finally the ever-smiling tout again.
5. News and media-freaks- Sensational TV stings and exposes, the rapes, the political alignments, and ever-arguing social media freaks. You like a politician whom your father doesn’t, but your mother does, and a close friend does, but the neighbour hates him like anything. Arguments begin at morning facebook update, warms up at office lunch break, continues in the apartment lift, and reaches a compromise at dinner table, to begin back the next morning.
Abb bhala Albert Pinto gussa kyun na kare.
Do you see an an angry Albert Pinto in yourself? Whats the remedy?
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and faster than you is a maniac.
– George Carlin.”
It depends pretty much on your timing when you plan to visit a waterfall; whether it would be a thin ‘su-su’ stream or a majestic plunge. After a short monsoon-trip to a modest Gaganchukki-Barachukki falls, I planned to move to one of the highest plunge-fall in India, the Jog falls. For all such drives, my quitessential Ashwamedha these days is rented ‘Mahindra XUV’ (courtesy zoomcar).
DAY 1: Bangalore-Jog Falls (~390 km)
As my kids were overexcited since a month I planned, everybody was up by 5:30 am; but myself retired from a prior busy day, could zoom fairly at around 7:30 am.
On the road again!!
The pleasure to check the wheels, adjusting the mirrors, the brakes and accelerators; when you love machine, you love every bit of it, and a driver’s seat always brought a sense of pride and responsibility – an amalgam of a charioteer and king on royal throne. Even, Mahindra wouldn’t have given its make the respect, I bestowed on XUV.
When you are on Bangalore-Pune expressway on a weekday (Thursday) morning, you commit errors like Virender Sehwag giving slip catches in early overs. Within first hour, I oversped to 140 km/hr, and zoomcar flashed its first warning deducting my hard-earned 500 bucks!! Well, after that, Sehwag switched to classy and careful Dravid, driving at steady 90 km/hr while any Tom, Dick and Harry were zooming past my war-horse XUV. Smoothest of drive in country, with only brakes at a bit frequent toll-plazas.
As I got down from sophisticated expressway in Davangere, it was straight into Uttar Kannada hinterlands, manoevring myself through cattles and some not-so-common potholes. Google-map takes the weirdest short-cuts sometimes, with its ultra-socialist approach, measuring traffic in ’18th street, NY’ on same scale as ‘Sirsi-Haveri road somewhere in north Karnataka’. Yet, I enjoyed this 100 km stretch through villages as cattles paid good respect to my hefty gigantic four-wheeler.
When I was well-conditioned on making my way swerving and bending through countryside buffaloes, the winding roads to summits of Sahyadri mountains began. Engulfed in a pleasant thick-forested darkness, with monsoon shifting from drizzles to thunderous rains, drive to top was simply ecstatic. Anywhere you pause or stop, it would be either a steep mountain, or a row of arecanut and coffee plantations, or a stream-from-nowhere or golden-tailed macaque looking in surprise or a dancing peacock or a swiftly swerving Cobra. Believe me- they all were right there……everywhere!!
We reached around 3 pm at our homestay some 8 km before Jog Falls at Matthuga- Stay@matthuga. The place pretty much on Honnavar highway, was placed in the middle of an arecanut plantation. A compromised understaffed place, where you are left in a beautiful cottage all alone, amidst incessant rain. Isolation is forced but much needed when you are looking for respite from busy life in a bustling city. No TV….internet….phone connectivity….intercom…room service….nothing. When you walk down with an umbrella to their central canteen area for a cup of tea, jumping from one rock to another in the muddy in-roads, it reminded me of my hostel days.
We soon left for our first view of Jog Falls. And, talking of view, the picturesque yet ethereal beauty of Sharavati river plunging through steep mountain to an unfathomable depth, was hypnotising. The moment you focus your camera, mist would cover the falls to disappoint you. Somehow, I could get the view pretty okay but perfectionists would surely have a sarcastic grin. Jog falls is more majestic than it seems, with a melodious serenity which lacks in boisterous and thunderous falls of rest of world.
Returned to the cottage, having an ascetic meal of Sambhar and Rasams with pitter-pattering rains in the monsoon-forest, Jog falls perhaps had given the much needed peaceful bliss to our family.
Day 2: Jog falls- Murudeshwar-Idagunji- Jog falls/Matthuga (~200 km).
The Sharavathi river which created the majestic Jog falls became axis of my journey, with me driving along it towards Arabian sea- the river’s destiny. Sharavathi ends at Honnavar in Arabian sea, while I kept driving beyond to a place which reminded me of Somnath, with thunderous seawaves making their futile attempt to shake the fortress of Lord Shiva (Murudeshwar).
The towering high Gopuram, a gazebo at 18th floor of temple overlooking vast Arabian sea, sheer divineness of temple, undemanding devoted priests conducting sankalpam, and a megalithic Shiva statue undaunted smiling at bouncing-rebounding seawaves, Murudeshwar was Lord at his glamourous best!
Trailing back to Sharawati’s destiny, we landed to the famous Ganesha (Vinayaka) temple at Idagunji on Banks of Sharavathi, just before it drains into Arabian sea. While Shiva was basking in glory at sea, Vinayaka kept a bit low-profile hidden in forest yet attracting a lot many devotees from across the country- particularly Maharashtrians.
We came back to Jog falls, where Karnataka government had organized a fantastic musical fountain-show amidst rain on the backdrop of falls. It was artificial, yet merged pretty well with surrounding nature and gave a cheerful evening to the crowd dancing on bollywood, Kannada, and patriotic numbers.
Dancing crowd at Jog falls, and a revelling junta campfiring back in cottage…..the weekends of IT guys and students from bangalore and around had surely begun.
Day 3: Matthuga-Horanadu—–and Horanadu, what a find!! (~120 km)
Usually, I am not too excited about a temple visit, and that too Horanadu was simply unheard of. Two things drove me towards the place- one, it was told that temple serves excellent food; and second, Sharavati river begins its journey somewhere on the way.
We began at around 8:30 am, driving along the river through picturesque Sahyadri mountains cutting across mountains and forest reserves. Saravathi begins its journey from Teerthahalli, and Horanadu was beyond that. Roads were losing their sheen, turning and winding abruptly with sharp slopes replacing smooth drives. Google maps have tricked us into a route through a heavenly paradise. It was a short-cut route along coffee and arecanut plantations- a completely deserted stretch with no signs of human or any vehicle amidst a dark forest. XUV had found its dream-place as if asking me, “Why were you pampering and cuddling me all along, when this is the place the beast in me belongs to?” No screeching sound on slippery patches, no jerks on potholed roads…… the sturdy at its best!
Horanadu on top of Kundremukh mountain ranges is a scenic ‘Srikshetra’ housing ‘Adishakti Annapoorneshwari temple’. I dropped my plan to reach back to Bangalore the same day. The place was just too attractive yet unheard of. We checked into a star-facility hotel paying barely some 500 bucks a day. Temple had free lunch and dinner, with Annapoorna goddess lavishly decorated with gold, walls beautiful garnished with flowers, and grapes hanging from ceiling. Whatever the critics of lavishness of Indian gods would say, but if you do something so artistically and colorfully, it just overwhelms everything. Place was no Tirupati Balaji or Ashtavinayaka temple, yet a hidden unsurpassable glamour on top of this part of world.
We did nothing but strolled around hill-tops, rolled in our beds at hotel, queued up for free food in a nicely organized beeline, and basked in serene temple campus.
Day 4: Horanadu-Bangalore (~310 kms)
Took an usual route through sparsely populated Kundremukh ranges, moving to more populated Malnad region, and catching the Mangalore-Bangalore expressway entering back to Bangalore where a huge traffic at Yashwantpur welcomed me. The railway crossing, cars at each side losing their patience, driving the wrongway, creating a deadlock when the crossing opens, and the wizards appearing from nowhere realigning and clearing traffic…..as you move with snailpace, another train comes…..and yet another deadlock.
Recently I visited a distant relative’s home, with a beautiful portrait painted by her in schooldays- her last one. I have tried my luck on painting many-a-times, but never could set it right. Till recently, I dabbled in an unfinished painting course, but all in vain.
During my childhood, I must have played, and so did almost every Indian- the game of ‘cricket’. We played every aspect of game, but loved only batting. We would field and bowl only to finally get the bat in hand, and weild it around. But, the power of rest of greedy players always pre-maturely took my desires, and I would not have survived more than 3-4 balls. Fielding whole day in scorching sun to bat for 3-4 balls? Interest could not stay longer.
My one of close friends, loved hiking and climbing, did some advanced training, and I wished he would be somewhere climbing Andes mountains. Unable to recall, when he climbed last time, man is excelling in field of medicine, running around cath-labs and so on.
A fast-bowler spending time in dark-room, a singer with melodious voice ranting and shouting at his subordinates in police, a guitarist trying to convince a potential customer in bank…..all of them have a forgotten past. A lost passion.
I have been a straight-forward academic mind, and never could develop a passion. Only thing I could do a bit right- is studying and analysing. Praised them, and envied them of having qualities unpossesed by me. I sold the guitar I bought, to somebody who could do it much better. Loved to sit at bench and maintain scorecard, while watching a game of cricket. Croon in bathroom and rave parties, but never could sing on stage. Painted a portrait, and loved it till somebody laughed at it. Began writing a novel, which died its own death.
Whats the fuss about spilled coffee?Make a new one! May be some need to ‘undelete’, while I ponder about a new dream.