I do not remember to have made a plan to travel in this short time. The tickets weren’t booked, I had not informed my office about my leave, all in all even mentally I was not prepared. But glad I had this trip, 3 days, out of Mumbai, I went to my native place. Before I forget and get into the flow let me tell you the occasion and the destination. I went to Karnataka to a place called Shirali on the occasion of my cousin’s wedding. This is not the first time I am visiting this place. I have been there almost every 2 years since my birth. But this one was a little different. How? You ask me. The biggest point to be considered is that, I spoke less, yes, I talked less and observed more. Primarily because I did not have company. For the first time I kept my eyes and ears open and gave some rest to my tongue. Happy realisation! I can use my other sensory organs, ie besides my tongue, well. Now, because I have observed more I have a lot to say here. This one is going to be a long essay.
For the one’s who would not be interested in reading the whole piece, I would like to share snippets of my realisations, epiphanies and observations. This is a place, my native, where certain things do not really bother you. It doesn’t bother you that you have sand stuck under your feet or in your folds of the pants. It does not bother you that there is no electricity during the peak hours of work. 10 o’clock in the morning is what they call “right in time”. They are good with hard water. No body cares if you are driving on the wrong side of the road or if you wear lungi to get vegetables from the market and nobody cares that you are walking bare footed on the road. You know what? Being fat also doesn’t prick your conscience so much. Tee hee.. And no, it doesn’t matter if there is no cable TV or Internet.. Ya, lack of Internet do not bother you at all. I never had the urge to check mails. It is a different matter that even if I wanted to I would never have been able to.
I realised that the power of nature is ultimate. The nature’s power to mesmerize you cannot be replaced by any other power. It can make you realise things, forget things and can also send you in a state of nothing-ness. I cannot bet on the fact that I found spirituality by visiting the temples, which we did there quite a lot, visiting the temples, but yes I did find spirituality in me in quite a few instances. Few more things occurred to me again which I already knew is that you cannot be bored with your own company and that the more you stay with yourself you love yourself even more. Books are your best friends in any given situation. Elders, no matter how wrong they are, they will never agree that its their fault, especially in front of the people who are younger to them. Parents raise their children by using their own ideas and instincts, or listening to someone, or according to the principles built into them by their parents etc. still at the age of say, 60 years they realise all has gone to a waste. So, ya I cannot summarise it further for you. You will have to read further if you want to know the details.
The train was to depart from CST station at 10.15 pm. I left from the office just too early for my own good as I couldn’t judge how much time it will take me to eat my dinner. Parents were supposed to reach station by 9.30 pm. I left early, reached early, had food, enquired what platform the train is going to depart from, bought a platform ticket and waited and waited and waited. Father calls to say he has reached Wadala and instructed me to wait where he was supposed to get down. Mother and Father had the luggage with them. It so turned out that I am standing at the exact opposite location where he thinks he instructed me to stand. So there was a misunderstanding, miscommunication or just plain wrong instructions, you can call it, fired up anger in him and the journey started with a small tiff. Since that very moment I was not expecting anything good out of this trip.
Anyway, we got into the train and train started on time and it was night already so we went to sleep. Nothing much happened during our journey on the train. The train halted at Thivim for some 50 minutes, damn bored. Still we reached our destination, Kumta at around 10:55 am, on time. I was missing chai (tea) , some good chai and someone very close to me who loves chai. The moment we got down the station I asked my Mother to ask the canteen guy in Kannada (official language of Karnataka) to give me a cup of tea. She said I should go and ask him myself and that he will understand Hindi if I wish to talk in Hindi. Within 2 minutes I decided that I will speak in Kannada and get the tea for myself. I know a tiny bit of Kannada and it so turned out that it was enough for me to actually get myself that ‘one cup of tea’. Yes, I spoke in Kannada. Like a small kid, I was happy, very happy. And the tea tasted even better after this little achievement.
Co-incidentally my cousins were in the same train and we didn’t realise it till we reached the station. One of my uncles who stay in Shirali hired a big jeep like vehicle for us, three families, fit into one Jeep. I would not like to talk about these cousins here too much as they are not going to pop up anywhere in the rest of the essay. They had not come for the wedding. The Jeep was half and hour late as Mr. L K Advani was supposed to give a speech somewhere near Kumta. So there were diversions and check nakas and traffic jam. Mr. L K Advani has been an obstacle to a lot of things in the country, that day we were affected by him directly.
Anyway, we got into the jeep and broooommmm… we went. The driver drove so recklessly, I wanted to get down and slap him and wanted to shout. “You f***ing idiot! You could have gotten us all killed. If you are so fond of speed, go fly a plane. Never again in life drive like this!!!” Still, while he was driving so recklessly I had hundred things going in my head. The thought that was over-powering all the thoughts was ‘I want to take a bath!’ I was looking at the green forests, plenty of trees, huge, no humongous clouds and pot holes, big ones. I could see vast lands of nothingness till the time we entered the town. I suddenly realised that ‘Kamaths’ seemed to be the kings of all the businesses here. Kamath bar and restaurant, Kamath bakery, Kamath Family restaurant, Kamath transport, Kamath Laundry, Kamath this and Kamath that. All the while, looking around I was thinking at the back of my mind, that my hair’s entangled badly and that ‘I want to take a bath!’ Soon there was nothing to be observed, again. Trees and clouds and farms and old style bungalows all around. I remembered that I had seen two peacocks in some fields while travelling in the train. They had deep blue necks and their back feathers were long and colourful. It was a beautiful view. Then I was thinking I wanted to have RC Cola (Cola brand) which you do not get here in Mumbai.
Suddenly I started getting this salty sensation in my throat. It was a sign. Sea is somewhere near. Yes, we drove parallel to a sea-coast in a while and then again I was thinking, ‘I want to take a bath!’ Then again what was making me uncomfortable was the emptiness of this place. The houses are located far from each other. There were deserted petrol pumps, huge rivers in between and a bridge on it, you can see a man walking all by himself somewhere far into the fields. And with the kind of speed we were moving I had a feeling that we are going to hit some one on the road. I kept staring at the sky for a while so that I may calm down. The sky made me sleepy. And before I could even close my eyes, we reached our destination, my grandfather’s house which he had built during his youth.
How I wished I could have slapped that driver and said, “You f***ing idiot! …….” But then I admired his confidence on those wheels. He dropped us home safe and fast. And that thought ‘I want to take a bath!’ over powered everything. The moment I stepped into the house my uncle asked me if I were hungry. I wanted to say, ‘No, I just ate a ton of sand and dust on the way….phew’ but no you cannot say that, so I said, “Yes”. Simple and sweet. And the moment the luggage was in the house I was in the bathroom. I hadn’t planned anything for the evening so I just took a royal bath. Here we come to the end of Part 1 of TinyVibha and her adventures of the Native Kingdom. Part 2 coming soon….