It was one of those holidays which you wish would never end... and you come back so refreshed and rejuvenated, that even coming to office on a Monday doesn't seem like such a bad idea!
Friday morning: (Had left Bangalore the previous night) Reached Mangalore. (Yes, Mangalore again). Bus is 5 hours late because of a traffic pile up on the Western Ghats due to an accident. But bus is a Volvo, and the sights out of the window are heavenly, so no problem. Attend a programme at Mangalore, dressed again in a Kanjeevaram saree (This time, I had not forgotten my safety pins) and eat 4-5 kinds of sweets (including delicious Badam halwa and luscious mango salad) at lunch.
Friday afternoon: Take a bus to Udupi, pause there for the customary Gadbad Icecream at Hotel Diana. Take another bus, which drives through some of the most beautiful hilly regions in the country - and through Agumbe, a little green village, known for the highest rainfall in Karnataka.
Friday evening: Reach a tiny village near Shringeri.
The village and the house - A cluster of old, beautiful houses. The house we visited - where my mom-in-law grew up, and where S has spent countless happy summer holidays in his childhood, and where S's uncle now lives. It is a stately old house with a tiled roof and a courtyard. With pillars and low doors. A beautiful 350 year-old temple on one side. With a garden all around. An erstwhile apiary. All in a beautiful setting, with trees all around, mountains in the horizon, and the Tunga river flowing in the backyard. [A Kannada saying - Tunga paana Ganga snaana - For ultimate bliss, Drink the waters of the Tunga and bathe in the Ganga].
Friday night: Eat dinner, sleep. In spite of blistering heat all day, no fan needed. No mosquitoes around, either.
Saturday morning: Explore the house, feeling like I am in another world. Hit my head and see stars while passing through the low doorways. Experience a different lifestyle. Eat food sitting cross-legged on the floor. Healthy, unpolished rice grown in the fields behind the house, Food cooked on a stove fueled by Bio-gas. Drink milk which comes from the cows and buffaloes in the barn outside. Bathe with water heated using firewood in the "Hande" (a mud tank with a hollow underneath, where firewood is stuffed, lit and the water in the tank heated.) Drink water drawn from the well. Well, you get the drift.
Watch the cows and buffaloes munching on straw, listening to them go chomp-chomp, their mouths moving comically from side to side, their eyes looking at you benignly, the not unpleasant smell of their droppings lingering...
Visit the famous Saraswati temple at Shringeri, and the Durga temple close by.
Saturday afternoon - another gorgeous meal. Then, sit on the cool floor and read stacks of old saccharine sweet Readers Digests, and doze off eventually.
Saturday Evening - visit a house two villages away, and walk back in the darkening evening, drinking in the deliciously cool and fresh air, walk through the trees, along the highway, across a 115 year old bridge over the Tunga, built by Sir M.Vishweshwarayya.
Saturday Night: Some more delicious food. Climb on to the roof, and watch the moon and the stars and enjoy the cool gentle breeze, wishing I could go to sleep right here. Come back reluctantly down, experience a relapse into modernity with watching a little Television, and then curl up in a tiny cool room with wooden doors and wooden bolts, and quaint little windows, and go to sleep.
Sunday Morning - Walk up to the Tunga flowing in the backyard. Sit on the banks, with feet in water, look at the river flowing gracefully past. Feed raw rice to the fish. Get a pedicure from the small fish, and a foot massage from the big fish, some as long as my arm and twice as thick. Take a small ride on a small "Ikkada/Theppa" (coracle) - a wide, but shallow bamboo basket, lined with plastic cement bags and fortified with tar, and rowed with a wooden oar (Rowed by a neighbour, with S trying out a bit of rowing later on!) Beautiful river, beautiful green trees, and even more beautiful weather. Takes all of S's might and persuasive powers to drag me away from there. Rest of the morning acquaint myself with the gorgeous, huge doggie in the courtyard, a cross between a Great Dane and a Doberman. Slowly graduate from being twenty feet away from it, to being 5 feet away from it.
Sunday Afternoon - An enormous lunch of raw jackfruit huLi(like sambar) and delicious wheat and jaggery payasa, and then hit the bed.
Sunday Evening - A long leisurely walk along the pebbly and sandy banks of the serene river. Throw stones into the river, watch the ripples. Try to skip stones on the river. Collect tiny shiny pieces of mica, in childlike fascination, but drop them all on the way. Watch birds, especially stark white cranes which come to rest on the overhanging trees of the river, looking like white handkerchiefs all hung out to dry on a single, favoured tree.
Sunday night - A quick dinner, and pack up and rush to catch...sigh!...the bus back to Bangalore!