Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bangalore to Mysore

Some of the high points of my hitherto mostly uneventful life are journeys from Bangalore to Mysore. They have always been special because Mysore means to me - holidays, lazing around, getting to meet grandparents and cousins and aunts, eating good food, and generally having fun.

And the journey to Mysore has always been sweet - the anticipation, the excitement....

My first memories of going to Mysore consist of getting up at unearthly hours to catch the 4 45 am bus from near our home, that went directly to Mysore, with a stop at the main bus stop. So my parents would pull us out of bed and drag us, half asleep, to catch this bus, telling me that I could sleep on the way (which I usually did). There was a corresponding bus (at a slightly more earthly hour) from Mysore back to Bangalore. These early buses ensured that we reached our destination very early, and had the whole day ahead of us. But the buses those days weren't as comfortable as they are now - but they would do - after all, it was a journey of just about 3 hours. I would sleep for the first half of the journey, and wake up when the bus stopped half-way at Maddur. I would then eat the sandwiches that my mother had packed, and then doze fitfully for the rest of the journey. My mother, usually travelling with two small kids and a fair amount of luggage, never got down from the bus during the ten minute stop. But when my father was travelling with us, he would get down to stretch his legs, and I would be paranoid that the bus would leave without him. I would be jittery and keep looking out of the window to keep him in my sight, and my pulse rate would come back to normal only when he got back onto the bus.

But the 4 45 bus service from near our house was discontinued, and then we would have to go all the way to Majestic to catch the bus. But since we anyway had to go to Majestic, we started going by train, because we enjoyed it more. Oh the excitement! Rushing in to the compartment and grabbing two window seats - one for my sister and one for me, better still if the window seats were west-facing (so that the sun wouldn't blind us as the journey progressed). Settling in, keeping the luggage away, removing our footwear and sitting on the seats, and looking out of the windows. Wait desperately for the train to start, and when it did, stare mesmerized at the huge city of Bangalore. Know that we have left Bangalore, at the stench of the city sewage canal. Watch the landscape unfold. The green paddy fields, the bushes and shrubs, and then the distinctive rocky landscape of Ramanagaram. Watch once again as the rocks fade away, giving rise to the same kind of hypnotic landscape, the sapota trees, the coconut trees, the toddy palms, the wild flowers, an occasional lake or stream, a hillock or two with a temple right on top, the stations, some small, some big, but all the same.

None of the stations held as much interest as that of the Maddur station, simply because of the vendors selling hot Maddur vades. How our stomachs would growl and mouths water at the tantalizing fragrance! But our mother would refuse to buy it for us, stating lack of hygiene as the reason. She would say that she would make it for us after we got to Mysore. We would just have to be content to dream about the hygienic Maddur Vades we would get at home, and do with watching our co-passengers gobble down the Maddur Vades and wiping their fingers on the oily paper. Once, just once, our mother astonished us by buying us Maddur vades at the station. We went mad with joy, and wolfed down the oily vades with glee.

But what she did buy for us regularly were the roasted groundnuts, peddled by a toothless old man, mumbling, "Kallekaaaayi, kallekaaaayi." We would buy heaps of groundnuts, and crack each nut laboriously, to eat the delicious nuts within. We would then wrap up all the shells carefully in paper to dispose of later. A few years later, a young boy replaced the old man, and we were told that the old man had died and this boy was his grandson. We bought the groundnuts anyway.

The landscape, meanwhile, remained unchanged, until, of course, we reached the island town of Srirangapatna. We would pass the Kaveri river twice with a deafening clanging, and we would peep out to see how many of the rocks in the rocky river was visible, and exclaim at how much rain or how less of it had fallen that year.

When we had passed the Kaveri the second time, we would grow dizzy with excitement and impatience, because it meant that Mysore was just a stone's throw away. And sure enough, as the first clumps of homes and buildings came into view, we would start putting on our shoes and taking the luggage down, and start jummping up and down. As the train rolled into the station and stopped, we would jump out and rush to the auto stand to find the auto that would take us to Ajji-Tata's house. The superb culmination of a wonderful journey.

But we've hardly travelled by trains in the last five-six years. With roads getting broader and better, and the cars getting faster, we have been driving down to Mysore. But my excitement remains unabated. I love getting up in the cool of the morning, loading things into the car, and setting out on the smooth drive, punctuated only by a stop at Kamat Lokaruchi or some other popular highway restaurant for a mouthful of delicious breakfast, and some steaming coffee.

I guess the journey to Mysore, for me, will always be sweet.

23 comments:

Bhupi said...

I love travelling irrespective of where i'm going. Especially trains bcoz u can sit, sleep, relax or play some games on the way. I miss my mumba-delhi journeys :). Travelling in planes is no more fun, u don't get the feeling of a journey....

Timepass said...

Lovely post..reminds me of my frequent journeys from mumbai to Davangere through belgaum and hubli

shyam said...

I've been to Mysore only once, just for a day, but I really loved the place... it seemed so beautifully laidback compared to B'lore, and I really wanted to spend more time there. Maybe sometime in the future...

ravi said...

WOW! I have experienced everything you have described, right down to Maddur vade(except that I never got Maddur vades from there) but my journey was in the reverse order(Mysore>Bangalore>Mysore) :D

Now also I dread eating Maddur vade in trains not because I am habituated to sacrifice it but once I and my cousin saw two big cartons full of Dil Pasand(a kind of pastry with mysterious contents and tutti frutti) and Maddur vade kept near toilets' doors as we were hunting for two window seats and we could feel the heat from one of the cartons and which smelt of hot maddur vades; suddenly my cousin discovered that the boxes were kept on stagnant water deposited near a door!
We could also see that the edges of those boxes had weared out and these eatables were uncovered and was exposed!

A guy came started distributing them to big steel filter like dabbas and he saw that bottom ones were completely drenched by that water of mysterious origin, he wiped them with his shirt and put them into a container! yuck!!!!

Just like Kaveri by the bridge which meant Mysore was near, it is Vrushabhavathi for Bangalore! :D

Oddly, I don't remember travelling to Bangalore after dusk, ever!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I enjoyed driving a Skoda between chennai and Mysore via Bangalore in June this year...Takes just 3 hours between Bangalore and Mysore, including a stop at Kamat Lokaruchi...

The good life said...

shruti, your journey reminded me of our own trips to Madurai from Bombay growing up.
Our trains passed through 4 states the writing on walls and names of shops would change from Marathi to Kanada to Telegu and Finally much awaited Tamil.
and just like cauvery we would wait for vaigai, crossing that meant beloved Madurai.. thanks for sharing your journey...Aarthi

snippetsnscribbles said...

This is such a beautiful post, Shruthi :) You write like you are speaking to me :)
And about Mysore, I can so relate to it in this post :)Thanks :)

anoop said...

sigh. torture. your post. you make me dream about my next journey to mysore (sitting in US west coast presently), which might be no sooner than a month from now.

weird, you were taking west-facing window seats. there was nothing more pleasant for me than to witness the rising sun from a moving train and chatter away.

Anonymous said...

you write so wonderful...i enjoyed reading it....
-Pavan
Ottawa

Anonymous said...

Shruthi,
I have grandparents,aunts,cousins all in Mysore as well, and it used to be the highlight of my Summer/Dasara/Xmas vacation to travel to Mysore.. I must say the journey back was always sad, with school and homework looming large.. Nowadays ofcourse, the "Kamat" pit stop has made the journey to Mysore all the more fun..
Lovely post as usual.:)
-Vidya

PeeVee said...

Sigh. Such lovely memories!

Keshav Kulkarni said...

Same nostalias now, after moving to the UK. As soon as we land in Blore, we want toreach Mysore. The journey - car, train or Airaavata bus - Mysore-Blore-Mysore at least 3-4 times during vacation - unforgettable.


Keshav

Veena Shivanna said...

So true. My trips to Mysore have been very short after I joined work.Neverthless enjoy each journey as if I am doing it for the first time., though have travelled more than 200 times from bangalore(including those weekend trips continuously for 2+ years). What ever it is, Getting in to Mysore is more lively and relaxing and the return journey was always to reach the destination quick and get back to the routine!!

Srikanth said...

loved the post and could relate to every of your experiences cos I travel to Mysore often too.

bangalore-mysore highway is a very happening place. great places to eat, shop and visit around.

bidadi thatte idlis (mostly gone these days though)
kamat at ramnagara
shivalli MTR
maddur tiffanys
aishwarya hotel at mandya

just amazing food options all thru.

there are two ducks at kamat lokaruchi and they eat antina unde that they sell. it is fun for kids to feed those ducks. they pluck out the unde bits from your hand and that is fun.

Mama - Mia said...

LOVELY lovely post!! :)

reminded me of our train trips to pune and kolhapur! mom was thankfully majorly into junk food, so batata vadas at Karjat stn were never denied!! :D

i love the way blogs take us back into time every now and then! :)

cheers!

abha

kochuthresiamma P J said...

the very word mysore triggers off memories and a crtain something i cant explain. as children, it used to be our vacation place - so different from kerala. the climate fascinated me -so did the tippu's palace, brindavan gardens(as a kid, i saw shammi kapoor there-he had come for some shooting), st philomina's church.
longtime since i visited the place. wonder if it has changed much.

Kadalabal said...

great memories really touching. I was thrilled to read about the old man of kallekayi and also your commitment to mention it and also his grand son who has inherited this business. I am a great fan of kallekayi in any form just love them.
journey by road, rail in ordinary bus or in Volvo or in a private vehicle journey will be enjoyable and u have lot to munch on the way
keep writing on these issues your writings are amazing and I simply love them
pranesh

siddesh said...

That's a great narration. I enjoyed reading it. Long time back I travelled the route back & forth on a cycle with one of my friends. It was great fun. Now, it's fun to look back to those days.

Vinod said...

I plan to do a karnataka trip between 21st and 26th jan and wa looking for pointers and came across this lovely post!
Brings to mind my train travel as a kid! beautifully written...

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Anonymous said...

Loved your post. I can perfecly relate to it, being a Bangalore girl who used to often travel to Mysore, though not as a child but as a working adult as in my case, my parents live in Myosre. I dont live in Bangalore anymore, but I miss those short trips. I've had a lot of those Maddur vades, and the very thought makes my mouth water right now.

And hey, today I am officiallly a fan of yours !

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vinesh said...

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