Monday, May 05, 2008

A fuller life?

We are in Mysore.

Mysore always wraps me up in this delicious, pleasant, languorous feeling, and I can never have enough of the city. Memories of summer holidays from my childhood, without a care, without a thought, flit past my eyes. Basking in the affection of my grandparents and aunts, eating to my heart's content, sleeping, meeting with people, long walks to nowhere - Mysore for me encompasses this and much, much more.

On a drive yesterday through broad avenues lined with Gulmohar trees in full, flaming bloom, I looked around the city I love. The old, beautiful buildings - some derelict, some renovated - but all of them charming. Old market areas, the antiquity of which no number of modern signboards or posh new shops can hide. Chamundi Betta (Hill), which stands like a sentinel, ever present, like a comforting caretaker. Endless charm.

I have written about this before, but I can never get over how easy it is to get to places in Mysore. Everything is just a short distance away, and commuting is a cakewalk. I have been thinking - it is perhaps possible to live a fuller life in a small town than in a bigger town?

Let me try and analyze with the example of Bangalore and Mysore. In Bangalore, the distances are too great. The traffic makes it even more difficult to reach a destination. In Mysore, the city itself is smallish. The roads are unclogged (so far) and getting to a place doesn't take too much time. Doesn't that mean that in Bangalore, we tend to spend a longer time on the road than at the destination? At least if the commuting was pleasant, then it would have been okay. But it only results in headaches and high blood pressure.

After Puttachi was born, we have had to work everything around her schedules. As of now, she takes two naps in a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and the wakeful periods between the naps is about 2.5 hours. The only time she stays awake for a long period is in the evening - about 5.5 hours, before going to bed for the night. Thus, in Bangalore, we have to schedule all our outings and visits for the evening time. If we did schedule something in the morning, she will be sleepy and hungry by the time we reach the destination. But in Mysore, we can schedule outings in the mornings too without any problem.

On Friday, we took Puttachi to the zoo. Our agenda was clear. Show her the elephants, the big cats and the monkeys, and the giraffe, and get back before her nap time. The zoo would close at 5 30 pm, so it was best to go in the morning. Besides, morning is the time when the animals are active. So we waited for Puttachi to wake up in the morning, fed her something and whisked her away to the zoo. It took twenty minutes to get to the zoo, twenty minutes to get back, and we spent about an hour and a half at the zoo. It resulted in Puttachi's nap time being pushed a bit, but she saw everything that we wanted to show her and she enjoyed it thoroughly. Had it been in Bangalore, it would have been totally impossible to finish this whole programme in under three hours.

Then there are these times where you can take spot decisions and just leave. We had a dinner to attend on Thursday night at about eight. On Thursday evening, at 5 30, we thought, ok, we have a couple of hours ahead of us before the dinner, so what shall we do today? My cousin K2 said, why not go to Chamundi Betta? And voila! We were dressed and out of the house by 6, we were on top of Chamundi Betta by 6 30. Since it was May 1st, and a holiday, we saw the magnificent sight of the lighted Mysore palace from atop Chamundi Betta, and after enjoying the breeze for a while, we were back at home by 7 30, just in time to reach the friend's home for dinner.

Contrast this with what would have happened in Bangalore. We would have had to leave at 5 30 for the dinner at 7 30. As for an impromptu visit to the hills (if any), it would have been laughable to say the least.

You might argue that Bangalore, being a larger city, has more places to go to, more ways to spend your time, more activities, etc., and that is true. But what about the effort needed to get to these places in the first place? In Mysore, the time and effort spent in getting to a place could have been utilized in some other way.

What do you think?


Jen Kumar said...

Nice post. Though I am in U.S. and have no experience with Mysore and little exposure to Bangalore, I understand what you are saying. I moved to a bigger city in US a few years ago from a small town. There are a lot of advantages of the small town - saving time is one, but the other that I would like to hear your thoughts on is - human relationships. I find in a small town people have more time to spend with each other- and beside this, you can more easily "bump into" people, in fact wave hello to them in your car as you pass, even in the 'rush hour' which doesn't seem to ever happen in the big city!

Shark said...

Couldn't agree more. WHen I go to Mysore I can do a million things in one saturday which I can never think of doing in one day in Bangalore!

Anonymous said...

I was born in Mysore and have spent almost all my summer vacations there! I agree with you wholeheartedly that quality of life just seems much better these days in Mysore, as compared to Bangalore. I notice the difference more so now, since I visit both cities once every few years.
Strolling by familiar streets seems like such an enjoyable experience, not such a chore amidst heavy traffic and elbow-to-elbow crowds! Eating out is more enjoyable as well, since the wait times are not more than a few minutes!
As for Jennifer's comment,I have felt that human relationships definitely have more value, since not everyone has "no time" for others..

Srikanth said...

the biggest attraction for long time bangloreans with mysore is that mysore is like what bangalore was 15 years back wrt trees, calmer life, warmer people, freer roads...
and the major attractions in & around mysore are all the natural (except zoo).

so a visit to mysore throws me back to a more natural pace in life and surrounded with warmth.

great place - i hope it does not follow bangalore.

Anonymous said...

I visited B'lore and Mysore only once and that was in a school excursion, where I wasnt able to get a feel of living there. And at that time B'lore wasn't the way it is now. But yeah, then too Mysore looked pristine.

Viky said...

What do I think? I don't think. As soon as I hear Mysore, then I go Mysore, Mysore, Mysore Mysore....


Srikanth said...

viky - something like "tohfa tohfa tohfa..."

(80s jeetendra - sridevi/jayaprada song) :-)

Slogan Murugan said...

And the people are friendlier!

Anonymous said...

Shruthi, who knows, in near future you may have to go to Mysore if you want to visit your parents. :)

Anonymous said...

I saw myself nodding in agreement with every word of this post. I have given thought about getting settled in Mysore. But I'm scared of it turning into another Bangalore. That s the only thing holding me back. Assure me that it won't and I'll bore my roots there :)
I've always thought to making a home at a small place, closer to nature and all that. But I know my job won't let me do that and I don't know what to do about it.

Veena Shivanna said...


Couldn't agree with you anymore. Perfectly right.. I almost take decision even when my son sleeping. We can just get ready and finish off the things before he gets up. Incase he wakes up before that its not a big deal to get back before things gets bad!
And BTW, we were in Chamunid hills on May 1st, but we were back by the time we went there, Prashanth was planning back to get back to bangalore otherwise we would have met each other.
And one more thing, if you are at Mysore amd visiting such places you cannot miss meeting any of the known faces there.. alva?

Anonymous said...

I agree big time! Coming from a small town myself, I know that smaller cities have their own charm and advantages. As long as there are enough facilities and opportunities in terms of education and occupation I dont feel there is a need to live in a big city at all

Manish'sMom said...

I have always had an affinity to Bangalore. Dunno why. I liked Mysore so much that I opted to do my PostGrad there rather than in Bangalore. Even went a step further and bought a house there!

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