Huh, it was a really really long time, wasn't it? Well, it was the longest stretch of time where I did not get any idea to write. It finally took the Bangalore-Mysore highway to get me to write. And of course, I was getting "lot" of request to resume blogging too. "Lot" does not mean lot of people. It was lot of request from a single person - my wife!
Disclaimer: This is not a travelogue in the true sense of word. As always, its highly unstructured, deeply personal and hardly useful.
Driving on the Bangalore - Mysore highway is always a very intimate experience for me. It holds a thousand memories, its a meditative sort of journey which had helped me clear up my muddled thought process many a times in the past. It is here where I used to get the ideas for many of my earlier posts. I will just write about some random things that come up to my mind when I travel here.
"How long does it take to drive from Bangalore to Mysore?". You can never answer that question without throwing back another question - "You mean, from home or from the outskirts?". Well, that my friends, is Bangalore. The city I now call home. The city that has given me so much. The city which dares you not to feel strongly about it. And makes you fail miserably at that. The city thats irresistible in spite of all the frustrations it gifts you. As the cliche goes, you can love it, you can hate it, but you cannot ignore it.
Its not over till you are out of Kengeri. You never feel like you are out of Bangalore till you take those serpentine turns at the hopelessly laid traffic barricades here. To me, Kengeri is just the border of Bangalore, which you have to cross to enjoy the sheer joy of the highway ride ahead.
There are some places you love and some you hate. The others, like Bidadi, you dont give a damn. You dont even have an opinion. Even after all these years, passing by it hundreds of times, I cannot make one additional statement after I finish saying "Bidadi is an industrial town". You cannot love it, you cannot hate it, so you definitely have to ignore it.
The most lovely stretch of straight road where you can almost reach 140k, takes you to the rocky hill town. The "Ghousia Engineering College" reminds you that a third of the journey is over. I wonder if there is a way to reach the top of the rocky hills, but my laziness never takes me any further than that little imagination. These rocky mountains never fail to amaze me, I simply love them. I have seen many a beautiful sunsets here. The greed for granite is slowly destroying what was once a safe abode of Gabbar. It reminds me of Jai and Veeru. The most famous coin in the history of Indian cinema. I wonder if the rock where Sambha used to sit is still there. My heart bleeds more for those rocks than all the trees they cut in Bangalore. Give man a little sense and momma nature a hundred years, you can get back all that greenery. But can you ever bring those beautiful rocky hills back? Strange thing this - while manmade items can be easily recreated, natural living things can be regenerated with some effort, natural lifeless things are almost impossible to get back!
Channapattana. The toy town. A myriad non-vegetarian hotels, garages and toy stores greet you to this city. The roadside "Bindaas family garden dhaba", "Kuri koli mudde oota" on one side and the swanky Coffee Day on the other. Very symbolic - two drastically different Indias, co-existing effortlessly.
Gejjalagere marks the exact midpoint in the Bangalore-Mysore journey. Its again one of the names I love, I just like the way it sounds.
The city of Maddur is the only stretch to have the 6 lane roads. A bunch of interspersed political hoardings make the otherwise breathtaking landscape seem ugly. The land of Maddur vade. A minor deviation off the highway will take you to an obscure lake called "Thailoor Kere". (Note to self - I need to visit that lake again) I had serendipitously discovered it a few years back when there was a road blockage on the highway thanks to some politician's paadayatra. Shivapura here has a "Satygraha Smaraka Bhavana". I wonder if it has any significance to the freedom struggle. But again, my laziness gets the better of my curiosity.
Its all green on the way to Mandya. From the lush green fields - green ranging from 'Liril green' to the 'Madhuri-Dixit-in-Maar-Daala' green, farmers wearing green shawl on their dusty white clothes, to the money - its all green here. The political hoardings are even frequent and the cutouts of movie stars are gigantic. The five minute journey that takes you to get out of the city is the least enjoyable experience post-Kengeri. Yes, the second third of the journey is over.
One of the towns that reminds me of the British. Not so much because of Tippu Sultan. But for the way they killed the beautiful tongue twisting names of so many towns and cities in India. Seringapattam, my foot. To me, it would always be Srirangapattana. There is a santhe every saturday I guess. Just 20 mins away from Mysore, from the fun forts, from the Infy and from the Brigade apartments. What a contrast. Yes sir, this is how we do the business here. Just before you reach Srirangapatna, you can always see me smile. Its because of this small village called "K Shettihalli". Its perhaps the only village to have an initial. Kallashettihalli, kullashettihalli, anything would be fine. But, K Shettihalli is definitely a haha material.
The "underground temple" at Siddhalingapura makes me feel I am "almost there". There is an old temple just before we reach Mysore, which looks so beautiful from the outside. (Note to self - I need to...) I love old temples - they will be very charming, like old Italian black and white movies. The road having the Mysore exhibition and Mysore palace on either side makes me feel I am home. Mysore Palace - you might have seen it fully lit. But, you got to watch it at midnight with minimal lighting to appreciate the real beauty of it. The lights at the steps of Chamundi hills form a lovely "Y" on a new moon day while the hills form a faint silhouette. Mysore, which never evokes very strong feelings in you, perhaps the reason why people find it serene and relaxing to be there. Mysore, which used to be home, which still makes me feel home whenever I am there. Mysore, where I may never go back to settle. Yet, Mysore, which will always be there in that sentence "Basically I am from..."