The best part of the first half of 2014, for me, was spending 10 days in Karnataka (apart from meeting the tigers). I must confess that Karnataka is one state that I hadn’t spread my wings in. Till April 2014, I had only been to Bangalore, Mysore and Coorg and yes, I can now acknowledge that I was missing out on another world. That’s India- turn the corner and there is a different world for you to lose yourself in.
This trip started with a rather ambitious plan, I was to cover a large chunk of South India for AudioCompass. I am Tamil, but I have grown up outside my state of Tamil Nadu. But yes, compared to say, a person from North India venturing into the South for the first time, I might just understand the culture a tad better. Or so I’d like to believe and hope. That understanding is key to the work at AudioCompass. So there I was, in a meeting room with the CEO and Content Head of AudioCompass discussing plans to venture into the South. An aside at this point, I love South India, all of it, for its simplicity, for its down-to-earthness and for the fact that in Tamilnadu, the language at home is the language on the streets. That just makes it homely. In every other state, if I want to keep a secret, I switch to Tamil. My mother and I mastered that art of ‘language switching’ in bargain shops and it never let the salesperson know HOW interested or desperate we were. It certainly worked like a charm. But every time I step into Chennai, there is a weird sense of homecoming. Now, coming back to my original piece!
So, plans chalked out I left to travel in Karnataka for ten days on my own. And here are ten short tales from that brilliant adventure:
1. It was a nice mammoth plan that involved two flights, one overnight train journey and one Shatabdi and tonnes of local auto journeys.
2. On Day 2, I decided to be super efficient. I was after all trying to write about two tours so I had tonnes of data floating around in my head and wanted to put it all down. I pulled out my computer and worked! But the lack of an ergonomic arrangement, with me sitting on my bed and typing resulting in a severe hand-pain. Fears of a relapse of my RSI haunted me for two days till it subsided. I didn’t use my laptop for the rest of the trip, and post this experience I don’t carry my laptop when I am out of Mumbai. So I was not one of those cool people in the Mysore Shatabdi train who pulled out their laptops and acted all busy. I just read my book and acted all intellectual.
3. On day 3, I got dehydrated. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but was totally feeling ill. I didn’t eat anything, couldn’t sleep, the homestay I was living at didn’t have an air-conditioner and Mysore was burning up. All the guests and the owner of the homestay had gone out for dinner, so I was all alone. And terribly lonely, literally, figuratively and all other ‘tively’s! As usual, I got dramatic and thought I was going to die. But as you can guess, I didn’t. Post that terrible evening I drank four litres of water everyday and made it through my entire trip without a ‘relapse’!
4. By day 5, I was homesick. I think it was the cold and bad throat plus a near-death-scare talking, but I just missed my bed and my loo terribly (Those are the things I miss the most when I am traveling. What about you?) And of course, I missed my husband’s attention.
5. On my way to Aihole (22 kms from Badami), the auto guy was playing this really loud song on repeat with words like “photo meri keench”. I took to twitter- "Wow! people in Badami and Aihole play Hinglish songs!" Once back in Mumbai, I was duly informed that it was one of the most popular songs by the rather infamous Honey Singh. Mr. Auto guy in distant Aihole is way more in sync with the trends than me sitting in hip Mumbai. Life huh!
6. My guide at the Badami caves told me at 4.30 pm, that there was no train to Bangalore at 7pm. He said that it comes at 5pm and I was going to miss it. I was high in the hills next to the 4th cave, far away from the hotel and I hadn’t even packed. He looked at my message and said it read 1515 and NOT 1715. There was some major chaos for 5 minutes and then it all settled down. But my heart was beating faster than it medically should; I’m quite certain of that! He was of course wrong, I had the time right.
7. I had a one hour conversation with a woman at the station. (funnily, after all the worry mentioned above, the train was delayed by 1 hour and arrived only at 8) She only knew Kannada and I don’t know that language. We spoke in sign language, we got her niece to translate and well, we managed! She kept wondering why I was traveling alone, and I kept telling her she should too and all I got in response were giggles.
8. The train finally rolled into the platform and I jumped on, eager to crash after two days of tiring heat, temples, caves, and all those images swimming around in my head. I don’t take a print of the railway or airline ticket anymore so I had my text message and my phone clutched in my sweaty hand. Someone was sitting on my seat and they showed me their ticket, it said 9th and A1 Seat 1 and mine said 9th and A1 Seat 1 too! So we waited for the TT to come and sort out this double booking. I had managed to book a ticket for 9th of MAY instead of 9th of APRIL. Now this is where a 'solo woman traveller' becomes very important, I managed to get a berth and all I had to pay was a fine of Rupees 400. Of course, after a few threats that I had to get off at the next station at 9pm in remote Karnataka.
9. On my last day of the trip, I went to St. Mark’s church in Bangalore. I had the most interesting conversation with the priest there who told me all about the history of the churches and parish in Bangalore, the history of St. Andrew’s church and St. Mark’s church. And overall, he left me totally interested for more stories, and not one bit bored.
10. My dehydration, coupled with bad cough throughout the last leg of the journey and a loud evening where I was trying to out-shout a band at a local brewery in Bangalore meant that I had screwed up my vocal chords. Once back in Mumbai the doctor told me it was ‘vocal abuse’. My husband of course said that that’s just another term for marriage.
Those are just some of the glimpses of my long trip around Karnataka and all the lovely and not so lovely things that happened to me. As always, the trip was eventful, the places I saw gorgeous and I am waiting to go back soon with promises to bring along many more adventures.
This trip was originally published on Merry to go around.