Bangalore - July 2021
Copyright 2023 by Nandini Ganesh
Sunrise at Madiwala Lake. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
like small round tables. There's a continuity to the conversation and
an intimacy to the gathering when the table is circular, unlike the
square or rectangular ones which create rigid corners. And what
better to have on a table than pizza? We ate our way through an
assortment of toppings on fine dough. Smeared cheese with veggies
punched into it, pizza is always a happy affair. I enjoyed facing my
friends more than facing the whole restaurant or television. Money
plant climbed from the baskets opposite me. With no rush of time or
any urgency of a place to get to, a slow meal is a delight.
the chic ambience of onesta, off we went to Madiwala Lake. Wandering
through the plantations and relishing komorebi in
July, I felt grateful for experiencing an abundance of nature in the
heart of a large metropolis. Apart from those that come to parks to
lose a couple of kilos or to tone their body, I think most of us
subconsciously enjoy the feeling of being humbled by nature. Amidst
trees, you gain perspective of your life; you learn endurance. The
lake glistened under a rather dull grey sky and canopies crackled in
the wind. I watched the silhouettes of friends seated on a bench and
reminded myself that we are part of this abundance of nature and we
will go back to it, even when time ceases. We took a long walk
without an end in sight and infinity seemed to grow. I could walk
forever in the woods. Occasionally you will encounter new birds, new
trees and new positions of the sun in the sky. No room for the
we left from the park onwards to SBC Railway station. An anxious ride
as time ticked closely on the clock. The sky gave in to a heavy
downpour, and through the urban jungle our taxi zipped. Raindrops
slapped the window. I was worried if we could make it, however, took
a quiet moment to appreciate the ride and enjoy the obstructing road
and traffic. For if your mind allows it, even that which seemingly
obstructs, allows you to bloom. Indian Railway Stations are a melting
pot of diversity. Announcements in a sing song voice, vendors with
sweet and savoury, and a family that's always noisy are some of the
scenes that are inked into the Indian story of railways. Hurriedly
climbing the stairs and crossing the bridge, we finally spotted our
train. Soon, we were chugging away from the chaos of the city. I
reflected back to a ride almost 13 years ago. It was a school trip,
and as excited as I was, my heart also ached at the thought of being
away from my parents. Not much has changed all these years in terms
of that ache of parting, but this time, there is an understanding of
a larger picture. There is always an importance to being away, which
can be really hard to see sometimes.
love the rush of the wind that splatters your hair all over when
sitting by the window seat. Some music and a blissful sunset. Of
course, the ruminating could wait. We were a group of five about to
play cards. The coaches are always brimming with stories and we were
a chapter of that whole. Its the little things like a blanket over
our knees to provide a surface for the cards, the process of figuring
out how to unlock the window and the elderly couple that smiles at us
youngsters in our moments of fun, (perhaps memories of their own
youth flashing back to them) that are ingredients of a memorable
train ride. Unlike western rail journeys, which I found to be awfully
dull, Indian journeys are truly alive and so colourful, just like the
country herself. Needless to say, it would all be better if
maintained much cleaner.
relished on Amma's idli's for dinner. No matter how much of a vagrant
you may be, a simply fluffy white idli can fill you with the warmth
of home. Tired friends retreated to berths after dinner, and a couple
of us stayed awake, discussing life. In the darkness of the coach, we
exchanged our life stories. I could have sat there for hours, if not
for the energy to conserve for tomorrow. My rather tired buddy was
too kind to keep me company despite his fatigue.
find it extremely hard to sleep on perceivably moving objects. An
essential element of sleep is the stillness. A train ride is anything
but still. I shuffled around, sometimes forcing my eyes to shut to
get some rest. But even when they were closed, only the long tracks
ahead came into focus. Thoughts of coaches plummeting into the
silence of a farm or village, peaceful in slumber. Around 4:30, I
decided to step down from the berth. Hoping to find some company to
stand by the door and watch the sunrise, I sheepishly sat at the foot
of the lower berth and looked around. Another of my buddies awakened,
and we did what everyone should, at least once in their lifetime, if
not over and over again...watch the sunrise.
watched the charming narrow lanes flanked by large blankets of lush
greenery; asphalt glistening in the monsoon shower that had poured
deep in the night. The sound of which I had heard while trying to
fall asleep. It took a lot out of me to peep from the door, my feet
on the edge and peep my head outside. A friend standing behind as
guard was the protection and strength I needed, and thankfully, got.
The train curved beautifully around, her head swerving towards the
next quaint station. The image of the arcing train surrounded by all
the vegetation and the smell of rain in the air will forever remain
vividly in my memory.
station was more crowded than I had expected it to be. A small depot
with mostly tourists. We stepped out, greeted enthusiastically by
share auto drivers and bright bougainvilleas. The air was mildly
chilly, and sitting in the middle seat of the auto, reminded me of
those early years when I sat between amma and appa, on a cold morning
after our train journey.
hotel felt a funny place. Deserted. Desk officers asleep perhaps. The
hanging boughs of the Banyan outside called out to me. I greeted
them, caressing their barks and swinging from the roots. Trees are
naturally humble creatures, perpetually rooted, yet always striving
upwards to the skies. This was my playground, running under the
hanging roots. I would have stayed longer, but was summoned to talk
to the managers of Mayura about our stay.
we were off to our little room to bathe. I had planned an interesting
outfit for the occasion, but had forgotten to pack the top that went
over my skirt. It lay peacefully under appa's bed in Bangalore.
began to brew. We waited over 20 minutes for a single dish. Waiting
for food is a true test of patience. My friend suggested perhaps the
chef was waiting for butter to be bought from the store as he set up
the bread for a sandwich. Humour is powerful, especially in trying
was time to walk to the caves. They rose majestically in the
distance, making concrete and the tar below look weak.
any place dirty is heart-breaking, but even more so when the place is
of historic and cultural importance. Through the flock of swine and
sweat we marched, only the mighty caves drawing us toward them.
depth of Ajanta and Ellora is truly unparalled. While they are
landscape paintings, Badami felt like a portrait. Sheaths of
sandstone shot up, piercing the blue sky. It feels funny to think
only a portion of these ginormous rocks paved the way to house a
temple, while everything above and below it is packed of solid
matter. The vista from the caves is of an urban jungle, although not
as pronounced as a city. Sitting by the sandstone, I would rather
have been drawn into the world of yesteryears than into the chaos of
not being a particularly "night" person, I have always
appreciated darkness. There is a divinity to darkness. It coalesces
many images into a single truth.
behind a large boulder, Agasthya Theertha Lake shone magnificently.
Rocks, sky and water together dialled back time to a thousand years
before, as though it was another day in the kingdom.
another pig stricken dilapidated road we made our way to the
archaeological museum and fort. Much like in other museums, I longed
to touch the ancient artefacts. Seeing them through a glass casing
can only provide half the experience. Indulging in their texture by
running my fingers through them, would definitely feel more
archways of the fort with splendid frames are defined by the rocks
searing above them. The contrast of seeing a boulder rise over 50m
above your head is somehow more comforting than being shadowed by a
clouds gathered for a drizzle. Soon, they reinforced into a storm.
Under the sandstone we stood....watching the falling rain. A deserted
place now, but teeming with the life of water and rock.
through the marketplace, we found a place for lunch. A share auto
arrangement once again took us through the lanes of Badami towards
Patadakkal. Spreads of sunflowers dutifully faced the royalty of the
sun, who occasionally peeked from the dark clouds. We paused to spend
some time with the sunflowers, their bright faces beaming at us.
serenity of Patadakkal was a pleasing contrast to the stinking
streets of Badami. Although the caves are thankfully unblemished, the
pathways are forgettable. Patadakkal group of temples are sculptural,
a painting between the lawns. I would have loved to lay on the grass
watching the transforming sky, but we spent most of our time inside
the temples. Listening to the silence of the dark Virupaksha temple,
my eyes welled up. Wind hissed through the finely ornamented little
openings. The soot of fire merged into the darkness of the
garbagriha. I found myself not praying for anything and only
beholding the beauty.
sat with my buddy on the stone steps, some unspoken truths between
us. Most of everything had been said, now there was only silence to
be understood. We were two individuals in harmony. At a point
of your life, you stop worrying about the could have and would have
beens and simply revel in the bliss of letting go.
dawned at dusk.
will forever remember the Peepal tree. Her leaves jostled in and
nourished the wind and I absorbed its richness. All that was needed
now was a ghazal or keerthanai to garland the evening.
ice-cream and chocolate wrapped up our vacation. And just like
that.....a day passed.
Ganesh is an architect with a keen interest in landscape design,
photography and writing. She has worked as a content writer for the
design platform 'Rethinking the Future'. Nandini's short story,
'Summer' has been awarded first place in the short story competition
hosted by 'Beyond the Panorama'.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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