Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Story of a Malnad Boy - 9

My next trip was to the Headquarters of our district itself, I mean, to Chickmagalore Town. As my trip to Koppa was a very short one, I wanted to make a long journey by bus. I have already mentioned that my father or brother would be visiting Chickmagalore on Tuesdays for trading in raw bananas. I managed to accompany my father on one such trip.

The preparations for this trip had to start on Monday morning itself. We had to visit different houses of our village to collect raw bananas from their plantations. We would cut off the banana tree to collect the bunch of bananas directly. They would then be packed in gunny bags after counting the same in presence of the owners. As our house was not approachable by bullock carts (there was only a very narrow road) we had to shift the bags to Sampige Kolalu manually for loading in their bullock cart. We had to pay for the bananas and the hire charges of bullock cart after returning from the Chickmagalore market.

We left on our bullock cart in the early morning of Tuesday. The cart had to cross the river Sitha before it reached the bus stop in a place called Belagola. Here we unloaded the bags and waited for the 6.30 am bus to arrive. Unfortunately for us the bus was already overloaded by the time it reached our stop from Koppa town. As there was no place on the top to load our bags the driver and conductor expressed their inability even though both of them were very well known to my father. The next bus was to arrive only at 10 am. We waited patiently. But to our bad luck even this bus had no seat for us and no place for our luggage. We really had it very tough as we had missed the market day at Chickmagalore. Ultimately we reached the town only at 7 pm in the night by catching a late afternoon bus.

The market was already closed and we simply unloaded the bags in the corner of the bus stand. Our stomachs were empty as we had not taken any food after our early morning breakfast. We went to the bus stand hotel. I was highly excited as I was visiting a hotel first time in my life! A uniformed waiter came to our table and asked for our orders. He gave us a full list of items including three different types of dosas. All these days I was aware of only one kind of dosa! My father ordered for two masala dosas. I was bewildered as we generally ate not less than five dosas at our home as breakfast! Besides, our stomachs were totally empty.

The waiter who took our orders was not to be seen for quite some time. My father mistook another waiter as our waiter and asked him to serve the dosas urgently. After some time both the waiters came to our table with the dosas! They had an argument with my father and asked him to accept both as it was his mistake. I thought it to be a blessing in disguise! But my father would have none of it.

I really enjoyed the masala dosa which was packed with baked potato (aloo playa)! I could also understand why we could not eat more than one piece as it was heavy stuff unlike the ones made at home. We left the hotel with full satisfaction. We asked a shop keeper to take care of our luggage and went for the drama “Dashavathara”staged by the famous Gubbi Company belonging to the legendary Gubbi Veeranna.

I should record this as one of the most satisfying moments in my life as a boy. I was totally mesmerized by the scenery and the artistry displayed by the troupe. Till date I remember the wonderful “Samudra Mathana” (sea churning) scene and the young Lava Khusha duo played so perfectly by two kids! I found one major difference between the drama and Yaksha Gana troupes. Here the female roles were played by females themselves. This added to the glamour! The role of Mohini played by a young and beautiful girl simply charmed us. What a tantalizing act she put in while distributing the nectar (amrita) which was the product of sea churning! The beautiful sceneries displayed (totally absent in Yaksha Ganas) added further value. I was so reluctant to come out of the theater after the show was over! The play had taken me to a different world altogether!

We had to sleep at the bus stand itself during the night.  We could not go to a lodge as we had to take care of our banana bags. In the morning father had tough time in disposing the banana consignment as the market day had passed off. Ultimately he could sell off at a price which was at a discount to Tuesday market price. We completed our purchases of certain provisions which were known to be available at best rates only in Chickmagalore. We reached back our village in the night. As usual the journey from the bus stop to home was painful as we had to carry luggage on our heads. On the whole I enjoyed this journey for the adventure part of it!

Another adventurous trip I made was again to Jayapura town. This time it was for seeing a Kannada film first time in my life. The film was the famous “School Master” produced and directed by B R Panthulu under the banner Padmini Pictures. The film became quite a hit as Kannadigas flocked to the theatres all over Karnataka (then the State of Mysore).It became a topic for discussion in all village functions and meetings. Somehow all the members of our family managed to see and enjoy this film but for me and my brother. As expected we started pestering our father to take us to the film. He did manage to fulfill our desire. But this turned out to be another adventure of our boyhood!

My father had been to Koppa and asked us (we two brothers) to come to the bus stop in the late afternoon on a bullock cart which was going to a place, called Kondibylu, very near the bus stop. We left our village accordingly on this bullock cart driven by one Hassan Sab. We enjoyed this journey very much and reached the banks of the river Sitha by about 4pm. There we got down and the cart proceeded to Kondibylu. Father was to come there and take us to Jayapura. But for reasons unknown to us father failed to turn up.

After waiting for a long time we started getting jittery.  The place was lonely and but for the sound of the river flowing no human voice was to be heard. The banks of the river were fully covered by deep forests. The river was deep and could be crossed only by experienced elderly persons. We thought we were lost in the wilderness and started weeping loudly. We must have spent quite a time crying desperately. We suddenly saw a big batch of Purohiths (Brahmins trained in performing religious functions) coming from the other bank of the river.

We saw them crossing the river and approaching us. They were shocked to find us crying loudly. When asked to tell them the reasons for our crying at the river bank, we simply increased our sound of weeping and showed them the other bank of the river mentioning “father! father!” What we actually meant was that our father who was expected to come from the other bank had not arrived so far. But they mistook it as if our father had drowned in the river! They became desperate and two of them readied themselves to jump into the river to save our father! We were asked to show them the exact point at which our father had drowned!

It took us some time to explain to them our real situation. Once they understood us they heaved a sigh of relief. They told us they were on their way to Kondibylu to conduct a big ‘Homa’ (religious function). They asked us to come with them. We simply accompanied them. Even though we felt relieved, we were disappointed that our film party came to an end this way!

But we were in with some luck. At Kondibylu we found the cart driven by our Hassan Sab on which we had began our journey. He told us that our father was held up in Koppa but had sent him a message to take us to Jayapura on the cart! On hearing this, our joy knew no bounds! This arrangement had an additional advantage for us. We had absolutely no journey to be covered by foot as the cart would take us back home after the show.

Soon we were back on our journey mode. We reached Jayapura well before the show commencement. We really enjoyed this masterpiece from the great Panthulu. The lead pair (Panthulu himself and M.V. Rajamma) had put in a great performance. It also had the famous comedian Narasimharaju riding on a bullock cart (just like us) with his wife and singing a beautiful song! We wondered how the Tamilian great actor Shivaji Ganeshan could speak fluent Kannada as he played a brief role as a guest actor!

Hassan Sab took full care of us. We reached back our home late at night after completing one of our minor adventures with full satisfaction

- (To be continued)-

1 comment:

Narain said...

The life is full of adventures!