Monday, December 19, 2016

The Story of a Malnad Boy-66

The summer holidays saw us working hard at home to ensure that all the preparations for facing the rainy season which would start from the last week of May. Our whole aim was to ensure that our parents could carry on in our absence once our classes started in July. I have, in an earlier episode, covered the type of work we had to complete during this particular period in our part of Malnad. My elder brother (AVL) had somehow settled down in Bangalore with the meagre support from home. From our Malnad region hardly anybody had gone for the B.Com degree till then. I came to know that one could learn a lot in the matter of business through the commerce education. He had developed a big friends’ circle in Bangalore. Both of us used to exchange our experiences – the struggle we had to carry on to remain afloat and somehow continue our education.

I used to receive a good number of letters from my hostelmates in that summer. Most of them would write a lot praising my efforts in guiding them. They would also invariably write that they felt lucky to have a rank student as their friend. Some of these letters used to look rather funny! My younger brothers used to read them loudly and make fun! My earlier roommate Nanjundaswami wanted me to visit his house in a place called Lingadahalli in Tarikere taluk. He had also written that from there both of us could visit Birur and Kadur to meet our other hostel mates. The Kadur, Birur and Tarikere areas in our Chickmagalore district were known as ‘bayalu seeme’ (Plains) areas as against our Malnad areas.

I started my journey one fine morning and reached Chickmagalore on my way. It was my second visit to the town after my first visit with my father in my childhood days. Actually not much had changed in this sleepy town. In fact it was very difficult to say that it was the district headquarters. I took another bus from here and reached Lingadahalli, a small typical village in the plains. I was glad to see Nanjundaswami waiting for me at the bus stand. Having been brought up in a typical Malnad village, this place looked rather strange to me. Nanjundaswami’s parents were very kind to me; they said they had heard a lot about me from their son. I was served their typical food-jowar roti and bhaji. In the evening we went round the place. The village had only a few sweet water wells. Every home had to collect the sweet water only from those wells which were far away from their homes. When I saw this I felt how lucky we were at our village to get sweet natural water flowing into our houses. I stayed overnight in the place. We decided to visit the hill station Kemmannugundi next morning.

In the morning we took a bus and reached the bottom of the famous hills. We learnt that there were only one or two busses which were going to the top of the hill. We had missed the morning bus!

We both felt that there was no point in waiting for the bus till afternoon. Hence we started our upward journey on our feet! Initially we both were in full spirits and found it easy to climb the hill through the road. The stream of water flowing down from the top of the hill by the side of the road was indeed a pleasure to see.  But as the sun started shining over our heads sharply, we started to get tired. Our efforts to stop one or two coffee plantation jeeps were not successful.

We continued our journey and reached a point from which a deviation road took us to the beautiful Kallathi water falls. We were very much relieved to reach this pleasant place and took our bath in the beautiful water falls. The temple here belongs to the times of the Vijayanagar Empire. The water cascades from a height of 122 metres. According to a legend, this place is associated with the great Hindu sage Agastya. We spent a good amount of time here and started our journey again. We learnt that the hill station was another 10 kms from this place.

We were in for luck now. A passing Jeep stopped by and a nice gentleman was kind enough to enquire whether we wanted a lift. We simply got in, thanking him profusely. Now we were really pleased to enjoy the scenery around and down below. Within a short time we were at the top of the hill station. But we were in for really some bad luck here. There was only a single canteen and no other hotel. The canteen had prepared a limited number of meals which had been sold out. No amount of request and persuasion by us could help in making the owner to prepare some food for us. He told us point blank that we had to wait till 8 pm in the night to have our evening meals. He also gave us another warning. Right then there were no tourists on the hills.  He told us that unless a minimum of five tourists arrived by night, he would not even cook the dinner!
We were damn hungry by that time. We were just crazy for food. We went around and managed to get some bananas to get some relief. But the threat by the canteen owner was looming large over us!

P. Kalinga Rao
ಕಾಳಿಂಗ ರಾವ್‌
September 21, 1981
We could not imagine going to bed without having our meals! We started praying for the arrival of tourists. Meanwhile we contacted the Horticulture office and managed to get a cottage for our stay. It was a nice cottage with a beautiful view of the hill.  We also went around the Raj Bhavan built by the famous Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV of Mysore. It was being managed by the horticulture department. By that time it was getting dark all over the hills and we could get a beautiful view of the places below. But we were slowly getting perturbed by the total absence of the arrival of any tourists. It appeared that we were destined to spend a very hungry night on the famous hills! We started praying Dattatreya and the saint Baba Budan alternatively requesting them to make some tourists arrive and let the canteen owner cook some food for us! We were totally secular when it came to our basic need- the food!

We were not quite sure who obliged us in the end! As against the minimum five tourists prescribed by the canteen owner, a van full of tourists arrived suddenly as if from nowhere! In fact they ordered a special dinner including sweets for their troupe. Naturally we were also to get the same special dinner! Just a few minutes ago we were not guaranteed even some rice and rasam. But we were now preparing to eat the special dinner! Oh God! The Gracious!
We were actually destined for more! We suddenly realised that the troupe was headed by none other than the nightingale of Karnataka- the famous Kannada singing star, P. Kalinga Rao. I had seen him singing earlier in a Kannada film. I had heard a good number of his gramophone records also. Hence I was thrilled to see him with his two well-known accomplices-Mohan Kumari and Sohan kumari. We got a hunch that the troupe would conduct a music programme in the night.
With the famous troupe in mind, the canteen owner prepared the best dinner possible. We two were virtually on empty stomachs since our early breakfast in Lingadahalli. Under the circumstances we enjoyed the food thoroughly. Thanks to Dattatreya and Baba Budan!

Immediately after the dinner the troupe started its performance in the hall at the Raj Bhavan. I was thrilled to hear the famous songs-Barayya beladingale, Brahma ninage Jodistheeni, Moodal Kunigal kere, Anthintha hennu neenalla. When I look back on this particular event in my life I feel it was one of the most memorable moments. The memory lingers on even to this day!

In the morning we went to see the iron ore mines. We could see the iron ore being loaded and transported to a place called Tanigebail on the rope-way. From there the ore was being transported to Bhadravathi factory by lorries. After having our breakfast we went to see another water falls called Hebbe Falls at distance of about 8 kms.  Here the water streams down from a height of 168 meters in two stages to form Dodda Hebbe and chikka Hebbe falls. It was a pleasant sight to see the water falling from great heights.

We started our return journey and reached Lingadahalli in the afternoon. An adventurous trip had come to an end.

The next morning we left for Birur to meet my friend Shivashankar and his family. Shivashankar was very happy to receive us. The Margada family was a very well known super rich family in the Birur and Kadur area. The family had vast lands and many business ventures in the two towns including a petrol pump. Shivashankar’s father Margada Mallappa, a practicing advocate and MLA, was the head of the family. He was a thorough gentleman with impeccable manners. As mentioned by me earlier, he later rose to become the Health minister of Karnataka. He treated us with great humility and asked us to stay for sometime with them. The family stayed in a vast bungalow.

We had a nice time in the place for two days enjoying the courtesies of the family. We also visited Kadur and met another hostel mate by name Kantha Raj. Kantha Raj was a dark handsome boy who excelled in the NCC in our college. We were gladly received by his family.

The next day we departed from the place. Nanjundaswami left for Lingadahalli and I caught a bus to Chickmagalore on my way back to my village. My trip to my friends’ places had come to a successful end.
------- (To be continued)

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