Saturday, September 13, 2008

DVG and back

'Tis 5AM in the morning and MG is nowhere to be seen. The train leaves at 6 and we need to employ the services of an auto rickshaw, a task easier said than done at that hour. Finally his number flashes on my cellphone. He is 2 minutes away from home. I hitch the backpack onto my shoulders and wait at the gate. He jumps out of his car, snatches his bag from the back, waves a bye to his father who groggily shifts into the drivers seat, recently vacated by MG. The car shifts gears and moves out slowly. Suddenly MG swears out loud and waves and beckons his dad to see him waving in the rear view mirror and runs after the fast disappearing Santro. The tail lights turn right leaving the now distraught MG in the middle of the road, slowly his head lifts, a call is made home to inform his mother that the cars auto locking system broken and in MG's hand now will have to be later collected from my house. The broken piece of electronica safely deposited on my window sill, instructions discretely given to my parents, its time to find that elusive auto rickshaw. Minutes pass by, MG's yakking barring, the streets are silent. Finally the puttering of auto in the distance, hope fluttering we search the length of the road. From the far end a faint light suddenly bursts, searching, prodding, moving ahead in search of a prey. We wait. It passes, it already has had its fill. The driver smiles ruefully. We march ahead. The sequence repeats itself twice and then finally we see him. Our redeemer. How much, we ask? One and half he says. We look at the watches, hem and haw and quietly climb in.

Our redeemer deposits us outside the City railway station. The digital clock says we have 15 minutes to book our tickets and board the train at platform 8. We start running. We reach the advance booking counter, only to be told that advance booking for the Jan Shatapdi which will pass through our destination Davanagere is closed. We curse out loudly. We plead. The man behind the glass wall shakes his head, and politely asks us to make way for the man behind us. We curse again. Resigning to the fact that advance booking counter will not help us we run to the current booking counter. Touts block our way, Chennai, Chennai, they say. We reach the counter, worm like lines spout from glass walls similar to the advance booking counter. A flurry of hands and heads bob jostling for space and their tickets, their only key to the other side, the key to break their shackles, their key to freedom.

We give up and walk out of the station. Breakfast first, cells rejuvenated, we decide to take the bus. What escaped our senses at that time was the bumpy, bone rattling experience ahead of us on NH 4.

Tickets bought, we sat back in our seats. Finding a comfortable spot which would immediately shift every time we careened over a road hump or a crater. Just as the first signs of sleep started peeping from below my eyelids a strong assault was made and this time not on the coccyx but the nostrils. A heady smell of sweat mingled with the nauseating red beetel and to add to the melee a hairful of jasmine. And a battalion of such like women. Resigning to my fate I inched closer to the window in search of the redeeming fresh air, occasionally peeking at the Kannada paper in front of me in search of movie tag lines. None piqued my interest. Not the likes of "Madesha-You walk...You die."

The hours passed by, as did the towns and villages. Finally after three rounds of assaults by the fast recuperating jasmine laden, beetel chomping, sweat emanating ladies I surrendered at Davanagere.

Having been ably guided by the great MG we arrived serendipitously at a certain restaurant, the name of which I currently forget. The food, was the very opposite, with some succulent chicken kebabs, including a reshmi kebab which was covered in actual cotton candy reshmi. Meal complete, we headed to our host's house. A neat apartment with the usual messiness of a bachelor, but with complete amenities, beer apart.
What did we do in Davanagere you might ask? Ummmm... we watched Speedracer(completely tripped out), went out for a stroll around Gundy Park, did a walking tour of my host's college(in itself a primer on the labyrinthine culture of the place) , had tea(aside:the host drinks tea at this particular shop) had a milk shake with host's friend, went for dinner and returned to host's house to watch Wanted.
The highlight of the evening was probably the ride back from our restaurant of when we were stopped by a policeman who asked us for ids and licenses and other such administrative requirements. Thankfully we were able to prove our credentials except for the host's bike's insurance policy paper, which had lapsed. The renewed policy was safely tucked in at home, unaware of the trouble his absence was causing. Matters eased out when the policeman was assured of its existence and attempts made to bring it to him while I waited with him observing his monotonous nocturnal routine. He let us go and we were ready for the late show, Wanted.

The next morning we groggily made off to the Benne Dose shop which had dissappointed us the previous evening. Having had our fill of the crunchiest outers and softest inners of a dosa ever with a potato masala and tantalising chutney, we returned to our host's house now sans him to watch a third movie, A Wednesday. And what a movie it is! Crystal sharp, searing dialogues, skilled craftsmen at their best. Naseerudin Shah exceeded himself as the common man taking religious fundamentalism by its horns and yanking it off. I especially liked the scene towards the end where he almost forgets his grocery. Movie over, lunch eaten, this time a nice veg pulav and some ghee roast, we head back to the KSRTC bus stand, the lead cause for the spurt in practitioners of chiropracty. The journey back was much the same, though this time it was longer and darker. The ladies were there, eveready with there assault weaponary. I pressed for a mercy plea and occupied a window seat.

We reached Bangalore at about 21:30 hrs. After a hasty zinger meal, I was back home exactly 2 hours before my 23rd Onam. Happy feasting followed.

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