Category Archives: Personal space

Just a thought that popped up in a flash.. A few based on my personal experiences and a few others by watching the others.. My views and rules on how a society has to be built…….

I Belong to Everywhere: Sadashivanagar

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Kumbaldal“.

Sadashivanagar is a locality in North Bengaluru, widely comprising of the upper and the lower orchards. For those unfamiliar with Bangalore’s demography, Sadashivanagar is rather known as a VIP and VVIP haven and a high security residential area. For the non-VIPs living around here for too long, the periphery extends beyond. It covers Vyalikaval, Malleswaram, RMV extension and Yeswantapur. Having spent a significant number of years and the most youthful days of my life here in the early 2000s, a large part of my heart belongs to Sadashivanagar. Here are some of the best memories from the years spent here.

Sankey tank, in Sadashivanagar
Sankey tank, in Sadashivanagar

Having lived at a proximity to Sankey tank, it was my ‘go-to’ place for all the years that I lived in North Bengaluru. You can say, ‘Sankey tank was to me as Chamundi Betta is to a Mysorean’. I would go there when I was sad, when I was happy and when I felt nothing. I went there every day! Simply walking there and watching the ducks and the several fish-consuming birds that nested in the middle of this waterbody rejuvenated my senses. However, I hated the months that followed the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi when large number of Bangalore’s population came here for the immersion of the idol and the water would smell bad for several more months until the concerned authorities cleaned it.

The garden around Sri Ramana Maharshi’s meditation center and Kempegowda tower at Mekhri circle, the single screen cinema at Cauvery theater, late night ice-creams at Baskin Robbins were some of my favorite peace places around this locality.

A decked-up autorickshaw near Sadashivanagar
A decked-up autorickshaw at Sadashivanagar

Again, proximity to Mekhri circle and Palace grounds added another dimension to my interests- Music! Back in those days, Palace grounds was synonymous with hosting the BIG concerts of Bengaluru. Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Megadeth, Metallica, Bryan Adams, Deep Purple ’em all… If you hear me having a flair for the western music, along while I’m humming the songs of Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan and several other traditional musicians, Sadashivanagar is probably the place that has influenced me! Even on days that I couldn’t make it to the concert arena, the blaring sound would rock the glasses and doors of our house wanting me to be a part of the cheering crowd!

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Abbi Falls

I Belong to Everywhere: Kumbaldal

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Ontiangadi“.

Kumbaldal is a village in Madikeri taluk, north of Kodagu district. The descendance of my maternal lineage belongs to this village. Currently, my uncle stays here with his family.

This award-winning wildlife photograph not often but always brings back memories of simply being at Kumbaldal.

'Lights of Passion’, An award winning photograph of the bioluminiscent fireflies in the Western ghats
‘Lights of Passion’ fetched Aishwarya the ‘Highly Commended’ award at the 56th Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards (2020) under the ‘Behaviour-Invertebrates’ category. | Photo Credit: Aishwarya Sridhar

If you are there at the right time, then your senses can feast on bioluminescence. Millions of fireflies rest on the ground under the coffee plants all night and it literally feels as if you are standing on the porch of a mud house that is surrounded with a zillion flashlights. No words of mine can justify what I want to express! But, what I now realize is that the experience is not the same anymore. The usage of chemical fertilisers and pesticides have done damage that’s beyond repair to the environment. Going organic would need several decades to fix these glow worms and fireflies back into their normal habitat.

Every village in Kodagu has its own deity and it is quite an experience to participate in these local festivals. At Kumbaldal, the temple’s Kuli kund (the holy bathing pond) happens to be in our land. Hence, the idol of the presiding deity of the village is brought to our farm for the first ceremonial formalities during the village’s annual festival.

The annual village festival at Kumbaldal
The annual village festival at Kumbaldal

Not until late 2010-ish, that this village house had an electricity connection. The lifestyle was rustic and charming, to say the least. Mud smeared walls, cow dung smeared frontal yard and prayer room, firewood cooked food, kerosene lit lanterns and a perfectly mountain facing portico: Why wouldn’t anyone want a vacation like this! For me, my visits to this village were wholesome experiences.

The kitchen at the Kumbaldal house
The kitchen at the Kumbaldal house

Accessibility being scarce for reaching the commercial areas as and when required, the food and the entertainment at uncle’s house used to be the most traditionally rooted. Even to date, a visit to Kumbaldal is welcomed with a festive spread that largely comprises of the traditional Kodava recipes and prepared with the locally available ingredients as much as possible.

When I think of Kumbaldal, it reminds me of staying rooted to my culture and grounded with a minimalistic lifestyle. if you liked this story, you might also want to give a read to: “The monsoon delicacies of Coorg” for some more nostalgia.

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Sadashivanagar

I Belong to Everywhere: Ontiangadi

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Vasanthanagar“.

‘Ontiangadi’ literally translates to The Only Shop’ in Kannada, and it is the name of a village in South Kodagu, where my paternal lineage hails from. Now, this village has grown beyond just one shop, into a tiny township.

As a child, I would come here on those weekends, when my parents came down from Bangalore. But whenever I came here, there has always been a calm of a different kind. There are two ancestral houses located within the large premises: one nearly 200 years old which is now used as a warehouse and the other, around 50+ years old that is currently being resided at by our family. The latter is surrounded with coffee plants, paddy fields, overflowing ponds and streams, an open well at a walkable distance to fetch potable water. This place has always seemed magical to me, then and now!

View of the farm from our ancestral home in Kodagu
View of the farm from our ancestral home in Kodagu

While the green paddy fields have been a treat to the eyes, the offseason is when I have lived some of my best holidays. The paddy field would turn into a playground when my cousins, other kids from the village and their cousins, would all congregate here for a game or two of football. Not with a foot-BALL, but with hollow balls of pomelo skin (grapefruit).

And then, came the first monsoons: we ran to the large wild-mango tree and fought a mango war. Who won or lost the battle would be decided by how much mango juice we were soaked in and who got the maximum scolding from our elders!

The farm and the mango tree, on the drier days in Ontiangadi
The farm and the mango tree, on the drier days in Ontiangadi

Wait for a few more days to pass by and the monsoon will peak. Then, the streams would overflow and bring that time of the year for our prized catches: Laying bamboo traps to collect fresh water eels and Koile meen (a local fish in Kodagu), fishing out mud-crabs from crevices along the downstream were normal. On (un)Lucky days, one or two smushy crabs would turn out to be snakes after being grabbed out 😀

Once, the workers had brought home several soft shelled turtles which they had found while working in the paddy field. It was timed well with my then recent experience of volunteering for a sea turtle conservation project in Chennai. With all excitement and inspiration, I had written to so many organizations about my new discovery in the western Ghats 😀 Aaah, what memories!

Clockwise from top left: 1. Koile meen, 2. Freshwater shrimp, 3. Cattle, 4. A soft shelled turtle
Clockwise from top left: 1. Koile meen, 2. Freshwater shrimp, 3. Cattle, 4. A soft shelled turtle

Apart from this, the ‘Subramanya temple’ at Byrambada and the ‘Palli Swamy Dargah’ (Pulkimaad dargah) have been important landmarks in and closer to Ontiangadi. A nice warm day even now, is often concluded with a hot plate of palam pori and a cup of kattan chai from ‘Ganesh hotel’ at Ontiangadi.

'Ganesh hotel' at Ontiangadi, Kodagu
‘Ganesh hotel’ at Ontiangadi, Kodagu

I borrow my surname from this village and so, definitely a part of me belongs here 😀

If you liked this story, you might also want to give a read to: “OMG! Life has changed!” for some more nostalgic content.

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Kumbaldal

I Belong to Everywhere: Vasanthanagar

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- I Belong to Everywhere: Karavalebadaga“.

Vasanthanagar is an old locality in North Bengaluru, adjoining some of the prominent English areas like the Cantonment, Miller’s road, Cunningham road, Palace road etc. I had been visiting and staying in this locality for all the years that my aunt’s family lived here. Right from the time I was an infant to the time I started to go to college, I have been a regular around this locality. Or to say, this has been my second home whenever I have been in Bangalore. (First home in Bangalore is of course where my parents lived, I will talk about it in another post 😀 )

When you live in an area, your boundary extends beyond. Hence, high grounds, racecourse, golf course, Windsor Manor, Indian Express building, Basava Bhavan, Vidhana Soudha were all just a walk away. If you let my aunt or mom take over this page, then probably they would tell you that even Shivajinagar or Commercial street were also walkable from Vasanthanagar (at least considered so, back in the 80’s and 90’s). So, let me take you through some of the landmarks in Vasanthanagar that bring back nostalgia.

The Sampangi Ramaswamy temple: My aunt’s house was located right opposite to this temple and it was every day, that I woke up to the melody of M.S. Subbalakshmi’s suprabhatam played at this temple. But what best remains with me are the days that my cousin and I were made to believe that a small depression on the boulder in the temple premises were footprints of Lord Rama. So as kids, we would go there every day (whenever I was there) and offer our prayers with vermillion to this rock (and NOT to the temple!)

The premises of Sri Sampangi Ramaswamy temple in Vasanthanagar
The premises of Sri Sampangi Ramaswamy temple in Vasanthanagar

Loafers’ lane: Palace road is where a majority of my female cousins have attended school. This is also where I got my pre-university education before graduation. Being an all-women’s college, needless to say that the road running perpendicular to the college gate has always been a haunt of all the men of Bengaluru. Apart from the ‘Dove nuts’ from Chechi’s canteen on campus, the chaats from Raj’s on loafer’s lane has always been synonymous with the crowd.

Kodava Samaja: Then, there is this convention hall where almost all community gatherings like festival celebrations, weddings etc., happen. Even if my aunt’s family and I moved out of the area, Vasanthanagar wouldn’t leave us 😀

The Mount Carmel College junction of Palace road and Loafers' lane at Vasanthanagar
The Mount Carmel College junction of Palace road and Loafers’ lane

Adding to the list, the delicious sizzlers of ‘Miller’s 46’, Mughlai Biriyani from ‘hotel Chandrika’, honey cake from lyengar’s bakery and home-needs supermarket were our family’s go-to places for quick bites. Catching a local gig at ‘Alliance Francaise’, a movie or a Mc.D burger at ‘Sigma mall’, Infinitea and several other cafes and restaurants that sprung up and shut down along the way were other newer additions (during the early 2000s).

Talking about the role of this area on my personality: This place has influenced me in more than one way.

  • If you have ever conversed with me and have spotted a certain peculiar vocabulary sneaking out during a formal discussion, I owe that part of me to Vasanthanagar. That “English” has brushed onto me from my almamater here! For all you should know is that I studied in a gender-neutral women’s college, where we addressed peers as ‘hey, Man!’, ‘hey, Bro!’, ‘hey, dude!’.
  • This is also where I was introduced to ‘fusion rock’ music. The college fest hosted by my almamater is one of the most popular stages in the country for aspiring college bands who seek a launchpad and get recognition. This small-town girl had grown up listening to the voices of Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Rafi, Kishore da, Yesudas, P.B.Srinivas and the likes, until she moved into the city. ‘Fusion’ was a new form of music she was listening to for the first time, here. She had an instant connection.
  • Although tending to animals is in the genes and the blood of this girl who belongs to forests of the western Ghats, I owe my understanding and awareness for conservations of wildlife and nature to Vasanthanagar. My bond with a classmate whose dad worked in the forest department was so deeply rooted about the holistic topic of environmental conservation, that we would spend several sleepless nights discussing about births, deaths and general health of individual animals from the zoos that we both had seen together, met and knew by names (Click here for a detailed read)

Continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Ontiangadi

I Belong to Everywhere: Karavalebadaga

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: The Introduction

This HAS to be the beginning 😀 Madikeri (earlier called as Mercara) is the district headquarters of Kodagu (earlier called as Coorg). In this post, I talk about Karavalebadaga village in Madikeri Taluk, where my house and my school were both located in proximity. Although the village retains its name in the government documents, the newer names of these fragmented localities have now taken over people’s memories.

This is where I was born and have spent most of my life, so far! I was raised by my maternal grandparents who lived in Madikeri. A large compound with a shed full of cows, a kennel full of dogs, a sty full of pigs, a lair full of cats and an attic full of sparrows in their nests; a house surrounded by a colourful garden, fruiting trees and coffee estate; A short walk down, took us to a paddy field in which flowed a pretty little stream. This is where I grew up, in the heart of Madikeri town.

The attic at my maternal grandparents' house
The attic at my maternal grandparents’ house

Throwback to 90’s: As young kids, my cousin and I often sneaked out of the house on weekends for our usual stints. We would steal empty jars of Horlicks and cotton towels from granny’s stash and head towards the stream. We would catch fishes from the stream, get them to fill the tank that had purple lilies in our house’s front yard. We then hid the jar and the towel back near the stream for the next weekend. Come next weekend, the jar would have gone missing and the drill repeated!

Forward to present day: The sheds are empty, the dog is lonely, the sty is erased, the trees are gone and the stream has become part of a concreted sewage.

Watching the rains batter and the lily tank in the frontyard
Watching the rains batter and the lily tank in the frontyard

Throwback to 90’s: My friends and I walked to school, braving the heavy monsoon downpour. Our heavy armours comprising of thick raincoats, high ankle gumboots and wide black umbrellas weren’t enough to keep us dry. Along with this, we made sure we did not return home empty handed in the evening. We filled our lunch boxes with wild mushrooms or mud-crabs that we would pick up from the paddy field for a sumptuous monsoon dinner.

Forward to present day: There exists no trace of a paddy field that has now been transformed to a full fledged housing layout, the present day ‘Cauvery layout’.

The road connecting Ranipet and Cauvery layout in Madikeri is now laid over a sewage stream
The road connecting Ranipet and Cauvery layout in Madikeri is now laid over a sewage stream

Throwback to 90’s: My SCHOOL, the oldest educational institution in the hills is a landmark in itself. Named after it, an entire locality is simply referred to as ‘Convent junction’ that is accessible via a narrow lane (locally called as Oni). This was our alternate route on monsoon days when the paddy fields were flooded. The joy of relishing the masala vadas from ‘Kunyali’s canteen’ or a bite into a pastry from ‘hotel Coorg International’ (probably the only star hotel from our times) gave us a high of a different level.

Forward to present day: The oni is partially gone, but the of joy of taking a ride around the Convent junction and visiting school can never be replaced!

A tour of Convent Junction

They say home is where schooling starts, and then the formal schooling: My personality is probably a reflection of Karavalebadaga because this is where it all started!

So, that’s all folks! Next week, I will share a post about another place where I belong to. I hope you all will enjoy and share your thoughts with me.

But before that, I hope you all have read my earlier throwback post about Madikeri as well. If you haven’t, here’s the link: ‘My growing up days at Madikeri’.

Continued as “I Belong to Everywhere: Vasanthanagar

St. Joseph's convent as seen from Ranipet
St. Joseph’s convent as seen from Ranipet

I Belong to Everywhere: The Introduction

With the Pandemic, it needs no explanation to admit that my weekend travels have significantly come down. Meanwhile, ‘Armchair Travelling’ is a concept that seems to have caught up with most millennials to have themselves virtually travelling. This ideology doesn’t work for me because all my posts have been based only on my personal and real experiences. It seems hard for me to sit on a chair and imagine being at a destination just so that I can generate content.

In my contemplation of creating authentic content, I have passed several months without any posts of any value on my website. Meanwhile, this time also gave me space to explore my own backyard, drive over to familiar places and revisit old memories. But old memories for me are scattered. These memories are primarily divided between Bengaluru (my current place of residence) and Kodagu (my hometown, where I have spent most of my childhood and teenage). But they are also scattered across places because I have a large family, both on my paternal and maternal sides who live across these places and outside.

For me, the person I have evolved into and perceptions I derive have largely been based on the influences I have picked up while growing up across all these places. So, a little bit of me comes from all these places and a little bit of me stays everywhere. So, neither do I belong to rural or urban Bengaluru nor do I belong to North or South Kodagu, I belong to everywhere!

A young member from the Yerava tribe in Coorg
A young member from the Yerava tribe in Coorg

So, I thought I can take you all on a virtual tour of some of these places that are close to my heart and share some stories from the good days that have gone by… Through this series, I will give you small peeks into my hangout places, hideouts, local history, trivia, restaurants and everything else as I take you through these places and tell you how these places have influenced my personality….

But before that, I hope you all have read my earlier throwback post as well. If you haven’t, here’s the link to: ‘My growing up days at Madikeri

Each week, I will try to share a new post about a place / locality that I share a bond with and has influenced my personality, in no specific order of chronology with an attempt to bring back nostalgia. I hope you all will enjoy and share your thoughts with me 🙂

Continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Karavalebadaga

Throwback to Another Year with Covid – 2021

Well, 2021 has been quite a year for everyone! As things started to seem better with the pandemic, the 2nd wave had rattled the World and India! From lives of successful rich celebrities to the poorest, it spared none! But amid all the grievances, life is about seeing through the nicer things and marching forward!

Talking about myself, it has been a package of a year that can be split into exactly two on the calendar. If not exciting, the first half of the year was a fair one.

  • I led a group of hikers after a long hiatus due to Covid. Made new friends from travel.
  • I was told that I inspired people to explore the world (I don’t know how :P) and received surprise gifts from my readers.
  • My blog performed well (in fact, the best in 10 years!)
  • My first e-book was published (Click here to buy it).
  • I completed a course on ‘Ancient history and Architecture of India’
  • I joined classes to learn ‘Yakshagana’, something that was long wished for.

As the calendar pages turned to July, it brought with it a flip in the normalcy of life. A change in job role, a change in office location and a lot of changes in the home atmosphere! It has been a feeling of just drifting along with the wind, for this LostLander. Six months went by without being able to write a single page of content. The only good part was that I resumed regular office and with it, came a lot of Business travel. Although I was paranoid about resuming air-travel after nearly a year, the change was so important to keep me sane!

There is less to write about this year and so, let me share some of the memorable images that social media brought to me.


Tokyo 2020 happened in 2021! and this was a golden year for India at the Olympics where it outperformed itself with its first athletic gold and the overall highest number of medals so far!

The medal winning throw of Neeraj Sharma at Tokyo 2020
The medal winning throw of Neeraj Chopra at Tokyo 2020


• While the women’s hockey team became an inspiration to crores of Indians, their individual stories reflected the dreams of several girls who wished to break the societal stereotypes.

A tweet by the goalie of Indian Football team in appreciation of Women’s national hockey team


• The men’s hockey on the other hand, were a jubilant bunch with a medal that India was devoid of for 4 decades. Here’s an image of a tribute by the goalkeeper of Indian football (Gurpreet Singh Sandhu) to the goalkeeper of Indian hockey (P.R. Sreejesh) for his game saving stop of the last goal in the medal winning match.

Left: Indian hockey goalie- P.R.Sreejesh; Right: Indian football goalie- Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Both celebrating India's hockey medal at Tokyo 2020
Left: Indian hockey goalie- P.R.Sreejesh; Right: Indian football goalie- Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Both celebrating India’s hockey medal at Tokyo 2020


• Oh, the beautiful women raised in the cradle of my motherland, you are all wonderful. The first athlete to open the tally book for India at Tokyo 2020 was a woman. A woman who became an inspiration right on the opening day of the Olympics, still has me in awe. In spite of carrying so much success in her belt that could weigh her down, how could a person be so grounded and humble? And it was a sense of personal honour for me as I shared the aisle and some warm conversations with Ms. Mirabai Chanu on one of the flights.


• While we discuss accomplished people being grounded, it brings memories of Late. Puneet Rajkumar. Having shared the same neighborhood for a few years, it was common for me to bump into him every other day. Without carrying any air of superiority around his head, this man did not fail to smile at every person he came across, known and unknown. Only when he was gone, did we Kannadigas know that our movies too were watched by millions in faraway countries. I was taken by surprise when a person I met in a Nepali village told me how big a loss it was with this star’s passing away.

A tribute to Puneet Rajkumar
A tribute to Puneet Rajkumar


• And, this was definitely NOT the way 2021 had to end. The passing away of India’s Chief of Defense Staff along with other decorated soldiers was the most unfortunate. So much for keeping the safety of the world’s 2nd largest population as his only duty, let the top man of India’s defense rest in peace. Although, I have never met this man in person, the loss felt very personal. News has it that he shared a special bond with Kodagu, my hometown.

The Reflection of General Bipin Rawat, caught in his office
The Reflection of General Bipin Rawat, in his office

If you have made it this far on my blog, let me tell you that, having good ‘Mental health’ is a thing. Feeling low or depressed is absolutely normal and can happen to anyone. It is important to recognize this earlier and to reach out to people at the right time. Reach out to help someone or reach out to seek help. If at any point, any of you feel the need to reach out to just someone- do hit me up! I don’t know how I can help your situation, but I shall certainly do my best to hear you out and guide you to the right source of help!

The Story of my Solo trip is an e-book now

My visit to the arid land of Spiti was my first solo trip in all sense. I have previously spoken about its beautiful landscape and the wonderful people through my blog posts. But, on a personal note this travel has been one of the most impactful trips of my lifetime. So, here is the entire story in the form of an e-book.

Through this book, I seek your company while I backpack alone on a trip to the mountains. I want you to join me when I gate crash a mountain wedding and dance to the first snow. I want company when I confront a mummy and when I visit a vault full of millennium old paintings. Stay with me as I return home with an unsettling chaos running in my tummy. As you read through the pages of this book, you can bite into the juicy apples of Kinnaur all along, walk with me meeting people and go on a virtual trip to the Spiti valley and back.

You can get your copy of the e-book on Amazon by clicking on the image or the link below:

Click on image to buy the copy of ‘My Spiti Sojourn’

Yes, I know the language could have been tuned a little more and the English, could sound a little more polished. But, due to reading the same story over and over again, a few mistakes have outflown, my humble apologies! This book had been compiled in the first covid lockdown (Apr 20) and I have been procrastinating to publish it for over a year now, even post 2nd lockdown I (Apr 21). So, finally it had to be done….. But, I promise that my intention of sharing my story and experiences from the road has been compiled to the best of my abilities. I wish you all read, enjoy your virtual trip to Spiti and share your honest thoughts about it…

My Decade Long Journey as a Car Doctor Comes to an End

This July: the July of 2021, I complete ten years as a professional. From graduating as an engineer to becoming a professional automobile engineer, this journey as a car doctor has been an enriching one.

Working with machines is every mechanical engineer’s dream, and I have been fortunate to have lived it through. To give a peek into what I did during the last 10 years: I handled after-market quality issues in all Toyota & Lexus cars that are manufactured in India. So, this largely involved travelling to dealers to diagnose problems in customers’ cars (clinic), testing them and taking suitable countermeasures (hospital) through investigation (Read here to know more about my work).

This has been one of those rare jobs that helped me to couple my passion for travelling along with opportunities to learn new technology and science. From the paddy fields of Fatehgarh Sahib to the casting foundries of Aranmula, my work has taken me to the remotest places that I had not even imagined. With dealers and suppliers located across India, it was a unique opportunity to experience different cultures from across my country. Culture not just in terms of traditions, customs or cuisine, but also the culture that influences the habits of people using automobiles. Every state in India offers diversity in terms of their purpose and intent of using a car, I believe is unique to India.

After 10 years, it is now time for me to hang my boots…. Or the stethoscope, should I say! Although I will still continue to serve the same hospital, I will be taking over newer responsibilities: in car forensics! With a decade long experience spanning across functions in the organization and technical areas like plastics, paint, glass, fabric, electricals, rubber and metals, I will now be wearing the hat of a specialist in metallurgy. More on this, some other time!

For now, it’s time for this car doctor to hang down her stethoscope and take a chill pill. Let me find the hat of an investigator and try to get my hands on that magnifying glass!

Ciao!

My First City Beat

Everyone has their own experiences of travelling to a new place for the first time, especially if he/she is an unseasoned traveler and is alone. This is a guest post by Mr.S.M.Nanjappa. Through this post, he reminiscises his first experience from back in the time. He narrates his story of travelling to SOMEWHERE outside his little village for the first time. Over 5 decades ago, his first time outside his little village was to a metropolitan city of Bangalore.

A brief background:
Kodagu (or Coorg as the British called it) is one of the smallest districts in Karnataka state in India. ‘Kodavas’ form the majority of the native communities that is endemic to this region with a total community population of around 1.5 lakhs. In spite of their small community size, the Kodavas take pride in maximum number of its people having served in the British & the Indian army. They say that the forces and hockey runs in their blood. Mr.S.M.Nanjappa is from a generation that has seen at least one son from every Kodava household serving in the forces and the times when recruitment officers periodically visited every Kodava household looking out to induct the boys into service.

The Story:
I had just graduated from Secondary School, in a small town in Kodagu district. Since I couldn’t join college in the same year due to some reasons, I decided to join the Indian army like most other people from my district did. Accordingly, I planned to attend one of the army recruitments that were scheduled in Bangalore. That was my first journey to a city from the remote village and also the first time that I was seeing trains, auto rickshaws, and double-decker buses among many other things. I found myself having stepped into a New World and everything around me appeared to be strange. On the following day of my arrival at Bangalore, I visited the army recruitment office near Mayo hall. However, I was rejected after my medical examination due to poor eyesight, which I didn’t know until then. I came out of the recruitment office with much disappointment.

Just while I was crossing the gate of the center, a stranger asked me, “What happened young man, are you selected?”. He was tall, well built and smartly dressed and spoke English.
No, I am rejected due to my eye sight”, I replied to him in my broken English.
What are you planning to do now?” he asked.
I will return to my native place”, I told him.
Which is your hometown?” he asked.
Coorg”, I replied.
To my utter surprise, this stranger started to speak Kodava language.
I am from Kokeri village. I am currently working in the Indian Air force as a sergeant. I have come here, to the recruitment office to enroll one of my friend’s sons”, he introduced himself in the only language that I was most comfortable to speak in.

He then thought for a moment and after a pause, offered to help me if I didn’t mind.
I know a Kodava who works as a Major in the army. He will definitely be able to help you with my army job!” he suggested.

I was so glad that I had met a person from my own community and thereon, believed him with my stay in the city. After I nodded an agreement to his suggestion, the two of us started our walk down the boulevard of M.G.Road. I was taken into a small hotel and offered a cup of coffee. From there, we proceeded towards sub-area office, where the Kodava Major worked.

I live in a big bungalow provided by the air force. I have two servants, a jeep and a driver at my service. You can stay in my house for as many days as you like.” he informed me as we continued our walk.

People of Kodagu, especially me, have always been awed by the fancy lifestyle of the army men. The soldiers who came on home leave were always well dressed and smoked expensive cigarettes. It was hard to say the soldiers with their behavior as compared to from the officers of higher ranks in the army. I always wondered if even a soldier in the army lived a classy life. So, when this person told me about the benefits he was provided by the forces, it wasn’t hard for me to believe his story.

Politely rejecting the offer to stay at his house, I informed him of my plan to return to my native by that night’s bus. He asked me to stay back and told me that he would certainly be able to get me enrolled in the army. Even as we continued to walk, I was taken to a big shop that sold fabrics. There, he enquired about certain materials that he needed to refurbish his bungalow. “The air force wants every house to look modern.” he said. Sadly, he couldn’t find anything that matched his taste.

Since this is your first visit to the city, I will show you around. It will be convenient to travel if the jeep is available.” He said, before walking across to a telephone booth to call his driver. He returned to where I was standing and expressed his irritation. “These bloody phones don’t work when necessary!

We arrived at the sub-area office in a bit. He told me to wait outside the gate and that he alone would meet the Major and talk about me. As this man walked inside the office, he was greeted with a smart salute from a sentry standing guard there.

The sergeant returned in ten minutes. If my memory is right, it must have been around 11:00.a.m. that day.
The major is enjoying drinks right now and I too was offered a glass of rum. But, I refused the drink and informed him about your job matter. The major has asked us to get a medical certificate from a competent doctor in Bangalore.” I was informed about his meeting with the army officer.
Do you know any doctor in Bangalore?” I was asked.

After getting a negative reply from me, he thought for a few minutes and told me about his acquaintance of a doctor who worked in Bowring hospital. As per the suggestion of this god-sent man, I agreed and continued to walk with him towards the hospital. On our way, I was taken to a market from where this man wanted to purchase a few things for the interiors of his house. After enquiring the rates of a few things in the market, he came out from there informing the vendors that he would return on his way back. However, as we walked out, he told me about the things being expensive in that market as it was frequented mostly by the officers.

As we were passing the market, this man’s eyes fell on a vendor who was selling puppies. “Seven rupees per puppy”, the vendor informed upon the sergeant’s enquiry of the price. Although he intended to buy two for the company of his Alsatian dog in his bungalow, he expressed his unhappiness over the quality of the canines and left the place.

He again went into a telephone booth and tried to call his driver to get the jeep, but returned blaming the phones that were out of order.

We finally arrived at Bowring hospital. I was again made to stand outside, where the sergeant went in alone to the cabin of one of the doctors and returned in about 10 minutes. “There is good news. The doctor has agreed to give you the required medical certificate. But, he has demanded an amount of Rs.100/- for the same.” he informed me.
Give me Rs.100/- so that I can get your medical certificate.” he asked me politely after a pause of a few seconds, with his palms stretched in front of me.

It was that moment, in which I was struck by my sixth sense. “I have only Rs.5/- with me.” I informed him.
“It is a matter of getting a job. Don’t lose the opportunity. Check again if you have at least Rs.50/- I will adjust the remaining amount.” he told me.
I have kept all the money I had in the hotel room itself. I now have only Rs.5/- “, I expressed my helplessness by showing him my wallet.

After hearing this, the sergeant grew furious. He forcibly searched the pockets in my trousers and my shirt. After finding no other amount, he took that Rs.5/- and walked away. I was trembling with fear while I was helplessly watching this man walk away with my money.

In my head, I was thanking all the gods that I knew of, in my prayers. God had saved me that day from a conman. In villages, we had grown up listening to stories conmen and thieves in big cities. Because of that, I had hidden all the money that I had inside my socks. I had lost only Rs.5 out of the 300 rupees that I had carried with me from my native.

The skyline of Bengaluru, that I now spend my retired life at.

Later in time, I learnt that this gentleman was a professional cheater. He often robbed people on the Mysore and Bangalore train route. Army soldiers who were coming to Kodagu on home leave and Kodava ladies were his prime targets at bus stands and railway stations.

This article was featured in ‘Coffeeland News’ Sunday, January 26th 2003 edition.

What is your memory of travelling alone? or out of your home for the first time? have you ever been conned or mugged? Share your thoughts in the comment below.