Monday, March 15, 2010

Stars of Bagamandala - A Nibble

“Bagamandala” the voice sang out in my head. I was going back to my roots, to my village after a long gap to 10 years.

Bagamandala a small village in the far end of Coorg district is the place I spent most of my childhood, with my grandparents.

Tall green mountains in the background, sparkling waters of river Kaveri cutting across, green paddy fields on one side of the road and rich coffee plants on the other

Hot steaming idly with coconut chutney sat still on the banana leaf waiting for me. Seeing ajji holding the jar of ‘midi opinkai’ (mango pickle) brought an instant smile on my face.

Steaming hot coffee in a dented steel tumbler added an extra joy to the break-fast.

Stars of Bagamandala is my entry to Katha Sagar (A story writing contest)
Do drop in at to read further and rate the story for what it is worth.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time Travel

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 8; the eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

"Time Machine, a device that has caught the imagination of the people for decades. One could go ahead in time, or back if one desired." I thought aloud sitting on my bed.
"Where is my bike key?" my elder brother ransacked the cupboards.
"If you had a time machine you could have gone back in time and..."
"Stop bugging me and help me find the key." he cut me. Every jeans pocket was checked and then was flung onto the bed, a huge pile of clothes sat comfortably on the bed, while my brother searched desperately for the bike key.
"Don't just sit there, help me or get out of the room." he pushed me away.

Sitting on the compound wall I looked around the road, my next door neighbor a fellow engineering student was busy on his mobile. The old couple who live a couple houses across where out sitting in their front yard sipping tea. A cricket match was in progress down the street, and just a few yards away five year olds played making weird sounds.
There was a sudden burst of a thought in my head and before the dust could settle my legs had sprang into action and I was across the road walking towards the old couple.

"Time Travel, eh" Swaminathan, the old man sipped his tea.
"Yes, so where do you think you would like to go if you could time travel." I sat back on the wooden chair that squeaked each time I changed my position.
"Radho where would like to go" he smiled at is wife and continued
"I would like to back to the 60s, back to black shining bike. Riding in the Agumbe ghats." he sat back.
"So you used to ride your bike a lot." I encouraged him forward.
"Radho you remember that overtake I did once" he asked his wife with bright eyes and a smile.
"How can I forget that." his wife replied turning to hand me a cup of tea.
"What happened?" I asked eager
"I would like to go back to that day, if I could time travel."

We were riding back from Agumbe; rain lashed on us, visibility was a clear zero. Radho held onto me tight, her face trying to hide behind my back. We were young, we were stupid, we rode in that heavy rain with a song in the heart.
I touched her shivering palm, the warmth I felt on her palm on that cold day will never leave me.

"What are you doing?" she interrupted and brought us back.
"I am just trying to hold my wife's hand" Swaminathan sir replied back
"Is there anything wrong with that young man?" he asked looking at me
"No sir, please continue with the story."

Now that I think, I was a maniac on that bike.
Riding in the ghats I countered corners with great speeds and seldom used the brakes.
Then came two lorries trying to overtake each other. I waited for them to tussle for a little time. Patience was running low, and there looked to be no space to overtake the lorries. Before my brain could realize, I had accelerated and was right between the two lorries. She shouted out in panic and hugged me tight. A few seconds and I had overtaken the two lorries cutting them right in the middle.

"Given a chance, I would go back to that exact moment when she hugged me tight." he looked at his wife.
He held her hand and tapped on the back of her palm gently.
"Those were the days, my son. We would silently escape into a theater without letting anyone back in the house know of it."
"Do you remember 'Abhi na jaao chhodkar'. he asked turning to his wife.
"I can never forget any of those days." she replied back.
Her wrinkled face was red with uncontrollable blushes. She got up and asked if we wanted another cup of tea. We both nodded 'No'. She walked away quickly from us with a bright smile on her face, and I mostly I saw a happy tear in her eyes.

"Swami, walking?" his friends interrupted us.
"Yes coming" he got and left with his walking stick and left me back a smile on my face.

I walked out to the road and stood there for a moment watching the kids play.
I walked up to them and asked them all
"Where would you like to go, if you could time travel?"
"Time travel?" they thought for a second and asked
"Anywhere we want?"
"Anywhere you want, it's a time machine it can take you anywhere you want."
One cute, chubby boy replied
"Jurassic Park."
Everyone shouted out their approval with joy and suddenly started moving and making growing.
"Watch out for that dino, anna" a kid screamed at him
"What dino, I looked at the empty road."
"We are in the Jurassic Park, look at all the dinos" another girl with a cute skirt and a mini mouse t-shirt pointed out to the empty road.
I growled out loud, lifted my arms and walked like a zombie.
"Run everyone the T-Rex is coming at us." the chubby kid shouted out
"Run to the base ship." another shouted out pointed to the parked auto.
I suddenly started running excited, a kid stopped me and said
"Anna you are the T-Rex why are you running away."
They all laughed, while I smiled and said
"No see the T-Rex is back there." and pointed to my neighbor still busy on his mobile.
They laughed again and some clapped with joy.
"Run quickly to the base ship." I shouted out and we all ran towards the auto.
Once inside the base ship I turned to them and asked
"Where are we going now?"
The chubby kid replied
"Remember it's a time machine. It can take you anywhere you want."

The evening slipped away with smiles and laughter. We traveled to meet bala Hanuman, Mickey Mouse and the gang, while busy with our time travel we also bumped into aliens and Superman.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Power cut Paliya

Sultan Paliya a small village located a hundred kilometers away from Bangalore was fondly called 'Power cut Paliya'. Electricity being a rare visitor to the village, people had got used to living with darkness as their companion for most parts of their lives.
Summer was upon them and water seemed to play hide and seek too. The taps ran dry, the streams where once water gushed with fierce force now played host to cricket matches.
The spirits of the people though seemed to soar high with each passing day, there looked to be excitement in the air, smile on their faces and a purpose in their walk.
The small village was getting ready to host the wedding of Chitakala or Chitae (Butterfly) as she was mostly called, Saraswathamma was bright and smiling and rejoicing the attention her daughter got from everyone. Her father, Mahadevappa, though looked to have taken the tender for frowns, for his face bore nothing more than a tense frown.
Everyone from the village has gathered at Mahadevappa's house, the women helped with the food preparations while the men walked in and out following the orders of Mahadevappa.
Shanbag the village head, Borelinga the man with most acres of coconut fields and vegetable farm sent bags of rice, pulses, wheat and vegetables to show their support.
Shanbag took personal interest on such occasions and would put aside all his work and mostly spend all the time with the bride's father.
There was a constant movement of people from Shanbag's house to Mahadevappa's house, utensils, carpets and bed sheets made their way into Mahadevappa's house.

"Don't waste water" both Mahadevappa and Shanbag kept shouting at the rest.

Aslam the leader among the young boys of the Paliya had taken the responsibility of setting up the pandal and the decorations.
When they were eight year olds, all they did was catch butterfly in the open fields, in the green bushes covered with flowers of bright colours. Chitrakala who couldn't see the sight of a free flying butterfly now captured and forced into a cage silently would free the captured butterfly. Aslam once caught her in the act, and thus took birth her nick name Chitae, and a promise by Aslam and all the boys that none of them ever would hunt a butterfly.

"Pull that string, tight..." Aslam shouted out to his friends.
"Aslam, are you going to pick up Pradeepa?" Mahadevappa interrupted.
"Yes, the bus is at six, we are all going" he smiled.

A group of six waited for Pradeepa at the bus stop. The Tumkur bound bus was scheduled to stop for a few seconds at Sultan Paliya.
Pradeepa the elder brother of Chitae was a dear friend of Aslam and was once the leader of all the young men of the village. He was the fastest swimmer in the village, and the strongest among all, he was every fathers' wish and every kids' role model. But one dull day he left his warm village to take up an office boy job at one of the Tech-Parks in the city.

"Pradeepa!" they all hugged in unison. Broad smiles followed by a pat on Pradeepa's back, ended with handshakes and a few hugs.
Mahadevappa smiled for a split second seeing his son, but the frowns and the shouts were immediately back.
Pradeepa gathered all his friends to a side and asked them to update him on the situation.

Chitrakala ran out to the backyard trying to get herself away from her teasing friends, she looked like a strawberry, red with blushes on her cheeks. The backyard had turned into a make-shift kitchen, Saraswathamma and some women of the village were busy cooking, cutting and cleaning. The soft 'clung' sound of the utensils filled the air and danced with the sweet aroma of the spices.
Seeing Chitrakala enter the backyard, the women smiled and started teasing
"Chitae, see we are preparing peda, we heard it is his favorite."
"Hope you know how to make them?" another added and they all laughed.
"Come sit, have a taste" Saraswathamma moved towards her
"No I still have to get my mehandi done" Chitae ran away realizing, being with her friends is far more comfortable than with the elderly.
"She is looking so beautiful..." the conversations continued among the women.

"Tavarura bitu, avna manege hontae, namana nee maribyada..." (You are now leaving the house you grew up in and are moving to your husband's house, but don't forget us.)
Folk songs grew louder as Chitrakala hugged each of her friends with tear filled eyes. Mahadevappa tried hard to control his tears as he blessed his daughter and his son-in-law.

Aslam and the boys were still busy decorating Shanbag's, old white Ambassador, almost every bride in the village traveled to her new house in Shanbag's Ambassador.
The old car with bald tires, rusted edges and faded paint was a proud possession of Shanbag. He would often ride to his fields in the car. Siting proud holding the steering wheel with one hand, the other hand out of the window to wave at the people, Shanbag and his old car commanded respect from the people.
The villagers on the road would stand aside and watch the car ride away in a cloud of dust and smile, they were all equally proud of the car.

The colour lights across the house and the pandal suddenly went off, when the bride and the groom were about to enter the car.
Someone in the crowd shouted
"Chitae is taking away the colour and the light from the house."
Some laughed, some frowned, but the village danced and bid fond farewell to Chitae.