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"Summer Fiesta at Barkur"-I

I had come to Barkur for a vacation a few summers back. Like all other city kids I wanted to go to cool place somewhere in the mountains and not here down south. All my friends were going to Nepal or to the Himalayas or valley of the gods as they call it. But my family decided to be spending the summer in Mangalore. The packing been done, I was in the lowest moods ever. I really didn’t want to be spending such a lovely vacation meeting all old aunts with silk sarees and ‘aboli’ flowers on the head that kind of gave me a headache. But the decision was done and we were going to Barkur. After taking the Canara Pinto bus we were on our way. I bid goodbye to our dear old Bombay. Most of the journey I was snoozing with the wind blowing in my hair. Zzzzz.

It was early morning when I woke up. We had already reached Mangalore. I had decided that I would be mean and snobby…my vacation was ruined. As the bus reached Brahamavar the hustling began. Coolie’s shouting in kannada, which was an alien language to me. The sun was hot and the rushing around at the bus stand made it more unbearable. After getting an auto and the bargain done we with our eight huge air bags proceeded towards Barkur. The bumpy roads made things bad as the little bags rolled out of the rickshaws and onto the scrapped roads (every one-mile we had to be getting out to pick the tiny bags). We wobbled and all our bones shook in the dingy little rickshaw. We did some how reach our destination that would be our home for the next 15 days.

My home at Hosala village was a beautiful little cottage I must say. With numerous trees of fruits and flowers in full bloom it looked like a little princess with a crown of flowers.  Little children climbing on the mango trees shouting merrily at the site of the ripe mangoes. Looking at us coming they came jumping down to the ground shouting. Taking all the elders blessings and the usual greetings we settled down with a nice hot cup of tea with piping hot vadas. I hate to admit but I began enjoying each moment already. It had been just about an hour or so that we reached home and all the anger vanished. I couldn’t even show my temper for more than a few seconds. A few moments later I too was sitting on the topmost branch on the mango tree and sucking on to a juicy ripe mango. The huge pot of water was bubbling as I got ready for a nice hot bath. No there was no fancy showers or little soap trays in my bathroom. But it was a little cemented room with a tiny window near the ceiling that let in the warm sunshine in.  It must not be the most luxurious bathroom but it definitely was one that could really relax all my tired muscles.

My stomach was now growling with hunger as I tried to keep it calm by drinking water. Things were getting more difficult as I smelt the fish getting cooked in the mud pots over the open fire. My prayers were answered and my aunt got out the food. Umm. It smelt so good. Piping hot fish curry in coconut milk. Followed the curry were the fried river fish in coconut oil that glittered in the sunshine. Mouth watering pickles and steaming red rice. Red chilly poppadoms. This was the common man’s meal but today I felt it fit for a king. I must have looked like a little goblin feasting on the meal gulping as fast as I could. By the end of the meal I couldn’t move an inch. Yet the persuasion made me eat a little more. My uncle had gone fishing for us that same morning. The elders of course kept discussing about the unavailability of fish in Bombay and how expensive it had been. And they discussed the fishes names and costs and flavor and the present situation at the market etc. secretly I felt that they were losing on the taste of the fish by discussing it in such a business like manner. As for me I relished the meal not even knowing the names of the fishes. That was something I didn’t care much about. One thing I knew by now that if I kept eating like this I would definitely be as fat as some of my village cousins. After a scrumptious meal and two lovely bananas from the garden trees I was done.  The next thing I knew I was lying on the straw mat staring at the fan which rotated at such a slow pace that it hardly gave any relief from the summer heat.

The women’s chatter in the courtyard woke me up. Kids were at the well trying to give our dog a bath that made him squeal. Everybody was having the evening tea with biscuits we had got from Bombay. Neighbours had come to meet mom. And when I went to the courtyard they pulled my cheeks and rubbed my face; pulling my hands they complained as to how thin I had gone as to the last time that they had seen me. Then two women fought about whom I resembled was it my mom or my grandma. I was least interested in what they said but I somehow loved all the attention I was getting.  I later joined the kids with their games at the well. Since me being the older among them I drew the water from the well. It did seem an easy task when the kids did it. But when I began pulling the rope up the pot began to be stubborn and just would not come up. I tried with all my energy. The heavy lunch I had proved beneficial and I managed getting the pot half way up. By the time I pulled up the pot there was hardly a litre of water in the pot. I was embarrassed at my inability as compared to the kids. After almost an hour at the well we were drenched and the mongrel had run away. The cows that had gone for grazing returned and we were treated to a delicious glass of pure cow’s milk. I too tried my hand at milking the cow, I was thrilled but I don’t think the cow was. The milk was so pure and fresh unlike what we get back home.  

Bronia Fernandes, Mumbai,.  


Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.