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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
Bronia Fernandes, Mumbai,.
Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210
Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.