Changing FACE of India… a visit to Mangaluru & back

January 28th 2017, I was traveling to Mangalore after almost two decades. The last time we wanted to go on that road for a monsoon drive some years ago, but the road was so bad & on top of it a lorry filled with haystack had toppled blocking the road for almost a day! My chauffeur cum bodyguard husband refused to go an inch further & with great difficulty managed to turn the car back. But this time it was a pleasure. The roads are good with the completion of the highway No.88 (Mysore-Bantwala). Had nice cup of coffee at Coffee Day which was almost empty near Sulya along with 5-youngsters in their Mitsubish Pajro sports & we stopped for lunch in Managalore at Giri Manja’s. My nephew-in-law highly recommended the place & insisted I taste the Mangalorean fish dishes there. But he was doubtful if my husband would be comfortable in that small little cramped place.

Finally we parked the vehicles besides the flower market & walked a distance to the restaurant near Kalikamba temple… well not exactly a restaurant… located beside a road of about 12 feet including the pavement… as both sides of the road used as a parking place for two wheelers. Small cars, rickshaws, cycles, people, etc., etc… were plying as a little queue formed to get into the restaurant inside a little house of yester years with tiny windows which had seen better days. It seems BBC travel rated the place as the one of the top five best places to eat in India! Interestingly 20 meters away across the road stood yet another Giri Manja’s in a new building & the food was also carried from this old restaurant itself. However, no one went there & waited here as hungry dogs waiting for their bone. As one young teenager refused to eat there saying it was too dark and ugly & was grumbling with his parents, yet another one came out saying it was heavenly food I ever ate…. Almost everyone was walking out wiping the sweat!

After about 20 minutes, finally we went inside & it reminded me of my childhood days when during the small function at the ancestral homes particularly during the monsoon, small benches were used for seating & tall benches were used as tables. Even before the soiled plates were removed & the place was cleaned, we both sat there lest we lose our turn as the other five waited for the other occupants to vacate their seats. One of the young men from our group knew the cook at the restaurant. Then came Anantha, our waiter for the day. When I asked him what was the specialty of the house, he assured us don’t worry, just tell which fish you want & what rice (boiled or normal) you want & I will do the rest. And he did & suggested dishes to share between the seven of us. It was so yummy, reasonably priced & even after eating so much none of us felt heavy too. Luckily one last plate of prawn biryani was available which we shared between us. Fish cooked in coconut oil complimenting & suppressing the fishy flavour was a delight to the pallets. If you ever go to Managlore don’t miss a meal there. It’s worth every paise you pay!

Mangalore (Anglicization of Mangaluru, which is named after Goddess Mangaladevi) for some reason reminded me of a modern version of Colombo, Sri Lanka. People are kind & friendly too. When I asked about the water supply, the Uber driver said: Amma people of Mangaluru has become smart by drinking sweet water which is so very abundant!! Perhaps Goddess Managaladevi did bless the land with abundance & happiness.

On our way back we wanted to visit Kukke Subramanya temple. The drive is beautiful surrounded by plenty of greenery & hills at a distance. Finally we made it to the thousand year old temple, now managed by Muzarai department of Government of Karnataka. Well organized & plenty of police personnel to guide people, the devotees had one small problem: You don’t get enough time to see the deity! Even before I could see how the flower decked amazing idol really looked, I had to move! I know that according to Indian culture the God lives within us but I wanted to see the beautiful idol too… Unfortunately education once given free, hospitals & now even the God is become commercial… Sadly many temples have become golden goose for the government. Surrounding of the temple could have maintained better too.

On our way another interesting thing was the mushrooming of minarets. Throughout the highway, perhaps every couple of kilometers – I simply lost count of those looking towards the sky painted mostly in green & half white. Seems like the do-gooder petrodollar indeed spreading magic carpet effect. Black gold from across the ocean has brought property for some parts of India too… I was joking with my husband what if US President Donald Trump happened to go on that road, perhaps the heat generated from both inside the car as well as the buildings outside would surpass the summer of Kuwait!!

Somewhere between my working life & retirement… the time known to me seems to have elapsed… giving birth to a new order. People even debate over the religion & attire of Statue of Liberty! It’s odd that every where man is futilely looking & holding & crying & sacrificing self (& others) – for & in the name of God, while they themselves have pushed God into the dark corners of their own heart. For some unknown reason it reminded me of my visit to Amsterdam where the Churches are being turned into discos & restaurants for lack of devotees…

When I came home my dear old friend & ex-colleague from Cochin had sent an interesting video on Funeral Event Management…Wow. Its common in India that some communities hire professional wailers & dancers to perform in front of dead bodies depending upon their beliefs… if death & departing is sad for some … for some others it’s the beginning of a new life… continuation of the cycle of birth & death rolling endlessly which calls for a celebration. With the event management (said to cost anywhere between 5 to 10 lakhs) the ugly truth reflects similarities to how the youngsters are given all the expensive toys such the mobiles & games etc., etc., to play with by their busy parents to compensate for not spending the quality time. Now the departed souls are given a grand funeral for not being there when they were needed… I could not understand if it was love or the vulgar display of wealth. It is said that the human brain has stopped growing… I think it’s the heart/feeling that is shrinking while the fauna is getting wiser, smarter, kind & understanding… after all man is a mysterious being, an enigma to himself.

Wondering what next? Facetime or whatsapp funeral…. It will be cost effective too hahahahha

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