Unusual Occupations

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What will be ...will be... The future is not for us to see...

It was a trip that was conceived in the subconscious mind many years ago.

Those were the tumultuous years of our lives.  A lot had happened in the past and good deal of healing and reflection lay ahead of us if we were to move on with our respective lives.

It was not about taking a holiday, going on detox, trekking up a hill or meditating that could have made us see things in a different perspective.

Life is'nt about finding yourself ... perhaps it is about creating it all by yourself ..
As they say time is the greatest healer of all.  Sometimes you just need to let time take its course.

And thus went by the many years in the pursuit of  healing and moving on. That visit to ‘Kukke’ that was perceived and conceived had just found its right time to materialize. It felt like the entire universe just conspired to make things happen.  

We took to the road at about seven in the morning  on the thanksgiving weekend.  Equipped with clothes, mobile(s), charger(s), power bank(s), credit card(s), Driving license(s), RC book, insurance papers, emission certificate, in case of emergency contact number(s), and some new cash we speed off and away from the city.

The roads away from Bangalore were such a breeze at that time of the day. It is true; Bangalore roads instinctively know when Americans celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day and thanksgiving weekend.  The first surprise awaited us the Nelamangala toll. As the queue of vehicles approached the toll gates, one could see the barriers lifting up faster than they normally would, every time you pass by the toll gate.

As we readied ourselves in the queue, pulling out old ten rupee notes in order to tender the exact change and approached the toll, we were pleasantly surprised to know that the toll charges had been waived.

Bolo Modiji ki jai... we say as I  press the accelerator of my automatic  gear Hyundai i10 2010 model  and speed off into the high ways.

And thus was born the tag line for the trip... ‘Bolo  Modiji ki  jai’ …

My Hyundai i10 – the main Protagonist of this long post deserves a better introduction and a better name. She is six and a half years old and has been a highly domesticated vehicle.  Like that chaste Virtuous Virgin girl  (hereinafter referred to as V V Girl) who never crosses the line that her parents laid out for her (except occasionally when parents were not watching), my i10 has only done trips within the city. From home to office and back to home on weekdays. And then to buy groceries and to visit the neighbourhood temple  over the weekends. 

*Barring those occasional trips to Salem, Dharmapuri  and Mysore that have been a well guarded secret in all these years.

Virtuous virgin girl aka V V Girl has been serviced unfailingly every six months for the last six and a half years.

Feeling like the father of the bride, it was with trepidation that we prepared the Virtuous Virgin girl aka V V Girl for the long trip that awaited her over the thanksgiving weekend.  A visit to the car servicing centre to check the wheel balancing, tyre conditions, air pressure, engine oil, coolant and what not was done to ensure she was in perfect health to take on the stress on the ‘D-day ’

And boy!!! Barring a little detour around Tumkur where we lost our way after the breakfast, the next four hours was a wild rush of the odo meter. From 80 à 100 à 120 and occasionally a 130 … mmm  aaaacctually 140 … our V V Girl  really ran wild.  It was an orgasmic rush of adrenalin like never felt before.    

The monsters of the past that loomed like a storm of grey clouds in a dark cold night in our heads were clearing away. Well… at least temporarily, thanks to that adrenalin rush.  A sense of adventure that brought us together all those years ago was rekindled. How long ago that was … I do a mental math…. 

It was indeed many many years ago ... a lot had happenned in the world that surrounded us .... 

I remember clearly ... my niece was born in that year.  but for us ... It was as if time had never passed by.

Miles and miles of high way lay ahead of us. It felt like we would cruise the 100 and 120 speeds for ever.          

That is how it felt all those years ago. Of course we knew there would be barriers and bridges to cross along the way. 

But we blindly believed we would  cross them when they came on... and cruise along ... 

This was the national highway - NH75. And yet there were road humps and toll gates where we had to slow down. We crossed  the barriers that no so long ago were buzzing with toll fee collections and uttered loudly ‘Bolo Modiji ki jai ‘  and cruised along.     

We had decided that we would cover the longest haul of the trip first. And thus it was to Kollur, a good 700 kilometers from home that we headed for on Day one. A quick stop for breakfast, lunch and snacks at roadside eateries saw us through the day.  Our Virtuous Virgin girl was loaded with full tank at the start of the trip and so she happily roared along the way until Kollur when we reached there in the evening.  

Barring a twenty kilometre stretch of pot holed roads; it was a decent drive all along.  We were sceptical if our Virtuous Virgin girl and her chassis would take to the pot holes kindly, but we need not have worried. She was made of sterner stuff and stood her ground through the onslaught of craters and ditches. The second half of the day was through the tree lined State highway (sh14) where we had to slow down to speed limits of 50-60. But it was well worth it. The quaint villages along the way and the tree lined state high ways soothed us like a pleasant perfume wafting along the way. After all speed isn’t the only thing when you venture out on a long drive. 

How we wish we had known this  all those years ago. The bridges, the barriers and the pot holes did come along and it was such a bumpy ride.  Sadly no one had warned us about it then. Everytime the ditches and potholes of life hit us, we shuddered. Life felt like one long haul full of pot holes and ditches and the prospects of surviving it over a long haul  looked bleak.   

For a very long stretch, life felt  like a one way street and the U turn was nowhere in sight.  Truth be told, we did want to take a U turn but were terrified to look for it.and missed many along the way. In all those years we consulted the google maps of life from time to time. They came in the form of Astrologers, psychiatrists, and counsellors. But we were too confused to trust them.         

In our country especially when in the countryside no matter how much we rely on Google maps, we find solace in consulting the locals for reassurance. Every time we were at crossroads we listened to the voice from Google maps for directions. And there she was, for want of a better name let us call her Google Girl - G G Girl for short. She has a nasal voice, as though she was just recovering from a bad cold and has an accent that struggles with names of Indian towns. But she kept us company all through and gave us our directions in no uncertain terms. And yet, we stopped by and consulted the locals. Oh well, sometimes we got directions from them that would contradict the one that G G Girl  gave us, but we trusted them nevertheless. 

We got lost many a times, went around in circles and the journey seemed like a frustrating drag.
 A very long drag with our destination nowhere in sight. 

It was on day three that we decided to take a detour and visit Sringeri. But before we tell you about our trip to Sringeri which we decided on the spur of the moment, we will pause and tell you about our stay at Doddamane in Agumbe.

Two years ago, in a inter office quiz contest, this question got passed and came to our team. 

If Kaziranga was for Rhinos, Corbett for tigers what was Agumbe for ?

That was the first time I had heard of Agumbe . 

Perhaps due to enhanced application of a quizzers logic (endangered- wild- life - kannada-sounding name-western- ghats) or perhaps because I felt like I had a subconscious connection to this place and them, I replied... ‘snakes’ and quickly corrected myself and said ‘cobras’. . 

The quiz master nodded and our team got the points.
That is what brought us here.

Google Girl says we are approaching Agumbe in four kilometers.  Ahead of us is a steep hill with a mobile tower looming at the top. From that  distance it feels like we would hit a dead end. As we approach closer the road winds itself up the hill through steep Ghats and I worry for the Virtuous Virgin Girl.  She has never been driven onto steep hilly terrains like this one.  This is her first time. But then she surprises us yet again. As we drive up the hill to Agumbe, we worry if the drive downhill would be safe. The inflow and outflow of traffic is dense in these narrow winding roads. There are trucks and plush cars going up and down the steep hills. A good half hour drive up the hill and we emerge on a plain stretch of plateau.  Agumbe is a small town located on a plateau above a steep hill on the Western Ghats. No wonder it is called the Cherrapunji of the south.  There are boys plaing cricket on an oversized cricket ground at this altitude. 

As we pass by the sunset point, we decide it is time for us to stop by for a quick late afternoon lunch at a road side eatery. It is past three in the afternoon and the woman at the road side eatery tells us she could quickly prepare us some hot Dosas if the cold Idlis are not to our liking, only if we are ok to eat it with ‘saaru’ and coconut chutney prepared in the morning. We are famished and know that we could gobble up just about anything that is doled out to us.

She bears a striking resemblance to someone we know, especially when she smiles. We take an instant liking to her and are intrigued by her sense of enterprise. A small tricycle parked near the cart makes us guess that she is a mother of a small child.  An ‘American sweet corn – very TESTY and HEALTHY’ cart is parked just outside the shed. It is perhaps what is wheeled across to the sunset point in the evening, where tourists help themselves to some hot and spicy sweet corn while watching the sun set amidst from atop the lush dense forests of the Western Ghats.

As we finish up our lunch, we ask her for the directions to Kasturi Akka’s house which is known locally as Doddamane – the big house and discover it is just about 200 meters along the road.  We are thankful because we realize this was our last point where we could have grabbed a late lunch before checking in.  Not that we could not have got lunch at Doddamane. In fact we had called them earlier in the day and let them know that we would have our lunch since we would be coming in late in the afternoon.         

Agumbe is a detour from Kollur and is set deep and high up inside the Western Ghats. Since those bonus points from the quiz, a visit to Agumbe has been playing on my subconscious mind.

A Google search familiarized my conscious mind with Agumbe.

Agumbe is known as the Cherrapunji of the south.
Agumbe is where the king cobra research institute is located.
Agumbe is where the rain forest research station is located.

None of this would have appealed to us in its entirety but for that last bit of trivia that dived us down a nostalgic trip of our childhood days.

Agumbe was the location where ‘Malgudi days’ was shot.   The cherry  on the cake – Doddamane was the house where ‘Malgudi days’ was shot.             

Doddamane  takes you down to an era 30-40 years earlier and can help you experience life of the days you might have had at your grandparents place when you were a child.  Preserving a way of living like that despite the onslaught of modernity takes will and commitment and that is what Doddamane is striving to achieve. 
After a heavy breakfast of Kasturi Akka’s dosas followed by her kashayam we pack up and get ready to go to Kukke.

That is the plan as per our excel sheet.   

As a parting comment Kasturi Akka suggests that we stop by Sringeri via Horanadu, as that is a very scenic route to drive by.

As I have said earlier in the post, we  trust the locals to give us the directions but always verify with Google and go more or less by what the Google girl tells us with her nasal voice and un-Indian accent.  

A quick tap on the smart phone and Google girl confirms that Kukke is about 3 hours drive from Agumbe and Sringeri would be on the way only with a few kilometres detour.  We have the entire day ahead of us and Virtuous virgin girl had also been rested for more than 18 hours by now.
That is how we set out and diligently followed Google girl.     

The roads were narrow but extremely scenic. The Tungabhadra river bank was close by and we skirted the river bank and the bridges very often. The greenery surrounding the mountains, the lush paddy fields on the plains and the tree laden state highway was a pleasure to drive by.

But for that massive mess up by Google girl.

Perhaps some overworked, oppressed, sleep deprived and frustrated software programmer from an offshoring sweat shop made this massive mistake in the middle of the night at some point in time.  

And we paid the price for it.

'Sringeri Mutt' is wrongly programmed as 'Bhadravati' on Google maps. In reality they are a 120 kilometers apart,  What was supposed to be a two hour drive turned out to be a much longer one.  

We straddled many by lanes and after three hours, since we blindly trusted Google Girl and her not so infinite wisdom, we realized that we were going in circles. We checked with the locals and got contradictory views. 

With the blind faith in Google girl’s navigating capabilities we ended up at Bhadravati steel plant, where the barrenness of the plains and stress of city hit us suddenly and very hard.  

We were driving for four long hours and Sringeri was nowhere in sight.

We had been working on our relationship, year after year. 
We straddled through life and after many years, realized that we trusted the social norms that we believed came from centuries of wisdom. , Every time the pattern repeated itself we came to the conclusion that we were going in circles. It was only getting stressful as the years passed by. The negativity that it generated was making the very act of daily living a big chore. 
Despite good intentions and advice, there have been times in life when we did not end up where we should have ended up.            

It was time to take a pit stop. Look up the map and not just listen to directions. First things first we needed to grab some food and start off a with a fresh perspective. After all Google girl was not god. Perhaps she had been wrongly programmed.  

And here we were throwing accusations at each other and repeating the same patterns of blame games. 

It was a time to take a pit stop, look up the patterns of life from a higher plane and look into things with a fresh perspective. 

After all the society around us was not god.  Norms - social, economic, cultural and moral  norms have changed  over time. The ground beneath our feet had shifted drastically in our times. 
Perhaps our upbringing handed us down a set of norms that were wrongly programmed for our circumstances and the times we are living in... 
And here we were throwing accusations at each other and repeating the same patterns of blame game.

The sun had set and the sudden darkness that fell was scary.
The road ahead was gloomy and dark. 

The prime years of our youth had passed and it  was a hopeless feeling to look forward. 
The life ahead was gloomy and dark. 

We were nowhere close to our destination.  Driving through the Sakleshpur’s treacherous Ghats after dark to reach Kukke was something we wanted to avoid.  
This was not how we had planned it. 
We had come a long way and had taken a long detour. But Reaching Kukke was non-negotiable.

We were not getting anywhere in our relationship.  We needed to make conscious decisions about where we lived, where we worked, our jobs, about our choices, and most importantly about our inner calling. 

In all this we felt paralysed. This was not how we had planned it. 
We knew we had come a long way and had taken a very long detour.  But making peace with life was non-negotiable. 

And here is where the conscious and the subconscious met. 

And here is where the conscious and the subconscious met. 

One of us had to take the Driver’s seat. Drive us both through the dark, and get us to reach 'Kukke'. 

One of us had to take the Driver’s seat.  Take life changing decisions and get us to embrace peace. .

Driving the mountainous paths that lay ahead of us was scary. It was dark and lonely.

Navigating through life ahead of us was  scary, and the future looked lonely.

And yet it was a conscious choice.

And yet it was a conscious choice.

The stress of driving through the dark took its toll and just as we reached Kukke, we broke down and lost it. 
No… no…V V Girl was all right.    She is a kickass car. (And no Hyundai have not paid me anything to write this post)  

 The stress of living through hell had taken its toll and just as we reached the point of going separate ways, we just lost it. Life from the outside looked perfectly all right. We were made of sterner stuff.

Kukke Subramanya was suggested as a place almost five years ago by a colleague who said he found a deep sense of peace when he was at Kukke and recommended a visit.   

Ever since then I have been looking for an opportunity to visit. Kukke. The Subrahmanya temple is nestled in a deep valley winding down through the Sakleshpur Ghats on the banks of Kumaradhara River.   

It was a trip that was shelved somewhere in the list of to do things and when the circumstances surfaced I was overjoyed and looking forward to it. I hoped that this would be where we would find our peace.  

Kukke was the last stop down our road trip itinerary. 

It was already Saturday and in another day the thanks giving weekend would come to an end.
By the time we checked in at Kukke, we were exhausted and emotionally drained out. Tempers ran high, blame games began and shouting matches followed. Weeping, crying, slamming the door and the usual pattern followed. Where was the peace that we came looking for, I began to wonder.   

It felt like visiting those terrifying years all over again
But this time around we were wiser.  We knew we could not afford to repeat ourselves all over again.
We were by now familiar with the patterns and we knew that we needed to let go.
What was not to be … Was not to be.

Perhaps  like Sringeri and Bhadravati on google maps, we were wrongly programmed.

Kukke is where we made peace with ourselves.
Life was not  about finding yourself ... perhaps it was about recreating it yourself ...

And then began the long drive back to Bangalore. From down the Valley of
Kukke Subramanya, and up the Sakleshpur ghats, via the coffee  plantations of Coorg, and then through long barren highway to Bangalore.  All toll free, Thanks to Modiji

As we passed by the toll gates, we uttered ‘Bolo Modiji Ki Jai’ and drove on.

Every time we had to take a leak we did the same.  We stopped by the fields hid behind the trees and said ‘Bolo Modi - ji ki jai’. 

Forgive us Modiji… unlike in the cities, a little bit of it into the lush green wilderness will only make it more fertile. That is how we Indians have been programmed. We are country bumpkins at heart.  It will take us some time to adapt to the urban way of life.  

We will get there Modi-ji. We will get there. 
We all like watching Vidya Balan. She is pretty.   

V V Girl was now cruising like she was born to be driven like a formula one car.
On the music system, as if by cue the tune began .
Que Sera Sera … What will be will be …
The future is not for us to see …   
Que sera .. sera…

And then the phone rang.  Oh my god … I totally forgot.
Happy birthday Jaanu I said  … it was my niece’s 15th birthday. 

It took us 15 long years…to make peace with ourselves...


Que sera sera … whatever will be will be
The future  is not for us to see… 


  1. Wow!!! yr amazing blog actually one of my co-worker from coworking space in Bangalore love to research about this kind of places so I am going to sharing this blog with him, so thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Brilliant, this blog was a journey in itself. It truly emphasized that journey is much more important than the destination.


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