It is amazing how something as common as a cool breeze (refreshing, but common nevertheless) can take one on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It happened to me when I was returning from work today evening. It was very cloudy, and considering the weather for the past few days, it was very cool. I was sitting in the car, looking at the trees passing us by on either side. And suddenly I realized how cool it was today, just like it was when I visited Malnad, a few years ago.
I have acknowledged elsewhere, I think, that I have this strange affinity towards malenaaDu. My trips were few and short, but when walking around there, I have felt at least as local as the locals themselves. I feel that every tree and every rock there speaks to me in a language that I understand. The rain (this trip, the one I enjoyed most, was in June and it was raining hard) could deter others from venturing out, but not me. A part of my mind has lived there, enjoying and worshipping the pristine beauty of the hills and the valleys of malenaaDu every day, before I even saw the place for the first time.
We went to Kukke Subramanya first and the same evening, we went to Dharmasthala. Thence we went to Beltangadi via the picturesque Charmudi ghats. We then went to Horanaadu and from there, to Sringeri. It was then back-to-Bangalore from there. The interesting thing about this trip was not so much about the deities and the temples in the places we visited. That was there, of course, but what is making me nostalgic is the route we took. We happened to take local buses everywhere. I did not want to hire a private vehicle, because then I would remain an outsider. This cost us some time, but it was worth it. A couple of the drivers of the buses stopped at some places, to let me take photographs.
The beautiful Malnad becomes greener and more beautiful during the rainy season. The already thick forests become thicker. The hills and the trees bathe, now in the pouring rain and then in the sunlight. When it rains, it is hard to even see one's hands. The roads are lined on either side with thick trees, a la wooden grills. Clouds rest languidly in the verdant valleys, unwilling to rise up. Here and there, one sees solitary houses. Every couple of kilometres, there is a small, often shy waterfall. Ah... if any place on Earth can be called Elysium, Malnad should be one of the contenders.
A couple of lines from a poem of Prof.Nissar Ahmed's, come to mind -
ಈ ಘಳಿಗೆಯೆ ಮೈ ತಾಳಿತು ಎನುವಂತಿದೆ ಲೋಕ
ಇಡಿ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯೆ ಸೊಗವಾಂತಿದೆ, ಸಮಯವೇ ನಸು ನಿಂತಂತಿದೆ
ಬಾ ಮಾಡಿಸು ಕಣ್ಮನಗಳಿಗಾನಂದದ ಅಭಿಷೇಕ
I do not know if I can make another trip like this ever again, in spite of my yearning. All I have now are the wonderful pictures, enshrined in my mind. I do not think that I can ever forget them.