Sunday, September 02, 2007


Coming from a small town, I have always had a fascination for small towns and more so, for villages. Though Madikeri is by no way a village, people are still intrusive, as a city-slicker might call it. Everyone knows everyone, everyone wants to know what the other is doing. Privacy is almost an alien word. Supposing I were to walk the streets of my town with a guy no one had seen about, I could be sure that the entire town would be whispering about me by the end of the day, and before long, my parents would have heard of it from a friendly and concerned person!

The population of Madikeri is some 40,000 people and a lot of them know my family and my father. But it’s ok really, there is a sense of belonging there, something I write about constantly. If I go for a walk on the main road, I can be sure that at every other shopkeeper there and many others on the road will stop and ask me how I have been, where I work now, whether I am on holiday….That’s the beauty of my place for me. What I previously thought was intrusive is a concern and a genuine interest in everybody’s affairs, I understand now. Of course, there are several scandalous people and families that get gossiped about and do not mind it. There are ways to get by without being “caught” too but then….you learn to curse it for a while and then succumb to it too. What was that about if you can’t stop it, join in…?

I remember when I was growing up, I hated it to the core. How my every trip to town would be reported back to my dad without fail. Raksha would crib about how you could not run away with anyone too, jokingly of course! In many ways my Madikeri will never change, thank God for that! There are a lot of new people in town these days, little kids who studied in the same school as me are now grown up and are the latest hip and happening crowd. I don’t recognise most of them when I go back home. But the old faces are still there. My classmate’s dad still calls out to me and asks me how I have been, the guy who owns the only big newsstand in town, the guys from the Bata store, the old man from the supermarket, the guy from Shahin’s who used to carry me while mom shopped, ages ago, the uncle from Komal’s, the one time most happening store in town, my classmates who run shops now, the vegetable seller, the chubby old man from the video rental store who always mixes up stories of movies and ends up recommending the worst of films to me, the lanes, the same old stores, everything is there.

I remember the few quite unsuccessful attempts to make the town modern. Some brave people opened Periyan’s restaurant when I was in high school. It was the only place where you would get a burger and was very popular with the young crowd. But eating out is not a culture we follow there and despite initial success, it went down. There is a new place now, I have never been there. Another place announced that it would sell pizzas and burgers but as far as I know, nobody ever bought anything from there twice. Another that became popular with us when we were in college was Juice Point which served milkshakes and ice cream and had some computers along side with internet. We thought Madikeri had arrived until it shut shop a few years ago, almost the time we moved out of college too. The point is there is today no place where people can “hang out”. There is Raja Seat of course, but we are all so fed up of it that only young boys go to try and spot a pretty face from among the tourists. All you can do is walk around town and go back. East End, the best and most elegant restaurant in town, is too far.

Growing up, we never used to “hang out” except at each others’ houses. Even today, when I go back home, Raksha comes homes or I go to hers. There is no where else to go….But because of this, friends became family friends, you know. Raksha, for instance, talks to ma and goes home even when I am not there. There is this whole relationship that builds up around the place, the people. I can never ever hope for anything of that sort in Bangalore. And that is what I miss the most....

PS: When I began writing this post, it was meant to be about a totally different place but somehow ended up being about Madikeri.....


Sandra said...

Nice post! I can imagine how life could be in Madikeri! Sounds relaxing.
Greetings from Germany,


Deepa Bhasthi said...

thank you Sandra.
i see you dont blog....wish you did, i could read about Germany too then :-)