Hello, happy world 🙂 (see, getaways are a major mood enhancer. Have you ever encountered such a happy greeting from me before?)
My fleeting visit to Mangalore started with light rains, followed by a promising pink blush of dawn staining the horizon dotted with tiled roofs fringed by coconut palms and a sleepy Shona picking me up from the stop on the day of her engagement. I have known Shona since she was 15. In the decade of our association, she has magically remained the same person, slow with words, self-assured and incredibly cheeky and prone to pranks when you least expect her to, and at the same time, grown up to be a balanced, confident person & a cautious business woman. I am a bridesmaid for her wedding in January next year and I just can’t wait for the pre-wedding celebrations to kick-start in a few months.
Interestingly all of her three bridesmaids have lived with her at some point or the other, and not unsurprisingly even though the three of us are completely unalike one another, she has formed deep, lasting relationships with all. This is a small marker of Shona’s social, effervescent personality. Even as a 15 year-old she would make social calls to neighbours and family friends on her visits to Mangalore, her hometown by default, not upbringing. Having spent 15 years in Saudi Arabia, she still managed to inherit her mum’s zest for keeping up relations with relatives and friends on short visits to India. Even I as a frequent house guest at her maternal grandmother’s place, have accompanied her on these. Just watching her interact with her guests on her engagement, one could see she has a personal connection with most of them. I guess I could learn a lot from her, but my inherent cynicism probably won’t let me 😉 Also, I am set in my ways now, non? On a separate note, this was my first visit to M’lore where I didn’t see or live with Mai, Shona’s grandma, a card game enthusiast, plant lover – she had an amazing natural garden, which has now sadly been replaced by a tiled drivethrough to the back of the house, and a much loved social bee of Urwa Stores, her locality. Ashokbagh will, I guess, never be the same without her warmth and fantastic cooking, but the intense card game I witnessed on the last night is a legacy she left behind in her progeny that is no where close to diminishing.
Cicadas chirping, a sound I rarely, if ever, hear in Bangalore. This marked my two day stay in the sleepy, homely beach town. I couldn’t make a trip to the beach like I would have liked, and had to be content with Tipu’s fort and the river thanks to Abhilasha, Warren & Aston, but there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and quiet that revived me. The sleepless bus journey back to Bangalore managed to shatter all of that, but hey, you get some, you lose some. Or wait, what was the other saying, more apt for me… There is no rest for the wicked… Yeah, I like that one better 😉
If you ever do visit Mangalore, eat a lot of sea-food, and well any other meat you like – if it’s meat, there will definitely be a local delicacy dish, and eat everything with ponpalleys if you can ;). Visit the beach – all if possible, even the rocky ones have their own charm, eat Pabba’s Ice Cream – my personal favourite is the Chocolate Dad, but if you like something more trademark Pabba’s, go for the Parfait or Gadbad, have a social evening with the locals if possible. There is a resonant multi-cultural vibe in Mangalore, but from my considerable (for a visitor) exposure to the town, there are few clans as vivacious and fun-loving as the Mangi-Catholics, and dance. Dance your heart out to baila (it’s junglee, raucous and amazing fun) and jive (if you know how, otherwise you can always stick to baila).
Now I need to plan for the coming weekends. Sigh, have KSRTC buses, must travel 🙂