K and I reached home after a short but intense and memorable trip visiting family in India. Splitting our time between Bangalore and Madras, we managed to pack in some shopping, a lot of eating and an one day trip to Mysore as well. It was as all India trips are. Vibrant, loud and cheerful. I did meet quite a few people who made this trip stand out for me.
Sampath – A quiet volunteer at the Satya Sai ashram in Whitefield Bangalore. As K and I made a quick stop at this small but peaceful place, we sauntered through the huge dhyana mantap clueless on what we were looking for, this elderly gentleman stopped by and not only gave us the history behind the Sai baba avatars as understood by Sai devotees but impressed us by his down to earth nature and a genuine need to help others. As we left clutching a book from their bookstore, it was Sampath who was etched in our mind.
Chiranjeevi – The auto driver who ferried us all across town for a good part of Friday last week. We engaged him to take us to Whitefield and ended up holding on to him for the rest of our travels that day. As he warmed up to us he left us “astonished like anything”. A part time auto driver, he said he was looking for jobs to keep him occupied the rest of the day. Talking to us in a mix of Kannada and English he seemed to mull over our answers before posing yet another thoughtful question to K.
Janardhan – Amiable and gentle, this soft spoken driver guided us on our day trip to Mysore. Speaking only when spoken to, he seemed to read our minds in our quest for restroom breaks, authentic food, music to suit the mood and places of interest. In a land populated with aggressive drivers, he was a breath of fresh air. In his capable hands, the drive was every bit enjoyable as the places we visited. As he smiled shyly when I offered him tea or thanks at the end of our trip, I knew this was one person who’s number merited an entry in my address book.
Robert – With just a day for us to head back home, we decided to meet family for lunch at Brindavan a quaint old fashioned authentic South Indian mess right on M.G Road. Waving a passing auto, we made our acquaintance with Robert our quintessential auto driver. Wowing us with his ‘chennai’ tamizh, he had us smiling all the way to the hotel with his witty comments. By the time we alighted we knew where he was born, where his kids went to school and how much he made per day. Just as we paid him, he was off with a cocky slant of his head to entertain the next ‘savari’.
While I recover from my ‘intense’ India experience, I hope the rest of you have had a good two weeks.