I had the good fortune of living in Mysore for sometime. After a year and a half in Berlin, I was homesick, and in spite of Mysore not being my home, I felt like home here.
The first thing that I think about when I think Mysore, is pleasant weather.
I have a system to rank cities' worth living index. Let's call it the Arshatian City Life Index (I know, I can be more creative, but I am happy as long it has my name in it.)
After living in Berlin, 'living' in this context, means more than just going to college in the morning and parties in the night, 'living' here means being on the street with your packed bags, not knowing where to go. (For some reason, nobody would take us as tenants in Deutschland, wonder why! ). 'Living' means having half an Euro in your pocket and finding that everything on the menu, even coca cola, costs more than 1 Euro! After 'living' in Berlin and quick visits to London and Paris, coupled with hitch hiking through Eastern Europe (I know a post is due about my Euro trip, it's gonna be awesome), I have come up with a city life index to rank cities where I want to live most of my life.
So here goes :
Arshatian City Life Index Parameters (Weightage given in the brackets)
1. Weather (35%) : Weather is one thing that God or nature as you atheist pricks call it, gave you. No amount of GDP growth, centralised AC bathrooms or centrally heated garages are going to make it better. This is where Mysore scores all its points.
2. 24x7 ness (25%): By now, you must have realised I am making up these words, but really, if you know how cool 24x7ness is, you would know why this parameter is so important. I remember going out at 2 in the morning for a glass of milkshake when I was young. Yeah, that's Mumbai for you my dearies. Mysore scores very low on this parameter, though. Everything shuts down at 9 pm. It still does better than Berlin though. Except Falafel shops and clubs which are open all night long till the afternoon next day, everything else shuts down at 8!
3. Public transport (25%) : I am spoilt. I like to be taken from one place to another in a chauffeur driven rickshaw. I dont mind the bus either. I like trains too. This is one of the reasons why most American cities don't match up to the awesomeness that are European city. I don't get it. If Europeans built the US, how come they did such a bad job?
Mysore, like most Indian cities performs dismally. But it is still better than Gurgaon and Pune.
4. Exclusivity (15%) : In Berlin, you the firang! In India, you know how fascinating firangs are to the local folk? Indians are equally fascinating, if not more in Berlin. You have pretty girls come up to you and strike up a conversation...(Or maybe it's just me who's super handsome or something... yeah, we will go with that...) In London, there are more Indians on the roads than the English. I kid you not, there was a British soldier or whatever they are, you know the ones with red uniforms and that absurdly long hat? Yeah, that one was an Indian!
With my south actor looks (and weight) and a mustache to match, I was an insider in Mysore. Clearly it lost all it's 15% here.
There's nothing to see in Mysore or Bangalore for that matter. After you visit European cities, where everything is turned into a tourist spot by the Tourist authorities, you wonder how come such a thing never happens in India.
Anyway, given below are a few observations about Mysore:
* Sweater is all season wear. You will find people wearing sweaters in mid-May! Really, it made me ask one lady why she was wearing a sweater. She said - it's coldaaa.
The extra a's I gather were because of the extra cold, but later I found out that's how people here speak. And yes it does get incredibly cold in the morning. Even in Mid-may! (Europeans reading this blog, incredibly cold means 17 degrees in this country.)
* When people speak in a language you don't know, you talk to them in a language, you yourself arent too fluent in!
No seriously, whenever people started talking to me in Kannada (can't blame them, I had a mustache and south Indian actor looks) I shift to German. Not English, Hindi or Marathi, but German. This is how the conversation went when I once wanted to hire a rickshaw.
"No. 30." (I can be quite a cheapstake.)
"Jayalakshmi Puram... far madi... naan orkunnai petrol badhai ho badhai... Pranab Mukherjee... nee papa parapo"
I bet he was talking gibberish, but I was bent upon saving 20 rupees. That's 1/3rd of a Euro, my european friends. Yes, I know you guys give away 3 Euros as a tip, but then that is why your GDP is falling and ours is rising. (Did I stoop too low?)
I shifted to German, as an instinct. I didnt do it on purpose. I swear -
"Aber, du musst petrol haben. Kanst du mir lift geben? Volkswagen. Das Auto. Audi. Vorsprung durch Tecknik."
He caught my bluff. He understood I was randomly naming car companies and their tag lines.
"No. 50 mean 50." He did a little twirl with his index finger in the air. I immidiately realised this was not a guy to be messed with. I gave him 50.
* Finding a place in Mysore can be tough. First you have to find a rickshaw driver who you think can speak broken hindi. Second you have to pronounce the name of the place you want to go right.
As an examples, all you north Indians reading this post, say "Kukrahalli Lake" 3 times. Do it in front of your south indian friends so that they can derive some pleasure out of it.
One you have pronounced the tounge twisiting name right, you are in for a treat as the driver tells you where it is.
"Sir, aap seedha jaana... Seedha matlab, straight-aaa. Fir dead end aana, dead end se left-aaa. Wahan pe ek bada building bolna toh, aapka building."
* If you ask the locals for a place, they can be really vague.
"Anna, Gayathri Tiffin (an eatery in Mysore) kahan hai?"
"Gayathri Tiffin-aaa? Go straight-aaa, right mein ek bada tree hona. Wahan pe Gayathri Tiffin hona."
I went straight and found a big tree every 100 meters.
* The dasherra celebrations in Mysore are the best in the country. The streets are lit up, the palaces are lit up too. Due to this overspending by the Karnataga Govt. for a day, the rest of the year, the street lights are turned off to compensate.
* The filter coffee or "kapi" as they call it here, is the awesomest drink ever. Nothing pulls you up like a good cup of filter kapi. If only the Mysore govt decided to market it right, it would kick Nescafe's butt. Mysore makes Italy small. That is also because Karnataka is bigger in size.
At the end of my stay , I had begun to fall in love with the place. It was quiet, the weather was good, the food was good and the coffee, oh yeah.... It is a lovely place to retire. One part of me wants to buy a house there, the one with a front yard and a back yard. You know, some place where I could have a small garden, grow tomatoes and cauliflowers and chillies. A place where my grandkids could come visit. A place where I could spoil them rotten. Sound like I am getting old. And you know what, it's not that bad...
P.S. - I have been working on my second novel, that explains my absence... I will post an excerpt soon.. :)
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: CITY OF GOD, mysore, pune, pune girls