The International Writers Magazine: Travel Fiction Part
the Pub is a temple. A rock temple. Situated in an alley off the
glitzy shopping street 'Brigade Road', it mocks all that the road
stands for. With new shops coming up every two months, Peco's
in its defiantly dirty, old and dilapidated state stands sardonically,
Making a statement.
When the pub surreptitiously had new seats put in after the old ones
had become a health hazard, extreme lengths were taken to get brown,
dirty and old looking 'new' chairs.
The Gods of Pecos look down at you from everywhere, you can never escape
them. And the songs of worship, songs by the Gods themselves, are venerated
by holding up mugs of beer, heads moving to beat, or at least a continuous
foot tapping, to confirm one's devotion to rock and jazz and blues and
retro. The beer is diluted, the popcorn stale, and the bathrooms reek,
these are the sacrifices a Peco-ian willingly pays. When in college,
if you don't love Peco's you just aren't with it. Only three years since
do I have the courage to say "lets go somewhere else." But
it rarely works.
One afternoon, I met Mohan at Pecos. In a frenzy that came as a contrast
to long periods of nothingness and happy-hours beer, a group of us had
come up with a plan to go somewhere. Anywhere. And finally it was decided;
Gokarna. It was right after that that I met Mohan at Pecos. It was,
in retrospect a symbolic meeting, our relationship was just one journey
after another. And no, not metaphorically. As someone said later, he
was my 'Travelling Mohan'. I knew and loved only that Mohan.
We convinced him, and it didn't take much, to come with us, and that
made us a nice little group of five. The next day Neeti, the only other
girl of our group, and I waited under the flashing lights of the newly
refurbished Bangalore Bus Station. With our swank bags and tent and
big shoes, we were the most curious figures in that teeming crowd of
people going everywhere. It was like being on stage, the lights and
the brazen stares. When I wasn't worrying about the next sleaze ball
trying to get a free bump and mild feel up off me, I found myself hoping
Mohan wouldn't ditch us. They were late the boys, but they all came.
I couldn't stop smiling.
The bus was half empty. Mallige flowers and white naamas featured on
all the other passengers. We were misfits on a pilgrimage bus, with
no hopes or misfortunes or emotions of gratitude to warrant a visit
to god. However, as with so many other holy sites of India, Gokarna
attracts both devotees and hippies. Mercifully we wouldn't be the only
ones lounging around.
Our bus driver had one Kannada film song playing firmly on repeat. None
of the windows would shut completely and there was a constant draft
of freezing wind. The bus itself was heaving and tossing over the collapsing
roads. As if by magic no one else felt any of it, and I spent that night
watching Neeti's head gently sway as she dreamt of, I can confidently
Neeti and Sanjay are students of geology. But while Sanjay, (boy number
2 in our group) studies and has an inexplicable albeit healthy interest
in, it must be said, the rather dreary topic of rocks, Neeti has found
in rocks the answer to life and the universe. For her it was a pilgrimage.
.." (for Neeti doesn't speak,
she tortures her words via the Chinese elongation technique) as she
pointed to an obscure rock that was "awe - some". Neeti's
manner of speaking exposes a lot about the girl. Her accent for instance
and use of certain words has a hint of her three years in Australia,
but only a hint. The fact that she is essentially at her core a true
sleepy Bangalorean cannot be escaped. Her downright slothful expulsion
of words captures the original spirit of the city. Where everyone would
start the day at ten, break for tea at ten thirty, eleven and eleven
thirty, stop for lunch and a siesta which would last till four, and
return home by six. Neeti pays a fitting tribute to her city of birth.
Her true home is the Tavern, another pub and another institution, where
the DJ gifts her free CD's and the doorman a knowing grin. She can sit
there for hours drinking cold beer after beer talking about nothing
in particular. But one cannot confuse this form of decadence with laziness
or a lack of interest in the world. Neeti is passionate about rocks.
And in Gokarna, a tiny group of modestly sized islands, each separated
by magnificent rocky cliffs, I wasn't the only one who went orgasmic.
To be continued in
© Anushka Rao : English Teacher in Bangalore, India. September
also by Anushka
Stories in Dreamscapes2
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