It has been fifteen years since I saw Bangalore. 15 years in which I heard stories about the beautiful city bursting to its brims and enduring horrendous traffic snarls. I had spent some very pleasurable years early in my career in Bangalore, and some of the friends I made there still warm my heart, so I was obviously interested to see how it fared a decade and a half later.
I was dismayed at the way the city had exploded. Every place has to fall prey to urbanization. There is no way around it, but in Bangalore, once known as the Garden City, it was particularly brutal to see matchbox like apartments all over the city. The roads were struggling with cars from every one of those apartments, and the infrastructure was barely holding up. As I looked up into all those apartments, I wondered how many fellow residents each one knew, and the answer was what saddened me even more. In every apartment block of maybe 100 homes, residents hardly knew another 5 families. It seemed to me that more the people clustered together, the less we knew of one another.
I stayed in Bangalore for just a day before we made our way to our childhood home, the dear old Nilgiri Hills.
It has been about a decade since I visited Nilgiri Hills – the home of my childhood days. This time, I was determined to go and visit. When mia familia heard of my wish to do so, everybody joined in, and pretty soon, there we were bumping up the hills in a van loaded to the brim with luggage, children and people. Traveling light is a concept we often hear about, but we have absolutely no idea as to how it works. Maybe an experiment would help one day.
As the van made off with 11 people and 14 pieces of baggage, not including the toy cars and planes that had to ply within the van to ensure sanity and peace, I noticed that the pace of life steadily slowed down as we got farther and farther away from Bangalore city. Like an aircraft slowing down from 500 miles an hour to zero as it comes to rest. It was marvelous to see how it all culminated in one grand stroke to life with sultan.
I was looking forward to hop off at the sunflower fields en-route to the Nilgiris from Mysore. The sunflower fields were marvelous after the never ending concrete jungle that Bangalore has transformed into.
Likewise, once the van started bumping up the hills, I was happy and contented to take in the scent of the Nilgiri Hills and found myself taking in large gulps of the pristine air. Every now and then, we spotted elephants, bisons and deer freely roaming the forests.
We stayed for a couple of days in a resort in Masinagudi. The beautiful resort was nestled in the hills with only 7 cottages, plenty of rolling hills, deer, bison, horses and a donkey. The children spent a good half day marveling at touch-me-nots as they folded and unfolded.
It was here we met Sultan. Sultan is a donkey and he was found by the resort owner in the streets of Chennai, where he was being teased and not given his due. She took pity on him and had him transported to this resort. Sultan’s mates at the resort were two horses who occasionally gave the children a ride on their backs. Sultan had no such obligations as no one seemed interested in taking a picture riding a donkey, so he just grazed, all the while thinking he was a horse. He was a great favorite among the guests and was often called upon for a loving pat on the nose or a rub on the chin. Sultan knew all the residents of the resort.
It has since become a motto of sorts within our family to Live Like Sultan. A life of love, commendable self worth, fresh air, a contented mind and a slow pace of life to relish the many gifts that Earth has to offer.