I proceeded on leave by the 03rd February evening flight, arriving home at dawn the next day. 05th February was my birthday and was celebrated with my family. As I am not a party bird, the occasion was a low key affair without any fanfare. Nevertheless, it was thoughtful of my children to present me useful gifts, which I hope will bring back fond memories as years pass by. Mind you, this day was also the birthday of a Bollywood film star.
The phrase ?having a good time? is interpreted by people differently. For me, this phrase means relaxing and unwinding in an environment devoid of blaring music, noisy dancing and ruckus, but being in the company of intelligent and/or well-travelled people, who are raconteurs narrating their experiences and imparting their knowledge. I also enjoy the company of humorous people. However, I hate to see the sight of Batlibois (you know what I mean), who are addicted to heady stuff.
Having arrived home, I rambled around absorbing sights and sounds of the city and laid my hands on interesting non-fictions and travelogues. Now, I have enough reading material to keep me going for quite some time. I was also able to shop around to buy the stuff that my friends and colleagues had requested for, as these items are cheaper in Bombay and costlier in Bahrain.
As in January 2010, this year too I made a trip during February to Mangalore and travelled in Mangalore and the surrounding areas. I took a morning flight to Mangalore on 21st February and landed after one hour and twenty minutes. The new airport looks very good and swanky. However, considering that there are just twelve to fifteen flights a day, I question the rationale of having a massive airport, whose infrastructure is grossly underutilized. Since the Central and State Governments have used public funds and not their money, it is totally another matter. To hell with integrity, honesty and probity in life and thanks to the masses, who tolerate everything, India is a conveyor belt for sleazy politicians and civil servants.
Further, no taxis and auto-rickshaw are allowed to ply to and from the airport terminal building. So, should a traveller arrive at the airport without anyone coming to receive him with transport, he is left helpless – thanks to the sagacity and farsightedness of the authorities. Again thanks to the Karnataka Government for giving these tourist taxis the opportunity to fleece poor air travellers. In short, there is presumably a nexus and unholy alliance between the authorities and these vehicle operators. Passengers in Bombay are very fortunate to engage taxis at the airport itself by paying reasonable fares or take the trolley with one?s belongings down the terminal building and hail a transport and reach home. Though Bombay is amongst the ten largest metropolises in the world, we pay a fraction of what we pay to tourist taxi operators at Mangalore airport when, in fact, Mangalore could be considered as a large town or, at best, a small city.
At Karkala, I visited a 454 years old Jain temple, namely Chatur Mukha Basadi, which is an amazing piece of architecture. As the construction of this temple has been done with stones carved from rocks and probably good quality concrete, it has lasted so many centuries and is still going strong. Being on a hillock, a traveller gets a panoramic view of the surrounding areas of the Karkala town and a fantastic view of the Gomteshwara statue.
Thereafter, I went to the Gomteshwara site by climbing the 212 steps to reach the compound. Again, this is a Jain monument and I was told by the priest, who interacts with visitors and tourists, serves prasad and collects donations that this statue is of a Jain King of the yore, namely King Veer Pande Bhairav Raj and this monolith was inaugurated on 13.02.1432. We are talking about a monument that was built virtually 600 years ago. I wonder how primitive life was then and what was Karkala?s population at that point in time? The Gomteshwara statue is 42? in height and sculpted from one single, solid rock. Something amazing, marvellous and incredible, considering the fact that electricity did not exist then and technology and tools were quite basic and primitive.
From there, I proceeded to Ramsamudra and admired the lush greenery on its banks. Through binoculars, I peered at the opposite bank. Residents of the villages nestled and hidden in the lush greenery, had ventured out to come and do their laundry and lay their washed clothes on the rocks to dry.
Finally, I wound that day?s sight-seeing trip by visiting the St. Lawrence Church and the adjoining pond at Attur. For three days every year in January, hundreds of thousands of people from nearby and far away places make it here to visit this shrine to make offerings, pray for fulfilment of their wishes and banishment of their problems or express their profound thanks for their problems being solved or wishes being granted. During these three days, there are round-the-clock masses and free meals available. It sounds too good to me, but if I were urged or prodded to make a pilgrimage during these days, I would just avoid it, simply because I hate large gatherings, noise and commotion.
I wound up my site seeing trips on 22nd February and the next day visited the office of at Hampankatta, near the Milagres Church. It was a great opportunity to meet Ms. Violet Pereira. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to read Ms. Pereira?s coverage of different topics and events, including the brilliant photographs she has clicked on her professional, top-of-the-line ?Nikon? camera and splashed on the website. Well, Ms. Pereira is a livewire lady, soft-spoken and full of charm and grace. The website is lucky to have such a dynamic personality on board.
Thereafter, I went to various places adjoining Mangalore. Mangalore is the largest town in the region, but amongst other places or settlements that I visited, I would consider Manipal to be comparatively a swanky place. This is because it is a centre of learning and higher studies and attracts students from 38 countries and it is an upscale locality.
I enjoyed my trip. When one compares Goa and Mangalore, there is hardly any difference in climate, scenery, etc. I feel that Goa?s Government has realised the importance of tourism and the revenue it can generate and has done everything to develop its beaches, historical sites and other places of tourist interest and protect and safeguard the existing sites. Moreover, Goans are very fun loving people and gel well with tourists. The Government of Goa and the tourism industry have provided tourist with coaches, cars, guides and all other amenities. Well, this is not the case with Karnataka.
I wonder when the Karnataka Government will introduce taxis and auto-rickshaws that run on meters. If these vehicle operators do not want to tow the line, then their licenses should be withdrawn for the simple reason that they are not operating their vehicles to earn livelihood, but fleece passengers.
On 16/01/2010, I had the privilege to meet Rev. Father Valerian Fernandes in Bombay, a priest who has rendered yeoman services for quite a number of years in Papua & New Guinea. I met this priest on 28th February 2011, the day that I had returned from Mangalore and conversed with him for about 90 minutes and was just left highly impressed with him. He is a well informed personality and a walking and talking encyclopaedia. Normally, I have not had much interaction with priests, except for two. The priest with whom I had interacted first, specialises in marriage counselling and in matter of 15 to 16 years, has risen up to be a Cardinal. I hope my interaction with Rev. Father Valerian Fernandess will usher good luck to him.
In the recent past, I have visited Mangalore a number of times, thus absorbing very much of this place and reaching a saturation point and I feel that I should visit other exotic places. I would prefer to visit places in the North East, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, because they have an unique culture of their own and are lush green and hilly and are totally different to other regions of India. How many of my countrymen know that the State language of Nagaland is English and the North Eastern States have beautiful bands and the Shillong Orchestra gave a special musical performance or rendition in honour of President Barack Obama and his entourage, when he had visited India a couple of months ago.
Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain