When I arrived at Mandya after a rather comfortable and short journey, I hardly knew what to see. The guidebooks I had at home didn’t mention anything of this town. I had not heard from anyone anything worth a visit at Mandya. However, this is a convenient place to stop for my visit tomorrow to Somnathpur.
I enquired with a few people if there was anything interesting in town. “There’s nothing here”, was the universal response. No one could point me to an interesting building, a local event or even a temple. Museums, art galleries and operas were out of the question. So here I was at Mandya with a few hours to kill and nothing to amuse myself. So I decided to walk through the streets and look at ordinary lives of ordinary people which they term as nothing.
What is this nothing? – the highway busy with traffic plying between Mysore and Bangalore; a traffic policeman trying to direct traffic from his high podium when the lights don’t work; private buses waiting impatiently to fill up; a lorry watering some dry tracks for tomorrow’s parade; hawkers sitting cross-legged on walkways waiting to sell their grapes, oranges and pomegranates; beggars sprawled in dark subways hoping for pity and generosity; passing commuters stopping for a quick snack or a cup of tea; men walking from wine shops with an unsteady step; shops closing for the day; a man burning hay in an otherwise vacant backyard; dark, narrow and empty lanes where the shadows of a lone stranger move ominously.
This nothing is nothing more than the common events that we fail to notice in the course of our everyday lives. The same scenes in our usual place of living may not trigger curiosity. We are too busy for that. But in a different place and in a different time, everything is interesting. Even everyday scenes, from whose observation there’s perhaps nothing much to be gained, can be interesting. This change of place can help us look with fresh eyes, as an outsider and as if we are not part of the scene. In my case, it is a Bangalorean looking at how people of Mandya live. My life may be different or same. The point is that my life, no matter how uninteresting, is part of Bangalore’s social scene; and it is imporant. Such a realization came to me this evening in the streets of Mandya. It is about how you see yourself fitting into the fabric of society.
I took the 1415 hours train from Bangalore City. It takes only an hour and half to get to Mandya at a cost of Rs. 42.
I stayed at the Gayatri Lodge which close to the bus stand. You will have to cross the railway line by an underpass to get to it. Room with a TV costs Rs. 200 while one without TV is Rs. 150. The room was clean except for the sheets. The main problem was someone smoked in adjacent rooms and the smoke drifted into my poorly ventilated room through the common corridor.
Walk past the bus stand towards Mysore. There is a good Andra style restaurant on the left. A meal costs Rs. 35. This was the only decent eating place I could find in this town.