Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Big Foot Spirit

The non-stop chiming of Nagavalli’s anklets in my mind should have been a foreshadowing of what was to come, but the fantasy-loving fool that I am, I assumed it was my mind conjuring her up for my entertainment. So, I just let her dance away the 45 minutes’ drive, all the way from Gaddige Fort to Mandalpatti. 

My tour-guide-cum-homestay-host, Deepak, was playing the driver for me again (isn’t he a gracious host?), and even bought the tickets, for us and his teen nephew who had accompanied us, from a small make-shift ticket counter at the foot of the hills. We were to take a jeep with a driver and ascend the winding slopes of Mandalpatti. The jeep we were to hop into was, to put it politely, antique, and the road was, to put it understatedly, bumpy.

Only as the guards opened the gate to the hills and the jeep tried to speed up, did I notice that I could no longer hear anklets. But before I could so much as ponder over the dancer’s sudden disappearance, the jeep threw me up and down, left and right, all in a fast and non-stop sequence. My shoulder bumped into the front seat on the right side, my head bobbed onto the metal body of the jeep’s top, and my legs swept the floor of the jeep in apparently lifeless movements. Have you watched the movie The Exorcist? I pretty much felt a ghoul had entered my body and was throwing me around with vengeance!

Perhaps I was paying the price for pursing my lips at the boring tomb. Perhaps I was being challenged for turning my back on it and paying my attention to the carvings on the walls that protected it instead (not that the royal bones and dust under the concrete floor ‘tomb’ needed protecting). Perhaps I was being taught a lesson for planning to title my blog post ‘Big Foot and Big Bore’ in honour of the King’s mortal remains.

Well, it was surely exciting, albeit bruising to various parts of my body, and oh my… what a scenic view… even as the ghoul threw the jeep to the very edges of the unprotected hills, I couldn’t help but gape in awe of this partially cloudy, partially green, partially muddy vista. On reaching the top of the hills, the howling of the wind seemed to confirm my doubts that it was indeed a ghoul that threw me about. Anyway, without a doubt, I could see that Mandalpatti is every picnicker’s paradise, not counting the ghoul I carried there.

And just as I was planning on trekking a trail on the opposite hillock, the heavens gave way and the clouds grumbled in agreement. The skeletal face of Doddaveerarajendra, under
Raja’s Tomb, seemed to be smirking in my direction…

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