Ceramic Bus From Ammallidoddi


Most of the time I am a proud and possessive Bangalorean, but sometimes I wished I had a “native village”  to “hail from” like most of my best friends , where they were taken by their parents, and the father officiated at the annual temple festival, and the villagers treated them like royalty, and  everyone was invited to the feast. It must have been like the boar-eating banquet that always marks the end of an Asterix-Obelix adventure, Cacophonix included.

My best friend, Ani hails from Ammallidoddi. As you head Mysore-wards, you need to take a left somewhere in the vicinity of Channapatna, , and follow the signposts to reach it.  The same road  leads to  Kabbalamma  temple, the holy place for those who have bought  a new set of wheels, especially newly minted autorickshaws that have made this devi  a cult on the mean streets of  Bangalore.

She is nothing to do with the Kabbalah cult that has ardent followers in celebrities like Madonna, Britney Spears, Jeff Goldblum, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Ritchie, David and Victoria Beckham, and Elizabeth Taylor. Kabbalamma has an awesome mystic mesmerism of her own, as  I discovered when  Ani and I went , driven by Basha ,  to bribe her, that she may forever protect Ani’s brand new Santro from accidents and ward off   the evil eye of  ill-intentioned people.

Now, Ani’s  sense of direction is legendary  for being non-existent, and she clearly doesn’t come GPS-embedded. Basha who once nursed a grand delusion that a great career as a genius car mechanic awaited him in the near future,  has stopped using his GPS ever since I bragged about my own keen sense of direction-  I may not know the right way, but I am always the first to discover that we are lost, and also find ways to un-lose us.

Ani-mated conversation between best friends in the rear led to everyone not paying attention to the scenery ambling past ( the road was bad, and we couldn’t whizz) and so it took us a while to realise that  while we went to Kabbalamma’s via the Kanakapura Road, and  the return journey took us in a different direction.

When I suddenly spotted the signpost which  said Ammallidoddi  we  realised we were going where we have not gone before. Dear old Ani, for whom this wasn’t the first visit to Kabbalamma, is blessedly never disoriented,  thanks to the non-existent sense of direction, was however, puzzled, flummoxed, befuddled . Flashbacks from Ammalli had never impinged on her trips to Kabbalamma before this. Was Kabbalamma trying to convey something here?

We decided to press on, and followed in the wake of the dust raised by a bus that was tilting dangerously to the left ,  resembling  a giant  centipede with some broken limbs   thanks to the dozens of arms and legs swinging out form the windows and the doors.  The centipede, though agonised by multiple fractures on multiple limbs, obviously had been here, done this, ad nauseum- it was just doing its day job.

I quickly deduced that we were going to emerge on Mysore Road.  Basha  grinned triumphantly as if he had engineered this course correction single-handedly, while Ani still bemused, began babbling about the familiar landmarks that  suddenly began to blast in (or is it out?) from the past.

Ammalli has become my vicarious  native village,  I  know enough about its denizens to pass off as a genuine Ammallian. I  feel an inexplicable ownership towards one  particular denizen, whom I have never seen.

Iskanta is part of the Ammallidoddi  fable that we constructed around a single episode which  defines Ani’s tenuous bond with her native village. On one of the family’s mandatory visits to Ammalli,  Iskanta,  emboldened by the fact that he was safe  inside his  home, put his pugnacious nose to the tiny window, and shouted rather rudely as Ani and her sister Mangala walked past.

It was unadulterated country-bumpkin-takes-revenge-on city-slicker- cousins.  And it was priceless.”Anita…. Pinita………..poo!! (the last was said in Kannada, and I’d rather not soil this blog with earthy outpourings, and as long as the meaning is conveyed………..)  assaulted their ears like the sharp, defiant  report of an autorickshaw backfiring without any provocation at all.

Ani and Sis were livid. With little to do until it was time to go home, the sisters spent the next three hours working out  a plan for an   apt comeback.. On their way back , they were pleased to see their unsuspecting prey  sitting on the jagli of his house, but  he scurried back inside on sighting them. His truculent  face reappeared at the window, and obviously having expended all his creativity three hours ago,  merely repeated the same battle cry.

As the two girls came abreast of the window, they chorused: Iskanta kantad meley …………!!! (Translated– something-something……… on Iskanta’s  neck)  and marched on, and soon were in splits, laughing till tears rolled down their eyes, stopping only when Father roundly scolded them.

We have replayed this one scores of times, and   “sitting on Iskanta’s neck”  has  long been a part of the Best Friends’ Lexicon.  Iskanta no longer lives in Ammalli, and not even Ani’s cousin Raja knows  what became of him. So, one lazy langorous afternoon, we created a fable around the further adventures of Iskanta.

Since we associate him  with  the Ceramic Bus (thanks Antony Bourdain)  we have  given Iskanta  an outstanding career in the manufacture of custom-made designer ceramic buses.

Oh! and he now calls himself Iskant Amali, and probably has a show of his own on Travel & Living. If  Iskant Amali turns up on Facebook, I deny everything, on account of any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely  coincidental and unintentional.

Also I am keeping my fingers crossed, and since I am not in the country anymore, I urge Ani to talk Basha into making another trip to Kabbalamma, and enlist her help in warding off  the evil eye that Iskant Amali could cast this way.

On the  other hand,  he may not turn up at all- who wants respond when the  REAL author of Anita……..Pinita…… is asked to stand up?

Kabbalamma’s restraining orders on Iskanta will keep, for now.

21 Comments

  1. Phalguni says:

    Hi Jay Akka!
    Good one…really funny…they say, “The proof of the pudding is in eating it”…This was as good as a Tiramisu…

    1. alljay says:

      Thanks Phalguni!
      Tiramisu! No one said that to me before!!

  2. sharatchandra says:

    Interesting. The journalist in you is coming out. Keep writing

    1. alljay says:

      Thanks. KEEP COMMENTING

  3. shailesh says:

    hi
    nice to see yr blog…

    so learning driving..

    jayasri ki asha to learn driving like basha….

    pehla nasha to drive like basha
    naya car naya intezar……………….

    yes like nalini writing seems to be yr calling…….

    1. alljay says:

      If I drive, I’m afraid P will say:
      Be-car-ar karke humey youn na jayiye!

  4. ani says:

    ooooh i zimbly love this one i sey. got sooo nostalgic, laughed out loud {like gum gala in the auto} had tears rolling down….this one’s awsum dude . wonder who’ll understand this though, wl explain it to dear ol ol Shari.
    the best gift I’ve had ..Thanks!! i’ll pass the digs you’ve made at my sense of direction.

    1. alljay says:

      The digs are not made up lies!
      They are REAL ONES.
      Oh! Everyone understands in their own way.
      Now I’ll have to explain gum-gala…………

  5. sumana says:

    Hey you!

    Nice. You sometimes ramble 🙂 And you write like a journalist! (whatever that means, am sure you understand though)

    1. alljay says:

      The rambling is probably because I’m yet to get my bloggy-writing legs, and lose the “journalist” style. Will try to fix this, so don’t stop visiting here

  6. ramachandran says:

    As Shailesh would put it (u know it well enough) to
    “eachee his own!”
    With my profound medical knowledge, every time I visit the blue bowl I get the feeling that I’m sitting on a patient’s neck with a massive thyroid problem. (I cant draw the cross section here for I can’t draw at all).So much for Ishakanta, from my side. I may also add my own story of how emperor akbar took up the worship of Ishkant in the form of the said blue bowl ever since birbal taught him the lesson of his life about which place is closest to heaven!

    Antu Intu enantii

    1. alljay says:

      As Betaal said to Vikram– Main tere bus mein aanewala nahi hoon!

  7. Chandrika says:

    Interesting :). The fact that your heart is all here shows up so clearly in your writing. Laut ke aja beti!

    1. alljay says:

      Home is certainly where the heart is! But just now, it is where the husband is. But will remember your invitation. Keep visiting Sweetkharacoffee

  8. Neethi says:

    this is soo funny aunty, no one other than thou cld’ve worded it so beautifully. love the centepede bit. write something nice abt me..road runner et al.

    1. alljay says:

      I owe u one Jerry Mouse! Road Runner!! My only NUT Brown niece who buys me chocolate. Don’t forget to watch this space.

  9. Hilarious ! bus resembling a centipede . Lol ! Enjoyed, keep writing !

    1. Jayasri says:

      Thanks Surekha! Now you’ve made my day, and here as I sip my morning coffee, I feel inspired. to keep at it

  10. Vish Iyer says:

    Ye Ladki – alladi Jayasri – R K Narayan ka kuch sumband. So lovely writing. I am assuming this – Thank God she does speak they way she writes. I will have to keep a dictionary with me.

    1. Vish Iyer says:

      Jayasri _ I should have written – Thank God she does NOT speak to me the way she writes.

      1. Jayasri says:

        Hahahaha! Vishy, you are the dollop of gongura on my rice! After such praise how can I even think of speaking to you like that!

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