I have been taking the NH4 between Bangalore- Mumbai so often that now any talk on this highway anywhere must have me in it. A little more confidently, I feel I should be invited as one of the most frequented traveller ( other than the bus drivers- conductors and truckers) :D . I have seen it on my Lakshmi (Bajaj Discover 150 cc), on those big buses they call ‘Volvos’ of almost all the companies that ply this route… Neeta, KSRTC, National, VRL, Kadamba. By now, I feel there sure is a karmic connection with this road.
Traveling usually makes one think, reflect, retrospect, contemplate and just drift. Along with looking within, one also looks ‘without’ - observes, listens, interacts. It helps unravel, explore and know thyself. NH4 has been a cradle where I have discovered certain aspects about myself. This road in the past helped me peak into the diversity of India. Now it’s the cradle, where from I look within.
This road has seen all the colours that make me. It has seen me ecstatic, it has seen me quiet and peaceful, and it has also seen me in my lows. Through all of it, it has been a reliable and silent companion. It is easy to get ‘carried away’ and yet reach where you have to!
When I think of NH4, over the trips I have some vivid memories of places and scenes which make my picture of this lovely highway. Here goes some of those experiences.
Name boards on Shops:
I love reading name boards on shops as I cruise through a town. It gives a quick idea of demographics of a locality, a rote one at that. I can’t read Kannada, so when in Karnataka all I get to read are English name boards. One name board that really intrigued me is ‘New Manjunath Wines’. Nothing special about this name board, we also have Lakshmi wines to Ganesh wines… many more wine shops named after gods and goddesses. But this one which I spotted around Tumkur area was the time I finally could articulate why I was intrigued about wine shop names. It felt as if people are trying to tone down ill effects of drinking or legitimize drinking by naming the shop after the gods (Manjunath is another name for Shiva).
Kids getting back home from School:
If you ride this highway through the day, you’d spot school children on the highway at least once. Some places schools windup by 1:00pm some places it does after 4:00pm. But if you are on the road post noon, you will spot kids in uniform. I so love seeing these kids on their cycles with their friends on carriers or the front bars, some of them walking with their younger sibling, some just stroll in their own dream world. These kids reminds me of my childhood days where I used to go to school on my BSA-SLR with my sister on the carrier and two ‘lunch bags’ (Lunch bags are a very Tamil thing, not so much Indian. Kids take their water bottle and lunch box in a separate basket like bag, that we used to call it lunch bag) on the handle bar.
Chitradurga, city of forts
I have never entered this town, but when you are o NH4, there is huge welcome board saying “Welcome to city of Forts”. I have always taken this welcome seriously and felt bad to not have honored that invitation. But as one crosses over this welcome board on the road that diverges into the city, few kilometers further from the main city, one sees hills filled with windmills for quite some distance. Every time I cross these windmill farms in the distance, I think it’s high time we change Chitradurga’s tag line from ‘City of Fort’ to ‘City of windmills’.
Kamat Upchar at Sira
Karnataka highways are dotted with Kamats all over. A trustable, good quality food chain. I love the Kamat at Sira because it has hot Vadas at anytime in the day. Most importantly their toilets are clean. And there is this old man who sells tender coconut, who has this pleasant face. I buy his tender coconut just to have a chat with him.
A small shack before Satara
When I was riding on Lakshmi from Mumbai to Bangalore, after crossing the exhaustive traffic of Pune, I stopped near a small shop to break, wash my face and ride further. I met Sunil, who was running his father shop. It was his summer holidays. He was smart kid, but a quiet one. Nothing special or remarkable about meeting Sunil, but it came across a contrast to what most urban kids do in their summer vacations. Not that Sunil was working too hard or not having fun. It was just the difference in experiences of children. This set me thinking how this will shape Sunil and how different will it be from children of his age group in urban areas. Every time I cross the ghat section between Satara and Pune, I think of Sunil.
There are many more small instances, experiences, moving interactions, I will share more of it as and when it flows.