SSS Idli Hotel

CEDUaZWWoAAZ4e3

For long, I have heard that Vijayawada is/was the political and cultural hotbed of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh. The political hotbed nature of Vijayawada shows itself up whenever it’s the birthday of a politico based in the city. There are flexi posters wishing the man in question a happy birthday and also words praising his lineage.

With the state separated now and Vijayawada being the region where the capital is based, one would see more of these activities happening. As is the case everywhere else, sycophants abound. In Vijayawada, it’s a lot more than normal. Every Tom, Dick and Harry roams around the city with his own Tom, Dick and Harry. Sometimes this coterie might be a larger group.

In the days gone by, Communist party had a large presence in the city. The memories of the communist past still live on: There are junctions named after prominent communist leaders – local and global.

One of those communists, Mallikarjuna Rao Medasani, opened an idli only restaurant as communism was on the wane. Glimpses of his communist past can be found in the restaurant – a pic of Puchalapalli Sundarayya is garlanded every morning.

The idli hotel (restaurants are also called as hotels in this part of the world) is known locally as SSS idli hotel. People refer to it, non-locals mainly, sometimes as ‘Paaka idli’, referring to its thatched roof with palm leaves.

******

Whenever an idli hotel opens in Vijayawada, it’s always compared with Babai Hotel idli. While it’s difficult to compare favourably with Babai Hotel, SSS idli has managed to build a following for itself.

Do they serve idlis as good as Babai Hotel? Do they have a legacy as strong as Babai Hotel’s? Do they have as many people patronising the place as Babai Hotel? Do they have enterprising people at the helm as Babai Hotel? Do they have an appreciatory letter from the office of president of India? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘no’.

What is it that makes SS idli popular in a place where iconic pushcarts are ubiquitous? The answer might probably lie in the levels of the hygiene maintained and the freshness of the idlis. It’s not to say that the other places don’t do it; it’s just that it’s more apparent in SSS idli hotel.

As you make your way in through a wooden door into the place, you will find six six-foot long Cuddapah slabs as tables. On one side of the place is where you wash your hands and they share the walls with  an auto garage on the other side. If you look to your right, you would find three people working away furiously in what is the kitchen of the place. Two people busy in making the idlis and one person is in charge of the parcel. Depending on the time you are there one or two people would be involved in the serving of these idlis.

Two earthen pots in the middle serve as water containers. The chutney, groundnut chutney, is different from what is served at various places in Vijayawada. They are definitely not frugal when it comes to serving chutney as they are confident that people will clear up the remnants.

The first serving in a plate comes with couple of idlis, lots of chutney and some karappodi. Before you finish the idlis served on your plate, the person serving the idlis comes with the entire plate of idlis and it is difficult to resist the temptation of not having a repeat serving. The idlis are pretty soft and piping hot. When they are had with the chutney, for that moment, you feel as if you have had a trip to heaven.

I have been having idlis here from the time they were priced at 5/- per idly. Now, they are priced at 14/- per idly. They sell buttermilk, lassi and sunnundallu (a type of laddoo made from black gram(?)). Over time a pan shop has made an appearance too.

Location of the place : Pinnamaneni Polyclinic road. Close to Nalanda school. Once you are on the road mentioned, anybody can guide you to the place.

Image Courtesy  – Twitter timeline of Ravi Korukonda

*Changed six six feet tables to six six-foot tables on 14th September

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series Episodes 1-3

BB

Byomkesh Bakshi is a fictional detective created by Sharadindu Bandhopadhyay. Most of the people wouldn’t have read the book but it was popularised by the Television series aired on Doordarshan over 2 seasons.

Byomkesh Bakshi was played with èlan by Rajit Kapoor. His sidekick was played by KK Raina. His character was called Ajit Kumar Bannerji. While the stories and the way they move ahead seem clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Rajit Kapoor puts his own spin on the character and makes it worth remembering. There are 32 episodes of this detective. The good thing about detective series back then was the fact that they were all played by brilliant actors.

I would try to make a list of the episodes  and make a gist of it without giving out the solution to the case or the twists involved.

Episode 1 : Satyanveshi 

This is the first episode of the first season and we see Byomkesh Bakshi with a stubble and volunteering to help the police with a case in a locality in Calcutta.

Plot of the case : There are mysterious deaths in a locality in Calcutta and Byomkesh wants to solve them or thinks that he has the ability to solve them. He checks in to a lodge in the locality. As he is entering the lodge, he sees a dead body. It’s here that he meets Ajit for the first time. All the occupants of the lodge are viewed as suspects at one point or the other. The mystery unravels after an occupant of the lodge is found murdered in his room.

Here Byomkesh sets a trend that we see repeating itself  in a few episodes. He doesn’t want to be referred as a detective or a jasoos, but would want to call himself as a ‘Satyanveshi’ – someone who finds the truth in the situation or itches to find the truth in a situation.

Episode 2 : Raaste ka kanta 

From this episode on they had timestamps for when the incidents occurred

Time period : 1933, Calcutta

Plot of the case : By this story, Ajit has moved into the house of Byomkesh and while glancing over a newspaper, Byomkesh comes across an instance of murder with the aid of a gramophone pin. While talking about it, an elderly man comes to them with a gramophone pin and tells them that he survived only because he had a clock-piece in his pocket. Byomkesh follows him on his way back and finds out that he has an affair with a danseuse. He also finds out that the danseuse in collusion with the lawyer wanted to bump the old man off as they find out that the will is written in her name. They get to read an ad in the paper advertised as ‘Raaste ka kaanta’ and want to find more about the person.  The person asks them to come to a specific place at an appointed hour.

Quite a simple case if you keep a tab on the number of people who appear in the episode.

Episode 3 : Seemant Heera

Time period : 1934, North Bengal – Calcutta 

Plot of the case : There is no mystery aspect in this case.  It’s a simple case. Probably also the episode where the series had its biggest star – Utpal Dutt. A zamindar invites Byomkesh to find a missing diamond. He also tells them who stole it. The challenge for Byomkesh is to find it and return it to the zamindar. There is a lot of one-upmanship between Byomkesh and the sculptor. How Byomkesh finds out where the diamond is hidden is a little farcical.

Probably the most simple episode of the series. No mystery attached to the episode at all

If you want to read more about Rajit Kapur playing Byomkesh Bakshi, you can read this article in Elle magazine titled Being Byomkesh Bakshi

Image courtesy : Quora 

Kumar Mavvayya

IMG_0581Ratna Girish Kumar. I call him ‘Kumar Mavvayya’. Probably the days he responds to this call are gone. He is suffering from Brain Haemorrhage and has been told that his days are numbered – around a week to ten days at best. He has depression too. He is prone to throwing tantrums and behaving weirdly when the bout seizes him. He is an alcoholic too; drinking a lot more than he actually should. There have been days, in abundance, when depression and alcohol mixed. On those kind of days, more often than not, he met with accidents.

Probably because of depression or a feeling that he wasn’t loved by others, he, from time to time, used go away from the house and work, when he was working for APSRTC, for extended periods. During that time, when prodded he used to say that he slept in bus stands or footpaths. Invariably, when he came back to the house, he was bearded, unkempt and, in some eyes, looked like a vagrant. Fearing societal pressure to be perfect, my grandparents kept my uncle’s depression, away from many eyes. The time he stayed at home, he used to be generally restless. A feeling of not being cared for and the love for alcohol meant that another bout of depression was never far away. A bout of depression generally meant going away from the house.

Around the festival of Diwali in 2000 I was excited. I had ceased to celebrate Diwali by bursting crackers. I was excited because one of my favourite stars was set to appear on KBC. Just before the show could start, we had a phone call from my grandparents telling us that ‘Kumar Mavayya’ met with an accident in a place 70 Kms from where we stayed. So, my grandfather and me rushed to that down and got him back in an ambulance. That accident was the first of many accidents he had. He broke his leg badly; so badly that he had to stay in the hospital for a long time. During the time, my duty was to go to the hospital daily with a flask of coffee and stay there till my grandmother came with lunch. He stayed in a general ward and quickly became friends with patients in that ward and the nurses. He also spent a lot of time talking to me about movies and Shahrukh Khan, his favourite actor. I was taking an year out from my engineering course at that point of time as I didn’t pass my subjects in the course. Never once did he broach that topic with me. He never made me feel uncomfortable. The only thing he asked me was if I smoke or drank. Upon being told that I did neither, he said he would wait till I turned 25 to be sure that I did neither. He called me on my 25th birthday to enquire the same.

Now when I look back at it, that was probably the beginning of 15 years of torment for him. A torment which none of us understood or were a part of. We used to question him, but he never answered. Maybe we should have persisted. Because of depression, he had a temper to be scared of. This, with alcohol alienated him from a lot of his relatives. He was not always like this. He had seen better days and was a brilliant human being. In my eyes, he still is a brilliant human being and will remain so till he breathes his last.

****

My parents had a love marriage. They were supported by Kumar mavvayya. He used to give my mom, his sister, a royal sum as pocket money. He loved her a lot. So, when she was pregnant and wanted to satiate her taste buds, he was the one that responded by getting her whatever she wanted regardless of the weather conditions. There wasn’t a single instance where he said no to her. My mother tells me loving a person wasn’t alien to him. They had a brother who was intellectually challenged. So Kumar Mavvayya was the person who attended to each of his needs. Their brother passed away when he turned 19. That probably upset my mavvayya a lot.

He had a rocky relationship, at best, with his parents, my maternal grandparents. Completing his Bachelors, he joined APSTRC in a lower management post. Stung by my grandparents attitude towards him, he started spending a lot of time outside the house. The work he did consumed him. He is lanky in appearance and not given to much socialising within the family circles.

Whenever we were in Hyderabad, I remember waiting for him till late into the night, because I was enamoured with his memory and knowledge of Hyderabad. He had a brilliant ability to recall dates and also told you the number of days a movie ran in Hyderabad. We saw a few movies together. He bought me my first analog watch, a HMT Pace watch, which still works.

He was a man devoid of sarcasm and cheap gossip. I never saw him discussing about a person who wasn’t around. He did his work and had a charming smile. It is perhaps no wonder that I idolise a similar person at work.

His rocky relationship with his parents did affect him a lot. He is unmarried. Post 2000, he always said that he was proud of me because of my relationship with my parents. He is one among very few people who trusted me a lot.

****
Once he calls time on his life, I will remember him as a good human being. In the days to come, I will make sure that others will also remember him in a similar manner. He is not given to plotting and shrewdness as a way of life. He deserves to be remembered for the good he has done to people from time to time.

Cricket, friends and fun

2003_splash_logo

World Cup. I am always reminded of 2003 edition whenever the mention of a World Cup is made. It was, simply, the best World Cup I saw. It helped that, Australia, my favourite team, were undefeated in the tournament. It got off to a worst start possible with the suspension of Shane Warne.

In what was the fourth match of the tournament, they faced Pakistan, a repeat of the 1999 World Cup final. Wasim Akram, the captain from that final, made early inroads. I din’t see the initial part of the game because we friends were busy playing cricket ourselves. I remember vividly that our game could not be ended because one of our friends picked up a fight with a senior. So, we came back to what was the common room, if it could be called so, to watch the game. The score when I saw was 86/4. Jimmy Maher had just fallen to Waqar Younis.

All of them had said that Pakistan would win the game. I had this blind faith that Australia might find a way out. That the way was named ‘Andrew Symonds’ was beyond my wildest dreams. Shot after shot, run after run, he just drilled fear into the Pakistan bowlers. We were all mute witnesses to the carnage unfolding before our eyes. He was awesome that day. The fact that he scored 97 runs on the off side stands testimony to the utter domination unleashed on the bowlers.

They were in trouble in two other games. One was against England and the other was against New Zealand.  Against England, they were reduced to 130 odd for 8 before Bevan and Bichel saw them home. It was a chase and till Bevan was around there was hope. This match too, like many others, was seen in the common room.

The match against New Zealand was a tense one as they were reduced to 84 for 7 before Bevan and Bichel, again, started the repair work. It was a huge help to them that Shane Bond’s quota of overs were done by the 29th over. McGrath got the early wickets for them and Brett Lee ran through the tail in a matter of four overs. The sight of him signalling five with his palm after the match ended will stay forever in my memory. This match was seen at the college canteen. The dominating feeling, at that point of time, was sympathy for Shane Bond- he bowled his heart out and ripped through the top and middle order of a famed batting line-up. The fact that they lost by 96 runs was a surprise.

And then there was the mother of all matches- India v Pakistan. Played on the 1st of March, a Saturday, it was a bonafide holiday for all of us. We were all crowded in front of the small 14 inch TV like our lives depended on it. The knock by Saeed Anwar was a dampener. Sachin Tendulkar ensured that all that negative feeling was washed away by a pre-determined assault on Shoaib Akhtar. It won’t  be an overstatement to say that each one had ‘the hair on the back of our neck standing’

The final was the clincher. It seemed as if the entire population of Vizag was in our common room and the noise had to be heard to be believed. Soon the noise turned into groans and groans turned into moans of disappointment. All through I was watching the game because Australia were dominating. When it rained, a few of my friends  resorted to heckling me, but going by the result you would know who had the last laugh

***

I came to Bangalore in 2005 and remember being close to tears when Australia lost to England by two runs at Birmingham. I saw most of the match at an internet cafe in Jayanagar. With that friendship made, I saw most of the games at the same place. I didn’t even need to surf the net to be there.

My best memories of watching cricket involve 2008 IPL and the 2009 Australia India ODI series. During the 2008 IPL- the game between Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders. We were watching the game at a pub called ‘Sherlock’. There was this gal who was a supporter of KKR and was vocal about it. She was spoiling our experience of watching the game. Well, our own shouting and the comments ensured that her evening was a bad experience though KKR won. Trust me when I say that there were no lewd comments and eve teasing involved. That’s the joy of watching cricket with friends.

***

The 2009 series between India v Australia was a brilliant one. On the day of one of the matches, me and my friend decided to venture to Vellore- a place 207 kilometers away from where we stayed. We didn’t know that. We thought it was only 116 kilometers. Our foolishness was so stubborn that we refused to ask people and see milestones. So, at the turn we need to take at Krishnagiri to get to Vellore, we thought of having breakfast and had our fill. A Kilometer after that, when we expecting Vellore to be around 20 kilometers, imagine our shock when we see that Vellore was 100 odd kilometers away. We were at that point where we couldn’t go ahead nor come back. As luck would have it, it started to rain. Well, we did go ahead to Vellore … in the rain. While coming back, it was still raining, we stopped at a small restaurant. The shop had a television and they were beaming the India v Australia game – the game played at Mohali. It was a close game and we stayed back till the innings ended. It didn’t matter to us that we came back at 1AM in the morning.

We saw the epic Hyderabad game in a seedy bar in some basement where the stench dominated everything else. We went there only because it was closest to our house. Nothing else mattered to us other than watching the game. It was a brilliant game and I ended up predicting correctly that the game was lost for India after Raina’s dismissal.

***

The 2011 WC Semi-final was watched at a friend’s place and we had fun that day discussing the game. I couldn’t watch the final with him because he had gone off to meet his prospective wife for the first time.

I hope I get to talk about similar experiences come the 2015 World Cup

Botswana and the memories

IMG_7450Our family used to go our village once a year in my childhood. During one of those trips, we came across a lady who was taught English  by my father in his free time. While watching TV at their place, I asked where she stayed. She replied, ‘Botswana’. The first thing I did was to open an atlas gifted to me by my uncle and find the country she mentioned. There was nothing more to it.
Never in my wildest dreams in the 23 years in the interim did I think about Botswana. It didn’t strike me when I boarded the flight to Gaborone via Mumbai and Johannesburg. It didn’t strike me during the entire stay in town for close to fifteen days. Probably my bladder wasn’t happy with the journey as my first memories of Johannesburg airport and Gaborone airport were the toilets.

First thing to impress you about Gaborone airport is the next to nothing scrutiny at the airport. They probably trust people, a forgotten art in these days. The difference between the modern airports and Gaborone airport becomes more clear once you step out of the immigration area- you pick the luggage and get to the exit area from the airport. There was no duty free area in the airport at that time. It was my first sighting of an airport without a duty free area.

While riding into Gaborone, I saw something that was unusual – young kids practicing Pole Vault. I didn’t just see it at one place,  but saw it at a couple of places. I asked Ravi if Pole Vault was famous. He said wait till you see something in the city. I probably didn’t see anything on the ride to the hotel as I didn’t ask him any more questions.

After checking in at the hotel, named Gaborone Sun, we made a trip to the nearest ‘mall’. There was this restaurant called ‘Asoka’ specialising in Indian food. By the time we went there, it was well past their closing time. So, I had to have food at the cricket club. The cricket club seemed a place out of realms of dreams. Everything that a visitor would ever want to have would be available at the club. If there are more than two patrons there, the stories would just flow.

In the evening we found our way through residential areas of Gaborone. The scenes of kids pole vaulting came to mind as I was told that the reason could be found in the evening. When one notices the houses, there seems to be a common theme- high walls and electric fences. Put them together, you will deduce that pole vault was a way to avoid the obstacles. I was told that the place is relatively safe as long as you were not screaming for attention. If you try to be loud or flashy, you could easily be the target.

There is no way one can escape Indian presence in Gaborone. Be it the Indian restaurants, the Indian people, Indian brands or Indian banks. They are all over. The fact that I found a person from the same city that I studied in was surprising to me. I find it tough to encounter a person from Visakhapatnam in Bangalore, whereas the first person I speak to, out of the airport, in Gaborone is from Visakhapatnam. If not for me reading that Durban is the city with most Indians in a city other than Indian city, I would’ve safely assumed that Gaborone was the city with the largest number of Indian diaspora.

My working days involved a journey to a place called Lobatse. The journey was kind of a first for me as it was the first time that I had a police escort along with me so as to navigate through the traffic easily. Every single day as we weaved our way through the traffic and reach the suburbs, we would find a huge mall at the foot of a hill called ‘Kgale hill’. I found it very difficult to pronounce and the locals put me at ease by telling me that the ‘g’ in the word could be pronounced as ‘h’. That same logic applied to pronouncing the g in Gaborone as well!

The sights on the way to Lobatse were many- a game park, a hill bearing close resemblance, so said the locals, to the human posterior and stories of an old woman taming a snake are popular. The sight that I liked the most was the sunset. With the terrain being flat, the route offered some of the best views of a sunset.

One drive on the route and you would find the problems plaguing Botswana- teenage pregnancy and alcoholism among young kids. There are multiple boards trying to drive sense into the youth, but that doesn’t seem to be working because Botswana is a country with one of the highest rates of AIDS prevalence. It’s said that one among four people in Botswana has AIDS.

Both Gaborone and Lobatse have wonderful looking football stadiums from the outside. It doesn’t take a Sherlock to guess that Football is the most popular game in Botswana.

IMG_7404The game reserve just outside Gaborone is a must visit and the guided tour inside the reserve is an enjoyable experience. There was a funny incident in the game reserve. I wanted to click a lot of pictures, but try as I might, I couldn’t get the beings to turn towards me. All I could photograph was their bums.

At Lobatse there was a first for me- experiencing a sandstorm. It came out of nowhere and left destruction in its trail. A person who was dear to all of us, just about managed to escape grave injuries.

Another memory from the trip would be the way my birthday was celebrated by the people around me. While the pranks were naughty, they were the exact reason why the day would be remembered for years to come by me. All I can say is that I will let it remain a secret between the people involved.

It was Ugadi (Telugu new year day) the same day. So I went to temple. I met a person who hailed from the same village as me and knew my grandfather. How many places can I go to claim that this happened to me. I didn’t expect it to happen to me in Gaborone

My friend: Kanduri Sesha Aditya

On a sweltering July afternoon, while playing cricket, was the first time that I set my eyes on him. Leaning on the lone tree on the playing field with his hands folded across his chest, it all seemed odd to me. Here he was, intensely looking on at the game, but not venturing to ask, if he could be a part of us. Going by the initial reports we got of the new kid on the block, it seemed even weirder. On the very first day itself, he had characterised himself as someone who is fluid with the girls, and questioned the lecturers incessantly

 

What followed the very next day was funny. He had the gall to call the most argumentative guy of our batch, a monkey. That man went to the lengths of entire Vizag to find out why he was called ‘a monkey’. What shocked us all was, he was the only guy with an entire month’s supply of tokens to the canteen, and was quite careless about the way he got rid of those tokens.

 

My relationship with him grew in bits. We went to a movie, Jayam, where we had our first fight. He wanted to be on time for the last bus from the city to the college, and I insisted that we finish watching the names card being rolled after the movie. Well, we did catch the bus back after all.

 

He was called with names of all sorts. One of the first names he responded to was ‘Caribbean’. It had more to do with the hairstyle he sported, and also the attire, rather than the colour of his skin. His colour was encapsulated in a few beautiful lines written by his sister in a letter, one of the first, he received from New Delhi, and it was so hilarious that I rib him till day with those same lines.

 

Unknown to us, the friendship was strengthened with every single day that passed. Another incident that remains rooted in the memory is the drive to Alpha Biryani hotel on a rainy day. When these little wishes of his were fulfilled, the eyebrows came together, and he squealed with delight, uttering the words ‘it’s fun’. These two words are etched in the memory of everyone who was around him, when he was excited. None more so than the incident in the resort opposite our hostel. I can write a book of anecdotes on him, but would save it for a rainy day.

 

After college, I went to work, and he went on to pursue his post-graduation. Every phone conversation we had, he never forgot to remind me that my office didn’t have AC, while his college had one. His first job was a source of much fun. His boss, and his obsession for perfect pronunciation of telugu words was the butt of many jokes. Then came his association with MAYTAS. When questioned about the company, he used to go on an extempore which was based on the premise that MAYTAS was SATYAM spelt backwards. When MAYTAS was on the verge of a breakdown, he never expressed frustration. All he spoke about was his trust on the company. That for me is panacea. It represents his core. He totally believes in what he does, at that moment.

 

Every single gal he linked me to, got married within an year of the link-up. Jokes apart, he was my go-to man whenever my relationship was in trouble. I could sob inconsolably, and laugh heartily with him next to me, and never be judged. His piece of advice to me will always stand me in good stead. He said ‘Never let ego hamper you in getting close to a person. If you really want the person in your life, nothing else should matter’. He was there for me: always.

 

I remember him being by my side in the hour of my greatest crisis. What adds to the situation is the fact that his sister’s engagement was just a couple of days away. We rip each other apart, when we get talking about beliefs. I don’t vouch for most of the things that he stands up for, but given the sort of passion that he puts up in every endeavour of his, you are led to believe the man rather than his beliefs

 

Thanks for being there, Adi

Curious Connections

How much would you admire a person whom you have never seen before? How much influence will an endearing person, wield over your choices? These are the questions that I encountered over the previous week. It was because of two incidents, unrelated, over the past week

One was  K R Deepak winning an award for his photography and the other was a friend visiting Bheemunipatnam and his clicks there. You might wonder how these things are related and some of you might venture out to take a guess. Your guess might be that the clicks by my friend would have reminded me of K R Deepak. That’s a part of the reason why I am writing this

Nine years ago, on a sunny day, two first-year graduation students went to Bheemunipatnam on a bike after finishing their final exam of the term. On the same day, there was a meeting headed by a politico in the same place. The two students went to the beach and found that it was nothing different from what they saw at the beach near their college. Now that they were tired by the exertions of preparing for the exam and writing it, they wanted to go back to their college and steal a nap or two. It so happened that the guy riding the bike saw a board which said “parlour” (Tiffin centre in Visakhapatnam parlance). He wanted to have a meal there, considering the vast expanse of open space in front of the house. The shaded area in the middle of the vast space further added to his desire. His friend was a willing accomplice. They went in and much to their chagrin found that the board was that of a Parlour that existed 2-3 years ago. The lady of the house, perhaps noticed the hunger writ large on the faces of the students. She offered them the food that remained from cooking a meal for the politico- lodged at the circuit house of the town

What followed was the most delicious meal that the students had in an year’s time. It disappointed them a bit that they made this chance discovery on the last day of their term in the first year. On the other hand, they were happy that they had a place to come back to, in the second year. It is said that a positive experience makes you feel the positive vibes around you. Something similar happened to most of us in our second year of graduation. We started to frequent the place more often. It allowed us to soak in the atmosphere of the route. The sixteen kilometre route offered us a verdant experience. We used to pass by a lot of places of significance. Starting from the Ramanaidu studios (then under construction) we had to pass Thotlakonda – A Buddhist complex, Ramadri – housing a huge Hanuman statue, the view after crossing Ramadri, the hairpin bend near Uppada, Erra matti dibbalu (Red Sand dunes), Vedic School with a lot of flowers (something that took you back in time), Circuit house bungalow, Dutch cemetery, an old fort, Sangam of River Gosthani with the Bay of Bengal, and, finally, one of the oldest churches in the state.

Instead of going to city proper to watch the movies, we used to schedule it around our visits to this place. It was a double treat for us as we could have our choice of food and watch a movie for a paltry charge of 25/-. As our visits increased the lady of the house gave us the option of demanding the dishes we wanted. Her only condition was: We should intimate her the menu we wanted, two hours prior to our arrival at her place

For the first few visits, the man of the house was silent. He wasn’t to be blamed, as any man would have been perturbed by the sight of fifteen-twenty college kids swamping his home. By this time, we graduated to dining in the house, mind you. Slowly but certainly the man warmed up to the kids and started narrating funny stories. On one such visit, he requested a couple of eager kids to come in early. He went into his bedroom and came back clutching a bunch of albums. He started to whip through the photographs with beaming pride. It took us two hours to finish the album and by then, the food was ready. After the sumptuous lunch, the man asked us our opinion on the photographs. He still had the effervescence that he had for the two hours whilst showing the photographs. Perhaps obliged, and with no sense for appreciating good photography, the kids said they were very good. They still had to finish gargling when the man announced that pictures were clicked by his son-in-law. The two kids doubted if he would have had more pride, had he himself clicked the pics. As the visits grew, the old man kept on showing the same albums with the an ever growing sense of pride. We got so acquainted with the photographs that you could wake us in the middle of the night and we could have narrated the order of the pics in all the albums, correctly. There was not a single word about his own daughter. There was not a single word in praise of his son-in-law. He needn’t have. The face said it all

Sometimes, the college kids regaled him with their own stories. Common amongst which was them racing against an open top, blue-coloured Mercedes. The man didn’t pay any attention to these stories after repeated hearings and would take the walk to the bedroom to get the albums

The son-in-law, we gathered from our subsequent visits was K R Deepak, the photographer for The Hindu in Visakhapatnam. My face beams with pride, whenever I see the man’s photograph on the backpage of ‘THE HINDU’. And this, without ever meeting the man

(PIC COURTESY: 1) Buddha and his students- Anupam Behera’s facebook album

                         2) Hanuman statue-  Venkat Yarabati’s Flicker stream

                        3) Erra Matti Dibbalu- The Hindu, probably taken by Mr. K R Deepak himself)

PS: If you are still wondering where Bheemunipatnam is, please watch ‘Ek Duje ke liye’ or ‘Maro Charitra(1978)’