‘Conductre, namooruige ondu ticket kodi’

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Having decided to get to Mysore from Madikeri via the Gonikoppa-Virajpet-Thithimathi route, T S Satyan and I reached a fork in the road some 15 kms into our journey somewhere near the tiny town of Murnad.

At the head of the fork, indicating to the left was a weather -beaten signboard that said, ‘Pollibetta 30 kms’. I felt I should take that road and drive past the well manicured and beautifully maintained coffee estates held by the Tata group there. And also have a glimpse of the golf course there which should be one of the most sylvan ones around.

But then, like at any fork in the road in a not-so-familiar land, I decided to exercise caution and seek help in getting directions. So I braked in front of a ‘mutton stall’ nearby and hailed the man sitting inside, leafing through a newspaper.

“Excuse me,” I began. “Is it all right to take the road to Pollibetta in order to reach Mysore?”

“Well, I would advise you to go through Gonikoppa and Virajpet. The road via Pollibetta is not in a good condition,” he explained pointing in the direction of the right hand side of the fork.

I mumbled a thank you and just as I was about to engage my jeep’s first gear, I somehow couldn’t resist asking the butcher which the next town was down the road.

“Oh, the next town?” he smiled. “It’s my town!”

Even as I was thoroughly amused, he nonchalantly walked up the few steps in front of his shop and on to the chair where he had been sitting alongside the large chunks of mutton that hung grotesquely from a sharp hook attached to the ceiling.

I never ever imagined the butcher of Murnad could be among the most popular and famous men in Kodagu, that he could ever so casually link himself completely and emphatically to the ‘next town’!

Even Field Marshal K M Cariappa, who lived in Madikeri and perhaps the only truly world-famous Kodava, wouldn’t have said such a thing if you ever were to ask him what came next after Suntikoppa!