Pongal, puliyogare, pizza or Pattabhi bun for Ajji?

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji told me she wanted to go on a padayatra from Venkataramana Swamy temple to Chandramouleeshwara temple on temple road in Vontikoppal in Mysorre, a distance of two furlongs at the most.

Ajji! You are not used to walking such long distances, especially after recovering from dengue last year. Why do you want to do a padayatra now? What do you want to prove?”

Saaku muchcho, Ramu. This padayatra is to highlight illegal mining in our State—and the lack of a footpath on temple road. I want to convey this message to our mayor who goes by the name Sandesh Swamy and to city corporation commissioner, Raikar.”

Ajji’s indomitable spirit surprised me. She is bent almost at right angle at the waist. From where does she get the spunk, I wondered.

Ajji!  Your second issue is more laudable. But isn’t there a footpath on temple road?”

“There is. It’s mostly used by vegetable and fruit vendors; pani puri and gobi manchuri vendors; dosa and idli-vade camps and churumuri gaadis; barbers, legal autorickshaw drivers, illegal CD sellers, and stray cattle. Sometimes due to overcrowding, the whole team spill over to the road.”

“Ha, ha! Nobody seems to care for pedestrians here!”

“That’s true. Couple of years back Mayor Ayub Khan and commissioner Raikar came for an ‘on the spot inspection’. It is in the same state as before! They too had to walk in the middle of the road!”

Ajji! Why don’t you invite former CM Dharam Singh to join you? He was the one Congress leader who could have done with the Bangalore to Bellary walk against illegal mining, but he was the one Congress leader missing.”

“Dharam Singhu beda, Karam Singhu beda. I don’t want anybody with me. The last two weeks I saw what happens when too many leaders do a padayatra together. They were jostling for attention and space as they do at the time of portfolio distribution. They were fighting to be at the centre, right of centre, left of centre. They were creating space for their wives, girlfriends, children, etc. It was ridiculous.”

Ajji! This is bound to happen when they are all fighting for recognition from the same master than fighting for the same cause. Each and every leader is video-recording the whole thing so that he/ she can show it to Madam later.”

“I don’t know whether Gandhi’s Dandi March was ever recorded.”

“Gandhi had no sycophants to do that. His enemy and rulers, the British, recorded the entire procession.”

“Ramu, I want a pair of goggles for my padayatra.”

Ajji suddenly bowled a doosra at me.

“For God’s sake! Your walk at most will take 15 minutes or half an hour. The weather is fairly cool and nice. What do you want goggles for?”

“I should look good when they take my video. I don’t want to look like a monkey!”

Ajji! Believe me. You are OK just as you are. You will certainly look like a monkey if you ape others. You don’t have to produce your padayatra as proof to anybody. Why do you want a video?”

“How about my lunch? Will you send me something to eat? Hayagreeva or some seekarani?”

Ajji! Next you will be asking for biryani. Saak-saaku, you will get sakkare pongal as prasada at Venkataramana swamy temple, your starting point. When you finish at Chandra Mouleeshawra they will give puliyogare anyway. If you really get hungry, you can eat a pizza or some bun or bread at Pattabhiraman‘s bakery. If you want coffee, you can stop at Barista or get some yelneer. I can arrange for that.”

Sadhya! At least you are prepared to do that much for me. How will I come back?”

“You are not Deshpande or Deekeshi to have so many options like flying back home or driving down or taking a special train. You are not like Reddy brothers or B. Sriramulu to send for a helicopter. You will do a padayatra all the way back home, another two furlongs to reach home. It will do a lot good  for your constitution.”

“I will be the first person to do another padayatra after finishing one, I guess.”

“That’s true. Only concession you will have is instead of climbing the stairs, you will come up by a lift to reach home. By the way when are you starting?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Just tell me whether you want your pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut, so I can arrange for them to wait for you  in front of their shop. With a bottle of Coke or Pepsi.”