The Night Long Vigil
The Rajahamsa bus to Dandeli looked like it was on its last trip before being decommissioned. We had the last seats in the bus to add to the fun. After the bus is decommisioned, I guess it will be used to give budding astronauts a feel of the G-forces in space flight. The seats had a very unique feature. When pushed back, the back and head rest would tilt towards the adjacent seat. Great for couples heading to Dandeli for their honeymoon. But for the five of us, it meant an all night vigil guarding against involuntary lip locks. After Hubli, we finally managed to find better seats and get some sleep.
Unche Log Unchi Pasand
When we got down at Dandeli, we found that State Guest House, which is the only known decent place to stay in Dandeli town, was completely booked for a wedding. We tried a shady lodge next with dark corridors. No rooms there either. Finally we had to try the only other lodge in town, Prakash Lodge. The hotel manager told us that the place was almost completely booked for the holiday season. There was one room available though. The room was well appointed, with a study table and a thoughtfully placed recess in the wall, next to one of the beds. From the colour of the recess we figured it was for the unche log with unchi pasand to conveniently spit out pan or gutkha without getting up from bed. We checked out at 12 after checking with Shetti if he could book us rooms in Hubli. We arranged a taxi to go around Dandeli.
Kali River, Cyntheri Rocks and Syke's Point
The first spot was on the banks of Kali river. Good picnic spot. The water was clear and inviting, but due to the undercurrents and the sharp rocks, taking a dip was inadvisable. The forest department had a board with the writing "Number of deaths since ...:". No number was written to suggest that it needed very frequent updates. Next stop was Cyntheri rocks. The route to this place was picturesque. We had a flat tyre midway to let us enjoy the scenery. The rocks are magnificent. There's water flowing at the bottom. Again, no possibility of a dip. We finished our packed lunches here. After Cintheri, we headed to Syces point. Kamath had warned us that the locals pronounce Syces in a peculiar way. Since this blog is no adult site, I can't mention the word "sex" here. Let's just say the locals called it X-point. When we asked the driver what we'd get to see at X-point, he told us "X-point mein apko sin dekhne ko milega." For a moment we wondered what the place was about and then realized he meant scene. The spot was beautiful indeed. It looks into a valley with the Kali river meandering through it. There is a hydel power station at the base and photography is not allowed at the spot.
After Syke's point we headed back to Dandeli and then to Sirsi without realizing how far it was. We saw a fox and a hare on the route. This leg was disappointing. The driver was just taking us around to add up the miles. We traveled nearly 100 km to see two temples which weren't remarkable. After another 100 km we reached Hubli at midnight where Shetti-san was waiting for us on his wedding eve. Shetti arranged a good dinner for us at a nearby bar. At the bar, the waiter seemed confused when we ordered peas pulao and curd rice. He asked if we wanted chicken or mutton pieces in the "piece" pulao. Shetti had also arranged hotel rooms and return tickets for us at a short notice. (Thanks Shetti!)
At the wedding, Shetti was blushing all the time. We saw him first in a Gandhi topi. Lalith joked that we should get Gandhi Topis too. I didn't get the joke, so I went out with Don and asked an auto driver to take us to the nearest place where we could get Gandhi Topis. After getting some queer looks from the auto driver and the people at the shop we returned in time for the photo sessions. The five of us pulled out our topis on stage and surprised Shetti. The wedding feast was sumptuous. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I should add a special mention for Snu who did a good job of settling the accounts and then bullied us into thanking him for it.