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No Eyesore in Mysore; Part I: Mysore

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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4562
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:56 am    Post subject: No Eyesore in Mysore; Part I: Mysore Reply with quote

No Eyesore in Mysore; Part I: Mysore
...and I found myself transiting via Delhi.
Yes, my hometown.
How was that to be?
Thanks to the Kingfisher crisis, I had to advance our Hubli to
Mumbai trip by a day. Sunday, 18 December. I had written about
this trip in my two previous trip reports.
These can be found at the following URLs:
`Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole'
`Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi!'

This trip report can be found at the following URL:

Yes, we. Yours Truly, The Wife, and Junior (TW and Jr, as they
are referred to in my trip reports).
Rewind back to 18 December, 2011.
The Hubli-Mumbai flight was delayed by an hour and a half.
We arrived in Mumbai close to midnight.
Next late morning, we set out for the CSI airport, Mumbai.
The flight was delayed by an hour and a half.
We reached Delhi around 5:54 pm, which was close to the time I
had booked a cab to take me to the airport, for a Mysore trip
that very night. I was to leave by the last Air India flight to
Bengaluru, spend a couple of hours at my brother's place in
Bengaluru, and set out for Mysore by the morning bus.
Thanks to the fog in north India, even this flight was delayed.
But thankfully, by not that much.
I cancelled my taxi pickup, and dropped TW and Jr in a pre-paid taxi.
I had a lot of work to do at home -
including helping out TW in sorting quite a few things,
but we were late, and I would have to rush to catch my Bengaluru
flight. TW gave me a look - as a Mukhabarat officer would give
to a CIA officer whom he was letting go.
I took the travellator up to the Departures area, where I
checked in onto AI 504, DEL-BLR.

Captain Nagesh Munnuswamy was in command, with First Officer
Rajesh Nim. My ride for the day (night?) was DD, `the National
Channel' plane. I was overjoyed to enter VT-EDD: one of the four new
A320s in the Air India fleet. Now, this was an almost full flight
- with hardly 2 or 3 seats empty in Economy. Even in the forward
Business section, by the time I had boarded, there were four
people seated already. We pushed back, and took off into the
darkness from the new runway 29-11, and banked to the left after
gaining height over Dwarka.

The much-anticipated announcement was music to my ears.
Dinner would be served on the flight.
As is the norm, I chose the non-vegetarian option.
There was a croissant with an Amul butter chiplet to start the
calorie counter, after a green salad. This had a lemon slice to go
with a quarter tomato, and cucumber with the skin on.
The main course had some piping hot peas pulao/pilaf, with long
grained aromatic basmati rice. Mmm...
The Left side had a nice dry potato-and-capsicum/bell pepper
preparation, which tingled my taste buds. On the right was
a nice chicken-in-tomato curry: where the marinated chicken was
in a tomato paste-based curry, with the spice coefficient being
quite low. Much like what one has as `Shahi Paneer' - the
extremely tasty cottage cheese dish which is a favourite in North
India. The only difference being that this had small chicken
pieces, in place of the large slabs of paneer/cottage cheese.
The coffee was a complete let-down - a very ordinary warm and
tasteless instant coffee. However, the dessert more than made up
for the insipid coffee. This had a small crushed
dry fruit-embellished small rasgulla, with a small gulab jamun
sharing the glory. Both the spherical delicacies bathed in the
golden limelight - a lime/gold-coloured light custard base, which
was just the right consistency, and had a little sugar, not too
much. Air India has a way with desserts! This came from the
Taj-SATS kitchen, as the small card informatively mentioned.
More than satisfied, I turned on my laptop.
A few keystrokes turned my brain off, as I felt too sleepy. I
woke up just a while before landing was announced, and Captain
Nagesh Munnuswamy put the plane down on the runway like a
feather. The plan was to catch a Vayu Vajra to get down close to
my brother's place. BIAS-6 was my bus of choice, but we landed at
11pm, sharp. I would have to bolt out of the plane, run the
aero-bridge, hope for my priority tag from the previous journey
to retains its compulsive charm for the baggage handlers at BIAL,
and make a dash to the Vayu Vajra stand. Nothing like that
happened. Instead, we got a remote gate, and I was waved off the
first bus. if everyone's tearing hurry to get off the
plane before me - was not enough. On setting foot inside the
terminal, I rushed to a very stationary baggage belt. After
taking a bio-break, I rushed to the belt, to find it in motion. I
was in luck. The bag came out rather quickly.
I opened my bag handle to pull it alkong at a frantic pace,
dodging many a dodgy cab driver trying to entice me into his
parlour. `Said the spider, to the fly...'
11:35pm. I was shell-shocked to find BIAS-06 at the head of the
queue, about to start. I jumped in, panting, and made it to a
nice seat with a power-port, hoping to charge my laptop battery
on the way, and typ{e,o} out a part of this report.
Here, I was not in luck, as the power-port did not work.
I was overjoyed at getting onto the bus however, and I was able
to admire the beauty of the city by night, as the bus went
towards its destination at a good speed.

I woke up my brother after landing up at the Kundalahalli Gate,
from where he drove me to his place. No, I would not let either
him, or his wife sleep much - I had an early morning bus to
catch, to get to Mysore. How would we do it? At an unearthly
hour, it would not be possible to get some public transport from
the BEML Layout, Thubrahalli, to the Satellite Bus terminus, from
where all the Mysore buses operated. I was looking forward to
travelling on one of the `Volvos', which had been advertised on
the KSTRC website as having power-ports.
(The bus that I took: Power-ports it had, but they did not work.)
I have not been lucky with bus power-ports, to date!
After a 4am start-up from bed, my brother dropped me at quarter to 6
at the satellite bus station, from where I hopped onto to a bus
destined for Mysore. The ride was very smooth, and comfortable. I
reached Mysore some 20 minutes ahead of schedule, and also caught
up with some sleep. From there, I took a pre-paid auto-rickshaw
to the designated workshop site.
`Work is Workshop,' as the saying goes.

The next few days flew by. Soon, it was time to get back. A few
colleagues and I decided that a train ride would be more
comfortable than a bus (and for good reason, too), and we were
lucky with finding seats on the Mysore-Bengaluru Shatabdi, which
goes on towards Chennai. This was operating in December 2011. I
vaguely recount having read something about some changes on this
route at the time of writing (October, 2012). I settled down onto
my window seat, and watched the train trudge through the
country-side. While the power-port worked, there was little else
to recommend on this train. Yes, the reader would have guessed it
right - there was hardly any food. This was even worse than the
Pune Shatabdi (it had a `snack'), which stopped sometime in 2004
or so, and was replaced with the Inter-City express.
For a person obsessed with food, this was a complete let-down.
In my recent Jaipur trip report (Sep'12), I had mentioned that my
first out-of-station trip was at the tender age of 3 months,
when I had gone with my parent to Jaipur. My parents say that
they first saw signs of my gluttony, when on a bus trip in the
city, I had woken up in my father's lap, and evinced an unusual
amount of interest in a bunch of bananas stowed on the luggage
rack, above. Babies are not supposed to have very well-developed
eyesight at that time, but I guess my senses had developed a bit
more than other parts connected to my brain.
I got down at the Bengaluru City Railway Station (SBC), and took
a pre-paid Auto-rickshaw (`Rick' to the Bangalorean, `Auto' for
the Delhi'ite) to my brother's place.

During the long ride through many a traffic snarl, I got lost in
memories. I had first come to Bengaluru in January 2008. That
was a dream trip: I had set out on 31st December 2007 from the
New Delhi railway station to Mumbai, on board the Golden Temple
Mail. At the extremely impressive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
(`VT to the Mumbaikar: the old name, Victoria Terminus), I had
boarded the Udyan Express in the early morning, for my first trip
to the Garden City. Yes, all of it was next to an open window -
in the Sleeper class. I had enjoyed the absolutely breathtaking
views on the stretch between Karjat and Lonavla, as the train
made its way through tunnels, deep gorges, and some gorgeous
countryside that I simply feasted my eyes on. I had landed up at
the Bangalore Central Station, and taken a rick from in front of
`Majestic': the large dried-up lake that houses the major bus
stand of the capital, and what is now called the Kempe Gowda Bus
Terminus, to `Tata Institute', what the Indian Institute of
Science is popularly known as. It was absolutely fascinating for
me - waking up with the sun, wandering the lanes of Malleshwaram
to a Darshini joint, just to partake of the twangy-fresh coconut
chutney with steaming hot idlis and some soul-liberating sambhar.
All washed down with some excellent filter coffee, of course. I
had wandered all around - at the Yeshwanthapuram crossing, there
had been another Darshini joint, which later became a `Chicken
Corner', much to my disappointment. I had roamed around the
place - on foot, mostly, and visited my friend at Girinagar, on a
Pushpak bus, which was somewhat of a novelty then. I had
attended a conference at the Hotel Ashok, High Grounds. Much to
my delight, I spotted the exact place where some scenes from the
silent movie `Pushpak' were shot - the Windsor Manor, and the
pedestrian tunnel beside it, which Kamalahassan and Amala ran
through. The IISc campus was a complete revelation - the
old-style tall and high buildings, the `crow shit' marg beside
the library (which was infamous for black-hearted avians dropping
semi-solid bombs from the top of the trees, as people passed
underneath), the water-tower beside E block with a triangular
cross-section, the then Indian Coffee Home with its heavenly
filter coffee, and some snacks - I vividly remember the Chitranna
(Lemon Rice) and Bisibelebath (A heavenly preparation of seasonal
vegetables cooked with rice and Toor/Arhar dal), in particular. I
had my meals in the D-Mess, across the road, behind the IISc
Gymkhana. I had searched the streets of Malleshwaram, looking for
the special type of Mysore Pak - the one which looks, feels and
tastes like ghee (clarified butter)/butter. This sinful
preparation is a variant of the drier common variant, which has
holes in it, and is made from chick-pea/gram flour, and sugar. I
simply had to carry some home, and the long search led me to
Agarwal sweets, where I experienced an Agarwal, speaking Kannada.
Pongal had fallen within the dates I was there - the sight of
watermelon and sugarcane rods beside the streets put my mind into
a state of complete bliss.

As we waited at many a traffic signal, and past snarls of some
people honking, and some waiting patiently, amidst the fumes - I
sat there, in a trance. I was dreaming of the good'ol days I had
experienced in the city of Bangalore, much before it had become
Bengaluru. It is amazing how much has changed over the years -
and this is just about a decade, and a half, not more. Yes, my
thoughts gravitate towards food and places-to-see around, but
then, this is like applying two separate colours on a moist
cartridge drawing sheet. They mix up very soon. Even if the paper
dries out a bit, the eyes moistening with pleasant memories of
yore, often tip over, and the drops land on the paper canvas, and
ensure that the two colours do not separate out in any way.
Sweet memories moisten up even the driest of moods.
I will try to have most of the food-related memories in this part
of the trip report, and the memories as a tourist, in the next
one. But yes, these two fundamental aspects of life (at least,
for me), will invariably get inter-twined together.

It was in Bangalore that I had first seen the amazing sight of
paan-beedi shops selling bananas as well - a sight amazing for a
Delhi kid like me. And yes, this was the small variety, which is
very high on the taste quotient. Bangalore was fruit paradise, as
I simply gorged on fruits to my heart's content. That is, when I
was not feasting on delicacies such as Thayirsadam (curd-rice),
Puliogare (Tamarind rice - an ordinary fried rice made
extra-ordinary with the addition of tamarind powder, and a
heavenly combination of spices - a dish which Tamilians call
`Puliodarai'), Vangi-bath (Brinjal-rice), Utthapa(m)s, and of
course, the ubiquitous masala dosa, both the regular, and the
rava/suji/durum-wheat variety. I could spend my entire life in
Bangalore, eating just these delicacies, and not miss any other
food item.
MTR was a stop not to be missed.
Just waiting in line in the panelled waiting room, with staff
calling out the name of the next lucky customer to be let inside
(with the names written with a pencil on a clip-board with paper),
and excitedly going in amidst the incredibly tummy-invigourating
smells...ah...those were the days! MTR was only open at tiffin
time, but now, I guess the hours are much longer. I had partaken
of the rava idli, the dosa, and of course, the magical filter
coffee. Those days, I was a tea-totaller: totally avoiding tea
and coffee, though I liked the latter. Instant coffee for me has
always tasted insipid after my 1998 January visit to Bangalore.
In fact, I have a penchant for drinking hot liquids quite fast.
My Kannadiga friend (who had brought me to this abode of joy),
was aghast as I finished my coffee in no time at all, when he was
just about through with his first sips. No, it was not like the
joke about the moron finishing his coffee very quickly, because
he had seen that cold coffee was double the price of hot coffee.
He was at pains to tell me that even hard-core Kannadiga coffee
lovers would have about half of this amount, that too, at a
leisurely pace. And here was a Delhi'ite, who is not used to the
beverages, drinking it all up in a jiffy.
I allayed his fears, but when we entered the majestic Lal Bagh
botanical gardens (which had been laid out by Hyder Ali), I
requested my friend to sit down with me, since my head had
completely cleared out.

My next visit to Bangalore was in the year 2000.
With a hint of sadness, I noted that a lot had changed.
The sleepy suburb of Yeshwanthapuram was undergoing some change.
The crossing, which had one of my favourite Darshini joints, was
now replaced with a `Chicken Corner'. Oh no.
The day I set out for Agarwal Sweets in the hope of bringing back
some of that magical Mysore Pak, saw me crest-fallen to see that
the shop, very close to the bus stand at Malleshwaram there, was
closed. What followed was a two hour hunt across sweet shops in
Malleshwaram, just to find one selling that variety of Mysore
Pak. I was glad that I was successful in my venture, at least.

On my next visit to the Garden city in 2004, I had partaken of
some excellent Masala Dosa and great filter coffee at the Railway
station, which I have always found very impressive. Yes, this was
right from the days when there were no electronic signs. However,
the board beside Platform 1 (on the `Majestic' side) had a board,
where the coach numbers were hung from little pegs, which gave an
idea to the rushing passenger, where a particular coach would be
on a particular train, on a particular platform. This was a far
cry from the New Delhi Railway station for instance, which had
the electronic boards a long time after I had seen them at
Mumbai's VT, or Mumbai Central, or at small (and extremely
clean!) stations such as Ratlam, in Madhya Pradesh, which falls on
the Delhi-Mumbai `Western Line'. I also noted with a touch of
sadness, that Yeshwanthapuram had seen a huge amount of
development. I would see a full-fledged railway station there on
my next visit to the place, in 2006.

Food-wise, things have changed much.
The ethnic composition of the city has also changed a lot.
Kannadigas have always been in a minority in Bengaluru. At one
time, Tamilians were the majority, now people say, it is the
Andhra-ites. Food-wise, this meant lots of Andhra-style food
joints mushrooming around the place, with the Andhra Biriyani (as
opposed to the Hyderabadi-style one), and the sweet Sambhar
becoming more popular in the place, as compared to the
Kannadiga-style one. There are far too many North Indian food
joints, and far too many fusion cuisine joints in the place, that
one could ever imagine.

Wait...this part of the trip report is coming to an end, and the
reader may be quite aghast not to find much mention of the
raison'd'etre for the title, `No Eyesore in Mysore; Part I: Mysore'.
Yes, this time the was absolutely no time for any sightseeing in
Mysore, but I have some very pleasant memories of the place, from
a visit in 2009, with The Wife and Junior. I will go through
these memories in Part 2 of this report,
`No Eyesore in Mysore; Part II: Mysore Memories; HAL Museum'
This part of the report is getting too long, and is bereft of
pictures. It will be concluded in the next part.

There aren't too many pictures that I was able to take on this
leg of the trip, so I will compensate with one unrelated picture.
I clicked this picture of the entrance to the Board Room in our
organisation, when it was under renovation.
This gives it a completely new meaning!

[To be continued...]
Links to my previous trip reports:

27. Hampi Hamper, Part 2: Hampi!

26. Hampi Hamper, Part I: Banashankari, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole

25. JAI Ho! Jaipur, Sep'12, My Double Standards?
(This is out of sequence, only to report on something that is
very recent, circa Sep'12)

24. PNQ: PeNning Queued Reports, Dec 2011

23. Little BHO-Peep, Nov 2011

22. The Call of the Vaigai! Madurai, Oct 2011

21. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: Beijing, 2011 Part 3

20. No Panda-monium: Beijing, 2011 Part 2

19. North By, AI and CA: Beijing, 2011 Part 1

18. Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11

17. To the City of Joy and back, on Air India: Aug'11

16. To Chennai, Mar'12 with a Celebrity Captain!
(This is out of sequence owing to sheer excitement, and nothing

15. Marble Rocks, Marbles Rock; Jul 2011

14. The Fish-Eye Beckons! Madurai, on Air India. Jul 2011

13. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!

12. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The Central Museum
of the Armed Forces

11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip

10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland

9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:

8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on AI888

7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)


1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate when the trip reports are put in parts, because I have to wait for a while to read the story in full Very Happy

A typical Sumantra TR full of food Very Happy , history of the place and not missing the captains name along with the new end picture which is thoroughly entertaining !

I had taken a ride on SBC-MYC shatabdi in Aug’11 and it was full. However, everybody got down at SBC and a new set of people filled up the train, which made me think that the MAA-MYQ flight wouldn’t work. More importantly food was continuously served unlike your experience Smile
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4562
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your very kind words, as usual, Ameya! I know you have an eye for detail.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Joined: 16 Dec 2006
Posts: 9757
Location: Bangalore, India

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah - a nice start to a TR from my part of the world - waiting for the follow on parts!
We miss you Nalini!
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4562
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
Ah - a nice start to a TR from my part of the world - waiting for the follow on parts!

Thank you, Nimish, for the encouragement, and push to complete it quickly. You live in a wonderful part of the world, indeed!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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