A road trip was due this year. And I really needed to brush off the grime from a hectic week – hectic but highly productive. And to top it off the weekend had me give a two hour lecture on corporate communications at St. Josephs college PG Studies Department. Fortunately that went off well too and I did heave a sigh of relief that I had somehow managed to keep 50 post-graduate students attentive and got them to ask questions on a Saturday afternoon. That done, it was time for lunch with the staff and then scoot.
So I make my way to Jayanagar to pick up an old grumpy cat of a friend, Sandesh Shenoy (and he does love the grumpy cat memes), and we set off on this impromptu journey to Mysore. This was a long pending journey with him and we just wanted to get out of the city for some ‘peace and quiet’. The NICE road was a perfect setting for the start of this journey. Even though I hate afternoon drives, what with a heavy lunch in your tummy and the sun bearing down on you, one really feels for a snooze. However with Sandesh there’s no snoozing. Judas Priest was blaring loud enough to keep me awake and as we exited onto the state highway we also had our rooms booked. Talk about spur of the moment decisions.
The traffic on the state highway is stupid. There is no lane sense and changing lanes is as dangerous as the tora tora cars in a mad carousel. I had to keep alert and maintain a steady speed to avoid any untoward incident. I had my Thums Up and Sandesh had his Pilsners and it was more than enough to keep us alert – me actually. And we did reach Mysore in one piece. The rumblers did us in as they slowed our progress towards Mysore. Chamarajnagar and Mandya have rumblers sprinkled across that route and they really get on your nerves specially with it being a state highway.
Reaching Mysore at 8 PM, we drove around a bit before we finally managed to get a clear idea of where our hotel was. Mysore is clean, really clean compared to Bangalore and you can see the shops along the main commercial areas are quite conscious of their cleanliness at the end of the day with carefully swept pavements and the garbage neatly piled. The Park Lane hotel is situated near an actual park unlike many other hotels that never reflect what their names say. It was a comfortable accommodation and the air-conditioning was welcome in the slightly dull weather. The slight humidity gave a hint of rain but nothing else. We collapsed on our beds and ended up watching Mr T “Pitying the fools” on World’s Craziest Fools. Boy was it hilarious and we laughed our a***s off this one.
Dinner at Park Lane was so-so, but after a good nights sleep the continental breakfast was quite good. The french toast and cheese masala omelettes did wonders and so did a strong brewed coffee. The coffee was amazing. You could taste the Chicory blended brilliantly in. And so we set out once again in the afternoon – 12 to be precise. We checked out and drove around Mysore a bit. Having seen Mysore in detail earlier, we now headed off to Srirangapatna where Tipu Sultan’s summer palace is located. Well maintained and with manicured gardens it did bring in a few yawns but then we did the touristy thing of standing with the canons and getting someone to shoot us. It was hot and our irritation with the heat did reflect on our faces. Oh and then was the hilarious case of Sandesh being mistaken for an NRI or European. If not for the choicest Kannada gaalis, Sandesh would have had to shell out 100 bucks on a 10 buck ticket.
By this time we were hungry and as we set off to Bangalore, Sandesh got some leads on where we needed to stop for ragi mudde and naati koli curry (that’s ragi balls and wild fowl curry). Through the Bangalore Foodies Guide Facebook page, Sandesh was guided to try Vaishali, a highway hotel between Mandya and Chamarajanagar. No problem, with all the humps we were able to gently make our way here and the food was worth the appreciation it received on the Bangalore Foodies blog.
Sandesh got an SOS from his mom to buy jackfruits on the way as they are much cheaper in this part of the world. So we stop at a point where this guy has some 5-6 jackfruits lined up by the side of the highway. A good haggle later we have 2 huge jackfruits and a half opened one int he back of the vehicle. The smell is tolerable but it starts getting on my nerves as we approach Ramanagaram. And then we stop at Rasta Cafe.
Rasta Cafe is a quaint cafe situated just off the main highway near Ramanagaram. I forget whether it was before or after the town. Anyway I needed a coffee – a cold one that too. And I got it. Rasta has a limited menu. The setting has a Bohemian feel to it, I can’t place my finger on whether it’s put on… there’s so much “Bohemian-themed” stuff going around town that you reach a stage where you just don’t care. Nice cold coffee though.
And that was that. It was one hell of a “chilled” outing that really unwinded us. I love driving and Mysore was a good place to go to. Next stop – Kodaikanal?