Well, 2021 has been quite a year for everyone! As things started to seem better with the pandemic, the 2nd wave had rattled the World and India! From lives of successful rich celebrities to the poorest, it spared none! But amid all the grievances, life is about seeing through the nicer things and marching forward!
Talking about myself, it has been a package of a year that can be split into exactly two on the calendar. If not exciting, the first half of the year was a fair one.
I led a group of hikers after a long hiatus due to Covid. Made new friends from travel.
I was told that I inspired people to explore the world (I don’t know how :P) and received surprise gifts from my readers.
My blog performed well (in fact, the best in 10 years!)
I completed a course on ‘Ancient history and Architecture of India’
I joined classes to learn ‘Yakshagana’, something that was long wished for.
As the calendar pages turned to July, it brought with it a flip in the normalcy of life. A change in job role, a change in office location and a lot of changes in the home atmosphere! It has been a feeling of just drifting along with the wind, for this LostLander. Six months went by without being able to write a single page of content. The only good part was that I resumed regular office and with it, came a lot of Business travel. Although I was paranoid about resuming air-travel after nearly a year, the change was so important to keep me sane!
There is less to write about this year and so, let me share some of the memorable images that social media brought to me.
Tokyo 2020 happened in 2021! and this was a golden year for India at the Olympics where it outperformed itself with its first athletic gold and the overall highest number of medals so far!
• While the women’s hockey team became an inspiration to crores of Indians, their individual stories reflected the dreams of several girls who wished to break the societal stereotypes.
• The men’s hockey on the other hand, were a jubilant bunch with a medal that India was devoid of for 4 decades. Here’s an image of a tribute by the goalkeeper of Indian football (Gurpreet Singh Sandhu) to the goalkeeper of Indian hockey (P.R. Sreejesh) for his game saving stop of the last goal in the medal winning match.
• Oh, the beautiful women raised in the cradle of my motherland, you are all wonderful. The first athlete to open the tally book for India at Tokyo 2020 was a woman. A woman who became an inspiration right on the opening day of the Olympics, still has me in awe. In spite of carrying so much success in her belt that could weigh her down, how could a person be so grounded and humble? And it was a sense of personal honour for me as I shared the aisle and some warm conversations with Ms. Mirabai Chanu on one of the flights.
• While we discuss accomplished people being grounded, it brings memories of Late. Puneet Rajkumar. Having shared the same neighborhood for a few years, it was common for me to bump into him every other day. Without carrying any air of superiority around his head, this man did not fail to smile at every person he came across, known and unknown. Only when he was gone, did we Kannadigas know that our movies too were watched by millions in faraway countries. I was taken by surprise when a person I met in a Nepali village told me how big a loss it was with this star’s passing away.
• And, this was definitely NOT the way 2021 had to end. The passing away of India’s Chief of Defense Staff along with other decorated soldiers was the most unfortunate. So much for keeping the safety of the world’s 2nd largest population as his only duty, let the top man of India’s defense rest in peace. Although, I have never met this man in person, the loss felt very personal. News has it that he shared a special bond with Kodagu, my hometown.
If you have made it this far on my blog, let me tell you that, having good ‘Mental health’ is a thing. Feeling low or depressed is absolutely normal and can happen to anyone. It is important to recognize this earlier and to reach out to people at the right time. Reach out to help someone or reach out to seek help. If at any point, any of you feel the need to reach out to just someone- do hit me up! I don’t know how I can help your situation, but I shall certainly do my best to hear you out and guide you to the right source of help!
The unfortunate lockdown that the pandemic has brought has sure got the netizens busy. I’m not a TV person but sitting in a spot for video conferences all day (for work) gets me worked up sometimes. My terrace is too hot to go out in this hot summer month. This has given me some time to indulge in watching some series online. Not to fall into the fancy of the latest trending series on OTT platforms, I preferred to catch up on some old classics that were a hit on Doordarshan, back in the days of my childhood. That’s why I chose to start with Malgudi days.
While some claim that Agumbe was the ‘Malgudi town’ and there exists a ‘Malgudi house’, nobody really knows where the entire ‘Malgudi days’ serial was shot. However, since most of the episodes were predominantly shot in and around Shimoga, the present-day railway station at Arasalu (near Shimoga) is named as the ‘Malgudi station’ in honour of the famous serial. One of the trains too is named as the ‘Malgudi Express’ by the Southern railways. The popular serial telecast in the late 1980s comprised of 39 episodes shot and directed by Late.Shankarnag. Banking in on its popularity, the other 15 episodes were later directed by Kavita Lankesh in 2016. From what established a cult in Indian cinema, I am keen on taking a trip down the streets of Shankar Nag’s Malgudi because that is what I grew up watching.
Based entirely out of Karnataka, the rural setting, the culture and top-of-the-notch actors were totally relatable for me as I watched it. As I continued to watch the episodes, what started to intrigue me were the familiarity with several places featured in the episodes. I also started to take note that all were not in Shimoga. ‘Armchair travelling’ is a fancy outcome of being locked down by the pandemic and that got me to travel through my home-state Karnataka and map some of the heritage structures that have been featured in the classic ‘Malgudi days’. So, here are my relative screenshots from the serial and photos of the landmarks, as they stand today. You too can contribute your findings and let us unravel the mysterious locations of the old-timer 😊
1. Episode name: Oldman of the temple- Mandir ka budda
The episode opens with the author R.K.Narayanan himself telling that Malgudi is a fictitious town. It being located in Southern India is only half truth. The truth is, it is applicable to anyone anywhere across the world. Here, starts my quest to map the locations of Malgudi, spread across the state of Karnataka.
a. Ofcourse, Sheshadri and his friends are seen sitting on a platform of a tree that is present even today, at the town centre of Agumbe.
b. The old dilapidated temple that the Old man- Krishna Bhattar’s spirit lived in the episode is the ‘Thimmarayaswamy temple at Bettadadasanapura’ on the outskirts of Bangalore.
2. Episode (serial) name: Swami and his friends.
a. This is an 8-episode long story and is one of the most iconic part of the series. The ‘Doddamane’ in Agumbe perhaps is what was Swami’s house. We still need to look at several other structures that have been featured in the serial.
b. Although I am unable to locate the structure that housed ‘Albert Mission School’ in the series, I sure know where the School logo ‘Fide Et Labore’ featured in it came from. It was easy for me to point it out as my brother happens to be an alumnus of the 150+ years old ‘St. Joseph’s European High school’. Given the setting of pre-independence days in the serial, it was obvious for a Bangalore based director to be inspired to borrow the school logo from here.
c. Swami’s Friend- Rajam lived in a huge bungalow. This is the Thippagondanahalli IB (Inspection Bungalow)
d. Yes, most part of the series was shot at Agumbe. But when the team had packed up and Director Shankar Nag felt that a few scenes needed a re-take, the entire street of Malgudi was setup at a street adjacent to Yediyur lake in Bangalore.
Top- The map of Malgudi as conceptualized by Shri.R.K.Narayanan; Below- The present day Arasalu railway station
3. Episode name: A Hero
With some actors replacing the characters of ‘Swami and his friends’, it somewhat is a continuation of the 8-episode series. Though the house indicated as Swami’s house in this episode may not be wholly same as the 8-episode series, it is true that a large part of this episode (The attic of Swami’s house and the riverbank) are common.
4. Episode name: The hoard- Maha Kanjus
This too has been shot in the ‘Doddamane’. The main road facing entrance, the sit-out on either side at the entrance with wooden pillars and doors and the central courtyard indeed are from the ‘Doddamane’ of Agumbe.
5. Episode (serial) name: Mithai Wala- The vendor of sweets.
All I have heard is that ‘Malgudi’ itself is a fictional town created for the serial. The name was derived as a combination of two prominent townships of Old Bengaluru: Malleswaram and Basavanagudi. The story of its origin can’t go away from its offspring, right? What has always been popular as the ‘Shooting house in Basavanagudi’ is in fact the house where the Mithai Wala lives in this 8-episode long series.
6. Episode name: Nitya
Nitya, the protagonist is taken to a distant hill-temple where his parents had a prayer to be offered. The entire setting of the hill-temple is the present-day popular trekking destination- Devarayanadurga’ in Tumkur district, on the outskirts of Bangalore.
7. Episode name: The seventh house- Saathvan ghar
This episode has been shot across multiple locations. However, there were a couple of them I could identify.
The scene where the couple and their families go to offer pooja in a temple is Devarayanadurga, same as the one in the episode Nitya.
a. The scene where the couple meet after college has the Town hall building of Mysore in the backdrop.
b. The scene where the protagonist rides to see an astrologer is the temple at Kaiwara. It has largely been renovated as on today. But the Narayanappa temple in the background, the rocky hillock on one side and a motorable road seen in a glimpse indicate it is indeed Kaiwara.
8. Episode name: Iswaran
a. The college or the senate hall with its Gothic style of architecture featured in the episode is the ‘Central College of Bangalore University’ located in the heart of Bangalore.
b. The Protagonist, Iswaran watches a movie at a cinema. The palace featured in the movie is the ‘Bangalore Palace’.
c. Time and again, Sarayu river has been mentioned in the episode. Given the typical setting of Karnataka and the writer’s hometown of Mysore, the lifeline of this region is river Kaveri. I believe that the river where the protagonist drowns in at Sangama, near Srirangapatna.
9. Episode name: The performing child- Abhinetri
Given the fact that it is still one of the iconic lung space of Bengaluru and there runs a toy-train amid a lot of greenery, the train journey featured in the child’s dream is in Cubbon park.
10. Episode name: Roman image- Rome ka Murthi
a. The stone temple that Sheshadri and Professor walk around after climbing up a rocky hillock that overlooks green meadows is the ‘Mantapa’ located at the peak point of Kodachadri.
b. The red structure where professor Bandopadhyay is indicated to be working on a renovation of a Jaipuri palace- is the Shivappa Nayaka’s Palace located near Shimoga.
11. Episode name: The watchman- Chowkidar
Although the structure and the surroundings seems to be in a dilapidated condition in this episode, it has been largely renovated and restored as on date. The entire episode has been shot in the ‘Thimmaraya swamy temple complex at Bettadadasanapura’ in Bangalore. The large trees in the premises, the temple pond, the entrance stone pillars and the fortress like wall encompassing the temple premises on a rocky hillock are the things that stand testimony to the famous episode.
12. Episode name: A horse and two goats- Muni
Given the rural setting of the protagonist’s house and the fact that he eats Ragi mudde, it is a story from the Mysore region. The place where he goes to graze his goats daily in a eucalyptus grove and the slopy terrain of the hills where the road passes, could it be the road that leads to Chamundi betta? Or could it be Nandi hills? (as guessed by ‘The light baggage)
13. Episode name: Trail of the green blazer – Pocket maar
The temple where the protagonist offers his prayers with a coconut before heading for stealing is the Panchalingeshwara temple at Begur, located in the outskirts of Bangalore. (Information contributed by ‘The Light Baggage‘)
Are there any familiar locations that you could identify in the serial? Let me know..
Here are the remaining episodes 🙂
14. Episode name: Leela’s friend- Siddha
15. Episode name: The missing mail- Dhakia
16. Episode name: Engine trouble- Engine Ki kahani
17. Episode name: Forty-five a month- 45 rupiya
18. Episode name: The career- Ramji Ki Leela
19. Episode (series name)- Naga
20. Episode name: Sweets for angels- Kaali
21. Episode name: A willing slave- Aaya
22. Episode name: Cat within- Paap ka gada
23. Episode name: The gateman’s gift- Govind Singh Ki Bhent