I've had a strange fascination for Mysore. The missus is from there and in the seventeen (!) years that we have been married my fascination (for Mysore and the missus) has only grown.
"The mystique of a regal past" is what I tell people when they ask me what it is that fascinates me about Mysore.
"Nonsense", the missus will promptly add, if she's around. "He goes around the place eating like there's no tomorrow."
"But he's so knowledgeable about Mysore" my sister gallantly defended me.
"Hmpfh!" hmpfhed the missus. "Other than the food joints, what he knows about Mysore can be easily written in block letters on the back of a bus ticket. And", she added, with another hmpfh, "with space left for what he feels about its history".
Strong words! And words that stung. Any man of sensibility would be wounded if it were insinuated that he was a boor. And even though I'm not a man of sensibility, I was wounded. This had to be remedied! I had to show the missus that I could think of things other than food.
And in the process of showing the world, and the missus that I was a man with as much depth in my character as in my alimentary canal, I found myself bleary eyed at 6.30 am of a Thursday morning outside the Town Hall of Mysore. My head throbbed a bit from the GlenKinchie on ice - must have been the ice - that my charming brother in law Mahesh had lavished on me the previous evening.
But I'm getting all muddled up as usual, in my story telling. Old failing. If I had to write someone's biography I would probably start with the funeral.
So, it happened this way.
I had been in touch with Vinay, a young engineer and former software geek, over twitter. He seemed very knowledgeable about Mysore and a quick look at his bio revealed that he ran a company called The Royal Mysore Walks.n Walking tours, I surmised, for I am very quick on the uptake, and sought to verify my deduction when I landed up in Mysore.
Chatting over coffee, I liked him instantly. "Not much of a company, sir" he laughed "just a startup" but his enthusiasm was unmistakable.
It turned out that he'd take groups of people on walking tours of Mysore, during which he would present a view of Mysore's past through little bits of trivia, accounts of history and, as I found out, many interesting tales with buildings and monuments as props for those tales.
Sounded interesting. I had only the morning to spare since the rest of the day was tied up with uncle-and-aunty visiting stuff, but Vinay said the morning is usually best, because it's not too crowded and the weather is extremely pleasant.
With my customary insightful thinking, I spotted the flaw in the plan. "Wait!" I said, "It involves waking up at 6 am"
No one seemed to be listening however, and Mahesh hoiked me out of bed at the appointed hour and frog-marched me to the Town Hall, Mysore. We met VInay there, fresh as a daisy and soon, the bracing morning air and Vinay's cheery demeanour made me feel a lot better. We started off with a little story about the Diwans of Mysore, which was round one to Vinay because I had always thought the Diwans of Mysore were things you could lie down on. (They are not. They are rulers and no, not the kind you draw straight lines with)
As the walk unfolded, I got more and more into the thing and soon, I forgot I was supposed to have a hangover.
Vinay's presentation skills exceeded all expectations. I'm not going to go list out all the trivia here - you should take the walk yourself- but the walk was probably the most delightful two hours I have spent in a long time, including intimate tete-a-tetes with rare single malt whiskey.
Vinay's style was very interactive and he has a gentle sense of humor that makes the whole thing very enjoyable. He's a trivia buff - "Which is why I thought about this walk in the first place", he had told me - and he had quite a collection of anecdotes and amusing facts
Do go for this walk if you happen to be in Mysore. At Rs. 495/- head, I think it's a steal. I've been recommending it to everyone I meet. And Vinay is such a great guy to know!
Vinay's window to the world -www.royalmysorewalks.com