Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Royal Mysore Walks

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

For instance, in addition to being the hometown of one of the most beautiful, elegant, charming, witty and extremely slim women in the world such as you know who, it was the first in Asia to generate electricity.  It was also one of the largest buyer of Rolls Royce cars and has one of the largest Maharajas,  volumetrically speaking (though they say he's dieting)

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

Phone 91-9632044188


The Neverknown said...

Sounds awesome. All except for the 6am wake-up, that is. Does Vinay do evening walks perchance?

LG said...

I am just waiting for my next Mysore trip now :)

Spaz Kumari said...

6am wakeup sounds brilliant! ive been up at 4 for the last week :(

also, walking around mysore is worth it just for all the hundreds of thousands of beautiful gulmohar trees. :)

narendra shenoy said...

@neverknown - I think he does evening walks. I was tied up that evening hence the morning thing

@lg - You must do this! You'll enjoy it.

@spaz - Yes, just love the place. Up at 4? exams? All the best, in that case. Slay 'em girl

Anonymous said...

I have been reading some very limited number of 'wtf intellectual' blogs. I don't mean to categorize your writing though you are definitely intellectual and subtly wtf. More than that its pleasant. looking forward for more :)

aandthirtyeights said...

Arrey. I should've seen this post slightly earlier. I was in Mysore just two weekends ago!

Anonymous said...

i lauve mysore... its the bangalore i grew up in :) everytime(which is every month) i go there i remember my childhood

wineye said...

Thanks Naren for your kind words :)

@neverknown, The Walks usually starts at 7AM if you find that quite early too :) I do have evening Walks once in a while !!

narendra shenoy said...

@gayathri - Thanks for that lovely compliment! You are very kind!

@aandthirtyeights - Ah, well, you can always plan another trip. Mysore has some great getaways around it.

@anonymous - You must seek out Vinay. You'll enjoy it.

@wineye - Vinay, I meant every word! Thanks.

V said...

WOW! Its such a small world.

I recognized Vinay from the picture. He is the son of my math teacher in school when I was in Bangalore.

Spaz Kumari said...

no not exams. im interning in bangalore and i have to be up at 4 if i want to make it to the gym before office :( :(

blog off no, shenoy saar. i'm so bored.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

:). Been on one of those some ten odd years ago. got the inside view and dope on mysore palace as well - thanks to the pater being around (his colleagues had somehow wrangled an invite into the hidden depths of the palace.)

Payoshni said...

Diwans of Mysore !!! Lol ! that was really funny mr.shenoy :D

have being to mysore a couple of times but it has always being those hurried-tourist-kind of trips which i so not enjoy !!!

if you get a chance, dont miss on similar insightful walks in Panchgani (no, not Mahabaleshwar, but Panchgani)....warm, nice and soul-stirring...
there may be no Vinay there, but a walk around the plateau is worth anyway !!!

@Vinay, Good Job :) and Good Luck :)))) Next in Mysore, and am gonna call you :)

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

Very nice stuff - will definitely check this out when I go to Mysore. I also am zilch in my knowledge of the place apart from the fact that it breeds software engineers like amoeba.

And yes, it was definitely the ice, by the way. Stay away from all forms of water. I recommend flashing a bottle of Old Monk, nitrating it and putting it into a cylinder under 10 atmospheres, and connecting a gas mask to it. That should get you by.

workhard said...

I so wanna visit Mysore... never get a chance....Heard its a beautiful beautiful place

Work from home India