Table of contents for Masinagudi
This very crowded bus brings us in Masinagudi at 5PM we have a huge masala dosa because we missed our lunch. We return to our room in the hotel at the main road. There I tell my wife to stay in the room because she gave me some serious trouble in the jungle.
I beg her that is still jungle around here so I must go alone to take my bath in the river and she should stay in the security of 4 walls of the room. I pick my loincloth and a bar of soap but she persists to tug along with me because she loves that place. We take side streets to the back of village and then enter in the maze of lantana and bamboo bushes to arrive at the river. A broken foot bridge takes us to the other side of the river at a bridal path and then to the tunnel head.
I take a very long bath at the ramp near the tunnel at the river. Water is coming form the mountains and is cool. Initially my wife was enjoying herself there and then she disappears. I can fairly guess where? She loves tamarind that grows here in wilderness. It is red, succulent, juicy and flashy here. As my bath is about over and she appears and fills up all the pockets in my pants with that oozing tamarind; my punishment for that long river bath. I wear those pants with bulging pockets. She can eat all that tamarind in just one day whereas I tried to eat some and loved it so much and then regretted it because it gives a very funny sourly sensation to my teeth that lasts forever.
It is still sunlight so we walk on a path going towards mountains. It is a deep jungle but an occasional resort here and there. Path is barricaded at both sides by some very viciously poisonous variety of spurge (Euphorbia Neriifolia) but still one can see the rampage of elephants all over when they break this thick fence and enter in the resorts to find better trees and shrubs to eat. When euphorbia plant is broken it emits a milky and sticky substance. If you try to just lick your finger that touched this substance; you get a bad day with burnt tongue.
In homeopathy a medicine name Euphorbium is used for excessive mucus in nose, throat and sinuses. I make this medicine from this variety of euphorbia because it is most potent. It brought much relief to sinus patents and also it has modified many people’s asthma by drying up the mucus hence some relief. This milk must be potentized in alcohol because it is not soluble in water.
Kids are playing here or there wherever there are open swaths of lands, cattle is grazing. We keep walking because it is a fun to walk in so beautiful terrine. I feel I am not in India but in Tanzania. It is getting dark so we return.
I see there hundreds of very beautiful donkeys walking towards a barn on a slope in the bush, I try to take their picture but it is getting dark and they seldom let me take any proper pose. I doubt if those are working donkeys because they are very healthy and unscratched. Probably there was some sort of donkey farm. We turn back to get back to town.
Dark is getting thick and my wife is again freaking out and she forbids me taking a short cut towards jungle along the river to return back to hotel. A man is walking in the jungle and she begs him to be with us. He takes a diversion from his errands and walks with us in the maze of lantana and bamboo bushes. Injury to insult that man brags about the dangerous vicious wild elephants, boars, pythons, cobras and what not in the jungle. Man brings us at the stone’s throw of the backside of the Masinagudi and then disappears back in the jungle. I try to convince my wife; that man was not telling truth. There are no wild animals here but only hundreds of donkeys. She declares that she does not want to stay at this dangerous place anymore and we must return to Bangalore tomorrow.
We return to the village of Masinagudi and hear more wildlife stories and recent damages caused by elephants and my wife is now more scared and determinant to get out of this jungle village.
Next to our hotel are a couple of avocado trees. Now and again we hear a tap on the corrugated roof next door when a ripe fruit falls. In the morning I picked up several ripened avocados because I can sneak upon that next door roof from my hotel balcony. Owner catches me stealing his avocados and laughs.
He shouts, “What good is there in this goddamned oily fruits; take these all if you wish.”
“These are much prized fruits and they taste like butter, they are full of cholesterol lowering oil,” I inform him.
“Well lower your cholesterol as much as you wish because we will be getting rid of these trees very soon. There is another heap of these rotting in the back street.”
This makes me sad to know that these handsome trees will be cut.
In America, Mexico, Peru and at many plaes I always paid extra to spread avocados on my sandwiches. I love the taste of avocados butter. My wife has not been to USA yet and she is horrified anytime I eat avocado. She thinks these may be poisonous.
These trees are considered a pestilence here whereas these are much prized in Americas and their fame is catching up in rest of the world.
Government has introduced these trees in this part of India and they find thriving climate here but most people don’t know about Avocado. They are sold in large cities of India in supermarkets. I saw these in a Mysore supermarket but imported from Ecuador. There is no local procuring or distribution for these fruits and people are cutting off these trees.
We again go to the market for our dinner and I take 2 ripest avocados in my pocket. I spread avocado butter on my parothas with a spoon. Everybody in that restaurant is amused of my spreading avocado butter on my parothas, many people come to us and ask about this new thing that they are seeing at the first time in their life.
Waiter is horrified and suggests me, “Sir please not to eat this gandru. You may die because gandru is a definite poison and nobody eats this ugly-good-for-nothing object here”.
This time my wife also tastes it and she falls in love with it finally after 3 days of hate. I am eating this for the last 3 days and she realized that may not kill her too afterall.
Hotel owners comments, “Now it makes 2 demons”.
This reminds me of my another travel story where I entered in Kotada Tea Estate in Kotada from a trail in the wilderness of Niligiri Mountains. There I was asked to visit to the security office for trespassing into the forbidden estate area. The very stern security chief Mr. Sebastian was very angry at me and then he became very friendly, made tea for me and gifted me 2 hugest avocados fruits. (He thought he took his revenge on me by giving those god-forsaken junk fruits for trespassing into his estate, but actually it was the reverse of revenge). I recommended to the Estate Manager that Mr. Sebastian must be provided some F-16 fighter airplanes and some Bofors-howitzers-batteries to guard the tea estate against the invasion by people like me.
Mr. Sebastian is still a close friend. (One day I will write that tale too)
We have superb dinner in that restaurant. It is 10PM now, street is almost deserted and she is again scared in the middle of the jungle town. Whole area is filled by jasmine fragrance. I drag her to accompany me to search for the red banana that is only available in South India. These bananas are yummy and taste like custard. Well that is an excuse for my after supper walk and finally we find those red banana at a shack and we return to our hotel.
When I wake up in the morning I find her with our packed backpacks.
She says, “Let’s go.”
“Bbb but … so soooooon ……”
“To the river, to wash all the clothes.”
“Bbbbbb but mo mo moooost are already washed up.”
“WE WILL wash them again. This time PROPERLY. At the River.”
“Bbb bbb but they’d take time to dry.”
“Who cares how long it take’em to dry.”
“But there are wild animals.”
“There are only hundreds of donkeys.”
I looked out of my window at Niligiri Mountains.
I sighed — this places arrests.