Connect Kannada

“Siduku Sundari,” was his quick response on his turn to naming the best and worst of his betrothed wife of many years. A dozen other of his cohorts nodded with vehement unison lest they may get coerced otherwise, while the women sat spellbound, an impossible feat, for some.

That a visit to the frozen land of Alaska that I had dreamt of actually manifested itself dwarfs the fact that it was on a cruise with over several thousand passengers, and more importantly within its belly, a couple dozen of them from Bengaluru.

My Bengalurean cruisers originated from all corners — Basavanagudi, Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, RT Nagar, to name a few. This rather eclectic spread of surgeons, physicians, dentist, musicians, professors and engineers proffered new laws and tenets to the universe, but still took a couple days before they figured out how to reach each other on their mobiles on the intranet instead of physically chasing each other around.  

A family of insanely loud siblings may have even outshouted the roar of the ocean. The ajji (elderly woman) who sported her jeans in competition with her dazzling Kanjeevaram silks celebrated her 84th birthday indulging in nothing less than a day at the spa. If the captain were to have heard the constant dissonance of the professor on the position of genuine Alaska because the ship only touched 59 degrees north of the equator, he would have sped her up, one more degree, north. A single windfall in the casino brought out a magical smile on the person who seemed to be bereft of one. The flock would have made a perfect muse for another volume of Harry Potter.

Habits die hard, so the adage goes. A few of our Brahmins politely refused to set foot inside a famous cemetery boasting the gory killing of Soapy Smith, not wanting to warrant another bath and change of their holy thread. Any pangs of homesickness were drowned by the Mysore-esque coffee served in the coffee house. Evenings saw the tight union of alcohol and eats in the many bars on the decks with favourite Bengaluru ones like chintamani, hurigalu, chakli and kodbale over rambunctious conversation — in Kannada, nonetheless.

The ship crew must have been familiar with their appetites, as they never failed to serve Indian fare along with the multi-national cuisine. That the Indian cuisine seemed to be the same but took multiple avatars of dals, rotis, vegetables and rice did not attenuate anyone’s hunger, but only made them crave for more.

Entertainment on a ship with no egress to land seemed to bear no concern whatsoever for this horde. The salsa dancing clearly was not meant for us, as most seemed to possess two of the same, left or right feet. Would the captures of the calving glaciers, icebergs, whales, dolphins and all of nature’s wonderful creations ever be able to call out a winner — iPhone cameras competing with the legitimate Leica laden ones? Perhaps never.

Majrooh Sultanpuri must surely have been smiling in his grave on the various renditions, in tune or not, of his Yaadon ki Baarat hit which clearly claimed preference over the in-house entertainment.  

Alaska finally bid a fond farewell to Bengaluru as her siduku sundaris sashayed off the gangway with their benevolent spouses, to bask in memories of her snow capped peaks, icebergs peeking out of the ocean and glaciers glinting back at the sun, for many years to come.

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