Writers in Hampi

As ruminations of years gone seep through my mind, one striking experience stands out clearly, filling me with a sense of thrill — that trip to Hampi. Most of the participants are no more now, but the nostalgia lingers.

The trip had been organised by famous writer Nirupama, a close friend of mine. And what a group it was! To mention a few, M K Indira, T Sunandamma, T K Ramarao, Prema Bhat, and of course, yours truly. Suffice to say that the bus was full with the ever ebullient Suryanarayana Chadaga (a popular writer), keeping the company awake throughout the night with his sharp wit.

I also tried to enliven the group by offering to study palms with my half-knowledge, but all the eagerly outstretched hands went back the moment I quoted fees! Magnanimously conceding to do free readings, I gave a jolt to some by revealing the secrets of their heart. Gossip, the spice of life, naturally ensued.

Upon suddenly spotting Korati Srinivasa Rao, the famous author of the popular Vijayanagara series, I hopped over to his side. Needless to say, I had a whale of a time unearthing his inspiration and perspiration, so much so that he went underground (in the bus itself) on our return-journey, showing his face only when I got down.

During our sightseeing, we happened to meet some hippies. While we women shrank at their weird appearance, Chadaga decided to show off his English knowledge by accosting them thus: “You hippies? Where you from? Where you going?” Elated by this friendly gesture, since everyone seemed to avoid them, the group warmly embraced Chadaga and tried to kiss him! Caught off guard, he pushed them back and literally fled, while the baffled set moved on muttering, “Funny, funny!” Poor Chadaga, his freshly-washed white dhoti soiled by the foul-smelling stained garb of the strangers, fumed with disgust.

Here’s another incident. When our guide turned out to be completely ignorant (unlike today’s knowledgeable guides), Korati took over, and lo, the former grandeur of the Vijayanagara empire unfurled itself in dazzling streaks!

The mighty emperor Krishna­devaraya strode like a colossus leading his mighty army, while pearls, diamonds and gold rolled on the streets! Divine music played everywhere to the vibrations of temple gongs and pujas! The trumpeting of elephants, clank of cavalry, clang of swords, clink of dancing girls... It transported us to another world, a world well beyond our reach as though with the curse of a magic wand. 

On our way back, rumours of mob violence upset our equilibrium. Deciding to ward off our fears, T K Ramarao began to play the stotrapatas of Guru Raghavendraswamy on his tape recorder. At times he would doze off, prompting us to wake him up by calling out: “T K?”

Ah, the fun! If only we can relive that time! A poem by Rabindranath Tagore comes to my mind: ‘Farewell, farewell, my friends/ I smile and bid you goodbye/ When you live in the hearts of those you love/ Remember then, you never die.’

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Writers in Hampi

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