“Kaaafi kaaafi, tea chaai….” “aay bengloor, aay bengloor…” and many such voices stand out amidst the buzz and noise outside and inside the train compartments of the Bengaluru-HubbaLLi passenger train. The train slowly and steadily departs Bengaluru city via Malleshwara and Yashavantapura and gently blends into the neighbouring Tumkur district via ChikkabANAvara, SoladevanahaLLi and BhairanayakanahaLLi! Yes, not only are these names awesome, the khaarapuri (puffed rice with freshly chopped onions, coriander-mint paste, chilli powder, fried groundnuts and freshly chopped tomatoes mixed well with some lemon), plate idli and kaDlekaay (groundnut) vendors that pass by in the train compartment are even more awesome. Occasionally the train stops in one of the stations for unknown time duration and you might hear a grumpy chattering in the compartment, “haaLaadavanu ille crossing haakidaane ivattu” (local passengers ranting about this train having to wait for a time-priority “express” train that shares the same railway track!)
With all crossings and stops, after having consumed kadlekaay and kadlegida and after about 3.5 – 4 hours, the train finally arrives at TipaTuru, my hometown. It is a small town on the “Bengaluru – Honnavara” road, Tumkur district, mostly famous for coconuts and for being the hometown of the legendary Kannada comedian “Haasyachakravarti” Narasimharaju. This long train journey is not the only mode of transport to get to Tipaturu but this is the one I like most as I get to experience the wonderful company of “nam kade jana” (roughly translates to people from our region of Karnataka.) There are express buses and trains as well which take anywhere between 2-3 hours. I have even once travelled the entire route of about 12-13 hours from Bengaluru to Hubballi (the complete route of the train) just for the experience. The way the Kannada dialect and people beautifully blend across the journey that spans almost half the length of Karnataka is fascinating. On a side note, if any of you readers are crazy enough to take up the 13-hour journey (or even otherwise), please consider a stop over at SavaNuru, a beautiful little town. Apart from things like temples and maThas, they make the best “Khaara mixture” there called “SavNoor khaara” (its a spicy-tangy snack! Literally mouthwatering!)
Back to nammooru TipaTuru, the streets and gullies see a surge in activity levels on two special occasions during the year: “Tipatoorammana jaatre” (Festivities marking respect to the local deity, Goddess Kempaamba) during late March/early April and “Ganapati Utsava” usually late October/early November (marking the last day of festivities following the Ganesha festival). On both occasions, we usually have “drop-in theme parks” on the “kere eri” (Kannada term for the banks of a lake). If we get lucky, we also have stunt men and women who setup shows and drive cars and motorbikes on sharply inclined artificial walls and bravely display their amazing skills! Most other Indian festivals too have their fair share of activities on the streets but not anywhere close to these two landmark events. There are also regular cultural activities planned like kaChEris (music concerts), naaTakas (mostly religious plays) and harikaThes (recital of mythological stories) organized at the “Ganapati pendal” (which is now a fully built concrete building. Several years ago, it used to be a “pendal” – a makeshift shelter and stage set up using wooden pillars and tarpaulin). What I always enjoyed during these events are the “mosaranna prasaada” (curd rice) at Ganesha pendal, “tambhittu” (a sweet dish prepared as an offering for local deity), puri-bendu–bathaasu-kalyaaNaseve (different kinds of sugar cakes with puffed rice), “nimbekaay uppinkaayi” (lime pickle) at a small makeshift shop opposite to “Vinoda talkies” (they mostly play “A” movies here!) and irrespective of any events, a “bisi bisi dil pasand” (a pastry with tutti fruity) at “Anandappana Bakery”!
While at my town do not forget to visit the (kannika parameshwari guDi edurina) bOnDa angaDi! (The boNDa shop opposite to kannika parameshwari temple!). “Ondu capsi, ondu pepsi” is my favourite order. “Capsi” is a short description for, whole-capsicum/paprika-dipped-in-gram-flour-mix-and-deep-fried-in-oil-with-fresh-masala-and-onion-topping (sigh, I can take a breath now!). “Pepsi” the short description for, regular Pepsi/Cola with lemon-masala mix added to it! If you visit TipaTuru in the season of oranges that mostly come from the town of kaDuru, you should stop by near the corner of Stella-Mary’s high school where there is usually someone selling oranges on a push-cart. The oranges are so tasty and they make it even tastier by selling it with a tangy masala. They will gladly also teach you how to eat it “our way”!
By now, you might have realised I am a foodie. Along with being a foodie, I also like to cook (“a necessity driven talent” that I acquired only after coming abroad. Although, I was sneakily paying attention to how mom cooks when I was a kid!).
And “nammora sante” is a heaven for a foodie-cook combination! It is a daily spectacle on the “station road” and surroundings with farmers from villages and towns nearby such as, Haalkurike, EechanUru, AadihaLLi, HonnavaLLi, Hindiskere and much more, getting fresh produce. The greens, vegetables and fruits are so fresh that it is a paradise for veggies. Whether you are a foodie/veggie/non-veggie, this is an experience that is worth the effort of going there, especially, in the tender tropical sun between 7.30 am – 8.45 am. Also, the villages above are mostly within cycling distance from Tiptur main town. Consider visiting for a raw village experience, where it is likely that you will be surprised to see people actually more often do other things apart from looking at their (smart?) phones!
Last, but definitely not the least, one of the primary reasons Tiptur is famous for. “Tenginakaayi” – Coconut (and at least in 3 different forms). As and when you reach the vicinity of Tiptur (from any direction), you can immediately identify acres of farmland with coconut trees. One of the primary sources for desiccated coconut (made from Copra) across India and also exported to many parts of the world! Most of the trading related to coconuts takes place in the “kobri mandi”. If this is the most popular form that is exported, we also use two other different forms in most households in Karnataka. The first being, the aforementioned “Tenginakaayi/kaayi” and the other form which is also on my (really, really, really long list of) favourite(s) is “eLaneeru” – tender coconut. A healthy drink/dessert (if you will) after consuming all the delicious and spicy savoury from the options in the previous parts of this article! You not only drink the “eLaneeru” but also scoop and eat the tender coconut with a piece of the surrounding shell! Although my immediate family and the first generation ancestors were not involved directly in coconut business, maybe they did several centuries before. I just know from bedtime stories that the first generation ancestors were growing rice and raagi in the nearby villages and trading it in our little shop, which has metamorphosed over the years into a stationery shop!
I would like to end this small “foodie” write up by remarking that I have only given a “taste of my hometown”. To enjoy a full three-course meal of my hometown and its surrounding villages, do consider visiting (at least try out the boNDa angaDi) or a fly-by whenever you are on the “BengaLuru-Honnavara” road. Along with my hometown, there are so many other wonderful villages, towns and cities along this route (which would require a whole series of articles!) that it can easily take you more than a few weeks to visit, immerse and enjoy the vivid beauty of a very small part of, my beautiful state, Karnataka!
The author is pursuing his PhD in Robotics at the Delft University of Technology. Crazy Foodie. Enjoys travelling and cooking. He writes poems and sings in free time.