I was in my 6th grade when I first saw a glimpse of this angry man wearing a boat shaped turban – a side portrait of Tipu Sultan in my Social Studies book. I remember doodling on his face – colouring a thick lush moustache on Mr Tipu, ignorant about his valour or courage and his rule in Bangalore. The only thing that stayed with me from that day’s lecture was what my teacher said towards the end – that he built a fort at KR market- which is also known as the City Market.
I am a resident of South Bangalore. In the 90s – the era of “Chamkaaysi Chindi Udaaysi”, South Bangalore was cornered to be the most non polluted, non traffic area in Bangalore with easy network of roads: bumpy here and there, a little jiggle and wiggle on a Rajdoot (My dad’s most prized possession those days). The grandeur of mini forest reflecting the greenery of Bangalore became people’s favourite spot for evening walks. Walking on those pavements, munching churumuri and drinking yellaneeru (tender coconut) was sufficient to continue one’s journey. Yes, I hail from JP Nagar (named after Jaya Prakash Narayan).
I had a set routine with my mom – I was supposed to tell her what happened in every class referring to my school diary. So that’s when Tipu’s Fort struck me the second time that day. I wanted to know more. But my mom was more interested with my art work on his face! When I pestered her more she went on to tell me about KR Market. She said, “Behind the fort, you get vegetables, fruits, flowers and all the Puja materials.” This had nothing to do with Tipu himself, but had everything to do with groceries! Ee ganesha habba bandaga yen gotta?? (you know what happens during the Ganesha festival??) She continued to describe the variety of decoration materials and flowers again! It was a topic she could go on and on about! Tipu went into a coma in my head then. In fact, he died in my memory. I was listening to all the hustle and bustle of City Market and its surroundings.
Many days later, on a Sunday morning, I went to the City Market with my dad on his Rajdoot. That was the first time I saw the Fort. I was very happy and intrigued. I tapped my dad’s shoulder and asked eagerly, “idu Tipu Fort alva?” (Isn’t this Tipu Fort?) My dad just nodded and we sped towards the market area. My curiosity got the better of me and when I persisted; my dad had his own version to share. He told me about the pre-independence days, where Tipu killed English men at the fort and fought many battles. This excited me and I had so many more questions! My dad at that moment diverted the topic and took me to a hotel. This hotel, Hotel Raghavendra Prasanna was constructed in the 50s – the same era as Tipu’s I guess! And it still exists. It is a small hotel, with old chairs, waiters scurrying around serving. There is no pre booking for tables in this place – you sit where you get a seat! I was hungry for information and my dad for food! We sat in a corner and when the waiter approached us for our order and asked, “yen kodli sir?” my dad didn’t even ask me what I wanted. He knew the exact combos and ordered idli and neer chatni, vada and sambar – “yella eard eardu plate” (get 2 plates of everything!) I have to admit, the food there is just out of this world! Chindi guru! Tipu’s story got mixed with chatni, blended with coffee and finally got digested in my tummy!
When I look back, it brings a smile to my face. The text book had its version, and my parents had their versions. When I visit the Market now, I always glance at the Fort, buy groceries as per my mom’s list and relish a plate of idli and neer chatni at Raghavendra Prasanna.
(author of Bengalooru Churumuri)