Hearing about plans to develop the Mandakalli airstrip into a regional airport my wife’s cousin Raju became nostalgic. He recalled Nehru’s visit to Mysore in the fifties, when, as a schoolboy, Raju had biked to Mandakalli, some 20 km from his native Nanjangud, to get a glimpse of the PM. We hired a bike for the ride, he said, from his daughter’s place in Philadelphia when we phoned him to say ‘bye’ as our US trip comes to an end.
Both his son and daughter are in the US. And Raju, after retirement, has been spending much of his time with them. “They want us, me and my wife, to move in here’, he says, adding that he is awaiting his green-card. As he says, there is nothing to holding him in Mumbai, where he spent his entire working life; and there is no one to go to, in Nanjangud, where he was born and brought up.
Raju, who has come a long way from a humble start in life at Nanjangud, switched himself into a flash-back mode he heard that my wife and I would be back in Mysore in a few days. Probably, he felt envious of us. For Mysore had meant ‘a lot of good time’ for Raju in his adolescence.
Mysore was where he used to go, for a film show, to watch a football game - “we biked there, double riding, from Nanjangud”. Two was company. Besides, the two of them, probably, split the bike hire charge (a rupee for 24 hrs.). Evening movie at Lakshmi Theatre cost eight annas a ticket. Raju and his friend bicycled back to Nanjangud after the show that ended well past midnight. That meant pedaling nearly 50 km, up and down, for an evening out in Mysore. Raju could have it all for a couple of rupees, or less, in the fifties.