Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Orientation and directions are now provided by the foreign accent lady on your Google Maps app. But for us "halli janas" (village bumpkins), hand gestures, pointed towards the airport (a good 40kms away) or other places of interest still suffice as indicators of direction. This is how we live in the village.
I remember the first time I brought my husband to visit Hesaraghatta in 2002. A few tea shops and 'hotels'. Creaky, old men with nothing to do but sit and stare at infrequent, passing vehicles. A few goats and cows on broken, village roads. Bullock cartsPerfect, we said to ourselves! We had seriously started contemplating our life on the farm around 2005, which was then just a thorny shrub land. The lake had water, full to the brim, and a sailing club, the people were fewer, the village activities were dominated by local festivals and rituals and everyone looked at us with immense curiosity. Things had not 'improved' much when we moved to our farm in 2011. Hesaraghatta had grown up into a well-stocked village by then, with a few eating joints, plenty of watering holes and of course the evening bustle. I must admit, my Kannada was pathetic then and Naved was confident his connect with the soil was sufficient to communicate with locals. Our container packed with the remnants of our life in Dubai had arrived as promised and the cartons were sitting in our staff quarters for almost 8 months, because deadlines in India are, well, not taken too seriously by contractors. Anyways, our tenth wedding anniversary was spent on our terrace sipping warm rum and coke (no ice, since the refrigerator was not unpacked!) and watching our first pup, Pasha, entertain himself.
Our then caretaker offered to cook for us and the fare he produced all looked green and tasted of fresh, green chillies. We tried to reason with him and he was devastated that we didn't relish his cuisine, but he reluctantly but drastically reduced the heat in our food - from 200 to 20 chillies. He would go no further. This regime did help us knock off some weight but we yearned for a simple daal chawal meal that didn't smoke our ears. Ta-daaaa! My ever resourceful husband pulled out the camping cylinder, and grabbed a few essentials from the boxes neatly marked "kitchen" and we ate our first "home cooked" meal after 45 days we moved in. The milk boiling - a part of house warming rituals - though was done on a borrowed induction stove. We were on a roll from thereon, discovering hinterlands and local attractions with gusto. From the village of Kukkanahalli (which we belong to as per our land records) to the various drive and walk paths around us, to the action packed night life of Hesaraghatta, we did it all.
Name dropping time...we discovered neighbours who are prominent industrialists and businessmen, film makers and dancers, senior police officers and ministers - and the odd rowdy too! But it is more fun befriending caretakers of farms around us, as owners prefer penthouses in the thick of Bangalore's chaos, rather than the quiet of our glades and valleys. We had to be careful to ensure we don't come across as condescending to the "know it all" villager. At the same time, not be taken for a fool either. We try not to miss a house warming or wedding invite from the villagers. To the fraternity of service providers - be it the post man or electricity linesmen, to the cowherds and Amazon delivery guys - we are now well known. The community is small yet growing at a rapid rate, but we can proudly claim that we are now classified as "old timers" - or as a local kannadiga would say "original".
During the almost 10 years we have been here, Hesaraghatta has come a long way. We are lucky that our farm is tucked away in a secluded quarter, protected by government lands all around us and large farms that don't farm much, relatively untouched by the 'development' happening all around us. Everywhere else, things are unrecognisable. No longer a sleepy village, Hesaraghatta has been adapting and aping the urban way of life - a swanky supermarket, swankier booze shops and many a dhaba have sprouted all around where men huddle to drink themselves silly, gorging on spicy, red fried chicken. Today, we have a club with a clean, fresh-water swimming pool, a proper Udupi darshini (South Indian, fast food joint) and fancy wedding halls hosting glitzy weddings - dry ice and spider cam and all! Gone are the days i had to drive into civilisation to shop - I can now get pretty much everything within Hesaraghatta. Gone too are the bullock carts, village games children used to play and the sleepy hamlet vibe. They say some people can never be happy. With every urban facility available at a stone's throw, I sometimes crave for the good old days. Take away all the dhabas, restaurants, supermarkets and swimming pools. Just give me back my old men dozing by the wayside and my lake full to the brim. I can live with that, because that's what I came here for.
(Not to be confused with the Our Native Village eco resort who are our neighbours)