Monday, October 22, 2012

Authors, Poets & Woodcrawling - Part 3: Kasturi Akka & Doddamane

Link to previous post is here 

We dropped by on Kasturi Akka, the matriarch of Doddmane. She has soaked in all the adulation that comes out of being a gracious host to a variety of back packing individuals. I say 'back packing' because Doddamane is for the back packer. If you are looking for the comforts of a three star hotel (forget five star) you will be better off looking for accommodation in Udupi (55 kms) or Sringeri (25 kms) depending on which direction you come from.

It is also the centerpiece of the TV Serial "Malgudi Days", directed by Late Shankar Nag, based on a collection of short stories by R.K Narayan, in the same name.

It s evident that Doddmane has seen better times. In it's heydays there were some 45 people living together under it's roof. Even in it's current state it was impressively big. The front door opens into a central courtyard open on top.

The kitchen and dining area was opposite the front door and the rear portion had the well and bathrooms.

There are cots all along the corridors with clothes hangers above them. I guess, if you were not very particular about having a room to yourself it is a good option. The natural ventilation of the courtyard will make sleeping a wonderful experience.

In any case, I think it is THE better option because the bedrooms on the ground floor (where the doors were open) seemed a little cramped. Unless you need place to store lots of gear the corridors should do fine.

Kasturi Akka is a gentle but firm lady. She is strict about timings (5AM to 10PM) and your habits (no smoking or drinking on premises). Meal timings are slightly flexible but supper order closes by 8PM. No fancy menu but simple local fare.

As a matter of fact we had a demo of how 'strict' she can be as we were talking to her. One of her guests who was on his way for a trek came to inform about his dinner order. He wanted chapatis with vegetable curry and 'white rice'. Kasturi Akka very firmly told him, chapatis would not be a problem but 'white rice' would, because "None of us like 'white rice', we prefer 'red rice' because it is more tasty". The conversation ended there. There is no arguing with the head of the house especially when it is told with a smile that says, "take it or leave it" !

You can stay in Doddamane or just eat there. You'll have to inform or request in advance. That she'll even pack food if you are going on a trek is what I read in one blog but another says "No take aways"! To contact her just call 08181233075

We were served a glass of butter milk and given an orange (home grown) each. The butter milk was heavenly, so was the sight of the food two other visitors were eating! I have no doubt in my mind that whatever she served would be fine if you liked home cooked vegetarian food.

Kasturi Akka's daughter was at home since it was a Sunday. Usually her job takes her to Manipal, a journey of 3 hours daily (two-ways), so she is around to help only on weekends & holidays. On the other days Kasturi Akka manages with the help of another lady.

I'm in my elements when I take pictures in the wild or outdoors and when my subject is not human but I am more than a little squeamish about taking pictures in someone else's house especially a complete strangers so I took very little pictures inside the house. If you want to see more click this link to another blog on Doddamane

We weren't sure if we should pay for the butter milk and oranges and when we offered to, she refused saying, "If you came to your Ajji's house would you pay?" To her we were house guests on that day, not a paying guest. She promised she'd take money when we came as a tourist. If you plan a visit to Doddmane, remember that there are no fixed charges. Kasturi Akka will take anything you give without even counting, in complete good faith. What you pay is based on your judgement of your experience at Doddamane. I'm sure if your tastes are simple you'll not be disappointed!

We bid goodbye to Kasturi Akka promising to return. ARRS and Agumbe deserved more than a couple of days and Doddamane is the best base station in Agumbe.

The next post on Kuppalli will come up shortly. The delay is due the translation of Kuvempu's poem, "Mane Mane Muddumane"

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