My Experiences with Coorg, the Land of Kodava Takk (II)

[Coorg is the land of stunning landscapes, awesome coffee, delicious food & invigorating wine. That’s the exact statement I heard before shifting to Coorg (or Kodagu) in 1993. I lived there for 2 years, followed it with dozens of jaunts, learnt that Coorg is much more than just a ‘touristy’ statement and decided to share my experiences of a mystifying land with wonderful people, unique traditions and Kodava Takk]

PART 2 (To Read Part 1, Click HERE)

As suggest by the doctor, by first week of July I was back in Bachahalli to take rest and recover my health. In the awful days that followed, my diet consisted of rice and a lentil curry that was cooked without oil, salt and spices. The unsavoury yellowy broth with consistency of tap water had a sharp acidly niff and mild bitter taste. On some lucky days, I ate boiled vegetables, papaya and bread. I was confined to my bed, my taste buds were dead, I was delirious and alarmingly, I was losing weight.

This was not the summer holiday I had planned and I hated it.

By end of August, I started to feel better. Gradually, the pale yellow Jaundice eyes turned white and looked natural. My body regained its strength and I was able to walk without any need of short breaks to recover my breath. Meanwhile, dad had written to the Principal at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyala in Coorg with details of my health conditions and requested him to postpone my admission by two months. He also enclosed a letter from the doctor who recommended bed rest and medication. The Principal, Mr. Bhat promptly replied and suggested that I should join my Pre-university course at the earliest. Some subjects were new, hard to learn and required students to attend classes from day one. I had to study Kannada, English, Accountancy and Office Management and learn Typing and Shorthand.

Just like Coorg, I had never heard of Shorthand. While Coorg fascinated me, Shorthand scared me.

I had a reason.

Immediately after receiving the letter, I had asked dad if he knew what Shorthand was and he didn’t. But he suggested referring a dictionary. I opened an old edition of D.K. Bharadwaj’s English – English – Kannada dictionary that occasionally dad referred while reading his collection of National Geographic and Reader’s Digest magazines. It had a mystifying one line detail for Shorthand – “a method of rapid handwriting using strokes and symbols for designated alphabets, words and phrases”.

I almost jumped out my sickbed.

Why should someone write rapidly? Who uses strokes and symbols instead of regular writing? And, why should I learn it?

It became clear the next day.

In the letter Mr. Bhat considered Shorthand as the toughest subject of my curriculum and since my admission was delayed, he reflected that once I start to attend the classes, it will be hard for me to follow-through with the backlog lessons. To be prepared, he suggested that I should practice and learn the basics of Shorthand during my extended sick holidays. He recommended buying a Pitman’s Shorthand Learning Guide from Geeta Book House at Mysore. Promptly, dad bought the book with dozen H.P Bond pencils, box of Nataraj erasers and half a dozen Vidya notepads.

Strangely, the Pitman’s Shorthand Learning Guide bought back my bitter memories of a Greek epic ‘Odyssey’ by Homer. It was of the same size, had a similar dusty whiff and the dark aging colour guaranteed that for years, it was stocked and forgotten in the back alley of a dreary storeroom. Sitting amid the gloomy silence of a school library in Shyampur, I had tried hard to understand the English  translation of Odyssey and to my dismay, failed miserably. Similarly, I thought I could never master Shorthand.

Gradually, I made-up my mind and spoke to dad. I told him my intentions of not shifting to Coorg. Casually, he looked at me, clinched his fists and without speaking a word, walked-away from me. But by next morning he had made-up his mind. I was to leave in 2 days and there was nothing I could do.

Reluctantly, I started packing for my 2 year stay at Coorg.

(To be continued / updated, infrequently)

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