My last trip to Madikeri started from Mangalore on the coast; this time I would be approaching from the eastern side. I still remembered enough of the journey to curse myself for packing my sports bra at the bottom of my bag. Getting on at the station allowed me to get a seat and a safe spot for my pack. After half an hour of constant stopping prior to leaving town, we had converted into one of those mobile terrariums I'd seen earlier.
I find it interesting observing how Indians behave when they are crammed up against each other. They are a very patient and cooperative people. In front of me and another fellow on the back seat there was a man standing, carrying a thick wadge of, what looked like, land title documents. He turned around, looked at my seated companion and handed them to him. Without a word passing between them, the man next to me took them into his lap and held them carefully until he got off and Document Man took his place. At another stop a man piled on with several large boxes of kitchenware tied together with string and a large metal frame with very sharp edges. No one complained about being squeezed up and impinged upon, although I kept a very wary eye on how that metal was balanced and where its likely trajectory would be in a braking situation.
After our comfort stop the scenery changed dramatically and became wonderfully familiar. Dense forest with pepper vines encasing the tree trunks. As we rose in altitude I kept expecting the road to deteriorate but it never did. I found myself wondering if time had fixed things or whether a different council was responsible for the other side.
As the buildings of Madikeri came into view I began to feel a tinge of excitement and kept my eye out for familiar landmarks. Eventually we passed the high walls of the fortress and would soon be at the bus station just around the corner. It was nice to launch off the bus and know exactly where I was going. Being a creature of habit I went straight to the Hotel Chitra. Soon I had procured a light and spacious room on the third floor for $6 a night. Two single beds meant I didn't have to steal any mattresses this time. Hurrah. But no desk for writing meant I had to make some modifications. I quickly doubled the mattresses on one bed and placed the coffee table on the bare pallet of the spare bed. Perfect for using the chair on one side or sitting on the bed on the other side.
Soon I was out on the street seeking out my old coconut stall. After refreshing myself I investigated my old breakfast venue. The same. Right down to me cracking my head on the low ceiling above the steep stairway. It would have been good if I'd remember that bit. My regular breakfast of a foot-long masala dosai and two small coffees set me back 45 RS. Four years ago it was 35 RS - a difference of only 20c, thanks to the strong Aussie dollar. The dosai was even better quality too, with loads of tomato and chilli rather than just spicy potato.
I was keen to continue my reacquaintance and made my way over to the Internet shop. After four years, I swear they are still using the same computers. After an hour and a half of banging my head against the screen, I finally gave up. For some reason my domain provider does not behave on slow connections and I could only open a mail account once every five or six attempts. Even then it would fail when I tried to open a message. Oh, and did I mention the random power outtages..?
So far so good. I now have a place to work, a writing routine worked out and plenty of time to activate it. All I have to do now is figure out what exercise I can fit in to counter writer's bum.
Having my Internet time cut short, I returned to my room via a shop where I purchased some sugar fixes I didn't need. The generators were yet to kick in so I settled down with A Fine Balance and a packet of Tiffany vanilla wafers. Cracking open the plastic revealed a plain white cardboard box. Out of this box I pulled yet another plastic wrapped container. Despite the 2012 use by date and the Christo wrapping effort, the biscuits were of course, stale. I laughed my head off and tucked in.