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Time to say good bye

While in Bijapur I had taken the opportunity to visit Bombay and stay with my brother for a short holiday. I had also visited Sholapur which is closer to Bijapur for a T.T.tournament and met some of my friends from Bangalore who had come to participate in it. I made a trip to Mantralaya the holy place where Guru Raghavendra attained Samadhi. I cannot forget the trip to Mantralaya as I had a harrowing time making it. A friend of mine also accompanied me and we took the railway route to reach the place. Actually it was a detour as we had to travel north on the Sholapur line and get off at a wayside junction called Hotgi. The express train from Bombay to Madras stopped for a few minutes at this station and we had to get on to this train to reach Mantralaya Road station near Raichur. We had a long wait in the middle of the night waiting for the express train and had to make do with a wooden box to rest on and perhaps for a short sleep. The train took a long time in coming and when it did come we lost hope of getting into it as all the doors and windows were locked and everyone inside was presumably fast asleep for it was 2.30 A.M. We knocked furiously at the doors but to no avail. We thought we would miss the train as the halting time was short and running out. Just then we saw a gentleman opening a door perhaps to find out which station it was and we didn’t waste much time and in a split second rushed to the compartment and literally pushed ourselves in. There was no room inside to even stand and we had to travel standing all the way.

Alighting at Mantralayam Road in the morning we had to wait for a bus to transport us to Mantralaya without even a cup of coffee. On reaching Mantralaya we dumped our bags in a priest’s house and went to the Bhadravathi river for our bath. We spent half a day at the Samadhi which was crowded with pilgrims from every nook of the country. The Raghavendra Math served food free to all the pilgrims as is the custom. In the afternoon we boarded a bus to Kurnool, the nearest city. It was almost dark when we reached there. I did not have a cup of coffee the whole day and my head was spinning. We looked for a good hotel and had our fill. I helped myself with three cups of coffee. At night we had to board a bus to Bijapur via Bellary. When we returned home it was early morning and I slumped on my bed totally exhausted but not for too long for I had to attend office. On another occasion I was invited by the staff of Bagalkot, a branch nearby to inaugurate their Recreation Cub and play a few exhibition games in T.T. and Carom in which I excelled. My only regret was that I could not visit the famous historical and tourist places, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal which were very close by. I remember the day when I had planned to take Raji and the children to these places when a heavy downpour put paid to all our plans. In Bijapur itself I spent a lot of time practicing T.T. every morning at a nearby Club along with my colleague and room mate Nagendra. During this period I attended a written test for promotion to the next grade at Hubli and eventually I was promoted. I acted as the Accountant at the Branch many times and had to interact with a variety of customers. As the people of Bijapur spoke Kannada interspersed freely with a lot of Marathi words it was difficult for me to fully comprehend what they were talking about. Eventually I was able to understand them sufficiently to follow what they wanted.

In 1974 I was transferred but not to Bangalore as they had been promising but to a place called Ranebennur, a place “half way to Bangalore” in the words of the Branch Manager who informed me about the transfer after a bit of drama. Thus came to an end two years of my life with memories sweet and sad though, sweet because my varied activities in and outside the Bank kept me busy and happy and sad because I was still not reunited with my wife and children which I was yearning for and which was promised to me.

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