If you have not read R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, or seen its brilliantly televised version by Shankar Nag, there is something missing in your life.
It is the story of 10 year old Swami, his family and neighbours who can be found anywhere in the world. Including in the make-believe town of Malgudi or Agumbe where the series was shot.
When in Agumbe, feel free to knock on the doors of Kasturi Akka; this was the home to Swami and his family in the series. You will be greeted warmly, and be offered a meal, buttermilk and snacks immediately. I settled for bananas having had my fill with an oversized coconut from a vendor next door.
The family did not even charge the producers for use of their house, extending all possible hospitality to top that.
The 120 year old house has seen many generations come and go; Kasturi Akka’s family tribe is over 100 strong. At one time they all lived together, but most have now ventured out for personal and professional reasons. They come back for special occasions though, and all manage under one loving roof.
You will allowed to freely look around the house, taking any pictures you like. But requested to close the doors of the rooms upstairs lest monkeys have a free run in there.
The house is a typical Karnataka one with three kitchens (for lunch, tiffin and functions), three wells, two underground tanks and stores for vessels and grain.
Kasturi Akka loves her quiet crime free town, but is concerned that proposed factories in the area will ruin the tranquillity and beauty of the surroundings. We fully share the concerns.
If you know the story of Swami, you can feel he will suddenly emerge from behind a pillar, and be seen running down the streets with his friends. And his father lounging over a newspaper with a perpetual frown in the verandah.
And even if you don’t know Malgudi, you will know Agumbe is the utopia you always want to live in. If only you can let go of the material world. This is the town where Swami and his friends laugh without a care in the world.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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