Monday, November 15, 2010

An unexpected visit to the Shiva Temple on Old Airport Road





The absence of my usual host in Bangalore probably worked as a blessing in disguise. For, not wanting to stay at any relative’s, I found accommodation in a guest house in Kodahalli (Old Airport Road) run by an acquaintance – a woman entrepreneur who drives a Scorpio, is an expert cook and cocktail-maker (so she tells me) and who hasn’t forgotten my help years ago when I provided the content for her brochure.

So, it was homely food cooked by a young man from Bihar – hot, crisp chapattis, delicious dal, mouth-watering potato-cauliflower kurma… curd, papad, pickle… Hmmm.

I got talking with some of the youngsters staying at the guest house, all of them from the IT sector. They worked for companies such as HCL and TCS but I found their communication skills in English woefully inadequate. A few of them were not keen entering into conversation at all. I then understood what some of the experts speaking at CII and other forums mean when they say that most Indian engineers and IT professionals do not have the managerial skills. For, without proper communication, how can you ever manage people?

One of the residents, Murali Krishnamurthy, was friendlier than the rest. His family was in Chennai and he had just joined a new project in Bangalore. That project was likely to be completed in three months or so, by when he would be deputed to South Africa. Now, he wasn’t quite sure which city in South Africa he would be sent, which I found rather surprising. Was it Durban or Johannesburg, I asked him. He didn’t seem to know, neither much about the two cities. His mind currently was focused more on a pressing issue at hand – renting a flat for about Rs 6,000. Do such flats exist in Bangalore?

Murali was keen that I accompany him to the local Shiva temple. I didn’t want to disappoint him and went along after breakfast. It was a long winding road in Murugesa Palaya that led to the temple; there were children happily playing carrom on the stretch and husbands making crisp dosas for passersby as wives washed clothes outside.

To my astonishment, it was not just another Shiva temple, but one that had a 65-foot idol of Shiva and a 32-foot high idol of Ganesha. Although I could not find an authoritative source, I gathered that the temple was built by Jethanand Melwani, whose plaque lay right before the Massive Shiva idol. Meera, a volunteer (I assumed), told me that Ravi Melwani, Jethanand’s grandson, was overseeing maintenance.

What struck me was how the entire premises was kept spick and span, and the large number of young men and women volunteers, if they were indeed volunteers. The ambience was peaceful, serene, and different from the crowded temples we often visit. I saw a picture there of Dada J.P. Vaswani, a spiritual leader.

Meera mentioned the name of the Humanitarian Foundation that was doing a lot of charity work and showed me pictures of poor, utterly sick people they had picked up from the streets and given shelter.

Pictures show Ganesha welcoming visitors; a close-up gives you an idea of the size of the statue; devotees praying and clicking pictures; and resting for a while before the massive Shiva idol (see next blog).

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