“What do you know about the Indian climate?” “It is hot in summer and cold in winter” “Stand up on the bench!” roared the teacher.
“Father, will you tell me if the mangoes were ripe?”…..Swaminathan felt strongly that the answer to this question contained the key to the whole problem. It would be scandalous to expect 15 annas for 10 unripe mangoes.
If you are a fan of R.K. Narayan’s works, I am sure that you would have recognized by now that these lines are from one of his most famous work ‘Swami and Friends’.
For a girl who had only enjoyed reading the works of Enid Blyton/ Carolyn Keene/ Arthur Conan Doyle in childhood, reading R.K. Narayan’s ‘Swami and Friends’ one summer opened up my eyes to a whole new world. The way RKN had weaved his story in the fictional town of Malgudi with such endearing characters like Swami, Mani, Rajam & many others had just won my heart. And I have been a fan of his, ever since.
So 2 weeks ago when I asked Google to give me a list of places to go to in Mysore other than the usual tourist spots I was surprised to see R.K. Narayan’s house (which has been turned into a museum now) come up on the list. I have been to Mysore many times in the past but I had never realized that one of my favourite author’s house was located there, talk about ignorance!! And since my mother is also a huge fan of RKN‘s works, we excitedly made plans to visit his place.
RKN‘s house is open to the public everyday from 10AM- 5PM except on Tuesdays when it’s closed. By 11AM with the help of Google’s brother ‘Google Maps’ we reached the quiet neighbourhood of Yadavagiri & spotted RKN‘s house. As we entered the premises, the theme music of Malgudi Days series was playing in my mind, I know it’s crazy, haha.
As soon as we entered the house we were greeted by the caretaker of the house who gave us a free rein to explore the house & to also take photos. The very first room that we came across was the hall, with cupboards showcasing many of RKN‘s awards & with family pics lining the walls. But what fascinated me were the windows giving us a nice view of the well kept gardens & allowing plenty of light to come into the room.
As we strolled from room to room, we saw that RKN‘s coats, his spectacles, his hats, glass cases displaying first publications of his various works & many other things of his were carefully preserved. Many of his quotes were displayed on the walls & of course out of all the quotes the one which caught my mother’s eyes & was totally true according to her was this, ‘The Unbeaten brat will remain unlearned’. She was definitely speaking from her experience with *cough* me.
A display of his coats.
Glass cases displaying his clothes & some of his most famous works, including ‘Guide‘ which was turned into a movie later.
Though all of his works are great, Malgudi Days will always hold a special place in my heart. Swami and Friends is the 1st of the trilogy of novels written by RKN, with The Bachelor of Arts & The English Teacher forming 2nd & 3rd books respectively. The Bachelor of arts is the coming of age story of a B.A student Chandran, the story takes us through the journey of Chandran after he could not marry the girl he had fallen in love with due to their horoscopes not matching. RKN has put his own personal experiences into this story since he had also faced a similar situation of astrological obstacles when he wanted to marry Rajam, the girl he had fallen in love with. But as they say love triumphs all & RKN & Rajam had gotten happily married. Unfortunately, after just a few years of marriage he lost his wife to Typhoid. Her death affected RKN deeply & the critics have noted a change in his style of writing after that. RKN remained depressed for a long time & his next novel The English Teacher, where he tells the story of Krishna who learns to cope with life after the death of his wife, is autobiographical.
If you are a fan of R.K. Narayan, you should definitely visit this place on your next trip to Mysore, because the feeling of staring out of the very same windows through which RKN must have stared out a hundred times a day while creating his literary masterpieces or gaining a glimpse into how your favourite author must have spent his life is unparalleled. And if you are not a fan then also you should visit this place, because who knows, it may prompt you to check out his works, and once you are introduced to Malgudi, believe me you will get lost in that magical town forever.