The Peregrine falcon is the fastest bird on the earth. Imagine if one had their wings. For me, 2011 flew on the back of this bird. I simply gaped as the year just flew by in a blur and before I realised I was one year old in Manipal.
I had been away from India for more than a decade. Suddenly one day in Jacksonville , I realised that I couldn’t work anymore. I packed my stuff , drove for almost 2000 miles, sold my car and other stuff and came back to India.
When you are incapable of making decisions, allow destiny to decide. That has been my maxim.
“Manipal!” was the shocked response from my dear ones. “Why do you want to go there?” “Why not?”
There were millions of reasons. Unknown place. But then so was USA. So was UK. That didnt stop me from going there and make them my home. At least this is in India. My own country! Poor connectivity. Well, that sure was a bother. But that could be negated by travelling less.
We completed the construction incredibly fast. Thanks were largely due to the local contractors who gave their utmost. I wanted something very contemporary and something that the students could relate to. So we decided on the guitars. The design was conceptualised in Bangkok. I scouted for music everywhere. Though a music buff, I had left my youth a long time back and wanted something which the youngsters could relate to. And so it was a transition to the Rihannas and Lady Gagas and Eminems from the Beatles and the Beegees.
It wasn’t all exciting as it seems. We had our share of headaches. The signages took an inordinately long time. I was so tired of chasing him and wanted to look for someone else. But Udupi is a very small place. We had no option but to wait. “Patience.” Our project Manager would advise. This is not USA or UK.
Finally the delay became a blessing in disguise. We wanted to start it on new year but didnt know the migrating pattern and the demographics too well. Lucky we started late when all the birds were back!
We had a big launch planned. Some local celebrities were being approached for the opening. There were events planned. However, the warehouse bungled. Their transport failed to reach us in time. We were short of some drinks and other items in the menu. I was used to the smooth working in the States where everything could be planned to a T and hence didnt anticipate this.We had gone ahead with our soft launch. A cross section of students and residents of the building were invited to sample our cuisine and offer their valued inputs. It was hilarious when the students were not sure that they were being offered the whole menu free. A diffident student enquired thrice if he would have to pay. I had to go to each table and confirm that today was a free sampling day. We were pleased with the inputs. But suddenly this snag.
Now there was nothing we could do. We had to postpone the grand launch. But then nothing can go according to plans in this beautiful city. The word had already spread about Pizza Corner. That evening two large groups of students came. We had been sending back a few stray customers before. But this was large. My Building’s owner was standing outside when they trooped in. He simply asked them to settle down and ordered me to serve. He warned me not to say no to any guests. It forebodes ill. Once again destiny had decided for me.
Suddenly the twenties and thirties multiplied and before we realised we had a huge gathering. The trend continued from that day onward. We had to place additional tables outside. But the crowd wouldn’t stop. We didnt have an official launch after all. It would have looked rather silly when half the Manipal had already sampled!
Manipal is a paradox. It can make one feel very young because of the achingly youthful population. It can also suddenly make you feel terribly old for the same reason! You can love it for the rains. You can hate it for the same reason. I had some great times. I even wrote a few posts on my personal blog, here and here just to name a few.
While a year can be too short a time to walk down the memory lane, it can be time enough to get the drift. I must admit the drift is positive. All I can say is that I have been living through suitcases all my life. I think it’s time I have finally got a home. Manipal seems to be the one. I have a great team, A picturesque place and brilliant guests. Nothing more to expect.
But like our proverbial launch, nothing is confirmed till the last moment. Hope that doesnt happen though. I am in love with this lovely city.
A happy new to our dear readers!