Tiger Block: The royal hunting ground

Passing by Nagarhole we slip into HD Kote and the other famed colony of the Hakki Pikkis, Tiger Block.

Kumuda’s aunt Meherani who has escorted us from Pakshirajpura welcomes us to her house where we are fed well and then we settle down for a long chat with her family.

Meenraju…..M.A. in Janapada but with no job to show for it….and Meherani’s son in law Abhiman, tell us the story of Pakshirajpura. How it was given to them by the Mysore Maharaja who used to come here for hunting. At present there are 175 families  of who only 5-6 have title rights over their land of about 1 acre each. While many are cultivating whatever little they can, the others are all making their living the traditional Hakki Pikki way….through business both within the state and outside the country. They also tell us about people have worked hard and taken loans to build houses that have now been seized by the banks since they were unable to repay the high interest rates.

We have a pleasant walk through the village that seems a little deserted. It is a working day and most are out on business. It is obvious that Tiger Block has remained as wild as its name and has not evolved yet into the more enterprising Pakshirajpura or the suave Chikmatti. Nor does it have the organic rootedness of Hasthapanahalli. But the Hakki Pikki’s remain true to themselves wherever they are.

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We wander into Motilal ….with who we have a riotous conversation about the state of the village, the Hakki Pikki community and life in general. He knows many of the older generation in Bannerghatta and teases the younger lot that has come down as part of the film team. He is a hilarious story teller and has the whole crowd gathered around him, in splits.  Particularly with the story about the old Hakki Pikki beggar dressed in a putkosi (loin cloth) who got into a private bus. Enraged by the driver and conductor who shouted at him since they thought he wanted a free ride, he puts his hands down, flings aside one side of the putkosi to bring out a huge wad of notes and throughs them into their faces saying “ there I can buy both you and the bus, you  @%&**@&%**  In the midst of the guffaws of hysterical laughter we never heard the end of the story….the reaction of the driver and conductor!

When we go back in the night to the former Chairman of the Panchayat, Somu’s house where some of us will be staying, Kumuda has a bone to pick. Why did he not come and talk to us when we arrived to Tiger Block earlier in the day despite us landing up on his doorstep. He sheepishly confesses that he thought we were from the Church and had come to preach or convert and so were best avoided.

There we go again we think!

We launch into another heated debate on the pros and cons of conversion. Patently misinformed  and manufactured arguments are presented and countered. We give up and go to sleep.

After another enlightening conversation with Somu, his mother in law, Nandhu Bi and her husband Sanjhu  who feed us some incredibly sweet tender coconut water along with some even more incredible stories of their travels to other countries in Malaysia and Africa we back our bags and leave.

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