By Swatee Jog
Every city has a distinctive morning. The morning in Belagavi is steeped in the purifying scent of spirituality. It has a lazy but endearing feel to it. All of you who have had morning classes or those traveling for any purpose must have witnessed the beautiful mornings of Belgaum. And every time one does, he/she has rediscovered the charm of Belgaum!
The crazy madness of the day is nowhere in sight at dawn as Belagavi folks go about their morning chores at a pace that would invite the envy of metro people. Here, we have the luxury of time, as we don’t have to rush to catch the 6.43 local or the need to leave home at 6 to travel miles and reach our offices since the city’s radius is barely 5-6 kms.
There are areas in the city that still remind one of the dawn at such temple towns as Gokarna, in Uttar Kannada, where temple bells ring, every courtyard is decorated by lovely rangolis and the heavenly smell of dhoop and incense emanating from every household.
Belagavi is a temple town by daybreak. Have a look at the area surrounding Samadevi temple and also CBT with hordes of flower vendors crowding the premises, accompanied by newspaper vendors.
The steps of the Bombay Dyeing shop or the corner near Salgaonkars(Bogarves) is bustling with vendors sorting their newspapers and inserting supplements. If you’ve been to Shahapur during this time, Vitthaldev Galli is a paradise with freshly bathed men and women slowly pacing towards the temples, where bells keep ringing to the tune of melodious aartis and a strange but heavenly mix of aromas filling the air. The loud shrieks of “Maalwale”….by men on bicycles with a round flat cane fixture selling garlands of mogra, kunda and aboli have become synonymous with a Belagavi Morning! Buy an arms – length for a few rupees.
Recent years have witnessed modern health trends seeping into the city, Laughter Clubs being one of them. The first club started perhaps around a decade ago at the Shivaji Garden, where in the first few days while I strolled on the walkways, I just couldn’t resist my chuckles. But now we have gotten used to this pleasant start of the day, with loud peals of laughter filling up the Nath Pai garden. The corporation has even installed speaker systems that dole out Bhakti Sangeet every morning, much to my initial amusement! Every street corner has some person sitting on a makeshift stool selling packets of milk of various brands and huge trucks offloading their day’s supply of milk screeching at every corner right from 4 a.m.
Even today, the city boasts of its homes sporting beautiful Rangolis made by the womenfolk, even if it means a small square right on the road, cleaned using a broom and meticulously sprinkled water, just enough to wet the area but not flood the same. Exchanging of pleasantries begins since then amongst the neighbours. You may spot kids standing at the door and rubbing their eyes, quite in awe of a new day and still reeling under the influence of sleep, just keeping company to their moms. Many houses still switch on the radios with the familiar voices of the newsreaders and the sweet songs on Vividhbharati or Akashwani Sangli Kendra giving a nice lift!
Shopkeepers slowly open their doors and the dusting – cleaning – sweeping regime begins. Vegetable vendors cart their wares on pushcarts while they follow briskly on foot behind. The retail vendors of veggies start sprinkling water on the day’s supply, in defense of the harsh sunrays that would be following. Roads are almost empty, except for the morning walkers in utility sneakers. It is quite a sight to see some women in their night gowns donning a sweater or sometimes pulling over a mismatched dupatta, and with walking shoes on, walking down the sparsely crowded roads! I still fail to understand how that dupatta or sweater morphs the nightwear into sportswear! Older men and women also sport Reeboks and Nikes and it’s such a lovely sight to watch these sprightly fellas huffing and puffing as they talk while they walk. If you are passing by Camp area in the early hours then one should see a lot of men going for the Namaz and also the Christian folk going to the church for the services. The Camp area in the mornings is always full of people walking and jogging. The camp is a paradise for the morning walkers and the even Nanawadi area is another favorite along with Racecourse & Vaccine Depot also.
You must have spotted ladies in the garden who whine and nit-pick their daughters-in-law as they take rounds in the garden, much to the amusement of those following them. Pleasant aromas of fresh tadkas waft through many a window and the smell of breakfast whip up your appetite. Many gardens have vendors offering fresh fruit juices, coupled with those of Aamla, Jamun or Karela for the health conscious. A morning in Belagavi is incomplete without noticing the tiny tots in their red-blue-white uniforms waiting for their Rikshamamas, with school bags slumped over their backs and a water-bottle in tow. Bus stops witness a riot of colourful uniforms as crowds of students gather to catch their buses. As the rickshaw vroom past the roads and the dads bring out their bikes to head to work, a new day begins. The hustle-bustle of the streets increases and the city wakes up to a boisterous start.