Off Beat (06): Pleasures and perils of living on the edge

23 July 2012: Living On The Edge was a British reality television  show that was first aired on October 14, 2007 on MTV UK. It documented the lives of several teenagers in Alderley Edge in Cheshire, a wealthy village in the North West of England.
My wife, Lynette, and I have been  living on the edge, in Johnlyn Cottage, not as teenagers but as senior citizens, for 12 years. We are not part of a wealthy village but are hosted on a  small plot tucked 300 m away from the airport road at Bondel, once considered a remote suburb of Mangalore and ruled by a panchayat. Incidentally, Bondel was named, over a century ago, by a French priest, Alexander Dubois, who was attached to Milagres church but served, footing it out without footwear, far-flung areas like Cordel (Kulshaker) where he started a school and laid the foundation for a church which he could not complete  and , yes, also Bondel, where he started a church (thatched hut) at Thota, in the valley of Pachanady. What does Bondel mean? Bon dale – Good valley.  The samadhi of Dubois is at the rear of Cordel church and is visited by people of all religions, he being called Kullerda Ajjer in Tulu.



An aerial (helicopter) view of Johnlyn Cottage, perched at the edge of a forested valley.


We live at the edge of Bondel plateau, with the playground of Mahatma Gandhi Centenary Memorial school seperating us from the wooded valley that stretches from Acchukody on the north and Pachanady on the south, with Konkan Railway tracks running through it. Beyond the valley we get a panoramic view of Shaktinagar and all the way north to the entrance of Pilikula. It is a delight to watch the sunrise, unmarred by any obstruction, in differen hues,  over the eastern horizon.

My love for Tulunadu and my wife’s attachment to Manglore drove us to buy a small plot in Bondel in 1990. But when we got down to constructing a cottage and got an architect to do it, we learnt to our horror that the plot has been reservesd for “public/ semi-public” purposes in the Development Plan of Mangalore Urban Development Authority (MUDA). This is the same thing notification and denotification which make headlines  when ex-CM and other ministers are summoned by the Lokayukta court. Theirs are big ticket affairs.

But, typically what happens is that the city’s development plan has to reserve some percentage of land for public purposes – for parks, playgrounsds, graveyards, cremetoria, etc. Sitting in their offices, the planners look for vacant plots and reserve them. To deserve, one has to go up to the ministry. In my case, the local babus were dragging their feet expecting some malai, as is common. It was DC Bharat Lal Meena who strongly batted for me and it took three years to get the plot dereservesd. I bring this up to warn absentee landslorsds to check the plans in the MUDA office or on its website and take timely action to dereserve. The plans are supposesd to be revised every ten years and as it is done more areas are added to the city – reserving more plots in the extended areas.Finally, we came to live at the edge in 2000.

What are the pleasures and perils of living at the edge? In Mumbai, we used to be woken up by cawing of crows. Here the melodious love calls of nightingales (Kogule) gently prod us out of bed. Other birds visit us – a group of birds called Bejakre pakki ( they sport the clour of dry leaves) float in and make a racket. The kingfisher sits on the cable wire and eyes the bird-bath looking for fish. The crows drink water from the birdbath and enjoy their bath. Two crow-like brown bird with red eyes, Crow-pheasnts, (Kopul in Tulu) pick insects from dawn to dusk. There are nocturnal visitors like bats and toddy-cats (Beru in Tulu).Then there are cobras and moongoose, visiting seperately, and an occasional peacock passing through our garden. The peril lies in some of these visitors gorging on the fruits of our labour – papayas, sapotas, chiccus ansd sitafals.

This is the macro picture of living on the edge and, hopefully, the micro focus will follow.

Chew on this!

John B. Monteiro, journalist and author, is Editor of his website, (Interactive Cerebral Challenger) – with provision for instant response. Try responding!

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