When Sinamon Tales Takes Us To Yawo in Mysore

Wednesday, December 27, 2017Me! In words

This year has been good to me in terms of travel. A lot of them were work trips which I extended to take in a little more of the city I was visiting. This year alone, I have been to Delhi 3 times, Mumbai twice, Pune, Hyderabad, Wayanad, Mangalore and Manipal and Oh! how can I forget a flight that detoured to Goa and a long drawn delay of close to 7 hours! Not being able to get out of that Goa airport was worse than being delayed!. And trust me I am not complaining - I am always happy getting out on the road and give me a plane ride anywhere, anytime. So when good friend Monika Manchanda of the very popular Sinamon Tales said that she was curating a very interesting road trip to Mysore, there was no thinking twice about saying yes. 

This trip was to introduce us to Yawo, a voice recording based travel app. Yawo - which means to Wander in a South African language is an app that lets you discover places through audio stories on the map. This means we could record our story for a geographical landmark and put it on the map, through the app and share it with others all over the world to listen. As you go along, the GPS maps where you are in real time and tells you that a story is available for you to listen to. These are personal experiences of travellers who may have trodden the path before you and have an interesting anecdote to share or  a tip to make your trip better. In short, it lets you create and enjoy memories which aren't just visual. The concept is a great one, envisioned by Manish Agarwal, who was also a part of this road trip. 

And what better way to try this app than to take a road trip with it. And with Monika at the helm of affairs curating everything, right down to the lovely bottled snacks in the car, to wet wipes to refreshing coconut water and some fabulous stops across the way, not to mention some really good food, this is a trip that is completely worth documenting for posterity. 

We had an early start to our meeting point and this sunrise was a beautiful start to what was going to a be long, fun and eventful day. 

You have to hand it to Monika. While most of us would have packed snacks for a road trip - she refused to do it the way we all would - in little plastic bags. Instead, she bottled them up in glass jars, placed them in a basket and gave each one of the three cars on this trip their share to demolish. 

Stop one was of course to silence rumbling tummies at the ever popular Hotel Guru for Thatte Idlis at Bidadi, a pitstop for just about everyone who is on their way to Mysore. This is where the group got out, stretched their legs, recorded stories on the drive to this point. I personally had a story to share on the deity at the temple at the Big Banyan tree, a tourist spot on the way and the fact that its meat that is offered to the deity.

When it comes to ordering at Hotel Guru, its simple - Thatte Idli, with vada and don't forget to pick up that cup of butter that is generously distributed. Apply liberally, break idli into bits and dip into the aloo curry and chutney and eat up. It was here that Manish explained to us the whole idea of Yawo and how there is a visual overload currently when it comes to sharing stories - but when you are on a drive, wouldn't you rather listen to it all, that take your eyes of the road? I know I would!.

After that yummy breakfast, we headed off to Ramnagar - to the Government cocoon market to see how it all goes down at a market that does a daily turnover in crores. And the best part? Business is largely tech based be it for bidding, pricing or selling. We spent a good amount of time here, taking in the different qualities of cocoons, being amazed at the organized way of business here. One thing you have to get a bit used to - the very peculiar smell that those cocoons emanate. 

Next up was the Maya Organics Channapatna Toy Factory - a local business, very indigenous to the region. The art of Channapatna toy making is one that runs the risk of dying a natural death, but thankfully there are many people who are working to ensure that this does not happen. Maya Organics is one such place that employs a larger number of women in the art form at the factory than usual. This is interesting mainly because Channaptna toy making has always been a male dominated industry.

Various scenes at Maya Organics

And this quick assembling was a great way of seeing the dexterity that goes into the art form.

And from Maya Organics we next moved on to an institution that is also a major pitstop for all meat lovers heading into or even out of Mysore. Heck, I have many friends, who head off here for breakfast or lunch when they want do a small road trip. Jai Bhuvaneshwari is a miltry hotel. For all those who know me well enough, I am a sucker for miltry hotel grub and was excited about this stop. Run by the family for close to 70 years now - the younger generation that is currently handling it takes turns at running things. Quite the nice way of ensuring that any family politics does not get in the way. 

Steaming Ragi Mudde in the process of being rolled out.

The food here is still cooked on woodfire and of course has a great flavour that is very uniquely woodfire. We had the works - from mutton chops to chicken, thale mamsa and pulao to end things on and of course some steaming pepper rasam. Have I tasted better miltry hotel grub? I would say yes... worth stopping by if you are in the vicinity, most definitely. 

After such a fiery meal, it only made sense that we go some place that would cool the system. What better than David Belo's Earth Loaf Chocolate Factory, where we were taken through the process of artisanal chocolate making, ageing, tempering, customizing, while we were sipping on some chocolate tea - which is not milkshake-like if that is what you are thinking. What goes into that bar of artisan chocolate is every bit as interesting as every square that you break off from that bar!

Scenes at the Earth Loaf Chocolate Factory

And the very very mesmerizing tempering of chocolate for your viewing pleasure. 

By now, we were pretty much at the point where we wanted to call it a day. We were in Mysore now and headed to a spot I have stopped at for years during every visit - right from childhood till the multiple times I have brought our daughter here - Hotel Green right near Manasagangotri. We sat back for some beers while Monika and Manish spearheaded a feedback session on the app and some really great ideas for tweaks came forward. After that, each of us headed to the in house bakery to pick up some of their gorgeous cakes that are a must-have - think lemon drizzle and banana walnut.

And though we were really tired - it was the beauty of Monika's curation that gave us all the energy to try just one last place before we drove back to Bangalore - Brahmin's Soda Factory for Badam Milk and Sarsa Parilla Soda. Oh and on the way out, one very local dive had the pleasure of one of us losing their Old Monk virginity with a quick shot!

The last few drinks before we called it a day

This was a trip that made me see Mysore through a whole new set of experiences. Monika picked, plotted and included experiences that came together as a whole - right from breakfast to dinner, making the whole idea of a day out in Mysore a brilliant one. On the way, we recorded a number of interesting stories, many of which came from our experiences on the route before and which we couldn't wait to share. And did Monika leave it at that - no siree! She did not. She found the best home cook for biryani in Mysore, packed up a load of biryani and kebabs, we which dug into on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. Let me sum it up this way - this post has been really long in the making - but the memory of it has not dimmed in any way - that comes from a trip that has been organized and executed to the T fantastically - take a bow Monika!

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