“Ek aur dekhoge. Saahib?” Sheikh asked me. “Time for one more?”
Sheikh had been driving me around the beautiful Hoysala temples near Hassan in his vintage jeep. He had seen me palpably excited when we reached Belur early in the morning. He had quietly followed me as I relentlessly circumambulated the star shaped platform of the the Chennakeshava temple at Belur feasting on the intricate decorations of the outer walls.
“Isme kya hai saahib? Pathar hee to hai?” He had asked innocently - What’s the fuss about? Its just stone! Not knowing what to say I bought him a cheap copy of the Hoysala architecture guide book, printed in Kannada, and left him to what he did best – drive. After a hearty meal, while the heat outside soared and I dozed for a few minutes, I actually saw him flip through the book. At the Hoysaleshwar Temple at Hallebid, he followed me inside the cool inner sanctum and seemed to listen intently to the guides toneless monolog.
On the drive back, after I thought I had seen what there was to see in the region, he threw the poser my ways – one more? he was asked. It was like asking the local glutton if he cared for another morsel of dessert!