Curious case of Father Ben from Mysuru - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Curious case of Father Ben from Mysuru

Sharing my experience with a stranger we met at Hemmadaga.

As we had booked a dormitory at JLR's Hemmadaga Nature camp, another room mate we had was an elderly gentleman, who introduced himself as Ben from Mysore. He said he is in the spiritual line (father in Church).

He was with us for the morning trek and spoke a lot about himself- how he influenced green crackers, how his prayers resulted in male child for an area MLA, that he owns properties worth crores in Mysuru and estates in Coorg and many other things. He said his family goes to Radisson Blu Mysuru for their unlimited lunch. I asked about Metropole hotel (a popular star hotel in Mysuru I was familiar with) and he didn't know about it. I didn't have any means to verify his claims so kept quiet.

Later when we had plans to visit Gokak falls, Ben asked if he could join us and share fuel expenses. At that point I didn't see any concern so agreed.

The day was going well. Mr Ben wanted to stop buying Bananas, wanted to pet dogs, goats and feed monkeys he spotted by the way. These things wasted a bit of our time but nothing serious. He also tried convincing me to enter a road clearly marked as "Not allowed" (towards Hidkal Dam). Ben was in his 50s and was physically fit. He would climb steps of the fort or dam wall faster than me and had lots of energy to explore.

After visiting Belgaum (Belagavi), Honnur fort etc we finally reached Gokak falls by about 4.15 PM. My plan was to visit Godachinmalki falls and return to JLR Hemmadaga Nature camp before night.

As we were done visiting the temple and waterfalls in Gokak, Mr Ben wanted to go to the other side of the river using the suspension bridge because someone said there is a nice temple over there. I told him my plan to proceed to the next destination but he was keen to cross the suspension bridge, visit and return.

Reluctantly I agreed. Soon Mr Ben was seen crossing the bridge to the other side. 30 minutes passed and there was no sign of him. I made an attempt to go to the other side and check- but surprisingly the suspension bridge at Gokak falls was officially closed. But people were climbing the rock and squeezing in through a narrow hole left at the entrance. Mr Ben was fit enough to climb through this and go to the other side. But there was no sign of him returning. His phone number was switched off and not reachable. (Area had good signal).

At this moment I had two choices:
Option 1: Wait for Ben forever, miss visiting Godachinmalki falls and I don't know when I will be visiting Belgaum side again

Option 2: Abandon Mr Ben and proceed on our own. He is a crorepati and can afford a taxi back to Hemmadaga. No point losing our day because of his delays.

After some more waiting, internal discussion and attempts to call him, I finally decided with option 2. I tried look at the other side of the bridge for any glimpse of him beginning his return to car park, but there was no sign. Thus we left him and proceeded to Godachinmalki falls. 

I had to evaluate the possibility of something going wrong (accidents) or a police case (if he is not found)- decided to take that gamble as Mr Ben was a fit person to climb the rocks to get into suspension bridge and rich enough to afford food, stay and transport services as he pleases. Gokak is not a remote area, a decent city where people and facilities are available.

Maybe it was not a good thing to abandon a senior citizen. But then it was equally his responsibility not to waste our time and keep us informed of his plans. 
This is the only photo I have of Father Ben. Sorry we had to ditch you because of your delays and best wishes for your travels

We called the resort and informed that we've missed him and he would probably return on his own. They also tried reaching him but no luck. I evaluated if we should return to Gokak after Godachinmalki and look for him, but I didn't see a point. He had not called back, he had not responded to message we had left. Gokak town has hotels and taxies so not a problem for him to spend a night there or take a taxi to Hemmadaga. We lost more than half an hour, didn't get share of fuel expense but learnt a few lessons.

Later in the night after we returned to Hemmadaga we learnt that Ben has reached some other place in taxi where he would spend the night and return to Hemmadaga later. So I think it is a win-win. No big issues. We returned his Bananas and chips left in the car to his bed in the dormitory. He claimed his mobile and watch were left in the car, which was not true. Maybe he was upset we didn't wait for him but my point of view he deviated from the plan and made us wait sabotaging our plan for rest of the day.

Would you take a stranger with you on a road trip? It is fundamentally a bad idea and risk as you don't know much about the other person's background, intentions and compatibility. They become your responsibility in case of emergencies and they may spoil your plan with delays. So lessons learnt, I will be careful in future.

What would you have done in this situation? Sacrifice your plan and wait indefinitely? I am not that sacrificing in nature when it comes to tour plans. I will have a tight schedule and plan which I prefer to stick to, because the opportunity cost of missing an attraction and having to travel again to that place later is huge.

I tried verifying Ben's credentials w.r.t his contribution in green crackers, clean Mysuru etc. Couldn't find any evidence. May be he was bluffing so that we would give him some weightage and agree to his plans/demands/wait for him. 


  1. Hello, seems you were right in your deciding to continue with your plan, we do always plan with the time schedule for the destination and sight seeing and then return to the base in time. its human tendency we some times try to save some cost by sharing, it may be beneficial some times or other ways.

  2. This is really a 'curious' case. I don't see any problem with your plan of abandaning him as he was fit in all aspects and he had no respect for your time and tour plan. Many talkative people boost themselves unnecessarily with wrong/fake infos. These type of things happen, and those add up to 'experiences' in life :)

    I have a request. Please use official names of places with corrected spellings like Belagavi, Mysuru, Shivamogga etc.

    1. Thanks.
      Noted, once a while I use popular names/keywords purely for SEO purpose (some cities are spelt differently and different people search with different spellings)


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