Thursday, November 22, 2007

Destiny in someone else's hands

[Hope you have visited that link]

It so happened that the Boss and my 'first choice person' above when they retired, were presented a scroll in the form of rhyming poems [scroll to see my post in this blog] at different times. I was much satisfied with the way both compilations happened!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Childhood Deepavali memories

After Dasara holidays it was Deepavali which we eagerly looked forward to when we were young, in the 1960s and early 70s. It was not solely for the chance to buy and enjoy fireworks, but it really meant a festive atmosphere everywhere. Such was the spirit.

It would begin with buying cloth lengths [cotton only] for all the male members in the family. For me and brother it was for a set of shirt and half pants to be stitched at Tailor Narayana Rao’s shop close to our house. Ready-mades were less preferred, though some shops sold them.
Then it was the purchase of fireworks with our grandfather. Our loudest sounding item was ‘elephant cracker’ with that Red Fort picture on the packet, which exploded with a tolerable sound and there was an odd one that fizzed too, much to our delight! We used to buy just a couple of chains of these but a lot more of those cheap ‘horse crackers’. These were much smaller. Some adventurous boys used to burst them holding in their fingers, while it was concealed into cigarette to explode at the lips – the seniors played this mischievous fun trick. So feeble were these. All crackers in the chain were separated to increase the number instead of burning chains at one go, so that we will have ‘more’ time to spend!

‘Atom bombs’ [now banned, but still manufactured and sold] were not much popular, though ‘Lakshmi cracker’ and ‘China chuvva’ [close equivalents] were bought by us in very small numbers as we grew older – a sense of promotion! But since I have always hated big noise, this was not an item on the list. But we enjoyed it from distant somewhere that reverberated in the city skies. Skies were so silent then, esp. before dawn, except for the disturbed crows and house sparrows [now gone from the region]. I was actually afraid to burst a cracker myself or being close to it!

For the two of us, the expense would be hardly twenty five or thirty rupees at the most. Compare it to the thousands that people spend now! We just bought a few crackers, some sparklers, match sticks, incense sticks [for igniting fireworks], flower pots, threadlike sparklers and ‘ground-wheels’. No rockets and other dangerous things. It was also a common thing to ask others ‘for how many rupees did you buy fireworks?’

The ladies of the house would clean all the copper vessels in the bath and fill with fresh water [24-hour supply then] the previous evening. Mother would exhibit her talent with rice-flour rangoli in front of the house – a beautiful pattern would be drawn. [See my 'crafts in the family' post in this blog - picture]. We were woken up at 4 a.m the next day for oil bath. Already, some cracker noise would be heard at a distance, envious we were not ‘first’ to burst. People were ready with all the enthusiasm to celebrate the festival. Special dishes for lunch, new clothes would be worn and fireworks played.

Boys were curious to know what other boys would burst. It was fun. People did not make much of a show by exchanging greetings for the festival like now. We have come to a state when we wish others on any day –‘Happy Independence day' or 'Happy Ganesh Festival' for example! I don’t remember they did that in the 1970s! Patriotism existed in greater spirit, than now, in spite of not greeting the fellow citizen!

Then, it was less people, less noise. The festival did not have a nuisance value generally. The sky did not choke. Now it chokes. More people, more show, more noise, more poison smoke, more of all the negatives! The festival-enjoyers show least concern to other neighbours or passers-by. The Police stipulate the time for bursting crackers. Yet, nobody listens or heeds to rules showing utter disregard to others in society. Bombs go up at anytime of the day or night with shocking intensity. Smoke fills the air and settles like fog, creating breathing problem esp. to the sensitive. Stars cannot be seen during the festival nights. Also, many accidents take place due to carelessness. It can be very painful. My young brother had burnt his fingers playing with ‘fire’. Accidents should not teach us, we should be forewarned.

There was one fire accident at a house on our Devaparthiva Road. We had been to the Dasara Exhibition [old building] in 1970 or so. By the time we returned home [by walk], we saw people gathered and fire engines standing. On one of the houses, hay was stacked [they owned a couple of cows] on the terrace and a rocket had started a fire. Luckily only a part of the house was gutted. We saw how the firemen worked for the first time.

Scientifically, they say that this festival of lights, Deepavali, is timed when insects are more after the monsoon rains. So this smoke, only when emanated in moderation, helps control the insects. But we are overdoing it to an extent of causing concern to human comfort and environmental pollution, leave alone the insects. It confuses birds and animals as well. Look at the amount of rockets and other colourful fireworks and the amount of poisonous smoke they leave behind.
Are we not harming our own environment in our own little ways? That is not what the previous generation left behind for us. At least now that it is being pointed scientifically the exact reasons for various climatic changes, let us be warned and act wisely. And leave behind, not smoke, but a better environment for the next generation to live in.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Analyses of Man and Woman

ANALYSIS OF MAN (purely in a lighter vein)

Symbol: MaW2 (Mighty, Almighty, Woman wooer)
Molecular weight: 55kg, equivalent to "Reference Woman" as defined by FAO/WHO Expert Group.
Origin: Darwin's Brain Trust!
Zoological name: Romeocca Mangentilus. Ima
Physical Properties: Short-tempered, egoistic, possessive, demanding. Wants to have the cake and eat it too! Always feels that grass is greener on the other side! Would like to have a submissive spouse!
Chemical Properties: Possesses great affinity towards fair sex. Blushes at ladies' attention. Turns violet when his girl talks to other Men! Turns white in trouble, tries to win hearts of other young girls that he is still attractive to the fair sex!!
Reaction: Acidic if challenged; Alkaline if ignored and neutral if necessary!!
Occurrence: Hopping around ladies' colleges and hostels. May also be found at the doors of theatres!
Uses: A good escort for defence of fair sex especially after night shows!
Caution: Unpredictable, Unsteady, breaker of hearts and mischier monger proving Darwin's theory!!
ANALYSIS OF A WOMAN (purely in a lighter vein)

Nomenclature: Woman
Symbol: Wo
Occurrence: Ubiquitous and abundant
Origin: Unknown
Size: Standard -- 42-24-36
Availability: In all sizes except the standard. Some are upside down to the standard.
Mass: 35-55 kgs.
Length: Between 1 and 2 metres

++Structural: Mostly petit frame with 75 % surface tension.
++Physical: At times highly dynamic, but no initiative in times of crises; possesses little strength and force; exhibits alpha, fronted by a better looking specimen.
++Chemical: boils at nothing and melts under sentimental conditions; freezes at sensitive moments, bitter by nature; violently reacts after a brief solitude and improper treatment leading to explosions; turns red even on a little provocation and becomes pale during crises.
++Conductivity: An equally good conductor of both love and hate.
++Thermal: Cold sentimentality under hot conditions and exaggerated sentimentality under cold conditions.

=Susceptibility: Systems:
Eyes- Susceptible near all saree and dress emporia
Ears- Susceptible to all fashionable earrings, earlocks, eardrops, etc.
Tongue- Susceptible to all gossip.
Nose- Susceptible to exotic smells.
Mouth- Susceptible to all pickles in general
Mind- Highly susceptible under sentimental conditions. Very high infatuation towards gold, silver, etc., and invitations.

- General- An ornamental piece fit for an ivory tower; acts as a tonic when judiciously used, otherwise a non-reversible poison even in sub-lethal doses. An accelerator of spirit and simian enthusiasm even among ascetics.
- Economic- Rise in value under speculative conditions, increases demand, and fall in value decreases demand, a paradox in economic parlance. An instrument for equitable distribution of wealth; acts as an effective income reducing agent. An article of ostentation and possesses snob-appeal. A popular bait in all shops and supermarkets to net the victims.
- Caution- Beware of feminine wits and potentialities. Stop, look twice, listen and recede. 660 V. Inexperienced hands should neither touch nor feel. Never try to find the origin. A cul-de-sac. A land of no return.
[Reproduced from a club souvenir, unknown compiler]

Secret Answers in our rooms!

This was an e-mail forward some time back. I have saved it, because of its true worth. Look at the comparison with the objects that we actually have in our rooms everyday, yet they go unnoticed! Worthy reminders to become better!

Roadside wisdom for a rupee

This is a picture of a sticker I could not resist buying from the roadside many years back. I think it was in Bombay when I noticed this among hundreds that was being sold from a pile on the pavement. The diferrent messages there were meant for using on different letters that we wrote to friends, etc. Since they are loaded with so much wisdom in simple effective words, I have retained it. Even treasured it! I thought the messages in this little piece of adhesive sticker serves as fine warnings that suit today's busy, hectic and stressful lifestyles which pushes the adranaline up. Reading those points every now and then could possibly help! It cost me just one rupee but its value is much more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This is tolerance

I sometimes wonder why we 'citizens' react even at trifles and trivialities. For instance, in traffic when someone honks behind us or someone overtakes from the left we get easily annoyed. Or worse still, in the rainy season when someone else’s wheel splashes dirty water from a puddle on us, we know at what speed the adrenalin shoots up and how impulsively we react. Someone has to remind and calm us “Okay, cool down, cool down”. They say, such impulses are due to stress!

I was traveling in a Passenger train recently. As usual, true to its reputation, the compartment was full… full with passengers and dirt, what with the typically awful condition of the compartment itself - missing planks of seats and the luggage shelves [which are also climbed and occupied]. The Railways perhaps know how tolerant people are!! But that is not the point here.

I had managed to get a seat in one such compartment filled with its own class of people on the whole, mostly daily commuters and from villages traveling from work. This train stops at every little station. This is one train that also satisfies many vendors - tea/coffee, fruits, peanuts, snacks, churmuri and really, whatnot. All will have a fine sale here.

There was one clumsy man comfortably sitting cross-legged on the broken luggage shelf above me. He bought a ‘chota tea’ from a vendor who supplied in an environment-unfriendly plastic cup. Such was the rush that both the tea and the money had to be passed by someone! He was already been opening shells and eating peanuts, just bought. Shells were being dropped on to the passage. So his hand was not free for tea. He kept that cup precariously on the broken part of the shelf. A minute later, his knee tipped the cup accidentally. He was careless to keep there in the first instance. The cup and entire liquid came down on a young man’s trousers sitting next to me. This young man was most likely to be from a village.

Now how did he react to this mess? While I was thanking stars for it was not my trousers, everybody was looking at the mess. He just paused for a second, got up holding the messy part with his thumb and index fingers, went to the tap, passing through the crowd, returned and sat back with a one-side-half-wet pant! No words passed. He did not seem to mind one bit at all. All others continued their gossip as if nothing had happened and that this was an everyday affair! Now this is what tolerance is.

Could his calm behaviour be attributed to the less stressful ‘village atmosphere’ or his own nature, I wonder. Anyhow, that exposes us city-dwelling ‘so-called-educateds’ what we might be lacking!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The One-rupee bribe

It is not easy to be ranked among the top five. It requires plenty of sustained hard work. Our state has worked hard for decades to reach that level. Ask me where! - In the corruption list! The 3 Ps - Police, Politicians and Public, they all contribute! Gone are the days when the ‘mamool’ used to be handed over from ‘under the table’. It is now open, like a yawning hippopotamus. This mamool has now evolved to the illegally legalized term ‘fees’!!

Let me share a very small incident that took place before the ‘fees-era’. It was 1979. Interest in Philately had drawn me to the Head Post Office for a new issue of a stamp. I was going from Ashoka Road to reach there. As I neared the PO I got off my bicycle saddle and balancing on the left pedal, I coasted for a few metres on the wrong side of the road, parked it and went inside. It was just the way most did as there were no dangers of any accident. Those were days when traffic was sparse.
I had bought my new stamps at the counter and just as I was about to turn and leave, I was shocked to see the traffic policeman [TP] looking in my eye and asking me to come to the Police Station [PS] -just across the road - and meet the Sub Inspector [SI]. He had come down from his traffic umbrella at the centre [there was one, then] of the road junction. I begged him to be let away but he would neither heed to my explanation nor my request.

Who had not heard of bribery! That presented me with my first opportunity to offer a bribe to the TP – in fact his colleague suggested this to me while I was keeping my bicycle inside the PS. I was a student then living on a monthly pocket allowance of fifteen rupees. My stamp-purchase had left me with just a crisp, unfolded one rupee note in my shirt pocket. So I tried my luck to approach him at the traffic umbrella [he was back on duty] and see if that worked. My action of partly pulling up that note to make it visible to the TP while uttering “for coffee” is just unforgettable! The TP’s attention shifted to my action and since it was of such a low denomination, he retorted “Come, I will get you coffee, you keep that”! Unable to anything more, I returned to the PS and waited for the SI.

After a while the SI arrived to the scene. When we student-cyclists were caught by the TP there was the usual sympathy-begging by way of falsely telling that our houses are in a far off locality – usually “Vidyaranyapuram” [3-4 miles was far off then!]. I had to use it too! Luckily for me, the SI politely warned and asked me not to repeat it. So I was relieved to be back on the road again, but with a lesson.

When I come to think of how nowadays dare-devil-wrong-doers committing unpardonable offences and “paying” crores that gets reported in the Press and yet escape scot free, this one-rupee incident makes me laugh.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Crafts and talent in the family

My aunt Gowramma, though with a handicap of poor eyesight, had immense talent and enthusiasm to create works of art. Mother Savithramma is another naturally gifted lady, perhaps it is running in my genes. She was adept in Rangoli [both forms]. With the powder, she can draw lines with the thumb and index finger in a thin uniform line and in any direction and to magnificient proportions. With the liquid rangoli [for festivals, it is rice flour, mixed in milk and some water] it is another superb touch. Grandmother Thangamma was yet another special lady with special gifts - be it culinary or craft, they turned out to be very very impressive. Have a look at some of the pictures here in this album

Daughter has a bit of talent and here are her paintings done at Sri Raghotham Putti's painting classes when young

My father was skilled in Football, Ping Pong, Carrom and Billiards. Visit this blog for more, how and where sports runs in the family.

One of my favourite pastimes - little projects that turned trash to treasure Look at some pictures here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

R.K.Laxman, cartoons, autographs,

One small corner of me reserves my interest in cartoons . My cartooning hero is R.K.Laxman. I 'read' his lines drawn in his cartoons. They are so life-like and natural. So much like a picture! Of course, his old age, hampered by a slight paralytic stroke has changed the way his cartoons look but not the zeal to draw - he is a born cartoonist.

Sometime in 1986 I almost met him in his Times of India [Bombay] chamber. I was just passing by that heritage building, alone. Suddenly a thought flashed about trying my luck at meeting him! I went in and inquired for him. I was sent near his chamber from where the security guard gave me his intercom link. I told the great man on the phone in Kannada and English that I was from Mysore wanting to just meet for one minute for an autograph. He answered in English and a couple of words in Kannada: "Not now, may be some other time.... I'm in a meeting." I said okay Sir [what to do?] and then left the place a bit disappointed.

Had he said 'yes, come in.', I would have seen a scene like this!  This is a web-grab image.

In 1990, another thought flashed in my mind "why not try and get his autograph by post?" I had done this to many touring cricket teams from abroad and got what I wanted, thanks to the kindess of team managements. So I took my empty letter-head, wrote a short letter on another introducing that I was an admirer of his cartoons, hailing from Mysore and that I wanted his autograph on that empty letter-head. I also enclosed an SASE and mailed it to his ToI address. Much to my delight, I got what I requested and more - he drew his famous "common man" as well, within 10 days. Here it is:

It came as a great inspiration because I had with me a torn copy of his "You Said It" book which was a collection of selected cartoons. I tried to imitate the lines just for fun and not with any real purpose. Some of the expressions he gave to his characters were absolute beauties! Some of his caricatures of famous personalities were out of this world. Not for nothing he is considered a genius!
Here are some of my own attempts much later, not imitating my hero's,. Some of these were published in a local paper. My lines are not to be compared with that of Laxman's!

I had written a letter to a newspaper in Kannada about how they awfully mispronounce Kannada. Click here for my blog

Cartooning is just my interest, a fancy. I'm a great comic book fan too, as can be expected.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thoughts from a 'helmetless head'!

[Wrote this in early 2007]

After much dilly-dally the helmet rule has come into force. The authorities are happy that thousands are being sold, but not the vast majority of two-wheeler riders as they have had to pay more for the product as well as put up with invoveniences among numerous others that our govt. gracefully offers!

Apart from being a burden on the head, the helmet continues to be so, as long as it accompanies the owner till it is put away. In our general lifestyle, we normally go out for short errands, often, many times a day (also those in the business houses that send workers out for little jobs for short distances and periods). The helmet can be a headache while on the head and also while it rests under the armpit, what with bags and other paraphernalia, or while hanging at the forearm. And there are people that forget to pick it back if they leave it somewhere, then try to trace their steps back to retrieve it wasting much time. Some scooters and bikes can be fitted with 'helmet locks' which help to avoid carrying the helmet around. Going by its demand now, helmet thieves may be on the prowl to steal the locked ones!

College students on two-wheelers will have to carry this round burden on their heads (not a burden to some, but a boon as it can hide identity!) whether going to college or for private tutions in congested classrooms where space is at a premium. Now almost all have to carry them inside classrooms. Helmet stands may come up alongside, everywhere, but one may have to pay extra if that stand is hired for a price.

There are some who do not use others' things in the same family, (esp. caps and now helmets, for their awfully unique smell) where there is just one two-wheeler used by more than one person. Sizes of skulls also vary in the same family! In such cases each one has to buy a 'shell' of his/her own, adding to the unnecessary expenditure.

These days, there are also many 'grandmothers' riding two-wheelers. They will be feeling the weight on the head and make odd reflex-decisions in traffic. Gone beyond the oblivion are the old days when eyebrows were raised when a girl or lady was noticed on a bicycle! Now these grandmothers on wheels are as common as a housecrow!

The govt. is much concerned about the skull. No doubt it holds the 'hard disk drive', What about other parts of the human anatomy? Is the govt. not much concerned about them? When the helmet can bring in so much revenue, other protective gear might add to it! I saw the poor newspaper adult-boy struggling under the 'round object'. Many were recently promoted from the bicycle to a moped. And the 'masked milkman' makes an awful scene, milk-can in hand, right in the morning.

Lots of people from nearby villages visit the city everyday for some work or other and most are now equipped with two-wheelers. Till now they were happy with the best, multipurpose towel that also served as a protective headgear. Now one wonders where the towel finds its place!

A helmet-less rider was caught by the police for this violation once. He showed his skull to him as he had a built-in helmet and there was no need for an exta cover. The irritated police then let out all the air from the wheels saying that you don't need it as plenty of air was all around him!

There are a few ways to run away from donning the shell. Buy four-wheelers! Or better still, ride the good old bicycle (saves petro-money and is pollution-free as well). Or if we have time, let's use our feet and get fitter. Because public transport is either too crowded or unreliable. Auto rickshaws are expensive for frequent travel. My friend Mr.Brown used to say "Things that go up must come down, but prices are the only things that defy this". The petro-price ever-qualifies his saying. None would have grumbled if the helmet was collapsible and put away in a small bag when not in use. Let's hope someone designs it! Till then, it will continue to be an "all-round burden" and till it saves lives. For that to happen, the riders have to fall first, which is, as it is, very very rare! Such is the choc-a-bloc traffic that one may ask "where is the space to fall?"

"She sells sea shells on the sea shore." "They sell skull shells and make many a crore."

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Compositions - a few "poems"

When the film roll was developed and the prints arrived, I was puzzled to see a blurred picture that I had shot of my daughter [above]. My pen went off spontaneously with these lines:

No, no, the earth wasn't quaking,
While my camera was clicking.

These things happen once in a way,
On any unknown night or day.

The camera is of Russian make,
But this photographer is no fake!

-({:o). -({ :o). -({:o).

There was another colleague with whom we had a close association, a much respected person by one and all. His name was Lakshmi Venkatesh [very very fond of tea, hence the title]. I attempted another rhyming poem and it came off well, while it reflected all his qualities. It was presented to him when he retired from service. Here it is:


Superannuate Lakshmi Venkatesh will, end September,
Miss badly our department will, one real noble member.

Prior to his CFTRI stint, he was a good teacher in a school,
He had enjoyed every bit, when that piece of chalk was his tool.

He's fond of teaching Mathematics even without a board,
His students learning the subject, never get bored.

The art of teaching is surely in his genes,
Never did he wear even the best of jeans.

He right-stepped into CFTRI in the mid-sixties,
And sipped off thousands of cups of coffees and teas.

Outwardly, he is a simple-dressed scientist,
Inwardly, he is by no means an atheist.

One of his noteworthy works for CFTRI was on rice bran,
But after awards or rewards he never ran.

Surprised and happy he was when a patent was awarded,
With tea, we, his colleagues were simply rewarded.

The walnut project took him up north to Srinagar,
That was when he was fit, energetic and younger.

Later when his backache took its toll,
He was no longer on the touring roll.

Our beloved Venkatesh was Sponsored Projects' "Lakshmi",
But from now on, our Ramesh may say, "that's me".

To many an election here, he was the Returning Officer,
None knew how he could reject hot tea in a cup and saucer.

He never did bend upon using the computer's keyboard,
But with his pen, gripped unusually, he wrote many a word.

When it came to Income Tax, he was our helpful adviser,
With 'Lakshmi' around, people got much more wiser.

Seriousness aside, he was all wit and wisdom,
People around him were never led to boredom.

His sincerity and industriousness deserve accolades,
His rough beard has blunted hundreds of blades.

He earned a reputation for honesty, kindness and generosity,
To emulate him, we need not require pugnacity.

With that twinkle in his eye and the depth in his voice,
He always hated making unnecessary noise.

His memory for quoting anecdotes is breath-taking,
The way he narrates them is awe-inspiring.

He is a man who believes in 'thought, word and deed',
For those who are in need, he is a real friend indeed.

He very often lost control over mind over A matter,
When THIS matter was a cup of tea served on a platter.

Our Venkatesh follows a strict regimen of diet as a rule,
But rejects his cup of tea only when it had become cool.

He used to share his vast ken of Epics and Upanishads with us,
None can doubt that he is deeply spiritual and religious.

The great aura of his personality commands respect,
From him in reciprocation the same thing one is to expect.

To fellow humans Lakshmi Venka-TEA-sh is full of compassion,
Yet again, sipping tea is his preferred and irrepressible passion.

His frequent "hello"s and "namaskaara"s, we will miss,
Associating with him on any matter has been pure bliss.

Let him teach, full time, Algebra, Calculus or whatever,
May health and happiness be with him and family forever.

Presented by Colleagues, Department of TIBD, 2002


I enjoyed composing this one in Kannada [two pages]. There was a popular colleague that served the Institution for 41 years and personally I had the good fortune of being in the same department for 18 years. This composition ["Nammukunda" meaning "Our Mukunda"] brings out most of his personalilty. It was read out in the farewell gathering by another colleague on the day Mr. Mukunda retired from service. The same was presented to him. It was August 2000. Click on the picture to read.

Page 1

This is a reasonable attempt of his caricature.

Page 2


Mr. Pillai was the head of the dept. On the eve of his superannuation, I had composed this, to bring out his qualities. It was presented to him that evening, after Sri Ramesh read it out in the gathering, much to the delight of colleagues as it was full of rhyming words. This is a cartoon of the man I ventured:

Our Sri S.P.Pillai lays down office at the end of March,
To Sri T.R.Prabhu he will pass on the torch.

As spearhead of TT & Business Development,
He brought laurels for CFTRI's betterment.

His great virtue has been the art of conversation,
Which fully deserves our appreciation.

When there was no question of an agreement,
He outwitted the other in the argument.

His forte was his courage and wisdom in decision making,
The speed with which he did so was truly amazing.

Working with him had been mostly a pleasure,
The rest of the time it was pure pressure.

With the pen he was ever ready to sign,
Many a time, he had to 'draw a line'.

The bell switch will no longer feel his fretful finger,
But those typical "ting-ting ting-tings" will always linger.

The engaged telephone at the other end drew him nuts,
And his own, suffered from bruises and cuts.

When situations made us feel his presence,
We wished for his temporary absence.

Up until the time he crossed well over fifty,
He was the Chairman of Doorvas Committee.

Saviour faire had become one of his top attributes,
Also to all his other good ones, we pay tributes.

What we all usually saw was Pillai the taskmonger,
But the real Pillai happens to be a humdinger.

Le'im settle at Cochin, Calicut or wherever,
Let health and happiness be with him and family forever.


29th March, 2001


WHAT THEY DEALLearn while you Rhyme!

[Composed, 2004]

History deals with chaps,
Geography, with maps.
Botany deals with plants,
Architecture, with plans.

Literature deals with books,
Fashion, with looks.
Doctors deal with health,
Scavengers, with filth.

Geology deals with rocks,
Paediatry, with tots.
Photography deals with picture,
Carpentry, with furniture.

Palmistry deals with palms,
Beggars depend on alms.
Hotels engage cooks,
Police hunt for crooks.

Aeronautics deal with planes,
Cartooning, with lines.
Philately deals with stamps,
Lalloo pokes in scams.

Barber deals with hairs,
Stock market, with shares.
Zoology deals with animals,
Law punishes criminals.

Postmen deliver mails,
Manicurist tends finger-nails.
Biology deals with life,
Dacoit wields the knife.

Astronomy deals with stars,
Mechanics repair cars.
Psychiatry deals with the mind,
We should learn to be kind.


Thursday, June 14, 2007



All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So went a proverb.

Traditional games from gulli-danda to popular cricket were all enjoyed by children of the previous generation which belonged to the pre-Idiot box era. I refer to the 1960s and 70s. I grew up in an old house on Devaparthiva Road in Chamarajapuram, a locality named after the late King Chamarajendra Wadiyar. It was a locality that was planned as part of the Mysore City's expansion during the last decade of the 19th century.

The middle of the road and footpath was a virtual playground every evening, every holiday. Calling children back home was a headache for the parents! On holidays, they had to search the entire neighbourhood if they wanted their kids home!

The variety of games played on the streets and footpaths (no weeds in those times) was such that each season had a new attraction: summer, it was gulli-danda and marbles outdoors, indoors it was either chowka-baara, kavade, pagade, halagulimane, or any board games; festival season, it was playing tops; some houses had playing cards and we used to play many games with it among chess, draughts, snake and ladder, money-trade, etc. The neighborhood boys and girls joined the fun. “I spy you” was extremely popular as it needed only hiding space and no equipment. Traditional games had been designed to make the body healthy and the mind clean. The e-games of today gives only artificial thrill.

You may ask what about birthday parties….. in fact, they were not heard of! Those kids having their birthdays would bring in a (traditional) sweet or two (prepared at home) and share it among friends! It was such a peaceful event that helped good wishes to actually reach the kid! Look at it now – what a nuisance it creates! Cutting cakes, throwing shining powder (which also settles on edibles, thermocole balls, balloons, aluminium foils and finally noise from the “sound blaster” playing what they call “music”, under which the purpose is forgotten!! "How did you celebrate your birthday?", they would ask!

Hotels were few and mostly they had their own typical flavour and popularity. Ballal Hotel was once famous for its Masala Dosa and the Radio. Meenakshi Bhavan was more famous for its Radio than its dishes – Binaca Geet Mala was popular Amin Sayani presentation which people who did not have radios at home thronged here. Food sales and Radio seemed to have a link!

My grandfather joked when we asked for ice cream, "Okay, you scream."! There was no paani-poori, gobi manchoori or churmuri. But the Jamoon, Masala Dosa and coffee provided a satisfying kick. Raju's hotel near Old Agrahara was a popular joint where either my dosa-loving father took us occasionally or when an uncle visited from Bangalore.

Minds were comparatively unpolluted until the movie-world stripped off decency. Watching films in theatres was always with a family. Movies of yore (in toto) had a team of intellects. It's the opposite now. Movies had a theme, good meaningful script spiced with beautiful proverbs; they had sequences that touched emotions, but there were decent comedians in scenes to provide a good laughter when the scene got emotional or serious and they had suspense. We would sit attentively even for the Radio Soundtrack broadcast at 2.30 pm on Sundays! Children of today cannot imagine that. We have videos of everything at the click of a button!

A telephone and a wrist-watch were luxuries with scooters or motorcycles coming in next. Car-owners were even sparse. Power-failure was rarely heard. It was difficult to make the hose pipe to the tap stay on while watering plants - it used to flow with such explosive power! It was not in the thoughts to build tank to store water in emergencies – they were only for convenience. Water flow was generally 24x7 in most parts of the city. Overhead tanks were nowhere seen because there were no sumps or pumps! The entire city depended on dependable direct supply! If any water-stoppage happened, it was news! Now, it is announced in the press when it trickles in the pipes! Plastic was not recycled. We still have some 40-yr old materials still in use! Now we get dirty recycled plastic that gets brittle and breaks off from just a few years use.

Do you know that before the end of the 19th century, water was supplied from the Kukkarahalli Lake? I have a letter of an ancestor mentioning it.

The glare from the sun was not piercing like now. Except in the hot months, exposure to sun never scorched. Now even in winter months we have to bring the eyebrows closer to adjust to the glare. Onions were so pungent that it made all people 'weep'. Now hardly anybody “cries” –they cry or rather crave for junk food! Pizzas, Gobis and whatnot. “Chats” and Dhabas came from the North many years later. Rice was tasty – as it was also cooked over charcoal and in bronze vessels when pressure cookers had not made its impact. Rice of today goes under the trend “whiter the better”! Whites are dangerous they have come to know - White rice, maida flour, salt, sugar. Dining tables were taboo. Squatting was commonly practiced – for they knew no other method! Healthy practices were in vogue.

People had no joint pains and there was need only for the Family Physicians. Now we have 'specialists' for every part and even side of the body's organs!! You name it! Visiting family physicians was only after home remedies failed to give expected results and also without prior appointments. Sometimes the physician himself visited, because he usually happened to be a family friend who gave the healing touch, now unheard of! Now we run to a specialist for every cough and sneeze. The ‘compounder’ at the pharmacy mixing the colourful liquids that were taken home in bottles was a common sight. Medical stores were far and few. There was a doctor in the famous Krishnarajendra Hospital in the 1960s. He was supposed to be the most knowledgeable (in public view) doctor in that hospital and went by the nickname “Dodda Doctru” (of short stature, ironically!). I remember his name as Dr.A.K.Gopalarajan.

At night, it was common to offer food to those who came asking "Bhavati bhikshaamdehi" (in Sanskrit, "O Mother, give us some food"). They were usually poor Brahmin boys or men who came calling that in Sanskrit standing at the gate. A few visited often and there was genuine disappointment when there was nothing to offer on any night. It was also a tradition that they should visit houses only after the normal dinner time.

Some families also had the noble tradition of "Vaaraanna" ವಾರಾನ್ನ (weekly food). One poor college student used to visit us for dinner every set weekday during the mid sixties. Some people from the poor section of the society also came for alms during the morning hours. On Saturdays, "Daasayya" came for alms by blowing the conch and striking that flat bronze plate with a stout wooden stick to produce a nice vibration. A coin or a handful of rice was offered to him, which was gleefully accepted.

There were no food considered as 'junk' in those days. The bakeries attracted customers with colourful icing on cakes and flavoury biscuits and chips. Bread was brought home only when someone had fever! It was common to ask "who has been unwell?" at the bakery counter if we encountered a known person! There was no rush in bakeries nor hundreds of items! Just a few cookies, bun, bread. Bakers diversified when they thought customers needed more than bakery items.

There was a time when a game using cigarette packs was popular among street boys. How I wished someone at home smoked at that time!! As such, to me, availability of empty cigarette packs for this game was very scarce. So I and another boy used to roam the conservancies (a gully where dirt and garbage was thrown out of house and from where the scavengers entered through the back door to clean the night soil in the lavatory -- they have now become roads!) in search of the thrown packs, much to the chagrin of my elders! It was considered an unhygeinic place. Folded packs used to be piled up by the boys to be hit with a flat stone and out of the ring. He who hits the packs out of that ring, kept them. There was one "Iyenger Shop" next door, selling provisions, cigarettes, beedies and such. So once I was there and found a cigarette pack on the floor. I silently picked it up and went home happy to have found one for my game. But I felt something inside. It was a full pack with cigarettes that had accidentally fallen. I was too afraid to return it. So I threw out all of them into a hole in the ground and covered with soil to escape being noticed. I kept the empty pack - I think it was "Scissors" brand. That game was called "Tikki".

Monday, May 21, 2007


It is Mysore’s good fortune to have hosted Rev. George W. Sawday, a great missionary of the Wesleyan Mission. One of his greatest and important contributions to the Mysore citizenry is the “Mission Hospital”, which completes a grand century, precisely on 21st August, 2006.

On June 3, 1904, Mrs. Mary Calvert Holdsworth (of Hastings, England) laid the foundation stone. On 21st August 1906, HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV declared the building open. The hospital premises, in what was then called the ‘Edgah Extension’, occupy an area of about seven acres, the gift of the Government of His Highness the Maharaja. The building had cost nearly Rs.1,50,000/-. (Source: Handbook of the City of Mysore by TG Lakshmana Rao, President of Municipal Council, 1915)

This is a handsome, imposing and commodious building and was one of the first buildings seen as one entered the city by train from Bangalore, of course, in those days. (A picture of the Hospital building is also reproduced from the above Handbook.)

The hospital bore the name of “Mary Calvert Holdsworth” who, with her husband, the Rev. W.W.Holdsworth, M.A., lived for several years in the city and took a never-failing interest in the welfare of women and children, esp. in the plague-swept years. (Hence, “Holdsworth Memorial Hospital”). In days when there were only eleven small hospitals and dispensaries in the city, this ‘centre of healing’ with modern equipment came as a great boon to the citizens of Mysore and around. The Wesleyan Mission maintained the hospital.

The “Mission Hospital” (in 1915) had several wards with accommodation for about 70 in-patients for all classes of people, irrespective of caste and creed. One of the chief features was for gosha patients where curtains for privacy surrounded every bed. Also, small separate rooms meant for patients from other distant parts of the state and ‘family’ wards were provided. There was a large Operation Theatre with up-to-that-date features. They were those days’ attractions that had gained great popularity, besides great service.

In 1928 alone, 1,648 in-patients and 11,817 out-patients were treated and the total attendances were 48,097. By then, there were facilities for 100 in-patients indicating the rapid growth of the Hospital. Lamps and apparatus for ultra-violet ray treatment had been added and staffed with European and Indian doctors and nurses. Two of its fine band of doctors, Dr.Alexander and Dr.Anne Hardy Banks, who gave all they had to give, brilliant gifts and tender service in the 1920s, must be remembered here. They died as a result of over-working, in unceasing efforts to heal and help the sick and suffering.

Constance Parsons writes in his book Mysore City: “The hospital is a great memorial to a lovely life; and no less to the generosity and untiring efforts of the Rev. G.W.Sawday.” Rev. Sawday served tirelessly in Mysore for more than 50 years.

In fact, Rev. Sawday, in addition to his multifarious duties, planned and built, and was responsible in collecting subscriptions, with the exception of the Govt. grant, for its regular maintenance. The Mysore Royal Family lent its valuable support with generous donations to the cause and saw that it was on a sound financial footing.

When visiting Mysore, before the opening of the Hospital, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward and Queen Alexandra) on their visit to Mysore were much interested in the progress of work towards the hospital and to evince their sympathy, had sent large autographed portraits to the Hospital for the opening ceremony as they could not visit. Subsequently, King George V and Queen Mary sent theirs. The Maharaja also gave to the hospital a large handsome picture of himself.

HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in his Opening Ceremony Speech, appreciated and admired the yeoman services of Rev. Sawday and his fellow-workers. “The Wesleyan Mission are old friends of us all in Mysore. They were the pioneers of modern education in the City and their good works are well-known to everyone …..” He also went on to request, after announcing a munificent donation of Rs.10,000/- from Her Highness the Maharani of Mysore, the charitably disposed citizens of Mysore to contribute generously.

The solid foundation built then has taken the Hospital where it is today and the good services have been ceaselessly carried on for a hundred years. On a personal note, I have two lucky privileges: of “experiencing” the Hospital’s tender service, having been born there after its golden jubilee year and of living next to what is known as the “Sawday House”, a famous landmark since my great grandfather’s time! Our house used to be identified as the one next to Sawday House.

The Hospital has now greatly grown in stature and reputation. As coincidence would have it, its recognition as a Scientific & Industrial Research Organization by the Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of India comes as a fitting tribute during its Centenary Year.

The Highness while declaring the hospital open, had said “I pray that under the Divine blessing, the aspirations of its founders may be fulfilled a thousand-fold." Truly, the great King’s prayers and the efforts of the selfless Rev. Sawday, et al, have not gone in vain. Will never, in spite of the emergence of competition from other commercial medical giants.
[This was published in Star of Mysore, August, 2006. Pictured above is the Mission Hospital building, 1915]

I'm a Mysorean!

Pictured above is the Mysore Palace, 1930.

In one of his articles in the local daily, STAR OF MYSORE [some years back], Mr.T.S.Nagarajan, wrote a few things: "Don't ever underestimate the Mysorean, who generally appears contemplative and self-effacing. You will take some time to realize his wit and wisdom, which unfolds slowly and unobtrusively - majjigeyolagina benneyanthe - like butter emerges from buttermilk. There is an unintended artistic expression by the people even in seemingly ordinary matters.

"To the Mysorean, coffee is booze. He is very particular about its quality. The test of good coffee is that the guest sitting in the hall should savour its elevating aroma from the kitchen, ahead of the housewife walking up to him with a cupful. Talking about cofee is also a convenient opening gambit for most casual chats, don't be amused if instead of saying 'good evening' to you when you meet an acquaintance on the road, he says "coffee aayithe?", meaning "have you had your coffee?". It does not matter evenif you have just had your dinner!" I liked the way he has beautifully pictured some of the characterestics.
[Mr.Nagarajan is the brother of the world-famous photo-journalist, TS Satyan.]


My mind runs a bit on 14.12.2007:

Just as we find ourselves grumbling about this and that, HSK brings out many points and locations and compares it with the past. I have to agree that Mysore WAS a livable city, not IS. The Commissioner can do wonders only if the public, at the individual level can cooperate with him. But then, with our "who cares" attitude, the efforts will make no impression. When are we beginning to think that spitting on the road, easing ourselves to compound walls, throwing rubbish into the open areas, lighting matches to plastic and other harmful waste, mixing kerosene to petrol, dirtying the public places, taking dogs for 'excretory walks', leaving cattle to the streets to graze, honking of automobile horns, cutting avenue trees, drilling holes in the earth for water....... is bad for the city's health from every angle? Mainly it could be the utter careless and selfish attitudes of the public and also the influence of many villages in Mysore's vicinity, the reasons thwarting healthy progress.

If a genuinely strong rule is enforced in public interest, that is thwarted by the one with a vested interest through a phone call, or even a visit to the Commissioner!! With such interferences, the city will be like a bull in the mill.

Mysore IS now just a name no longer synonymous of its old and famous tags. It's just growing, growing fast, into just another modern city with more problems than peace, thanks to various negating factors that seem to have been eating up all the goodies Mysore is renown for.

Here's HSK's article:

[Star of Mysore, 14.12.2007]
"HSK's Moving Finger"

Some time ago I read an interesting report in the newspapers. It said that Mysore is one of the most livable cities of India !
The question is — 'Is it ? or will it become one ?'
Mysore is not a livable city today. Anyone who says so will be under an illusion. It was, once upon a time, a livable city and also a lovable city. It was during the days of the Maharajas.
If Bangalore was deemed to be a commercial and industrial city, Mysore was considered as a cultural city. One of the greatest cultural pageants of the city was the Dasara. The city which was a sleeping beauty would suddenly wake up to the beating of drums and the tingling sou-nd of bells tied to the necks of majestic elephants.
Dasara crowd
It was not the practice then to bring the elephants (tamed, of course) from the forest and hurriedly parade them in the streets to get them accustomed to the din and buzzle of the city and the Dasara crowds. 'Ane Karuhatti' or the 'Abode of elephants' was on the spot where the JSS institutions today stand. The building on the Shivarathri Rajendra Circle was Hasuvina Karuhatti or the place where the Palace cows were kept. There was a separate accommodation for horses.
Dasara durbar was a beautiful function which even Gods would love to witness. The procession was a feast for the eyes. All that pomp and pageantry have disappeared and today Dasara is a pale and lifeless imitation of those celebrations.
Soon after Dasara the representative Assembly of the State was being held at Jaganmohan Palace. The University convocation would follow. In addition to these, a number of celebrations, social and religious, were attracting huge crowds.
The powers that be did not fail to attend to civic amenities. The water supply system as well as the underground drainage was ideal. It is said that when rains failed and the city had to face the ordeal of water shortage, the Kukkarahalli tank, which is now a part of the Mysore University, was constructed. It was a beautiful lake then and far more expansive than it is today. Many daring swimmers were swimming in the tank from one shore to the other shore at the opposite end and return swimming. Today the tank is half dead and half alive.
Another beautiful lake was Doddakere — the spot where the exhibition is being held now. In those days — just about seven decades back — the waters of the tank extended from the front gate of the Palace fort to almost the foot of the Chamundi Hill. The space between Doddakere and the hill was occupied by another tank called Gobbalikere. The Doddakere was dried up because of the fear of Malaria. The smaller tank also almost perished. In those days the illuminated Palace and Chamundi Hill would be reflected on the placid waters of the tank. It was so beautiful that many drama companies of those days had the main curtain of the theatre painted with that scene.
The Karanjikere, as the name itself suggests was another bea-utiful water body. The Karanji tank also was facing the threat of extinction. Thank God ! It is revived. The Dali Avenue Thandi Sadak was a beautiful road by the side of the Karanji tank. It was like a tunnel, covered by creepers grown on either side of the road. It looked like a very long pendal from one end of the road to the other end. Alas, it is today encroached by the Zoo. The public who used to walk along the cool grove in the evening are deprived of that pleasure. It looks rather drab in the Zoo.
Drab environment
Lalitha Mahal Palace today looks very pale. All its majesty is lost because of the drab environment around it. The Lalithadri on the Chamundi Hill is only a name today. Our poet Kuvempu has written a beautiful poem eulogising it. Nobody seems to be interested in reviving it.
The Rajendra Vilas Palace on the top of the Chamundi Hill was later converted into a hotel. It lost all its glory. At the Central Hall of the Palace, huge mirrors of the size of the walls were erected close to the walls on all the four sides and if you happened to enter it upwards, you would be flabbergasted by the innumerable images (infinity) of yours reflected by the mirrors on all the four sides. Perhaps those mirrors are no longer there !
The roads of the city were broad (from the standard of those days) with footpaths on both sides. They were well maintained. The dome lights adorned the roads and at night they looked like myriad stars descended to earth to praise the glory of the city.
The parks have shrunk. They are filthy. In the evenings, the citizens used to flock them for recreation. The Palace Band (later the Government band) used to play songs once a week in the evening. The band stand and garage were two beautiful constructions. They are gone.
Ideal road
The Mirza Road was an ideal road which served as a rendezvous for evening strolls. But alas! It looks today like a beautiful damsel cruelly raped and bruised by a bastard. The Hardinge Circle with a thrilling fountain surrounded by ornamental flower plants is today drab and lifeless, with vehicles ceaselessly plying along the labyrinth of roads.
The Krishnarajendra Circle, which is said to be built like the Connaught Circle of Delhi, is a poor imitation. The planners had no aesthetic sense. The erstwhile circle with a fountain called Elgin Fountain, and a statue erected on a high pedestal and greenery all round was one of the most beautiful spots of the city.
The city is full of filth and dust. Eateries have encroached every available spaces, especially footpaths. The customers throw away the papers and render the whole area quite dirty. Sweeping the roads at least once a week is a rarity. Building construction is going on unabated and the small water bodies are occupied by buildings, causing the drying up of the source of underground water. Who cares ? The several tanks surrounding the city are slowly dying.
Natural environment is disappearing. Pollution levels are high. The Chamundi Hill also may disappear some day. The city fathers fail to plan for the next 25 years or more. They are thoughtless.
Can you revive the city to its previous pristine beauty and make it a real livable city, Mr. Manivannan ?


I link below some interesting information about old Mysore.

Prof.AV Narasimhamurthy recounts 100-ft. Road.

City Improvement Trust Board - brief history


In the early 19th century, Mysore was confined within the limits of Hale Agrahara, the Fort, Dodda Petta and Lashkar Mohalla. Municipal activity began sometime during the reign of HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar III about the mid 19th century. As decades passed and the town gradually evolved into a city, there reached a stage when the need was felt for a separate body that could handle the city's development, improvement and health matters.

The deadly epidemic Plague struck Mysore and took a heavy toll of life, esp. in 1898. The root cause was poor sanitation and unhealthiness. It was a grave public concern. The Municipality, with the help of the Plague Commissioner, tried to combat future ravages. Spreading the populace apart, opening out lanes and streets in congested localities and creating extensions seemed the best answer. It required heavy expenditure. By the time plans took shape, HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV had ascended the throne (1902). The inadequacies of the Municipality's resources to handle the demands of such crises, surfaced. The Government of H.H. Maharaja came to the rescue by appointing a committee with the Chief Engineer as the President to formulate proposals for the improvement of the city.

Improving sanitation and removing unhealthiness in the city received prime attention. During the first (1894-1902) of two important stages in Mysore's sanitary history, a Sanitary Division under Mr.Standish Lee, was established by Dewan Sir K.Seshadri Iyer. It is pertinent to mention some of the works carried out during this period before the creation of the City Improvement Trust Board:

- A portion of Purnaiah's Nalla, a deep drain cut by the former Dewan to lead water from the Cauvery to the town, which was a source of unhealthiness, was filled. This is now the Sayyaji Rao Road.
- The ditch around the Fort was filled and was converted into a park.
- Main sewers serving the KR Mohalla and Devaraj Mohalla were laid.
-Chamarajapuram (called after HH Chamarajendra Wadiyar), the first important and successful measure carried out in extending the town, was constructed.
- The supply of wholesome drinking water by a system of water pipes from the Kukkarahalli Reservoir and from the Cauvery by pumps worked by turbines. This was a material step in the interest of the general health of the city.

The second stage (1902-10), coincided with the beginning of what became the 'golden reign' of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. Many important developments took place in right earnest, following the passing of Mysore Improvements Regulation III of 1903. Work was pushed forward vigorously by the "Trust Board", under the able officers lent from the Government Public Works Department. Mr.Seetharama Rao was the Chairman and Mr.D'Cruz was the Executive Engineer. The Mysore City Municipality was governed by Regulation VII of 1906 (Mysore Municipal Regulation). It was also a Corporation with a President as its head. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of the City of Mysore. The Health Officer was the Vice-President in Sanitary Matters. It is worthwhile to quote excerpts of the Govt. Order No.4168-79.L.F.3602, dated 18.9.1902. The general lines on which improvements designed were:

"The slums of the city, wherever they exist, should be first improved, by knocking down unsanitary buildings, providing against overcrowding, bad drainage and otherwise defective sanitation. Proper quarters should be found for surplus population from such localities, and such assistance as is possible and reasonably practical should be extended to poor people for building proper houses. A comprehensive scheme for proper drainage should be devised, not necessarily with a view to attain theoretical, but impractical, perfection, but to meet the reasonable needs of the city."

Accordingly, unsanitary areas were removed en bloc in some localities, all the narrow lanes were widened, conservancy lanes opened for the facility of drainage, many low-lying and ill ventilated houses dismantled, and extensions were formed to provide room for the displaced population. Drainage facility was made possible practically for every house.

Up to 1911-12, the Trust Board acquired about 6,000 properties including open areas, of which 3,616 were houses, paid Rs.13.5 lakhs as compensation, spent Rs.9 lakh in drainage work and other improvements were of the highest beneficial utility and added much to the comforts, convenience and the health of the public. In 1911, Mysore had a population of 71,306 as to 68,111 in 1901. The city was divided into seven mohallas: Fort, Lashkar, Devaraja, Krishnaraja, Mandi, Chamaraja and Nazarbad. In 1913-14, there were 12,122 houses, out of which 701 were terraced, 10,838 were tiled and 583 thatched.

The appearance of Plague gradually waned away as the city's design as well as healthiness, noticeably improved, thanks to the excellent work carried out by the Trust Board. Time-honoured housing requirements, where each family needed a house with a compound or backyard attached for outhouses, cattle, etc., necessitated the creation of extensions for housing those displaced by the demolition and rearrangement of parts of the city. The work of acquisition and demolition of properties, for opening conservancy lanes, leaving air spaces, admitting light and removing congestion was completed in Ittigegud, Nazarbad, Fort and Lakshmipuram (built on the site of Old Dodda Holageri, for some time a hot-bed of plague, etc.). Edgah extension was also created.

By then, Sir M. Visvesvaraiah was the Dewan and also the Chief Engineer of Mysore. It was under his leadership that saw the system of drainage undergoing a complete change. From his vast experience, he favoured the underground drainage system that worked by gravity, to open surface drains. Many of those are still functioning - an example of "made to last" quality! The sullage water from every house in this system was directly connected to the underground street sewer and the whole sewage was brought down to one common out-fall in the valley below Doddakere, where it was treated for purification in a septic tank, and the effluents were utilized for agricultural purposes.

For many years, the CITB offices were located at the Rangacharlu Memorial Hall (Town Hall). CITB (now MUDA) built its own office buildings on Jhansi Laxmi Bai Road in the early 70s, at the very place where a very old, dilapidated set of 'dungeons' (rumoured to have had an underground secret tunnel), existed. (Is that why the 'underground dealings' still prevail in the area?).

Is Corruption Impossible To Banish from Mysore's Ultimate Defraud Authority? That is the common man's FAQ! But when someone like Mr. Pankaj Kumar Pandey comes and tries to answer it, in as transparent a manner that would have pleased Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, he is quickly packed off! Preserving such persons to serve the public would only serve the real purpose of the Authority. Let us wildly hope that, even in this 'kaliyuga era', there will be more of Seetharama Raos and Pandeys at its helm!
{My above article published in Star of Mysore, 2005}
[Reference source: Handbook of the City of Mysore, 1915, by T.G.Lakshmana Rao, a complimentary copy given to my greatgrandfather K.Mylar Rao who in his diary of the 1920s mentions his schedule "Trust Board Meeting", indicating that he was also one in the committee being one of the elite persons of Mysore.]

Economy bathing

Economy Bathing
These are days when everyone of us must prevent wastage of water. I have found out a method to economize use of water for bathing in such a crisis. Usually the mugs we use are of one litre capacity. Take the first mug of water and begin by wetting the body with a sponge / kerchief / palm of the hand. Pour the second mug all over the body, SLOWLY. Next step is 'soaping'. The third mug is used for washing off the soap lather. Follow it by slowly pouring a couple of mugs. The bath is now complete! Actually, on an average, just five to six litres of water is sufficient for a clean bath. Add 1-2 mugs in case of the head-bath.Do you know that about 50% of water falls directly to the floor if water is poured hurriedly? There are people who consume more than two buckets of water for one bath! I know a friend who does this. Asked why, he says that his bath ends only when a certain 'current' passes through his body! This 'economy bath formula' would come in handy in such a crisis esp. to such excessive consumers. Let us use water judiciously. It is precious.

How we pose for pictures

Decades ago, people were shy to stand in front of the camera. But now, attitudes have changed. There are no better 'posers' for the camera than our great 'netas'. They are so fond of 'posing' that they invariably look into the camera in the most artificial manner one can get to see. Keenness to show their faces for the picture seems to be more important than the purpose of their presence on stage. Not for nothing our 'netas' are staple food of cartoonists! A silly picture had appeared sometime back of some of our netas 'inaugurating' the city-cleaning drive. Lo, they were not sweeping, but standing one beside the other, brooms in thier hands. [nobody knows how many sweeping strokes they made!]
Some years back, I was at the 'receiving end' on one occasion. The prize was handed to me by the chief guest. Being not a neta, the hand-over happened naturally, which took the photographer unawares. He must have been unready for the natural event! Or his angle was unsuitable for it I don't know. But the event of handing over the prize was re-done on demand for the sake of the picture which made everyone laugh. The final (funny) picture shows both of us smiling and the ones in the background, laughing, looking at the camera. In the confusion, the chief-guest's hand was holding my hand at the wrong place and the prize had come in the way! And we both knew the funny thing!!
I wonder when our netas and the photographers (on such occasions) learn to give weightage to naturality! How I wish most of the photographers said " you carry on, I'll take pictures"!

Here are two nice examples from my collection: This is from Sport & Pastime magazine. The Prime Minister is presenting the trophy and the actual event is frozen! No drama here! All real and "real time"!

Another example from my album shows my grandfather accepting his trophy in Golf from His Highness The Maharaja of Mysore Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar at the Mysore Sports Club, in the early 1960s. Farrokh Irani applauds. This unknown photographer has captured this moment nicely!

Vani Vilasa Sannidhana


The name of 'Sri Vani Vilasa' is to Mysore what Queen Victoria is to the British. Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vani Vilasa Sannidhana [in full] occupies as high a place as any in the annals of Mysore history. Her contributions to the citizenry, in her roles of Maharani-regent and as mother of Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, one of the most illustrious rulers of our country, stand aloft. She was considered as a rare gem in our erstwhile princely state.

Kempananjammanni was born in 1866 to Narase Urs and Kempananjammanni [same name] of Kalale. When she was five, an efficient teacher was engaged to educate her on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavatha. She was a brilliant girl with amazing gifts of sharp memory and grasping power. People adored her unique skill of memorization of stories on Sita, Savitri, Draupadi, Damayanti and Ahalya and also for her remarkable qualities like patriotism, humility, nobility, kindness, affection and generosity.

When Kempananjammanni was 12 years old, her mother decided to get her married. Since Narase Urs was known to the Royal family and also that her fine prowess had reached their attention, a proposal was made for the young Maharaja Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar. Both parties agreed.

The Palace was in debts due to drought in Mysore at the time, 1878. But it was decided to proceed with the marriage in spite of the prevailing conditions. As it so happened, the rain-god rescued the situation with a great bounty just a couple of days before the royal wedding which took place on 26.5.1878 and appeased everybody.

In 1881, the famous Rendition of Mysore was carried out and the British handed over the rule back to the natural prince [Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar was now 18], after 50 years. In 1884, Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar was born to the royal couple. In quick succession, they also had another son in Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar and three daughters.

Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar, on one of his annual visits to Calcutta in 1894 [to the Court of Viceroy who resided there], developed diphtheria and died there, thus abruptly cutting short, a promising reign that lasted only 13 years. He was just 32 and had already left his mark as an excellent leader. His death suddenly created a void as prince Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV was still in minority. The unexpected tragedy was regarded as a great national misfortune throughout India and was deplored by the British Government as an Imperial loss. The royal family plunged into great sorrow and the citizens felt orphaned. Such was his stature.

The burden fell on Maharani Kempananjammanni. It was here all her sterling, divine qualities came to the fore, as she courageously stepped forward to play her beloved husband's responsible role in such a crisis. She was nominated as Maharani-regent, a post this saviour faire held for eight tough years [1895-1902] and served the people with great aplomb, dignity, devotion, discipline and distinction. She earned the respect of one and all for the fabulous way she held fort.

It was fortunate that the services of such great intellects as Diwan Sir K.Seshadri Aiyar was on hand at that time. His excellent guidance to the Regent helped Mysore recover from slump. Progress in all fields resulted from their efficient administration and beatified the entire citizenry. Generation of electricity from river Cauvery, construction of Mari valley anicut, construction of the new palace, extension of new localities in Mysore, water supply through pipes and laying of foundation stone of Victoria Hospital in Bangalore were enough testimony. Also, the Maharani's concern for mankind shone like a diamond.

Maharani Kempananjamanni was a great believer in women's education and under her patronage Maharani's College got all its due attention. She was a staunch follower of Hinduism, but respected all faiths equally.

When Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar came of age, it was time for her to retire. On 8.8.1902, he ascended the throne that marked the end of a memorable regency and the beginning of what was to become Mysore's 'golden era', an era that came to be known by the encomium 'Ramarajya'. All her exemplary qualities that had been imbibed on the young prince was in full glow during his long reign of 38 years hence. That he was reckoned as a 'Rajarishi' was ample proof. In recognition of her fine regency, the British Government awarded her with a 'C.I.'. She continued to share her wisdom till the end.

After a brief illness, 69-year old Maharani Kempananjammanni died on Saturday midnight, 7th July 1934 [ekadashi, uttarayana], believed to be an auspicious and rare moment. It is said that the end comes at such moments only to great persons, of purity, calibre and stature.

For a girl born in a poor family and achieving what she did in a most praiseworthy manner, considering Mysore's predicament in that period speaks for itself, her greatness, which few have equaled. Rao Bahadur R.Narasimhachar, paying tributes had said, "…there are three jewels in Mysore's history, who have struggled for the country's good. Maharani Lakshamanni, Sri Sitavilasa Sannidhana and Sri Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. She was not only a mother to Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, but also to all the citizens. For the contributions they have made, their names deserve to be written in golden letters…"

Prefixing 'Vani Vilasa' to a Mohalla, Water Works, Maternity Hospital, Girls High School, Bridge, Ladies Club and a Road [now mercilessly being attempted to superimpose with that of Mahatma Gandhi's name] is a privilege Mysoreans [and ruling netas] are fortunate to have. We must never ever forget the invaluable role of this "Mahamatrushri" to our city. Such a name has to linger for ever!

[Published in Star of Mysore]

The Perfect Head

"Hair by hair maks the carl bare", says an old Scottish proverb. The head of hair is homo sapiens' crowning glory. It is for this reason that even a little loss of hair on the crown or its whereabouts, makes the young man under it panic. Panic, because this 'thinning process' is famous for its irreversibility.

Baldness, or alopecia, is a gift handed down through the genes. Though it is a harmless physiological disorder, its virtue of giving an illusion of oldness creates an odd feeling in the 'unfortunate' person. Medical science is yet to find an effective cure. In spite of this, we hear of ads with 'before and after' pictures having fooled gullible men. But a shallow "cure" is on the market - the wig!

"Baldy" is a popular pet name for a bald-headed or even a balding man, often referred behind his back. It sounds so nice and smooth!

Baldness is a scourge and nature's malediction, having a potential to affect wedlocks. But when you look at the positive side, it can save the worry about hair-do, hair oil, shampoo and combing time. The head-bath becomes far smoother! But the tall baldy will curse his height when he bumps his vertex against a doorframe. Baldies make the job easier for the barber but there are no concessions on offer. It is hard to identify a hiding-under-a-wig baldy because those wigs look so very natural. But some wear that shame-proud look.

Naked pates are concealed with unique methods. My friend Haridas has grown hair on one side of the head, long enough to arrange those available strands neatly to cover his shiny vertex, from pinna to pinna. He is always armed with a pocket-comb because his enemy is the sudden gust of wind. I have seen another dark middle-aged 'bold' baldy in a crowd. Believe me, he had conspicuously black-dyed his entire head, yes, entire head, to imitate a crop of hair. There are some who start wearing a cap once they notice the receding hairline. It only contributes in hastening the process. The more it is thought of, or looked at in the mirror, the speedier it recedes, up, up and behind!

My pen friend Prabhakaran sent his second picture, five years after the first 'hairy picture'. His top had "blown off". He had given an explanation: "…due to too much study…". He had become a professor. One middle-aged Nayyar from Delhi and I meet for our respective cricket teams, annually. But last time round, his appearance cheated me! After some teasing, he revealed with a wink that he wanted to look younger and so he had undergone a complicated fifteen-thousand-rupee-3-month-"weaving" treatment to his pate. A few others 'run for cover' and buy themselves a wig.

When I was a kid, I used to fondle my grandpa's balding head, which had a traditional "juttu". Why me, he himself was caressing it when he had nothing else to do. Just look at a baby's astonishment when it sees or lays its soft palm on the hard and smooth surface. To kids, most bald men are 'tata'. But agree they wont, even if that poor young fellow is a 'victim' of alopecia. Guess what my balding friend Ravi's most treasured thing? It is his own photograph taken in his "hair-days".

The bald pate is a good site for tattooing too and there have been a few 'bald men clubs' in active existence, enjoying their commonness. Hair or no, what is of value is the content inside the cover, much like a coconut.

Curves are naturally appealing. Ask any cartoonist how they enjoy drawing a Gandhi, Yule Brenner, Churchill, Lenin, Seshan, UR Rao, Anupam Kher, or a Brian Close…. The list goes on. Brian Close, the England Cricket captain revealed when he was bald enough to say that his childhood dream was realized: he had always wished to go bald whenever his mother pulled his hair.

Samuel Hoffenstein in Songs of Faith in Year After Next says:

Babies haven't any hair;
Old men's heads are just as bare;
Between the cradle and the grave
Lies a haircut and a shave.

God only made so many perfect heads. The rest he covered with hair!

Interesting link about baldies


(Published in weekly supplement, Star of Mysore, November, 2006)
Same also featured here:
By nature, man is a social animal. It is this natural instinct that pushes him to be with other people as and when he can almost all of his waking hours, be it with family or friends. Mysore's salubrious atmosphere has been typically most suitable for lazing and relaxing. The Maharajas have even arranged lovely stone platforms and benches, called kattes in convenient places which has bred so many somaaris!

All the somaaris (lazybones) need is such kattes to sit. They usually are in convenient locations usually in their houses' vicinity. It has been a popular practice, almost a sacred tradition in our city, to spend time that way, usually after the day's college/work. A small group of people of differing wavelengths (otherwise it will be dull!) somehow get together and a somaari katte is thus formed. Its formation almost goes unnoticed. The simple qualification is that all have to be somaaris. Sometimes attending the katte sessions gets priority over other works on hand, even studies! There can be danger of shortage of attendance too! Somehow, time is squeezed in for this. Such is its force of attraction.

Many somaari kattes are in vogue for many decades! Age or status is no bar (gender is!). Somaari kattes function usually from dusk and extend as late as 10 or 11pm (Sundays, there can be morning sessions) depending the hotness of the topics. Topics are not set. They keep diverting as they branch about. All subjects under the sun come up. Members voice their views in their own style, freely. At times, leading to healthy arguments and also unhealthy, leading to quarrels. The next session, they are friends again, even if the controversy resurfaces.

New ideas crop up in free discussions at the katte, unlike probably at formal meetings. One remarkable discussion was the cause of the formation of The Mysore Gymkhana in 1936. It happened in one such session on the stone steps in front of the then University Union building facing the Maharaja's College ground where a group of youngsters were chatting in the evening. Sri M.Ananthaswami Rau, now 90, is a living witness. There must surely have been many such starting points at many other kattes too.

There was one somaari katte in the 60s on Gita Road that was quite popular - among the members, but not the neighbourhood for obvious reasons like eve-teasing, loud speaking...... Of course now it is dead, since they have got their own responsibilities or have moved away. There is another, much dignified, still in vogue, almost a next generation, close to this where yours truly is a 'member' for almost 3 decades. Most of us are connected to The Mysore Gymkhana and Javagal Srinath also makes it a point to attend whenever he is in the city even now. As I have noticed, this somaari katte culture has been partly responsible in building team spirit which has helped us win many cricket matches! Another now extinct katte was quite notorious to the same neighbourhood where even the police had to be called in to pull them up more than twice.

Older group of men choose bus shelters, closed-shop steps, stone benchs under trees, even on the road's kerb stones (now heavy traffic disallows this). Often, sentimental attachments grow towards the katte. Younger members that have moved away and visiting after a long while crave to see the spot where a lot of their happy evening hours were spent while his knowledge expanded.

Time spent at the somaari katte could be rejuvenating, inspiring, entertaining and enriching experiences, each evening having its own charm. A katte culture is unthinkable outside India where many from the city have traveled for greener pastures. Loneliness is a common ailment for them as they don't get to experience this katte culture and this is one thing they miss badly. The somaaris may be doing physically nothing at the katte but then those that know first hand its fun, beauty and real value, can say with pride that they are indeed the lucky ones! It is better than any TV channel and you need not click any button! Long live somaari kattes!