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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

St. Joseph’s Convent, Champion Reefs , Kolar Gold Fields



Sharing a photo of our 7th Std Class in St Joseph’s Convent sent to me
by my Friend Jane Rajaratnam Hoover. Such nostalgia looking st all our dear friends
We were around 12 or 13 years old. Mrs Hazel Sesarego was
our Class Teacher. 
Below is a short excerpt from my book
Kolar Gold Fields Down Memory Lane 
I was privileged to have studied in St Joseph’s Convent school at Champion Reefs. St.  Joseph’s Convent which established more than 105 years ago. The school celebrated its   centenary year in 2004-05. The Convent school had well equipped Science laboratories. There were separate physics labs, chemistry labs, Botany and Zoology labs. The libraries had a vast collection of reference books, Story books, Novels as well as rare and old manuscripts. 

Our schooling years were great thanks to our wonderful teachers. The teachers were all highly qualified and were kind as well as strict. They instilled the basic human values in us that still hold good today. They taught us the importance of hard work, dignity, honesty, integrity and to strive for excellence in whatever we did. They motivated us to rise above the mediocre and strive for bigger things. Many of the old students of St Joseph’s Convent also hold high positions in various parts of the world. They are teachers, doctors, engineers, computer professionals, etc around the world.
Some nostalgia about St Joseph's Convent KGF - Buying tuck from the Tuck Women
Our school, St Joseph's Convent, Champion Reefs, KGF,  didn’t have a Canteen or cafeteria. Every child had to carry her own packed lunch to school. My mum usually packed chapattis or sandwiches for us in plastic Tiffin boxes. Chapattis with butter and sugar or jam was our favourite choice for lunch. 
We had ur lunch in our class rooms or we ate it sitting on the benches under the huge trees in the school garden.
 Besides our plastic Tiffin boxes, we also carried our own water to drink in brightly coloured plastic water bottles with long shoulder straps. Some times when we didn’t carry our bottles to school, we just drank water straight from the taps in the school compound and didn’t worry about picking up any germs from the tap water!!!
 Our school didn’t have a tuck shop either so to speak. However, the cooks in the convent kitchen made delicious ground nut toffee for sale almost every day. We had to stand in line to buy squares of this toffee every day after lunch, through the Trellis of the Convent Kitchen. The Jaggery toffee with the chunks of roasted groundnuts in it was delicious.
 Some of my most memorable and happy memories connected with my school days at St Joseph’s Convent are of buying the forbidden tuck from the Tuck Women who always sat on the road outside the school gate with baskets of Green Mangoes, Borums, Gutty palams, Pani Chakke, Pattani, boiled Groundnuts etc.
 We were actually forbidden from buying anything from these Tuck Women, but their wares were so tempting that we just couldn’t resist the temptation. The thrill of disobeying the teachers and nuns to eat the ‘forbidden fruit’ was a great ‘high’ for us.
 For just 4 annas or 25 paisa, we could buy tuck such as green mangoes, green tamarind and guavas (which we ate with chilli powder and salt), Borums and Gutty palams (I don’t know the English word for this fruit but they were small purple fruit the size of small plums), Luckily we didn’t suffer from any tummy upsets or illness after eating all this junk.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

ANGLO-INDIAN WEDDINGS IN KGF DURING THE 1950S AND 60S - Nostalgia



MEMORIES OF ANGLO-INDIAN WEDDINGS IN KGF DURING THE 1950S AND 60S - Nostalgia
An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE 
Anglo-Indian weddings in KGF when I was growing up were grand occasions. They were homely and full of fun. Since KGF was such a small place, every one knew each other. Most of the Anglo-Indian families were invited for every wedding either from the bride’s side or the bridegroom’s side. Invariably, almost all the Weddings Receptions in Kolar Gold Fields were held at the Skating Rink.
Preparations for an Anglo-Indian wedding would start months in advance and decisions were taken by both families as regards the theme, the venue, etc. The colours of the wedding, the theme, the Church Service, the Hymns to be sung at the Wedding, the number of Bridesmaids and Bestmen, the number of Flower Girls, the venue for the Reception, the Menu for the Reception Dinner, the wedding favours, the decorations, the Centre Piece, the Entrance Piece, etc were all serious issues that were discussed threadbare and decided after a joint consensus.
The total expenses for the wedding would be worked out and budgeted and the expenses shared equally by both families. Unlike other Communities, Anglo-Indians dont believe in the concept of Dowry and hence there are no demands from the Bridegroom’s side for money or gifts. It was left to the Bride’s family to give their daughter and new son-in-law whatever they could afford to give them.
The wine for the great day was either prepared by the Bride’s family or ordered from another Anglo-Indian family. The cake and its design was also discussed by both sides and then an order for the same was duly placed with the Cake Maker or Bakery. Depending on the number of guests invited, slices of the wedding cake, wrapped separately in cellophane paper was also ordered. All these preparations went on in full swing and were ready by the time the wedding day drew near.
The Bride’s wedding Dress, a flowing snowy white gown and dresses of the flower girls, bridesmaids, the bride’s mother and other family members, were normally tailored in Kolar Gold Fields by the local tailors who were expert dress makers. These tailors could copy any pattern or design given to them and most often they would design the wedding dresses themselves. Some of the more affluent ones had their wedding dress and the Bride’s maids and flower girls dresses tailored in Bangalore or Madras. Some lucky brides who had relatives abroad got their wedding dresses either from the UK or Australia. The Bridegroom’s suit and the suits of the Bestmen, Page boy, and other male family members were also tailored at KGF. 
The actual wedding day was full of fun and activity right from the morning. The Bride and the bridesmaids had their makeup and hair done by one of the Anglo-Indian ladies who were experts in hair dressing at the bride’s residence. We had no Beauty Parlours in those days, so its was a friend of the bride who normally did her make up for her. 
The bride wasn’t allowed to see the bridegroom on the day of the wedding as it was considered inauspicious or unlucky. Meanwhile, all the men and boys in both families would go to the Church and the Skating Rink to decorate it for the reception. The flowers  for the Church was usually brought in from Bangalore. In no time at all it would be time for everyone to leave for Church and it was time for the wedding.
 The wedding service was always solemn and touching. The bride would look radiant and the bridegroom handsome. Many in the congregation would be seen wiping a tear, as weddings always have the habit of making people cry. Emotions are always high at weddings. All too soon the wedding service would be over and the couple were now man  and wife.
 After the church service, the bride and bridegroom normally went for a drive to have some precious moments alone together before the reception. Their drive was invariably to the Big Tree a little outside KGF by which time all the guests would have gathered at the Hall for the Reception. The Reception was always a homely joyous affair and everyone had a good time. Liquor was invariably served and the bar would remain open till the end of the Reception. The Wedding March, the Waltzes, the Fox Trots, the Birdie Dance, The Cha Cha, Salsa, etc had everyone joining in and tapping their feet to the music played by one of the local Anglo-Indian Bands.
 Before the end of the reception, all the young unmarried girls would gather in a circle and the bride who was blind folded, would throw her bouquet for them to catch. The lucky one to catch the bouquet was considered to be the next bride. 
Likewise, all the young unmarried boys, gathered in the same way, and the bridegroom’s Buttonhole Favour was similarly thrown to the group. The young man who caught the favour would then be paired with the young girl who caught the bride’s bouquet and they went round the Hall to the tune of the wedding march.
The community in those days followed the adage that ‘Marriage was for keeps’ It was considered a sacrilege to remove the wedding ring under any circumstances. Divorce or Separation was unheard of. The very word “Divorce” was not even uttered.  Most of the older Anglo-Indian Folk married when they were very young and their parents instilled in them that marriages were forever and hence they stuck together inspite of everything. They took their marriage vows seriously and lived together in good times and bad, in sickness and health, till the demise of either one of them. They in turn passed this on to their children and grandchildren and were quite scandalized when the present generation took their wedding vows lightly.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

THE SKATING RINK IN NANDYDROOG MINE, KOLAR GOLD FIELDS











THE SKATING RINK
The Skating Rink is situated in Nandydroog Mine just next door to the Nandydroog Club and is a famous landmark in KGF. The Skating Rink was the only big Auditorium or Party Hall in KGF in the olden days and was the most popular venue for Wedding Receptions, Parties, Get-togethers, School Functions and Concerts, Musical recitals, Meetings, Dances etc.
All the Mining Functions, the Christmas Dances, May Queen Balls, Easter Ball, June Rose Balls, The Anglo-Indian Association’s Annual General Meeting and Ball, New Year’s Eve Ball, Independence Day Ball, The Republic Day celebrations etc, were all held at the Skating Rink. A function was held there practically every month and it was a famous landmark for all in KGF.
In the olden days of the John Taylor and Sons Company, this Hall was used for Ice Skating and Roller Skating and Ball Room Dances by the British. Hence the name SKATING RINK. The floor of the Skating Rink was highly polished and was as smooth as silk and made an amazing dance floor. (It remains so even today even though the building is in shambles. This goes to show the perfection and workmanship of those olden times).
 The Skating Rink was nothing more than a huge shed with a stage and was not much to talk about. It had corrugated iron sheets for the roof with a false ceiling of Tatty Cane. It actually looked like a rambling old building from an old Country and Western Movie.
It was the most popular venue for almost all Anglo-Indian wedding receptions, Parties, get-togethers, Concerts, Musical Recitals, Meetings, Dances, etc. Just before a dance, or a skating performance, white chalk powder would be strewn on the floor to facilitate easy dancing movements for the dancers.
Besides being used as a hall for functions and dances, the Skating Rink was also an indoor Shuttle Badminton Court. We would regularly play shuttle here during the holidays.
The Balls and Dances and social functions that were held in the Skating Rink were the talk of the town. The Christmas Dances, May Queen Balls, Easter Ball, June Rose Balls, The Anglo-Indian Association AGM Ball, New Years Eve Ball, Wedding Receptions, Conferences, School Functions and concerts, etc, were all held at the Skating Rink and there was a function practically every month to look forward to.
Anglo-Indians from Bangalore, Jolarpet and Madras, would also come for these Dances at Kolar Gold Fields. Local Anglo-Indian Bands and Bands from Bangalore and Madras played at these dances and kept the people on their toes dancing the night away.
Sadly, the Skating Rink which stood the ravages of time for well over a hundred years is now in shambles. The inner walls are all crumbling and the false ceiling of Tatty Cane is worn out in several places. However people still continue to hold their functions in it and camouflage the interiors walls with huge coloured Cloth and decorations. It will always remain their ‘dear old Skating Rink’


Monday, August 27, 2018

St Joseph's Convent KGF - - Some Nostalgia - Buying Tuck - Green Mangoes, Jig Nuts, Borums etc




Some nostalgia about St Joseph's Convent KGF - Buying tuck from the Tuck Women
Our school, St Joseph's Convent, Champion Reefs, KGF,  didn’t have a Canteen or cafeteria. Every child had to carry her own packed lunch to school. My mum usually packed chapattis or sandwiches for us in plastic Tiffin boxes. Chapattis with butter and sugar or jam was our favourite choice for lunch. We had our lunch in our class rooms or we ate it sitting on the benches under the huge trees in the school garden.
 Besides our plastic Tiffin boxes, we also carried our own water to drink in brightly coloured plastic water bottles with long shoulder straps. Some times when we didn’t carry our bottles to school, we just drank water straight from the taps in the school compound and didn’t worry about picking up any germs from the tap water!!!
 Our school didn’t have a tuck shop either so to speak. However, the cooks in the convent kitchen made delicious ground nut toffee for sale almost every day. We had to stand in line to buy squares of this toffee every day after lunch, through the Trellis of the Convent Kitchen. The Jaggery toffee with the chunks of roasted groundnuts in it was delicious.
 Some of my most memorable and happy memories connected with my school days at St Joseph’s Convent are of buying the forbidden tuck from the Tuck Women who always sat on the road outside the school gate with baskets of Green Mangoes, Borums, Gutty palams, Pani Chakke, Pattani, boiled Groundnuts etc.
 We were actually forbidden from buying anything from these Tuck Women, but their wares were so tempting that we just couldn’t resist the temptation. The thrill of disobeying the teachers and nuns to eat the ‘forbidden fruit’ was a great ‘high’ for us.
 For just 4 annas or 25 paisa, we could buy tuck such as green mangoes, green tamarind and guavas (which we ate with chilli powder and salt), Borums and Gutty palams (I don’t know the English word for this fruit but they were small purple fruit the size of small plums), Luckily we didn’t suffer from any tummy upsets or illness after eating all this junk.

Friday, June 15, 2018

COOKING ON FIREWOOD OVENS IN KGF



COOKING ON FIREWOOD OVENS IN KGF

While we were growing up in KGF, the houses and Bungalows didn’t have attached kitchens or kitchens that were part of the house. The kitchens were always built off the dining rooms with a small covered passage in between. This was because all the food was cooked over firewood and hence the kitchen had to be separate from the main house so that the smoke, fumes, soot, etc didn’t get into the house. Like the rest of the house, the walls of the kitchen too, were painted white, but the ‘white washed walls’ would get quite black with the smoke from the firewood ovens in no time.

Cooking Gas was introduced in KGF only during the 1970s So most of the cooking was done on firewood ovens and a few light dishes would be done on an electric stove. The fires in the ovens were always kept going in our kitchen. At any given time, one could see glowing coals in the ovens. When she needed to start cooking the food, our Cook Ayah would blow through a long narrow metal pipe (or tube known as an ‘Oodankol’ in the Tamil language) on the embers to rekindle them. 


A huge aluminum pot filled with water was always kept on one of the ovens so that there was a perpetual supply of hot water for use whenever needed. 


Besides the wood stoves and open ovens, we also had iron ‘Sigris’ that were fired with coal. Some dishes such as Ox tail, Ox Tongue, Beef Roast, Trotters etc which had to be cooked on a slow fire or “Dum” were left to slow cook over the Sigri the whole night. There were no pressure cookers in those days and hence they had to slow cook for several hours to make them soft and tender.


Our kitchen had a number of shelves filled with lots of aluminum vessels or dekshis in various sizes, frying pans, etc. The big dekshis were for cooking the Biryanis, roasts, etc, while the smaller ones were used for cooking the curries, fries, pepper-
water, etc. Separate dekshi or pans was kept for each type of dish that was prepared.

There were also a few cooking utensils made of mud which were called “Chatties”. These Chatties were used mostly for baking Hoppers and for preparing Fish curry. A special ladle made out of half a coconut shell with a long wooden handle was used to stir the Fish Curry in the Mud Chatties!

After each cooking session, the utensils would be covered with soot from the wood fire. Our ayah would scrub the dekhis and pans with a mixture of powdered charcoal and soap and some ash from the oven. After a good scrub they would once again shine brightly like polished silver.

The enamel dining plates and dishes were also washed using ashes and 501 Bar soap in those days. The glass crockery however was washed with liquid soap specially procured from Spencers! The brass items such as the water pots, pans etc, were scrubbed with a mixture of brick powder, salt, tamarind or lemon rind to leave them sparkling and shining like gold!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

SHANDY DAY OR MARKET DAY ON SUNDAY IN KGF

I have lots of fond memories of the Shandy Day in KGF. When we were young we would accompany my dad to the Market in Robertsonpet as a treat on Sundays. The Market was named as Mahatma Gandhi Market. Sunday was ‘Shandy Day’ and the market was always filled with people. Traders would come in from all the nearby villages to sell their produce. Everything was quite cheap in those days. My dad would buy fresh vegetables and fruit required for the week and we would help to carry the bags.

 The sights and smells and the hustle and bustle of the market as soon as one stepped in was so exciting. It was a joy to see the mounds of fresh vegetables, fruits, bags of pulses, grains, sugar sweets, fried savouries, etc besides shops selling Plastic toys and games for just a couple of Rupees. Choosing what toy to buy with our pocket money of Two Rupees was quite a decision and we had to weigh the merits of a plastic or paper windmill against a spinning top or plastic gun.
After the vegetable and grocery shopping was over, our next stop would be at Aleem Bakery or Omar Bakery for cool drinks and hot chicken or vegetable puffs. (I don’t think they made somasas as in those days) We’d then buy buns and coconut biscuits and muffins to take home. The coconut muffins in Omar’s Bakery were especially nice as the muffins were filled with sweet, juicy coconut shavings and the outer pastry would just melt in our mouths!! The sponge cakes and Fairy cakes too were light and delicious.
Jewel Coffee Powder Centre was just next to Aleem Bakery and my dad usually stopped there to buy the week’s requirement of coffee powder and tea leaves. The smell of fresh,  just roasted coffee beans was just heaven!! With our bags laden with all the stuff that we bought in town, we’d take a jatka ride back to our house in Nandydroog Mine. It was time to wait for another week before we went to the Market again.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ALL SOUL'S DAY OR THE CEMETERY FEAST IN KGF



ALL SOUL'S DAY OR THE CEMETERY FEAST IN KGF

An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE - MEMORIES OF ALL SOULS DAY IN KGF - 
All Souls Day falls on the 2nd of November every year. It is primarily a day for remembering the departed souls and is observed mainly by Catholics and Anglicans. The official name of the celebration in the Roman Rite liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is "The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed".

These are the graves of my parents Sydney and Doris White who are buried in the Cemetery in Champion Reefs in Kolar Gold Fields 

The All Soul’s day was also known as the Graveyard Feast / Cemetery Feast or “Kalrai Thirunal”(in Tamil).Even though it was a Christian day of remembrance for honoring the departed souls, it was celebrated as a Festival for remembering the dead even by non-Christians and people of other communities as well. This is one example of the communal harmony that existed between the different communities of KGF where its secular nature was unparalleled.

Tomorrow the 2nd November is All Soul’s Day,  and it brings back many memories of this day in KGF when we were growing up. The Cemetery in KGF has the graves of three generations of our family on our paternal side. All my dad’s ancestors lived and worked in KGF since almost the beginning of the mines in the late 1800s. My dad’s forefathers came in from England and Scotland to earn a living in KGF and eventually died in this place.

There are almost sixty graves of our family members in the Catholic Cemetery in KGF. The Cemetery also has a number of graves of other old families of KGF. There are also graves of many Britishers, Italians, French, etc. who were all employees of the KGF Mines and who died there either naturally or as a result of the Rock Bursts and accidents underground in the mines. Most of these graves lie unattended and forgotten as their dependents are no longer in KGF. A week before All Soul'd Day,  my dad would send a team of his workmen to the Cemetery, to repair, clean, paint and generally do up all the graves of our deceased family members. His workmen would work really hard painting the graves and getting the surroundings cleaned.

On the morning of All Souls’ Day, we would all help to make around 75 wreaths at home, with silver oak leaves and flowers. Isaac our faithful house boy would make the outer Rings or circles out of mulberry branches and stems  from the garden. All of us would sit on the ground and arrange the silver oak leaves and ferns around the rings and fasten them with twine. Then the asters, lilies, daisies or roses (that were specially brought in from Russell Market Bangalore) would be arranged around the wreath and fastened with twine.

In the evening, we’d take all the wreaths and loose flowers to the Cemetery and go around placing the wreaths on the graves of our dear ones, pausing and praying for the repose of their souls. We would meet a lot of our friends and relatives in the cemetery that day as everyone had some departed member of their family buried in the Catholic Cemetery in KGF.

Since, All Soul’s Day morphed in to a feast day for remembering the dead, there was a carnival like atmosphere around the 4 Cemeteries. Vendors selling flowers, candles, balloons, sweets, savouries, etc.  After we visited all the graves and prayed for the departed souls, we would have a gala time buying balloons, blowing whistles made of pieces of bamboo, hair clips, plastic sun glasses, etc that the vendors sold outside the cemetery. It was a colorful and noisy feast with lots of people milling around and the vendors doing brisk business selling these toys, ground nuts, hot stuff, sweets, colored ribbons, glass bangles, flowers, candles, etc.

The All Soul’s day was also known as the Graveyard or Cemetery Feast or “Kalrai Thirunal” in Tamil. Even though it was a Christian day of remembrance for honoring the departed souls, it was celebrated as a Festival for remembering the dead even by non-Christians and people of other communities as well.

This is one example of the communal harmony that existed between the different communities of KGF where its secular nature was unparalleled.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

OLD FASHIONED KITCHENS IN KGF – SOME NOSTALGIA



OLD FASHIONED KITCHENS IN KGF – SOME NOSTALGIA

In the olden days and even now-a-days, most of the houses in Kolar Gold Fields didn’t have attached kitchens or kitchens that were part of the house. The kitchens were always built off the dining rooms with a small covered passage in between. This was because all the food was cooked over firewood and hence the kitchen had to be separate from the main house so that the smoke, fumes, soot, etc didn’t get into the house. Like the rest of the house, the walls of the kitchen too, were painted white, but the ‘white washed walls’ would get quite black with the smoke from the firewood ovens in no time.
 I remember that the fires in the ovens were always kept going in our kitchen. At any given time, one could see glowing coals in the ovens. When she needed to start cooking the food, our Ayah would blow through a long narrow metal pipe (or tube known as an ‘Oodankol’ in the Tamil language) on the embers to rekindle them. A huge aluminum pot filled with water was always on one of the ovens so that there was a perpetual supply of hot water for use whenever needed. 
Besides the wood stoves and open ovens, we also had iron ‘Sigris’ that were fired with coal. Some dishes such as Roasts, etc which had to be cooked on a slow fire or “Dumm” were left to slow cook over the Sigri the whole night. There were no pressure cookers in those days and hence they had to slow cook for several hours to make them soft and tender.
 Our kitchen had a number of shelves filled with lots of aluminum vessels or dekshis in various sizes, frying pans, etc. The big dekshis were for cooking the Biryanis, roasts, etc, while the smaller ones were used for cooking the curries, fries, pepper-water, etc. Separate dekshi or pans was kept for each type of dish that was prepared.
There were also a few cooking utensils made of mud which were called “Chatties”. These Chatties were used mostly for baking Hoppers and for preparing Fish curry. A special ladle made out of half a coconut shell with a long wooden handle was used to stir the Fish Curry in the Mud Chatties!
 After each cooking session, the utensils would be covered with soot from the wood fire. Our ayah would scrub the dekhis and pans with a mixture of powdered charcoal and soap and some ash from the oven. After a good scrub they would once again shine brightly like polished silver.
The enamel dining plates and dishes were also washed using ashes and 501 Bar soap in those days. The glass crockery however was washed with liquid soap specially procured from Spencers! The brass items such as the water pots, pans etc, were scrubbed with a mixture of brick powder, salt, tamarind or lemon rind to leave them sparkling and shining like gold!


Since there were no refrigerators in the olden days, all the left over food, milk, etc were stored in the “Meat Safe”. A meat safe was a compulsory   piece of furniture in Anglo-Indian homes in the olden days and every family a couple of them. We had 2 Meat Safes in our Dining Room. The Meat Safes were wooden storage cupboards with steel wire mesh on 3 sides so that the air could pass through and keep the food that was stored in it fresh. The back of the meat Safe was of wood. Since the weather was cool in those days and there was no pollution,  everything remained fresh in the meat safes for more than a day. The legs of the Meat Safe were placed in ceramic bowls filled with water or germaxin powder or Ant powder to avoid ants from getting at the food in the meat safe. The Meat Safe’ was also quite necessary to protect the food from cats and mice as well.
Another kitchen appendage that has also disappeared with the older generation is the ‘Wooden Provision or Ration Box / Chest which occupied pride of place in the passage just outside the kitchen door. This Provision Chest / Box  was about 5 feet in height and 4 feet in breadth and housed tins of the various provisions and condiments that were required for Anglo-Indian cooking.  It was divided into many compartments for rice, and dry provisions such as Dhal / Lentils, Red Chillies, Cumin seeds, coriander seeds, spices, jaggery, etc. While these ingredients / provisions, gave out their own unique smells, a combination of all of them together was just heavenly. The smell from my Grandma’s Provision Box still lingers in my mind even after all these years!!

Sadly the Meat Safe  and the Provision Box are now a part of history as they are arely seen in homes these days. People prefer to have fancy refrigerators at home instead of Meat Safes!!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

APRIL SHOWERS AND MAY FLOWERS IN KGF



APRIL SHOWERS AND MAY FLOWERS IN KGF
Our beloved KGF is bathed in a sea of Red!!
There were(and still are) huge Gulmohar or May Flower trees all over KGF.
The Gulmohar trees were huge, almost 30 to 40 feet in height with large branches spread wide to form an awning.  These trees were prized for their ornamental value and for their shade. They usually flowered towards the end of April or beginning of May, soon after the first spells of rains in April. There was a popular saying in KGF that April Showers bring May Flowers. The riot of red flowers all over the place was a sight to behold. The bright red flowers had their own distinct smell.  The delicate leaves comprising of small individual leaflets supported the clusters of red flowers so as to protect them during the day and they folded up during the evenings. The sepals and ovules after pollination formed long green pods which slowly matured. The ripe pods would split open into woody, boat-shaped forms. As Children e would collect these wooden pods and pretend they were boats and sail them in the water channels and drains.
These are Gulmohar trees near the KGF Hospital last week
A close up of a bunch of May Flowers


A tree in all its beauty




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Centenary of Kolar Gold Fields – Issuance of Indian Postage Stamp and First Day Cover

















Centenary of Kolar Gold Fields – Issuance of Indian Postage Stamp.
 In order to commemorate the Centenary of the Kolar Gold Mines, the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department had  issued a special commemorative Postage Stamp and First Day Cover on 20th December 1980
Philatelic Stamp Description : The stamp depicts a miner drilling for ore along with representation of molten gold being poured into a mould and a few gold bricks.
The first day cover shows old and new techniques of drilling for ore against a mine head structure.
Stamp Issue Date : 20/12/1980
Postage Stamp Denomination: 1.00
Postal Stamp Serial Number: 0990
Postal Stamp Name: GOLD MINING
Stamp Currency: Rupee
Stamp Type: COMMEMORATIVE
Stamp Language: English
Stamp Overall Size: 3.91 X 2.90 cms
Postal Stamp Print Size: 3.55 X 2.5 cms.
Number of Stamps Per Sheet: 35
Stamp Perforations: 13 x 13
Postal Stamp Shape: Vertical
Postage Stamp Paper: Un-watermarked adhesive stamp paper
Indian Stamp Process: Photogravure
Number of stamps printed: 15,00,000
Stamp Printed At: India Security Press

Stamp Information :  I am reproducing the same matter as in the writeup 

Kolar Gold Fields in the State of Karnataka are reported to have been mined for gold during the last 2000 years or so. The gold lodes of Kolar Gold Fields lie in a narrow bond of rocks of Dharwar Series. The systematic mining for gold in this area during modern times was started by an English mining firm, John Taylor & Sons in 1880. The mines were taken over by the Government of Mysore in 1956 and by the Government of India in 1962. The provision of railway connection in 1894 and availibility of electric power in 1902 from the first hydel power station in Asia at Sivasamudram played a key role in rapid development of the mines. These are some of the depest mines in the world, the deepest point being 3.2 Km below surface. Inclined and vertical shafts have been sunk either along the reef or across the country rock. The length of excavations underground in the form of tunnels, shafts, etc. total about 1000 Kms. The gold-bearing ore is excavated in a carefully systamised sequence and the shafts and tunnels are supported by steel arches lagged with timber to ensure safety of mine workers. In view of very high stresses ancountered in deep mines, excavations are also supported by granite, concrete, timber amd mill-tailing fill as a safety measure. During the early period of mining, the tenor of gold averaged about 40 grammes per tonne. During the past century, approximately 46 million tonnes of gold-bearing ore has been extracted yielding about 784 tonnes of gold. The present tenor of gold is about 5 grammes per tonne. The present management, Bharat Gold Mines Ltd., a Government of India undertaking, attaches considerable importance to measures providing safe and hygienic working conditions. Instrumentation of working areas to monitor possible violent rock failures, adequate ventilation, effective dust suppression and fire fighting equpment are some of the measures which play major roles in this sphere. Regular radilogical examination of workers and sampling of underground ore for toxic dust are important industrial hygiene measures undertaken by the management. At present about 12000 employees of various categories are on the rolls. Being a labour intensive industry, massive efforts are made to educate the workers in accident prevention. High priority is also given to the welfare of the employees. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

THE WAR MEMORIAL IN KGF NEAR THE CENTRAL TELEPHONE EXCHANGE

REMEMBRANCE DAY OR POPPY DAY is observed on 11th November every year




THE WAR MEMORIAL IN KGF NEAR THE CENTRAL TELEPHONE EXCHANGE
A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or (predominating in modern times) to commemorate those who died or were injured in war. We also have a War Memorial in KGF near the Central Telephone Exchange and the Central WorkshopsNot many from Kolar Gold Fields know about the significance of this War Memorial. This Memorial was erected to commemorate and remember the   members of the armed forces who were killed in the line of duty during the First World War. These brave people are remembered and commemorated on the 11th of November every year on Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day is a Memorial Day observed in all Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty.It is observed on 11 November every year to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on 11/11/1918. Hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," in accordance with the ‘Armistice’ signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. (However, World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919)
Remembrance Day or Armistice Day was specifically dedicated by King George as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I.This day is also known as Poppy Day as some of the worst Battles were fought in the fields of Flanders. Bright Red Poppies later bloomed across these battle fields and their brilliant red colour became an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in World War 1. The Red Remembrance Poppy therefore became a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields”.
In earlier days a grand Memorial Function was held every year at this War Memorial in KGF. However after the Mines were nationalized and the Government took over, the Ex Servicemen of KGF would generally gather on their own and pay tributes to the martyrs who laid down their lives during World War 1
Later on only a few people observed this day and slowly, the Memorial began to get neglected with grass and other weeds growing all round it.However, in recent years, the Prasad Charitable Trust run by Mr. Prabhu and his family has now taken over the upkeep and Maintenance of this War Memorial.Every year a small Function is held near the Memorial and the Trust honours the families of those Ex Servicemen from KGF killed in Action and also arranges for Free Medical Checkups and Health Camps

In India till today, the day is usually marked by tributes and ceremonies in Army Cantonments. A wreath and other flowers are placed at the foot of the Memorial by the Officers of the Indian Army and a small Memorial Service is observed. Memorial services are held in some churches

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SABU - THE JTAKA / TONGA WALLAH IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

Subsequent to my sharing of a childhood memory of the Jatkas or Tongas in the earlier days in KGF and more especially about Sabu, the tonga wallah, I received this message from Mr Naushad Ahmed
"This excerpt made me nostalgic like most other excerpts you have shared. This one more as the humble jatkawala Sabu was my mom's 'Chacha, brother of my maternal grandpa. Sabu chacha, as we used to call him, lived in Oorgaumpet behind the Govt Kannada primary school near the famous Murugan temple. We too lived in Oorgaumpet those days. Whenever we had to go to our grandparents house in Robertsonpet, Sabu chacha's tanga was ready to take us. He never once charged us for a ride as he considered my mother as his 'beti' or daughter".
Mr Naushad Ahmed subsequently put me in touch with his uncle Mr Gaffar who is the son of Sabu. Mr Gaffar works in the KSRTC and both he and I spoke at length about Sabu and KGF. Later Mr Gaffar's grand daughter-in-law also spoke to me and said their whole family were so happy to read my memories of Sabu and know that he is so fondly remembered. She has shared an old photograph of Sabu that I'm sharing with all of you.


I'm also appending my old post below
A small excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE on ' Jatkas and Tongas were the only means of transport in KGF in the olden days"
Public transport was very limited when we were growing up as children in Kolar Gold Fields . We had no local bus facility to take us around the mines and to Robertsonpet, the Town. The only buses that passed through the Nandydroog Mine where we lived, were the long distance buses that came from Bangalore and Kolar via Bangarapet. These buses too were quite infrequent so no one really depended on them as a means of local conveyance.
 KGF also didn’t have a regular Taxi service. There were only one or two people like Mr. Parker, or Mr. Das from Robertsonpet who ran their old cars as Taxis.
The ‘Jakta’ Service was the only means of conveyance for many, many years. People either traveled in the jaktas or else just walked.
 The Jatka or Tonga or the Horse drawn carriages came into existence in mid 18th century through the traders of East India Company in Calcutta. It was originally conceived and built for use of the Company but soon spread to other places in India and soon became a popular means of transport for the common man. The Jatkas and Tongas were the most used mode of local conveyance in KGF from the early 1900s till the late 1970s. These Jatkas were fondly called ‘BANDIES’ by the Anglo-Indians which was an Anglicized version of the Tamil word “WUNDIE’.
Whenever we needed to go to the market, church or to our grandparent’s house in Town, we invariably went by Jatka or Tonga. There was a Jakta Stand near the Oorgaum Railway station where one could engage a Jakta. We had a few known Jatka wallahs who we usually engaged on a regular basis. However, our favorite Jakta man was ‘Sabu’. Sabu was a fair skinned Muslim man with bright blue eyes which were always twinkling. Sabu knew our Saturday routine well, as we visited our grandparents in Town every Saturday. He’d come home with his Jakta exactly at 3.45 PM every Saturday, without being told and wait for us to set out at 4 o’clock. While waiting for us to get ready, he’d release his horse from the jakta and leave it to relax and enjoy a nosebag of grass and hay.
Sabu’s jatka was our own personal limousine service in those days. John would sit in front of the jakta with Sabu and once in a way twirl Sabu’s whip with great flair. We three girls would sit breadth ways inside the jatka resting our backs on the sides and stretching out our legs. Mummy and daddy sat at the rear and hung their legs outside the jakta.
 Sabu loved his horse and his horse loved him in return and listened and obeyed his every command. Sabu knew a few English words and his famous one liner was “Giddy up a Ding Dong” .No one knows how or from where he learned this but his horse obliged him whenever he uttered these words by trotting faster, the bells tied around its neck jingling merrily. He always had a whip in his hand and would twirl it all the time but never once did we see him using it on his horse.
 Sometimes, Sabu and some other  Tonga drivers  would have races on the ‘Oorgaum Station to Robertsonpet Road’. They’d urge their horses to go faster and the horses too enjoyed this little bit of fun. His ‘Giddy up a Ding Dong’ would be uttered more often and his horse would oblige by throwing back its head and cantering faster. The horse also looked as it was enjoying the race and its mouth seemed to be smiling all the time.
 Of course my parents didn’t approved of this type of racing with all of us seated in the jatka with the risk of the horse slipping and all of us falling out of the jatka. So they’d sternly tell Sabbu to stop his nonsense and take us at a more sedate pace. Sabu with disappointment writ large on his face would have to obey them. Nevertheless we children enjoyed all the excitement.
 As the years rolled by Sabu’s horse grew sick and old and eventually died and he had to get another horse. Sabu also grew older and when Auto rickshaws were introduced in KGF in the late 1970s, everyone began using them and that was the death knell for the Jatkas and soon the old fashioned jaktas became redundant.
 The Jatkas are now used only to transport goods such as hardware, pipes, sacks of rice and pulses, electrical items, etc, instead of passengers. Sabu faced a lot of hardship as his means of livelihood was threatened. We hardly saw Sabu after that as we too began traveling by auto rickshaws instead of the jatkas. We later heard that Sabu became very ill and died. All of us were sad when we heard the news. It seemed like the end of an era.

Monday, October 24, 2016

JATKAS / TONGAS - THE ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORT IN KGF IN THE OLDEN DAYS




Public transport was very limited when we were growing up as children in Kolar Gold Fields . We had no local bus facility to take us around the mines and to Robertsonpet, the Town. The only buses that passed through the Nandydroog Mine where we lived, were the long distance buses that came from Bangalore and Kolar via Bangarapet. These buses too were quite infrequent so no one really depended on them as a means of local conveyance.
 KGF also didn’t have a regular Taxi service. There were only one or two people like Mr. Parker, or Mr. Das from Robertsonpet who ran their old cars as Taxis. 
The ‘Jakta’ Service was the only means of conveyance for many, many years. People either traveled in the jaktas or else just walked.
 The Jatka or Tonga or the Horse drawn carriages came into existence in mid 18th century through the traders of East India Company in Calcutta. It was originally conceived and built for use of the Company but soon spread to other places in India and soon became a popular means of transport for the common man. The Jatkas and Tongas were the most used mode of local conveyance in KGF from the early 1900s till the late 1970s. These Jatkas were fondly called ‘BANDIES’ by the Anglo-Indians which was an Anglicized version of the Tamil word “WUNDIE’.



Whenever we needed to go to the market, church or to our grandparent’s house in Town, we invariably went by Jatka or Tonga. There was a Jakta Stand near the Oorgaum Railway station where one could engage a Jakta. We had a few known Jatka wallahs who we usually engaged on a regular basis. However, our favorite Jakta man was ‘Sabu’. Sabu was a fair skinned Muslim man with bright blue eyes which were always twinkling. Sabu knew our Saturday routine well, as we visited our grandparents in Town every Saturday. He’d come home with his Jakta exactly at 3.45 PM every Saturday, without being told and wait for us to set out at 4 o’clock. While waiting for us to get ready, he’d release his horse from the jakta and leave it to relax and enjoy a nosebag of grass and hay.
Sabu’s jatka was our own personal limousine service in those days. John would sit in front of the jakta with Sabu and once in a way twirl Sabu’s whip with great flair. We three girls would sit breadth ways inside the jatka resting our backs on the sides and stretching out our legs. Mummy and daddy sat at the rear and hung their legs outside the jakta. 
 Sabu loved his horse and his horse loved him in return and listened and obeyed his every command. Sabu knew a few English words and his famous one liner was “Giddy up a Ding Dong” .No one knows how or from where he learned this but his horse obliged him whenever he uttered these words by trotting faster, the bells tied around its neck jingling merrily. He always had a whip in his hand and would twirl it all the time but never once did we see him using it on his horse.
 Sometimes, Sabu and some other  Tonga drivers  would have races on the ‘Oorgaum Station to Robertsonpet Road’. They’d urge their horses to go faster and the horses too enjoyed this little bit of fun. His ‘Giddy up a Ding Dong’ would be uttered more often and his horse would oblige by throwing back its head and cantering faster. The horse also looked as it was enjoying the race and its mouth seemed to be smiling all the time.
 Of course my parents didn’t approved of this type of racing with all of us seated in the jatka with the risk of the horse slipping and all of us falling out of the jatka. So they’d sternly tell Sabbu to stop his nonsense and take us at a more sedate pace. Sabu with disappointment writ large on his face would have to obey them. Nevertheless we children enjoyed all the excitement. 
 As the years rolled by Sabu’s horse grew sick and old and eventually died and he had to get another horse. Sabu also grew older and when Auto rickshaws were introduced in KGF in the late 1970s, everyone began using them and that was the death knell for the Jatkas and soon the old fashioned jaktas became redundant.
 The Jatkas are now used only to transport goods such as hardware, pipes, sacks of rice and pulses, electrical items, etc, instead of passengers. Sabu faced a lot of hardship as his means of livelihood was threatened. We hardly saw Sabu after that as we too began traveling by auto rickshaws instead of the jatkas. We later heard that Sabu became very ill and died. All of were sad when we heard the news. It seemed like the end of an era.  


Friday, October 7, 2016

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE - Book Review by Dr. Beatrix D"Souza Member of Parliament Lok Sabha 1999-2004







KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE
 by BRIDGET WHITE


Indian Editions - 2010 & 2014 Matha Printers & Publishers , Bangalore 
Price: Rs 260 
BOOK REVIEW - by Dr. Beatrix D'Souza
Member of Parliament Lok Sabha 1999 - 2004
Kolar Gold Fields , the name itself suggests not just a mining town but is evocative of the lure and romance of gold ; of fields of gold , hidden beneath the barren rocky terrain which is the Deccan Plateau in Karnataka
Bridget White's book is a well -researched historical and sociological document, apart from being a personal Memoir.According to legend attributed to the Ramayana. Rama, Sita and Lakshmananwhen sent into exile wandered in the forests of present day Avani village ,20 kms from what is now known as KGF . Rama chased and killed the Golden Deer with his arrow. The deer fragmented, its pieces scattered and created the ' fields of gold ' Gold was first extracted in shallow pits by nomadic tribes who noticed the unusual rocks. Gold mining existed in the time of the Guptas, the Cholas and during the reign of Tippu Sultan. The British Company, John Taylor and Sons started mining operations in 1880. The Mines were nationalized after Independence in 1956 and closed down in 2001 after 125 years of mining. As a sociological document the book points to the presence of migrants from Andhra ( Telugu )Madras State ( Tamil ), Punjabis ( Watch and Ward), and Marwaris (Rajasthan ) who started businesses. Their descendants continue to live in KGF and Karnataka. The Europeans at that time besides the British, were the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh as well as the Italians, the Germans and the Spanish. The European women staying behind in their native countries, the men married native women and the Anglo- Indian community was further strengthened in this part of Karnataka or erstwhile Mysore State. In the 1920s the Mines employed 24,000, of which 400 were Europeans, 650 were Anglo-Indian and the rest miners and other workforce. The Anglo-Indians as elsewhere in British India, served as a link between the Europeans and the other Indians whose language they spoke and understood. They worked in middle level positions under the British and after Independence in Administrative and Managerial posts . There were many A-I Covenanted officers who enjoyed special privileges. The posts were almost hereditary with the son succeeding the father and occupying the Company bungalow. Mr Sydney White (Bridget’s father) was a Covenanted officer. These three groups who worked together to amass huge profits for the British Company, lived in clearly demarcated social enclaves. While the Europeans lived in large bungalows as did the Anglo-Indians, the miners lived in the Miners Lines in rows of tin shacks with little ventilation, no safe drinking water or proper toilet facilities. Epidemics were common. Illicit liquor added to their woes. Their working conditions were no better. In the early days, they went down the mines in buckets with candles to light the way. Things gradually improved over the years, especially after they formed Unions to protect their interests. 
Anglo-Indians in their bungalows with a British lifestyle and customs lived life to the hilt in what came to be known as Little England. The men worked hard and were known for their efficiency and integrity. The women worked as Nurses,Teachers and Secretaries or stayed home as housewives. Not only former KGF residents but all A-Is will recognise ourselves,  our homes our food and our lingo in Bridget's detailed and interesting account of her childhood and growing up years . Our homes were furnished in the same way with rosewood furniture, Planter's chairs, dinner -wagons and meat safes. We had glass bead curtains, crocheted doilies and brass jardinieres . Foreign goods were easily available like Dutch Ball cheese, Polson's butter,Lea & Perrin Worcester sauce etc. at Cresswells that was owned by an Anglo-Indian which also sold perfumes cosmetics and the famous Tony perm lotion. They also imported dresses for formal occasions. There were also local tailors like Pansy Tailor (he walked like a girl ! ) who followed the latest pattern books. Anglo-Indian women were excellent cooks and had a retinue of servants to assist them in running the house . Bridget White herself is an accomplished cook and through her cook books has attempted to preserve and promote Anglo -Indian cuisine. While the Anglo-Indian men were called Dorai the women were called Missy. The men were always ' suited and booted ' to fit the occasion. The women dressed in the latest fashion. They wore hats and gloves and carried parasols on their way to church . They often had to listen to the good natured taunts of the local urchins ( in Madras too ) : Missy , Missy Lol , Meenkara Mol . Aramoodi thenga , kaapikottai , manga  Bridget gives a translation : 
“Lady, lady,  you are the fisherman's darling. He will give you half a coconut, coffee seeds and mangoes” It must have originated in Madras as KGF is not a seaside town. It was not ridicule and A-I women knew the local people respected them as nurses, teachers and employers. Small boys enjoy a good rhyme and there was no harm done. 
By the end of the 19th century, KGF was a thriving township, one of India's first industrialized towns with electricity, good water supply, well -equipped hospitals and schools. A truly secular society places of worship sprang up . In 1885,the KGF Gymkhana was established. It was a ' Whites Only ' club. It was only in the late 1940s that Indian officers were allowed membership. Other Clubs were the Nandidroog club, the Catholic club etc. The Skating Rink, converted to host weddings, Balls, concerts etc is still a popular venue. Although there were well known A-I dance bands there was Mr Gallyot 's Brass Band. The 15 musicians playing western instruments, marched along the streets playing for Marwari weddings. They also played for funerals. Mr Gallyot dressed up in bright satin jackets and pants and wore a colourful turban. The bandsmen also dressed up. For funerals they wore black. They played a medley of English marches and Tamil and Hindi film songs. I remember that similar bands in Madras ( non A-I ) always started with Come September ! 
I have my own memories of KGF. My sister Barbara lived there for 30 years when her husband, Neslyn D'Gama worked at BEML. The first time we visited my daughter Bettina fell out of the jutka. It was a peaceful place with a leisurely lifestyle like the Bangalore of old. As an MP I visited KGF to inaugurate the Computer Room I had funded at St Teresa 's School. It was a memorable visit with the nuns sending me a breakfast of trotters and hoppers and to my sister's astonishment and my amusement 
arranging for police to guard the house the previous night!
 

There were many A-I teachers. One I particularly remember was Carol Chapman who continues to live in KGF. With emigration thinning the ranks of A-I's and families moving to Bangalore , the community presence though small is significant especially in Robertsonpet. The A-I's, descendents of the early pioneering families are happily settled in their own homes and retain and are proud of their identity. There are still Dances and Housie and Christmas is a joyous time with children coming home from abroad.
KGF is still proud of its Olympic heroes & other sportsmen like the hockey players the Booseys and Kenneth Powell the athlete the first sportsperson to be honoured with the Arjuna Award in Karnataka. There were eminent cricketers like Ren Naylor and John Snaize in the 1940s. The Cyanide dumps still stand, silent sentinels of the mining past. A signboard at the entrance of the Nandydroog mine proudly proclaims ‘Welcome to the land of gold’
I enjoyed reading this book and will add it to my collection on Anglo India. Books like this one are necessary as they keep history alive. Change is the only constant. The old continue with their lives which embody the traditions that they hand down. The young seek new avenues without losing sight of old values and traditions and in this way a community continues to survive. We reinvent not to die but to continue 
to live.
Numbers don't matter. We have always been a small community but as Frank Anthony has famously said we have contributed to our country of origin far in excess of our numbers. Now
 wherever we have settled we contribute to the countries we have adopted, especially in the multi -cultural societies of today. With our mixed-race heritage we have lived all over India and been exposed to different religions, languages and customs. In ourselves we have metamorphosed into two world -views and two cultures. This legacy of tolerance, of understanding is our legacy to the 
outside world. Our children and our children's children will carry forward and our community will continue to survive through them.