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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.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

KGF CLUB - The First Club established in Kolar Gold Fields and the fourth oldest golf club in India.

This is is an extract from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE

In 1885, the British Mining Company of John Taylor and Sons established the first club in Kolar Gold Fields and named it the KGF Gymkhana Club. Bridget Kumar charts the history of the club. Among its members was T P Kailasam, one of the greatest Kannada playwrights.
By the end of the 19th century, a sprawling British township was in place in Kolar Gold Fields and it came to be known as ‘Little England’ due to its British and Anglo-Indian population and its colonial ambience.
Being a British mining colony, the social life of people at KGF was greatly influenced by British culture. The region saw the establishment of quite a few Associations towards the middle of the 1800s, such as the Kolar Gold Fields Choral and Dramatic Society which organised plays and choral functions, The Royal Army Temperance Association, The Trades list, etc. These Institutes catered to the social and cultural needs of the local British and European population. 

However, the need for recreational and sports facilities and clubs was greatly felt. In 1885, the British Mining Company of John Taylor and Sons established the first club in Kolar Gold Fields and named it the KGF Gymkhana Club. They built a 12-hole golf course and a beautiful Victorian Club House. This club was the first of its kind to be established in KGF and is ranked as the fourth oldest golf club in India.

 It had its own polo, golf and hockey teams. The club was and still is affiliated to Indian Golf Union and is also affiliated to all the major clubs in India. The club house was equipped with a traditional bar, library, snooker and billiard rooms, tennis courts, shuttle badminton courts and a ballroom with a wooden floor – all built and completed in a period of just six months since the company had vast man power and resources to complete the project in record time.


The foyer of the club was decorated with many deer and bison heads on its walls, as mementos of hunting spoils by the members. The club was surrounded by a beautiful garden with well-maintained sprawling lawns and flower beds. The serene surroundings of the club, with the golf course on the side looked like a picture from the English countryside.

Unique golf course
Because of the hilly terrain of KGF, the 12-hole golf course was located in a winding picturesque landscape with bungalows and villas along its course. Unlike other golf courses which have putting greens, the KGF Golf Club had no putting greens. Instead it had ‘browns’ constructed of river sand in place of greens. The golf course had a number of natural canals cutting across the fairways lined by huge trees planted when the club was established and gave it the setting of a British country side.

The club house


The KGF Club House has a regal colonial ambience. The old club house that is now more than a century old, was built of stone quarried from the area itself, with beautiful teak wood doors and windows. It also had a teak wood floor and the floor was always polished.The door handles, hinges and knobs and other fittings for the Club House were brought specially from England by the John Taylor and Sons Company, when the club was constructed. The solid brass door handles and hinges shone like gold all the time with constant polishing. The sterling silver cutlery and the beautiful crockery with the club’s emblem were also specially ordered and brought from Sheffield in the UK.

The KGF Club also had the distinction of having an exclusive ‘ladies bar’ just off the main lounge, where the ladies enjoyed their pims and sodas, gin and lime or vodka and orange juice, whiskey and soda, etc while catching up with the latest news and exchanging gossip.

The ladies lounge also had a huge grand piano and the ladies invariably gathered around it singing all the old songs and ballads while one of them played the piano. The gentlemen had their own bar to enjoy their evening drinks, and the ladies were strictly prohibited from entering it.

The KGF Club was famous for its English and colonial food in the old days. Mulligatawny soup, roast lamb with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, club sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and caramel pudding were the main items on its menu.

In those early days, getting membership in the KGF Gymkhana Club was practically impossible if one was not British or European and was totally out of bounds for Indians. Only the British and European officers could become members. Even Anglo-Indian officers of the Company were refused membership to the KGF Club. 
T P Kailasam, an exception
However, in the 1930s, an exception was made in the case of a young Indian, a Tamil geologist who returned to Kolar Gold Fields after his studies in Ireland. His name was T P Kailasam (one of Kannada literature’s greatest playwrights), the son of one of the old timers in KGF. He charmed the British with his wit and impromptu singing and ball room dancing that he picked up in Ireland.

It was only because he was a “foreign returned” Indian who according to the British, knew his manners and etiquette, that he was given the ‘honour’ of becoming a member of the Club. No other Indian was allowed these liberties in the club. 

However, in the 1940s, things began to change and the management realised that they had to change the rules to some extent. They made an exception that only Indian covenanted officers would be allowed membership of KGF Club. This trend continued even after the mines were nationalised and the British left KGF.
Over the years with most of the old members retiring from the mines and the eventual closure of the mines a few years ago, the KGF Club now allows membership to persons from outside KGF as well.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

EDGAR SHAFT, OKLEY SHAFT, KOLAR GOLD FIELDS EARLY 1900

Sharing some old photographs of Edgar Shaft, Oakley Shaft, Oorgaum Mine New Mill and an old map showing the lodes and mines of Kolar Gold Fields in early 1900.

                                                          EDGAR SHAFT


 
                                                        OAKLEY SHAFT 



  OLD MAP SHOWING THE LODES AND MINES OF KOLAR GOLD FIELDS EARLY 1900


                                        OORGAUM NEW MILL 


Friday, August 12, 2016

KGF MINERS TOOK PART IN THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE

As we approach the 69th Anniversary of India's independence let me share a small excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE

'The Miners in KGF also took active part in the Quit India Movement that was sweeping the whole country after the visit of Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. They resorted to Tool-Down Strikes on many occasions. These strikes brought the mining industry to a grinding halt underground and the John Taylor and Sons Company suffered heavily.

The Mine workers and the other people of KGF now joined together and were united in the cause of liberating the country from British rule. Students, teachers, housewives, doctors etc also joined the movement. As the movement for freedom gathered momentum, they began to sabotage communication links and even removed the fishplates on the railway lines near Coramandel, thereby cutting off railway links between KGF and Bowringpet (Bangarapet).

The Miners held huge demonstrations and took out processions demanding freedom from the British. The agitation became so intense that the British Police stationed in Kolar Gold Fields arrested many prominent Trade Union Leaders and Political workers for inciting the people to revolt against the British.


KGF therefore played an important part in the Indian Independence movement! India gained her Independence from the British on the15th of August 1947.' It was a day of great celebration in the whole of KGF. Our National Flag was hoisted at the Gymkhana Grounds where hundreds of workers gathered and cheered. Our national Flag flew proudly on every shaft and office. It was a victory indeed. 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

EICHEILS OR FLYING INSECTS THAT COME OUT AFTER THE RAINS

Some childhood memories of the monsoons.
The monsoons in KGF brought out a lot of creatures and insects as well. It was not uncommon to see garden snakes, lizards and other creepy crawlies slithering about in the open. Insects that come out in the monsoons normally have a short life span and we’d see them only during the months of June to October which is their mating season. Big black Bully Ants, red Ants, White ants, etc, were some of them that made their appearance and gave us a little trouble. The mosquitoes too seemed to increase and multiply during this season and they brought along their own misery.


In the evenings just as the lights were switched on, hordes of flying insects or termites like big ants with white wings would flutter near the light bulbs. The yellow light of the street lights and people’s verandah lights attracted them. The next morning we’d see a carpet of dead insects with their wings detached lying around the lamp posts. Sometimes, they managed to invade the inside of our house and flutter near the drawing room centre light. We called these insects ‘Icheils’. My mum  would fill a big basin full of water and place it on the floor directly in line with the centre light. We’d switch off all the other lights and the Icheils would see the reflection of the light in the water and try to fly into the basin of water and get drowned. Once we were rid of them we’d empty the basin of water with the dead insects in the garden. These Icheils didn’t bite or sting us but they were extremely annoying flying about everywhere. The got into our hair and if we weren’t careful they got into our nose and mouth as well!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS -The First Gold Mining Industry in India



Kolar Gold Fields has the distinction of  being the first Gold mining industry in India. However sad to say that KGF is now part of history and is little known by the rest of India.

My book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE is my small way of preserving for posterity, not only my memories of that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields, but also record its cultural history which has not been documented till now.
This is a book of national importance as it pertains to history, art and cultural heritage of a glorious period in the history of Indiaand Old Mysore Sate / Karnataka in particular. It deals with a period of history that many people in India are not aware of. More over till now no one has ever brought out a book on KGF that focused on the social and cultural aspect of the place.

Kolar Gold Fields, affectionately known as KGF is a small mining town in Karnataka about 110 kms from Bangalore. It was originally owned by the John Taylor and Sons Company, a British Mining Firm for almost a century since 1852.  Kolar Gold  Fields, had a very sizable European and Anglo-Indian population who lived and worked there for generations. It was well known for its Colonial ambience with elegant bungalows replete with huge gardens, green lawns, and many Clubs with Tennis and Badminton courts, Golf courses, Dance Halls, Swimming Baths, etc. 

It was called “Little England” and was unique for its secular and egalitarian society not found anywhere else in the world. It was one of India’s earliest industrialized towns, which had electricity supplied to it from a captive power plant, good water supply, well-equipped hospitals, schools, etc. as early as the 19th Century. 

The 19th and the early 20th century saw the KGF mines booming and flourishing and it employed almost 4500 employees in its hey days. In what was once a desolate, waste, rocky terrain, a large and flourishing town sprang up which was provided with most of the conveniences and comforts of life at that time. All this was possible due to the perseverance and foresight of a group of British pioneers who were successful in their quest for gold. 

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS – DOWN MEMORY LANE, undertakes a nostalgic journey right from the days of the origins of the Kolar Gold Mines, its historical and mythological connections, the arduous and difficult lives of the miners in those early days, the growth of the mines under the British Company of John Taylor and Sons, its gradual decline, and the ultimate closure of the once prosperous Kolar Gold Mining Company in 2003 after it was taken over by the Government of India. Thus ending a golden chapter in History, which now lies buried in the annals of time.  

It then moves on to give the reader a brief insight into the lives of the Anglo-Indian Community (a living legacy of the British Raj) in the early days of KGF. It brings out vividly the glorious and cosmopolitan life led by that tiny vibrant community in KGF who lived in sprawling bungalows with beautiful gardens and domestic helpers at their beck and call. It recalls the grand Christmas Balls and Dances held at the Skating Rink and the Jam Sessions and Pound Parties in Buffalo Lodge. 

It finally focuses on my childhood memories of growing up as a young Anglo-Indian child in KGF in the 1950s and 60s - home, family, school, playmates, entertainments, games, picnics, etc. It recalls memories of old familiar haunts and landmarks of KGF and the people who were an indispensable part of life in those days. This golden period of KGF post Independence was the period of transition, when the influences of the best of old Colonial India merged with the new emerging independent India.
We were special people living in this very Special Place’.

The book succeeds in capturing and preserving for posterity the nuances and ethos of a bygone era in that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields and at the same time keeps it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it.

 KGF could become a Tourist attraction and could be preserved as a monument to the pioneers of the Gold Mining Industry in India.