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Thursday, July 28, 2011


The KGF Golf / Gymkhana Club was established by the British Mining Company John Taylor and Sons in 1885 with a 12 Hole Golf Course and a Beautiful Victorian Club House. The Club House was equipped with a traditional bar, a library, a ballroom with a sprung floor, snooker and billiard rooms and tennis courts, which were all built and completed in a period of just six months. This Club was the first club to be established in KGF and is ranked as the 4th oldest Golf Club in India. It had its own Polo, Golf and Hockey teams, In those days, the club was totally out of bounds for the Indians, and only the British and Europeans could become members. The Club house and the 12 Hole Golf Course was built in just 6 months by the vast labour force in KGF at that time.

Because of the hilly terrain of KGF, the 12 Hole Golf course was located in a winding treeless landscape. 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 KGF Club House has a regal Colonial ambience. The old Club house that is more than a century old, was built of stone quarried from the area itself. It had strong dark teak wood doors and windows with solid brass handles, hinges and knobs. These handles and knobs were constantly polished by the club servants in those days and shone like gold. These fittings as well as the sterling silver cutlery and the beautiful crockery with the Club’s emblem were all brought specially from England, when the club was constructed by the British.

The KGF Club also had the distinction of having an exclusive “Ladies Bar” just off the main lounge. The British and European ladies made good use of this lounge and enjoyed their drinks while catching up with the latest news and exchanging gossip with their friends.. 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 club was surrounded by a beautiful garden with well maintained sprawling lawns and flower beds. The serene surroundings with the golf course on the side looked like a picture from an old English Countryside.

The foyer of the club has many deer and bison heads on its walls. There are also a number of framed photographs of all the old Superintendents and Chairmen of the Mines starting with Mr. John Taylor in the lounge of the club. Besides these there are a lot of other photographs as well.

One particular faded sepia print of smiling Britishers standing around an iron bucket on one of the walls of the lounge draws one’s attention. The old Bar man Susairaj was often willing to share the story behind this photograph to anyone who was interested in listening even if it meant repeating the story any number of times.

According to Susairaj’s story, when the KGF Golf Club came into existence, and a new club house was built, and the 12 Hole Golf Course was laid, the Club hosted the first KGF Gymkhana Golf Tournament. However the organizers forgot to arrange for a suitable Trophy for the first Tournament. It was quite an embarrassing moment when it was time to award the winner and there was no trophy to be given. They just improvised by using an old cast iron bucket with the words ‘The Cup’ painted on it. The old picture is of the winning team posing with the trophy of the very first tournament.

Like the rest of KGF, there are visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club. The Bar is not so well stocked now and soft drinks are served in a bottle with a drinking straw and paper napkins. The snacks and short eats that the club was so famous for in the old days have been replaced with small packets of store bought nuts and fries. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club. However, the beautiful garden surrounding the Club has disappeared, the grand Piano in the erstwhile ‘Ladies Bar’ now lies unused and in need of repairs. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine, the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones.

The Club still has almost 600 members on the rolls. The members still enjoy their rounds of Golf and visit the Club for a game of Billiards and Snooker and enjoy a drink in the not so well stocked Bar!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The Boy Scouts Movement was started in India by the British as early as 1909 in Bangalore but it was open only to British and Foreign Scouts. In 1916, the Indian Boy Scouts Association was founded and was open to all Indians.
In 1929, Mr. V.N. M. Felix, who was a Malaria Inspector, attached to the Sanitary Department, Champion Reefs, founded The 5th Kolar Gold Fields (St. Mary’s) Open Scout Group, that functioned from the Champion Reefs Scout Den until the late 1980s. Scouts from this Den attended many state and national level camps under the leadership of Mr. Felix. Scout meetings were held regularly on Saturday evenings. The Scouts and Guides movement in KGF was quite active under Mr. V.N.M. Felix, who was the Scout Master in KGF. He was a short thin man with a huge white mustache. He wore his khaki shorts and shirt and the Scouts tie, scarf and stockings with pride. Besides, training the young boys to be scouts he also started the Bulbul Movement for the girls. Mr.S. A. Bayley, a British Officer, who was the Chief Cashier and Accountant in Nandidroog mines was the Vice-President, K.G.F. District Scout Association in the 1940s and 50s. His contribution to the growth and popularity of the Scout movement in K.G.F. was significant. In 1946 he was awarded the ‘Silver Elephant’ (which is the highest award in Scouting in India) by the then Chief Scout His Highness The Maharaja of Mysore! The Boy and Cub Scout Movement was active in the K.G.F. School up to the 1950s then went into decline.

In 1962, Mr. Dudley Pinto took over as the Head Master of the School from Mr. Sterling. Incidentally, Mr. Pinto was the Group Leader and District Scout Master at the Southern Railway Mixed High School (English Medium) in Khargpur, West Bengal, where he worked until 1961. In 1966 some students prevailed upon Mr. Pinto to revive the Boy Scouts group in the KGF School. Accordingly, a Scout Group with about 20 boys was formed with Mr. Pinto as Scout Master in KGF School. Mr. Felix and Mr. George Bastian of the St. Mary’s Scout Den, Champion Reefs, were closely associated with the Scout activities of the KGF School.
In 1967, Mysore State celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Scouting at the Central training Camp in Doddaballapur in which the Scout group from the school participated. A two day Scout Camp was also conducted by Mr. Felix at Bethamangalam for the scouts of the KGF School. The Scouts movement was quite active for a few more years, but with the departure of Mr. Pinto from K.G.F. School, the Scout Movement was overtaken by the NC

These pictures of the 2 day Scout Camp at Bethamangala in 1967 attended by the Boy Scouts from KGF School were very kindly given to me by Mr Ravindra Kumar who now lives in Chennai when I was bringing out my book on KGF. Thanks Ravi.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Skating Rink , (Nandydroog Mine KGF)

The Skating Rink was diagonally opposite our house and next door to the Nandydroog Club. The Skating Rink was the only big Auditorium or Party Hall in KGF at the time and was the most popular venue for Wedding Receptions, Parties, Get-togethers, School Functions and Concerts, Musical recitals, Meetings, Dances etc. The Christmas Dances, May Queen Balls, Easter Ball, June Rose Balls, The Anglo-Indian Association’s Annual General Meeting and Ball, New Years 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 this hall was used for Ice Skating and Roller Skating by the British. The floor was as smooth as silk and was an amazing dance floor. Just before a dance, 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.

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’

Saturday, July 9, 2011


- The Hindu Life & Style » Metroplus 3rd June 2011

A Passage to Colonial India 
Bridget White-Kumar takes Mini Anthikad-Chhibber through the delicately spiced pages of history into a world of memsahibs, cucumber sandwiches, kedgeree and khansama

Stepping into Bridget White-Kumar's house just off the busy Koramangala Ring Road is to step into another world altogether. There are the flowering trees, plants, shrubs, lovebirds all flourishing in a riotous symmetry. The old world charm of the house with its glass showcases, the colourful aquarium with its plump, brilliantly-hued fish is an echo of Bridget's life-long project of preserving the Anglo-Indian legacy through its cuisine.

Having written seven recipe books including the latest, “Vegetarian Delicacies” and a book on Kolar Gold Fields, where she was born — “Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane – Paeans to lost Glory,” Bridget is doing her bit to see that a way of life does not pass off into the dusty pages of history.

“It all started when my daughter, Kusum, was going to England to study,” says Bridget with a smile. “I wrote her a small recipe book. The original little black book! There were recipes for regular cooking like rice, curries and snacks. When Kusum returned, she said all her friends had enjoyed the food. That Easter, while we were eating the traditional Easter lunch, my daughter said these recipes would die out unless they were recorded. That got me thinking and I set about collecting recipes.”

Collating recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother, Bridget soon had a wealth of information about Anglo-Indian recipes. “I sent the manuscript around and Roli Books showed interest. But it was all taking too much time. I decided to pick out the most famous Anglo-Indian dishes and publish it myself.”

And that is how “The Best of Anglo-Indian Cuisine – A Legacy” was born. “I tempted readers with the picture of classic Anglo Indian dishes — coconut rice, devil chutney and ball curry, on the cover,” Bridget says with a laugh. The book was a super success. The other books followed including “Flavours of the Past” with colonial favourites such as Railway mutton curry.

After her graduation in Kolar, Bridget came to Bangalore to do her B.Ed, which is where she met her husband. “He was my first cooking instructor! He taught me to strain rice. I asked my mother and mother-in-law for recipes. “Since my husband is from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, known for its fiery cooking, and I am Anglo-Indian, my cooking was a fusion of the two. I started off with simple dishes and then graduated to more complicated recipes. My first big success was the biryani, which was not too bland nor was it too spicy or too rich. I realised ethnic cooking is dying out and needs to be preserved.”

About the legacy of Anglo-Indian food, Bridget says: “Roasts, stews, bakes, sandwiches and white bread, fish and chips, cutlets, croquettes, sausages, bacon, ham, egg variants, puddings, custards, became part of the Anglo-Indian culinary repertoire. The Sunday English breakfast of eggs, bacon and kippers, toast, cheese, butter, jams, and English roast dinners complete with steamed vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, English sausages, colloquially known as bangers with mash, became very common in Anglo-Indian homes.” Anglo-Indian cuisine has a strong Scottish influence too. “The bread pudding, treacle pudding, mince and tatties, steak and kidney pie and of course kedgeree (kichdi) are a result of the cross pollination between cultures.”

Anglo-Indian food should not be looked at as a homogenous entity, Bridget says. “The recipes are an amalgamation of the tastes and spices of the region. So the Anglo-Indian cuisine from Bengal will have more sea food and mustard oil while the cuisine from landlocked Kolar would feature more meat.”

Bridget took VRS from Canara Bank after working for 23 years. She says she is busier than before.

She started a blog on KGF “four to five years ago. Every time I visited, I saw the deterioration. I felt the nostalgia and the need to preserve the story of KGF for coming generations”. That is how “Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane – Paeans to lost Glory” was born. An easy read, the book effortlessly brings to life the world of dances, food and hard work.

As I look through Bridget's collection of recipes, written by her mum and grandmother on little pieces of paper and also flip through this rare, old book, “Original Madras Cookery” published in 1874 written by an anonymous British Resident's wife I am transported to a world of khansamas, mulligatawny soup, bone china tea services and delicately-sliced cucumber and chutney sandwiches. At my back I can hear the insistent hum of Koramangala traffic as it speeds down our very own information highway. It is however nice to sometimes take a break and indulge in some heavy duty Raj nostalgia.

Mini Anthikad-Chhibber