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Monday, December 31, 2012


Memories of  New Year’s Eve in KGF (An excerpt from KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE)

The 31st of December was another occasion to celebrate in KGF. A huge New Year Eve Ball was always held in the Skating Rink to bring in the New Year. Just like the Christmas Shows local Anglo-Indian Bands or bands from Madras or Bangalore were engaged to play for it. People from Madras, Jolarpet, Bangalore and Mysore flocked to KGF for the New year dance. It was always a time of great fun and merriment and the music kept the folk dancing till their knees and back hurt!
A huge bonfire was lit outside the Skating Rink. At midnight an effigy of an old man representing the old year was thrown into the bonfire at midnight and firecrackers were lit to signal the start of the New Year and fresh beginnings!!
And then the band would play the old haunting song "Auld Lang Syne"
The Skating Rink in its present state"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish  poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it as a close to jamborees and other functions. The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago” / days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".
So for all those who have forgotten "Auld Lang Syne” here are the words.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For times gone by.
We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since times gone by.
And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill drink (of ale)
For times gone by!
And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by!

Friday, December 14, 2012


Christmas is a mixture of both religious and secular traditions in India and more especially in KGF in the olden days.  It’s a time of celebration, of family and friends, of feasting and socializing. Christmas is a fascinating mix of traditions that combines pre-Christian pagan rituals with modern traditions. Every family has its own customs and traditions while celebrating Christmas. Some of these customs and traditions are universal in nature while others may be a result of inculcating local practices and customs. Christmas is therefore the season for traditions, preserving old ones and creating new ones
 In India, Christmas food varies from state to state and communities. Christmas meals in Anglo-Indian families are quite elaborate, under whose weight a table can literally groan, starting   with appetizers and going on to 4 course or 6 course meals. Each family has their own traditional recipes for these dishes that are served on Christmas Day. A lot of traditional sweets are also prepared and exchanged with other family members and friends.

The traditional Christmas Fruit Cakes, Christmas Puddings, Marble and Chocolate Cakes, Yule Logs, kalkals, Rose Cookies, Fruit Cakes, Bole Cake, Dodol, Coconut sweets, Beveca, Marzipan Sweets, Peanut Fudge, Cashew Nut Fudge, mince pies and many other sweets and goodies and savouries such as Murkus, Adrasams, Panyarrams, etc are prepared specially for Christmas, a month or fortnight in advance, filling the house and neighbourhood with enticing smells. This is the time, when the whole house is in a festive mood, with the anticipation of Christmas, and every one in the family chips in to help prepare those heavenly delights.

All these Festive Treats are legacies of the various European invasions in India. The Portuguese influence on Indian food was felt as early as 1498, when Vasco da Gama entered India. Various Christmas and Festive Sweets such as Kalkals, Dodol, Bebinca, Fritters, Coconut cookies, Egg Custards, etc are also of Portuguese origin and are prepared every year in every Christian home all over India.

However, the traditional Christmas Fruit Cakes, Christmas Puddings, Marble and Chocolate Cakes, Yule Logs, Fruit Cakes, Bole Cake, Marzipan Sweets, Peanut Fudge, Cashew nut Fudge, Mince Pies and many other sweets and goodies are the legacy left behind by the British. Many other Indian Savouries and sweets are also prepared at Christmas time in Christian Homes. While Cakes and other baked delicacies are some times bought from the local Bakeries, no Christian family in India particularly the Anglo-Indians would let Christmas go by without preparing Kalkals and Rose Cookies at home, assisted by the whole family.

Each family had their own traditional recipe for making the Christmas cake, which was sometimes handed down from generation to generation. The dry fruits and nuts that went into the Christmas Cakes were chopped finely well in advance and soaked in Rum and were normally baked 3 or 4 weeks earlier and then iced just before Christmas.

Just as the fruit had to be soaked in rum much in advance, the grapes for the home made wine had to be soaked in October to be ready for Christmas. Ginger Wine however, was prepared just before Christmas. Ginger wine wasn’t exactly a wine. It was more a ‘Cordial”. A little Ginger wine was drunk as a digestive to wash down all the rich food that was consumed over the festive season.

My mum would start the preparation of the traditional sweets and treats that are a part and parcel of Christmas a fortnight before Christmas. Kalkals, Rose Cookies, Fruit Cakes, Coconut Sweets, Christmas Pudding, Bole Cake, Dodol, Beveca, Marzipan Sweets, Peanut Fudge and Guava cheese and a lot of other goodies were prepared in abundance by her. The whole house would smell enticingly.

One of my strongest childhood memories is the enticing aroma of the cakes baking in the oven at Christmas time in KGF - of us children sitting around the dining table making KalKals. We’d compete with each other to see who rolled the most kalkals. (Kalkals are made from sweetened dough and look like small shells which are later deep fried in oil and sometimes covered with icing sugar).

KALKALS or KULKULS are prepared all over India at Christmas time. A variant of ‘Filhoses Enroladas’ a Portuguese Christmas Sweet, Kalkals, (always referred to in the plural) are crunchy inch-long curled or shell shaped sweetened fried dough Sweets. Sugar and flour are combined with eggs, milk and butter to a soft dough and then small marble sized balls of this dough are rolled on the tines of a fork or a comb to form a shell or a scroll, then deep fried in hot oil. The dough is sometimes rolled out and cut into different shapes such as hearts, spades, diamonds etc with cutters or a knife and then deep fried in hot oil. The Kalkals / Kulkuls are later frosted or coated in hot melted sugar syrup.


Making Kalkals is a time consuming process and thus requires many hands in its preparation. Hence a few days before Christmas, a separate day is designated as ‘Kalkal Day’ when every member of the family spends a few hours rolling out his/her portion of the kalkal dough. While one doesn’t know how the name ‘Kalkals / Kulkuls’ got its nomenclature it is probably because of the “curls” of this particular Christmas Sweet.

Rose Cookies are delicious fried Anglo-Indian Christmas Treats. Though named as Cookies, they are not cookies in the strict sense as they not baked but deep fried in hot oil. Rose Cookies are also known as Rosette Cookies, Rosa Cookies, etc and are prepared with a sweetened batter consisting of Flour, Eggs, Vanilla Extract and Coconut milk. Believed to be another culinary legacy left by the Portuguese in India, they are known as Rose de Coque or Rose de Cookies in Portugual. (They are also known as Rosettes in Sweden and Norway). The crisp cookies are made by plunging a special hand-held ‘Rose Cookie Mould’ or ‘Rosette Iron’ lightly coated with a sweet batter into hot oil. The
Rose Cookie Mould or Rosette Iron is a long handled gadget with intricately designed iron moulds of different flowers such as roses and daisies. The Mould or Iron is heated to a very high temperature in oil, dipped into the batter, then immediately re-immersed in the hot oil to create a crisp shell around the hot metal. The mould or iron is shaken slightly, till the Rose Cookie gets separated from it. The delicate golden brown, light and crispy cookie thus separated from the mould /iron floats to the top and is taken out from the hot oil with a flat porous spoon. Though a time consuming and laborious process, Rose Cookies are incredibly delicious

Now a days, people prefer to buy the Rose Cookies, Kalkals and Cake from the local stores and bakeries. The old thrill of making them at home is now fading as families are getting smaller and people breaking away from tradition. These memories of Christmas of the days in KGF will remain in our memories for ever.

Friday, December 7, 2012



Eating cotton candy or candy floss is any child’s idea of a treat and as kids we too loved eating cotton candy and staining our tongues and lips bright pink. The soft pink cotton candy was called “Pangi Muttai” The ‘Pangu Muttai’ Man sold the bright pink soft Cotton Candy, in a tin box with glass sides. He carried the box with the help of a strap which he hung from his shoulder. The bright pink cotton candy was neatly arranged in small square blobs in rows in his Tin Box. He would take out the cotton candy carefully from his box and give it to us on pieces of newspaper.

This brightly coloured sweet was enough to entice any child and we were no exception. For us it was like eating sweet soft clouds made by angels and fairies. One blob of this heavenly sweet in our mouths and we could feel the sweetness filling each and every pour as it slowly made it’s way through the entire body. Every successive blob took us closer and closer to heaven. Our tongues would tingle in delight as the soft billowy cloud slowly melted and the residue stuck to our teeth. The Cotton Candy just melted in our mouths leaving us craving for more.

There were three different Bombay Muttai men selling 3 different types of Bombay ‘Muttai’. The word ‘Muttai’ means sweet in Tamil. All of them would call out ‘BOMBAI MUTTAI’ BOMBAI MUTTAI’. These sweet meats seem to have originated in Bombay and hence the name. The sound of the bell rung by the Bombay Muttai seller to denote his arrival was enough for us to grab some money from mummy and rush out of the house to buy this sweet.

One type of Bombay Muttai was ‘Old man’s Beard’ or “Boodhi – ka – Baal’ or ‘Grandma’s hair’ which was like a rough variety of cotton candy very much like human hair. This Indian version of Cotton Candy was also known as ‘Soan Papadi. It was soft, sweet, buttery, and very strongly flavored with ground cardamom. It was cream in colour and its texture was light, flaky, and quick to dissolve on the tongue. The seller carried this sweet in a glass bottle or a wooden box with a glass lid. He was careful not to expose the sweet to the air as it would get hard and lose the hairy texture. He had a collapsible table like contraption which was actually three thick bamboo sticks on which he rested the box or bottle while dispensing the sweet on small bits of newspaper.

Another variety of Bombay Muttai was a very bright pink and white striped candy that was wrapped on a long bamboo stick and covered with a sheet of plastic. The seller balanced the stick on one shoulder and supported it with one of his hands. While walking, he rang a small bell with the other hand. This candy was soft and malleable.

The Bombay Muttai man would take small blobs of this candy and transform it into different shapes such as watches, flowers etc depending on whatever shapes we wanted. He was quite creative in his designs and would complete the design in a few seconds.

The third variety of Bombay Muttai was a much harder variety of the striped candy. These hard candies were wrapped individually in cellophane paper and were usually bright pink or bright red. We’d have to suck them for a long time till they melted completely.

We just couldn’t bite them or break them as they were so hard. The last part of the sweet was sometimes sandy due most probably to the residue from the sugar or jaggery that was used to prepare it. Our tongues and lips would be stained red after eating these sweets.

The Cotton candy and sweets were prepared locally in small establishments and my mum was doubtful about the water used in their preparation and whether they were prepared hygienically. We were therefore not allowed to buy them.

However, this didn’t stop us from buying and tasting these bright pink sweets on the sly whenever we got a chance!! Thankfully we didn’t fall sick after eating it or else the secret of our eating it on the sly would’ve been out in the open and we would have got into ‘big’ trouble with mummy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Memories of Christmas Season in KGF

Christmas time was the most enjoyable time of the year in KGF. A number of dances and variety programs were arranged during Christmas time, starting from the 2nd week of December and going on till the New Year.

Each Mine held their own Christmas celebrations. There were a variety programs such as sports competitions for the children, Fancy Dress Competitions, etc and a High Tea for the children with Santa Claus arriving in a special sleigh to distribute their gifts. Games of skill such as Hoopla, Ringing the Bottle, Ringing the Duck, Lucky Dip, Lucky Arrow, The Chocolate Wheel, Darts, etc were some of the sideshows of the event., followed by a grand Christmas Ball later.

The grand Christmas Balls were occasions to remember. The Dance Invitations would specify ‘Lounge’ or ‘Dress Suits Essential’ and woe betide anyone who turned up in their casual clothes!! So the men and boys would dress in their suits and Tuxedoes and the ladies and girls wore their prettiest dresses and gowns made of lace, silk and satin specially tailored for the occasion.

Local Anglo-Indian Bands or bands from Madras or Bangalore were engaged to play for the dances. The MC of the show would ensure that everyone had a good time and took part in the Square Dances and other group dances. The Jive, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, and Rock and Roll etc were popular dance steps.

The ever green Waltz was all the more popular as it gave couples a chance to hold each other closely and dance cheek to cheek!!! In between the dances the men would disappear to have a small ‘sly tot’ to recharge their batteries. The dances would go on throughout the night and sometimes end only at 5 O’clock the next morning, when they would head straight to Church for Mass.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


There were a few other ‘service providers’ or repairmen, who were also an integral part of our life in KGF in those days. The Umbrella Repairer, the Cobbler or ‘chakla’ as he was colloquially called, The Bed Repairman, the Knife Sharpener, the Grinding Stone Tapper, the Plastic Bucket Repairer, the Lock Repairer, to name a few of them

All these ‘service vendors or providers’ had their own special way of calling out when they came around and people would identify their call and beckon to them in case they needed their services. Some of these people are now extinct with the changed way of life.

I remember the Umbrella repairer quite well. He always wore a faded black coat given to him by one of the ‘Dorais’. He carried a tin trunk filled with different tools and paraphernalia such as spokes, handles, black cloth, etc, required for repairing umbrellas or parasols.  His charges were very nominal and he would finish his job in a little while’s time and be on his way scouting for his next customer.

In those days, SUN BRAND Black Umbrellas were the prized possessions of every one and every family in KGF possessed atleast one black umbrella of this particular brand. It was duly flaunted in both sunshine and rain and many of them had faded to a dull grey from over exposure to the elements! But no one cared as long as they had an umbrella to protect them from the sun and rain.

The cobbler or shoe repair man was known as the ‘chakkla’ in Tamil. There were many cobblers in those days.  They could be seen sitting under trees or near the market or railway station, with
the tools of their trade spread out, busy repairing their customer’s shoes and boots and other footwear.

They were also expert shoe polishers and could shine a pair of shoes in a jiffy while the person waited. Some of them however, didn’t sit in one place and wait for customers. They would move around the streets and roads of KGF calling out ‘shoe repair, shoe repair’. They carried their tools and shoe brushes and polish in a bag on their shoulders and repaired foot wear and even suitcases if needed.

The plastic bucket repairer and the lock smith or repairer were also ‘door to door’ service providers in their particular area of expertise. Like the Umbrella repair man they carried the tools of their trade in small trunks and would attend to any repairs in next to no time. The lock repairer was very fast in making duplicate keys and could open any lock that was jammed in a thrice!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012




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".

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.

Today being All Soul’s Day, 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.
All Souls Day falls on the 2nd of November every year and a week before this, 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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


THE HINDU Metroplus  Life & Style

June 2, 2011

 A passage to colonial India – Flavours from the Past

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  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, Dak Bungalow Curry, etc

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.

Bridget can be contacted by email


Friday, October 19, 2012


The Nandydroog Club was quite simple in its architecture and design unlike the KGF Club. However, the Tennis and Badminton Courts were very well maintained and Manickam the Marker always kept the Courts in pristine condition. He spent many hours doing the markings and ensuring the whole court was swept clean.

However, as with all the well loved and fondly remembered landmarks of our younger days in KGF, The Nandydroog Club is now closed and the Tennis and Badminton Courts are unused. There is an eerie silence around the place. The thud of the Tennis Balls are heard no more and Manickam the Marker and Shankar the Bar man died a long time ago.

Our house was just opposite the Nandydroog Club and the Skating Rink. Since my dad was a member of the Nandydroog Club, we were also allowed to make use of their facilities for tennis, badminton, Billiards, Snookers, cards, caroms etc. During the school term we were busy with our school work etc so we didn’t have time to avail of these facilities. However, during the school vocations, weekends and holidays we would play badminton and squash at the club, and also attend the Housie and Bingo Sessions.

The Bingo and Housie Sessions at the Nandydroog Club were such fun. Each of us would get our own Bingo cards which were priced at Two Rupees a card. One of the members would call out the Bingo Numbers and we had to be very quiet and attentive as the numbers were being called out so as to strike out those numbers on our cards.

I still remember the rhyming words used while calling out the numbers – Kelly’s Eye No 1, What Babies do No 2, All by itself No 3, Knock on the door No 4, Punjab Mail No 5, Pick up sticks No 6, lucky No 7, One fat major No 8, Doctors Orders No 9, Downing Street No 10, and so on. It was quite exciting waiting to win. The prizes were for each line, Full house, Jaldhi Five or Quick Five, Bamboo, Kings corner, Queen’s corner and the Jackpot. The Prizes were small gifts or small amounts of cash.

The Club also organized functions on Independence Day and Republic Day. There would be a Flag Hoisting function followed by a cultural programme and light refreshments. We would attend these functions and also take active part in the cultural programmes. On Republic day a Sports programme for the children was always held, and we won many prizes in various events.

The Billiards and Snooker Tables were the constantly in use by the members. Whist Drives, card Sessions and Ladies Meets were also regularly organized. The Bar was well stocked with the choicest foreign and Indian Liquors, Beers, and Soft Drinks. The club boys were kept on their toes by Shankar the Barman who was a strict disciplinarian.

The Nandydroog Club Canteen sold mouth watering snacks like fried groundnuts, fried green peas, chips, fries, sandwiches etc, It also stocked Jams, Cheese, Sandwich spreads, tinned fish, Cream Crackers, Biscuits, etc., and soft drinks like lemonade, ginger beer and orangeade.

These soft drinks were specially made in the Soda factory owned by the mines. The Ginger Beer, Lemonade and Pittalo were delicious. The Soda factory was situated beside the Rescue station and the Swimming Bath just behind our house. It was very easy to order and buy crates of these soft drinks if there was a party at home. Sadly the Soda factory too was shut when the mines closed down.

The Nandydroog Club is now closed and the Tennis and Badminton Courts are unused. There is an eerie silence around the place. The thud of the Tennis Balls are heard no more and Manickam the Marker and Shankar the Bar man died a long time ago.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


This is is an extract from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE that was published in the Deccan Herald, Bangalore on 25th September 2012 

KGF’s very own Little England - DOWN MEMORY LANEBridget Kumar , Sept 25, 2012

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.

Tale of the iron bucket

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 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 barman, 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 organisers 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. The organisers had to just improvise by making use of an old cast-iron bucket with the words ‘The Cup’ painted on it. The old sepia picture on the foyer wall is of the winning team posing with the trophy of the very first tournament.

The KGF Club still maintains its gymkhana status even today and is affiliated to the Indian Golf Union and to all the major clubs in India. Like the rest of KGF, there are visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious club. 

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 is in need of repair. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine, the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the club’s monogram have all disappeared.

The club still has almost 600 members on its 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 bar.They still conduct many golf tournamentsas well

Mr Patrick Taylor, The great grand son of Mr John Taylor the founder of the John Taylor and Sons Company visited KGF after reading my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE. I had the pleasure of acompnaying them to KGF on the 8th November 2011.

This is a picture of Mr Patrick Taylor with his wife heather steading before the Photograph of his Great grand father in the bar of the KGF Club

Patrick Taylor with the old bar man Sausairaj and the other Club men. Susairaj regaled Mr Taylor of old memories of his father mr Arthur Taylor the last Chairman of the Mines before it was nationalised by the Government of India.

Mr Patrick Taylor looking at the photographs of his ancestors on the walls of the Conference Room of the KGF Club.

Monday, September 10, 2012


There were quite a few Typewriting and Short Hand  Institutes in KGF during the 1970s till the early 1990s.  The Vani Vilas Typewriting Institute, Neo Typewriting Institute, Rao’s Institute, Venkateswara Institute of Commerce, etc. in Robertsonpet and other places in KGF were some of them. These Institutes conducted Typewriting and Short Hand Classes in several batches a day of one hour’s duration and prepared students for careers as secretaries, clerks etc.  One could hear the very distinctive sound of the old Manual typewriters going ‘clackety-clack’ with so many students pounding on the keys at varying speeds throughout the day in these Typewriting Institutes.
 Learning Short Hand and Typing was synonymous with the desire of the middleclass in those times as a means of better job prospects. The Certificates one obtained after appearing for the Government Exams in Shorthand and Typewriting served as a ticket to jobs in the Public Sector and Government undertakings.

I also attended Typewriting and Shorthand Classes at the Neo Commerce Institute in Robertsonpet, as additional qualifications apart from my B A Degree.  I attended these classes in the evenings after returning from College.  The Institute was owned by Mr. Palani, whose son Prakash was our classmate in College. The Instructors and teachers in the Institute were quite good and prepared us for the Junior and Senior Government Examinations in both Typewriting and Shorthand. I still remember my Pitman’s Shorthand and found it of great use all these years.  In fact my having passed the Senior Typewriting and Short Hand Government Examinations was one of the Plus Points on my own Resume along with my BA and B Ed Degrees!!

Sadly these Institutes had to shut down in the last decade due to the onset of the Information Technology Era. The old manual Typewriters died a natural death, once Computers came into existence. While some of these Typewriting Institutes moved with the times and turned into Computer Education Institutes and Internet Cafes or Browsing Centers, some of them had to shut down as they couldn’t afford to invest in Computers and other equipment. Thus another aspect of our earlier lives also came to an end.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


KGF was not connected directly to the Railway line connecting Madras and Bangalore. We had to take the local train from KGF to Bangarapet Junction to catch the Madras or Trichy trains. Sometimes we also went to Bangarapet to meet any of our relatives coming in from Madras or Trichy by train or to leave them at the Bangarapet station when it was time for them to go back. These were unexpected outings and we loved traveling by this local train.

Our KGF train in those days had about 10 bogies and was pulled by a Steam Engine.  On the journey from Marikuppam to Bangarapet Junction, (stopping at Champion Reef, Oorgaum, Balaghat  and BEML stations), the train normally took around 35 minutes to reach Bangarapet,  as it was down hill most of the way. It would careen along the tracks rushing past the tunnels and rocks at full speed.

However on the return journey to KGF, the train took about 10 minutes more as it had to huff and puff uphill. The poor old Steam Engine would strain and wheeze up hill like an old man. However, it always managed to conquer the hilly terrain and reach KGF safely without any mishaps or breakdowns on the way.

When we were small children, my dad would tell us that the steam engine was telling itself “I know I can, I will, I must” as it chugged along.  He told us to take the example of this steam engine and say these words “I know I can, I will, I must” whenever we were faced with a difficult situation.

Our house was very close to the Oorgaum Railway station and we frequently used our local train to commute between the various places in KGF such as going to St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel, to Our Lady of Victories Church in Chanpion Reefs, or to our school for music lessons during the holidays, and sometimes in the evenings to the mining hospital to visit friends who was admitted there etc. We’d get the train at Oorgaum Station and the Station Master would always welcome us with a smile as he knew all of us well.

The canteen on Oorgaum Station sold very appetizing Vadas, Bondas and other snacks which were quite cheap and tasty.  We would munch on these tasty tidbits while waiting for the train. The train tickets too didn’t cost much in those days, just a few annas and it was a convenient and cheap means of traveling for us.

In those days most of the Railway staff were Anglo-Indians. The train driver who I remember the most was Mr. Hall whose daughters Marie and Irene studied with us in St Joseph’s Convent. Uncle Hall would sometimes allow us to ride with him in the Engine and we would get to blow the whistle as we entered Champion reef Station. Our favourite guard was Mr. Tommy Gaughn whose daughter Charmaine also studied with us in the Convent. The railway staff lived in the railway colony in Bangarapet so the Halls and Gaughn children traveled from Bangarapet to school in Champion Reefs by train everyday.

Now whenever we pass Bangarapet station on our way to Madras and back, memories of our childhood trips by the local KGF Train keep crowding back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This is a report on the major fire that broke out on the 13th May 1942 at 17.23 hours in the Stopes north of Bullen Shaft at the 59th level. According to the report 576 men were underground at the time. As per proceedure Eucalyptus was sent down the air mains to warn the men of the danger of the fire. Two British officers Mr Stocken and Mr Goodman went down Bullen Shaft to investigate. The Mining Rescue Station Team under Mr Jeffery arrived in a few minutes and all the workers were evacuated and brought up through Bullen Shaft and Okley Shaft. No loss of lives were reported. Read the whole report below.

Sincere thanks to Mr Pete Symth of the UK for sending me this report which was part of his father's memorabilia of KGF.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


This is a picture of our old house in Nandydroog Mine where we lived for more than 25 years. My grand parents lived in the same house for more than 55 years before us. Our house was just opposite the Skating Rink and Nandydroog Club. The house had a beautiful Tiled Roof and a beautiful garden lovingly attended to by my mum and our Malis Ellappa and Muniappa. The beautiful hedge and gardens are no more and just live in our memories. However, the Peepel tree planted by my mum is still standing tall. Unfortunately, the 2 Jack Fruit trees and all the fruit trees are no more. My dad retired from the mines in 1977 and we shifted to Robertsonpet. We left this house with heavy hearts but took with us many beautiful memories.

Adjoining our house were 4 shops - Pansy Tailor's Shop which later became Gopal Tailor's Shop, Basha's Shop also known as Ahmed Shop, a small Eatery or Hotel which had some amazing short eats such as bondas, bajjis, puffs, etc and an a sweet called kajur. The last shop was Ebrahim's or Abhram's Shop. Our childhood revolved around these 4 shops. Sad to see their present condition.

Below is a picture of Pansy Tailor's Shop at the far left with its Trellis still intact but with lots of tiles missing from its roof. Pansy tailor passed on the shop to his assistant Gopal so it later came to known as Gopal Taylor Shop.

Basha's Shop also known as Ahmed Shop is in the middle and is now closed.Basha and his wife have since passed away. His sons Afzal and Amjath live in Bangalore. The tiles are missing from the roof.

The Hotel or Eatery is still there but has changed many managements over the years. They still blast tamil film songs on their old radio. The Bondas, Vadas, Kajurus are still as tasty as they were in our childhood.

Abraham or Ebrahim's shop is at the far right and is still in business.  His shop was full of tasty treats for us when we were kids. Especially remember the pottu kadla, Fried peas, Jignut toffee and kamarkuts.

Ibrahim is now a grand old man of 85 years but still going strong. God bless him.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kolar Gold Fields - NOSTALGIA: St. Paul's Parish in Marikuppam KGF

Kolar Gold Fields - NOSTALGIA: St. Paul's Parish in Marikuppam KGF

St. Paul's Parish in Marikuppam KGF

St. Paul's Parish in Marikuppam KGF

St. Paul's Parish in Marikuppam KGF was established on 15th June 1948. The Diamond Jubilee of St. Paul’s Church was celebrated in 2009 marking 60 fruitful years of pastoral ministry.

The Parish was given to the care of the Precious Blood Missionaries from January 1995. It holds a very important place in the history of the Precious Blood Missionaries in India, as it was the first Mission opened by the Precious Blood Missionaries thus opening the doors to Pastoral activity of the Missionaries.

 St. Paul’s Church Marikuppam has a beautiful Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima that was inaugurated and blessed on the 13th May 1949.  The grotto and the church were renovated for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

St.PaulSt. Paul’s Church is the 4th oldest Roman Catholic Church to be established in KGf under the Archdiocese of Bangalore. Our lady of Victories church (originally St Mary’s Church) was the first Roman Catholic Church to be established in KGF in 1890, St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel was established in 1899, St Teresa’s Church in Robertsonpet in 1929, and St Paul’s Church in Marikuppam / Mysore Mine was established in 1948. These were some of the oldest Catholic Churches in KGF

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church, Oorgaum KGF was one of the first Anglican Churches in Kolar Gold Fields. It came into existence when the original church i.e. St Paul's Church shifted to Robertsonpet from Oorgaum.

As per early historical records, one of which are the papers presented by M L Griffith-Jones, a Diocesan Lay Reader at a meeting of the Church of England Men’s Society (CEMS) in 1916, a small Church was erected in the year 1894 at Oorgaum in Kolar Gold Fields (where the Compressor House of Bullen Shaft now stands) The Church had just basic infrastructure and was constructed with Funds collected by the rev W F Penny, who was the Secretary of the INDIAN CHURCH AID ASSOCIATION, LONDON.

The Church was dedicated to St Paul and placed under the control of the S.P.G. The first Chaplain was Rev James Sharp. In those early days, the Church could seat around 60 faithful and the evening services were conducted both in English and Tamil.

In December 1901, The John Taylor and Sons Company, London, sent out Rev. L.Giffard Pollard as the Chaplain of St Paul’s Anglican Church. It was during his tenure that he started the ball rolling for a new Church to be built as the existing church had developed cracks due to the sinking of a new vertical shaft (Bullen Shaft) just next to it. It was subsequently decided to build a new Church for the English speaking congregation, while the Tamil speaking Congregation would continue as members of St Paul’s.

Consequently, THE OORGAUM COMPANY took over the old Church building and land in Oorgaum and paid a handsome compensation for it to the S.P.G. The S.P.G then built a new Church in Robertsonpet or New Town (as it was called in those days) on a piece of land given by the Government out of the compensation amount. This Church continued the old name of St Paul’s Church and catered to the Tamil speaking Anglican Congregation of KGF.

The new Church for the English speaking Congregation was built on a piece of land given by the GOLD FIELD OF MYSORE COMPANY, quite close to the KGF Club and a short distance away from the old St. Paul’s Church.
The Foundation Stone was laid on 8th October 1903. The John Taylor and Sons Company extended much assistance to the building of the new Church. A beautiful brick and stone Church and Parsonage in Victorian Style was ultimately constructed and was named as the “St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church”. The new Church was completed and dedicated on 3rd march 1905. The Altar, Pulpit and Pews were brought from the old church while a new beautifully carved Teak lectern was installed. The Pipe organ which is still in use in this church was brought from Madras in June 1921. St Michael’s and All Angels Church was now strategically located and had a large English Speaking Congregation who worshipped here regularly.

St, Michael’s and All Angels Church was under the administration of the Church of England from 1905 and all the Chaplains of the church were appointed directly by the John Taylor and Sons Company. After India attained independence, the church was brought under the control of the   Church of South India - Diocese of Mysore in 1947.

St Michael’s and All Angels’ Church celebrated its centenary in the year 2005 and is still maintained in the same condition even today. Located in serene surroundings, it is a Haven of Peace and tranquility.