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Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Jon Manley keeps in touch with me occasionally and shares a lot of interesting and amusing incidents that he remembers of his childhood in KGF during the 1950s. I’m sharing one such incident below. This will give the readers an insight into the life of the people in KGF in the days of the John Taylor and Sons Company.

Hi Bridget,
 I recalled the other day this story my mother told of a dinner party my parents gave, for around a dozen guests. It must have been around 1950, and thought you might find it amusing.
Dinner parties in those days were very 'swank' affairs. The men all wore tuxedos and black ties, and the women all gowns. Our butler Anthony would have been in his finest starched uniform, and would have worn a fine turban sporting some amazing decoration in the front, and a drinks waiter would have been hired from the club for the night, us children put to bed and told not to make a sound. I don't recall the menu but suspect it would have been something like iced cucumber soup, followed by roast beef and baked vegetables, and one of those delightful Indian sweets for dessert. Wine would have been on offer with coffee and liquors.
I don't recall names, but will put in a few of people around at the time who would have attended my parent’s dinner parties. During one of these Dinner Parties, a Mrs. Boadhurst said to my mother, "Molly those candlesticks you have as a table centerpiece look just like the ones my brother Albert gave Stan and me as a wedding present", Then Mrs. Connie Walker said, "Molly, those salt and pepper shakers are just like some we bought years ago in London", a Mrs. Stella Dunlop then said, "That carvery set reminds me of one we have which is just like it", and so the conversation went. My mother was most embarrassed, as she had never seen any of these items before herself.
The Butler Anthony was summoned into the room, and asked if he could throw any light on how these items had come to be on our table. He replied, "Yes Madam, I knew you wanted to impress, so I got Mrs. Broadhurst's and Mrs. Walker's and Mrs. Dunlop's butlers, to contribute towards the evening, with what fine pieces of table-ware they had. Don't worry they will all be returned first thing in the morning, and no one would normally have been any the wiser". My mother was shocked to hear this. Never the less, our butler Anthony was told that this practice had to stop forthwith, and in future any borrowing would be done only through her, direct to the lady of the other house. I dare say everyone had a good laugh, and a fine evening was had by all.
Nice to have heard from you Bridget,
Kind regards
Jon Manley

Monday, August 12, 2013


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

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I have some very vivid childhood  memories of the ‘Aadi Karthigai or Adi Kirthigai’ Festival  or the KAVADI Festival in KGF
The Aadi Karthigai or Adi Kirthigai Festival was celebrated very grandly by the Tamilian Population in KGF during Tamil Hindu month of ‘Aadi’.  Aadi Karthigai is celebrated on Kirthigai Nakshatra day of the Tamil Calendar which is mid July to mid August. This festival  honours Lord Murga who is also known as Lord Subramanya.The Community venerated Lord Murgan in a big temple in Thiruthini, which is a place in Tamil   Nadu. The beautiful temple of Lord Muruga at Tiruttani is around 84 kilometers from Chennai. Every year they would go on pilgrimage  to this temple in Thirutanni to fulfill their vows.
The devotees who made a vow to carry the ‘kavadi’ were dressed in yellow or ochre clothes and  had to carry a heavy York balanced on their shoulders filled with flowers and other items required for performing the Puja. Sometimes they pierced their cheeks and bodies with long metal skewers and smeared their bodies with Turmeric, Vermilion and Ash. The kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore Lord Murga for help and to grant their intentions. The kavadi consists of two semicircular pieces of wood or steel which are bent and attached to a cross structure that can be balanced on the shoulders of the devotee, decorated with flowers, peacock feathers, etc. The Kavadis are quite heavy and some can weigh up to 30 kg. The preparations for this ritual start before the festival. The devotees purge themselves of all mental and physical impurities. They have to follow a strict vegetarian diet and fast on the day they offer the puja. Many of them bathe in cold water during this period and shave their heads on the Aadi Kirithigai Day

In my childhood days, I remember that special trains were arranged by the Railways besides a fleet of Government and private buses to enable the devotees from KGF who were performing the ‘KAVADI’ to travel from KGF to Thiruthini. The same trains and buses would also bring them back to KGF.

The streets of KGF especially around the Workers Colonies would be vibrant and colourful during this period with special prayers being offered to the diety in the Pandals erected at every corner. Loud speakers blaring devotional songs to the Lord and mass feeding were common. Just before it was time to board the special trains or buses to take them to Thiruthini, huge processions of devotees carrying the kavadis preceded by a group of persons beating drums and followed by throngs of people would wend their way to the 4 Railway stations of KGF and the bus stops. The sight of the devotees carrying the heavy kavadis and the followers in the procession uttering the sacred words "Haro Hara!" as they marched and danced in time to the drum beats was a sight to behold. One had to see it to believe it.