MAKING KALKALS AND ROSE COOKIES AT CHRISTMAS TIME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS



 MAKING KALKALS AND ROSE COOKIES AT CHRISTMAS TIME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

One of my strongest childhood memories of Christmas time in KGF is 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. variant of ‘Filhoses Enroladas’ a Portuguese Christmas Sweet, Kalkals are delicious, crunchy inch-long curled or shell shaped sweetened fried treats. 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.


We children would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help our mum in the preparation of the Kulkuls, Rose Cookies, etc, We’d all sit around the dining table and each of us would take a lump of dough and spread it on a fork to make as many kulkuls as possible with it. These kulkuls were like small shells. To make other shapes, we would also roll out the dough and cut out various shapes like hearts, clubs, diamonds, etc with the cutters. It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. My mum would start frying the kulkuls as soon as we completed a good number, and would keep frying till all the kulkuls were fried and a huge heap was kept on the table to cool. She’d then frost them when they were cold, by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kulkuls. We had a lot of fun helping to make the kulkuls, and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join us and help us  in this happy task. Of course, a good portion of the fried kulkuls would go into our mouths while helping to make them.




Rose Cookies are delicious fried Anglo-Indian Christmas Treats. Though named as Cookies, theyare 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 precious memories of Christmas in our childhood days in KGF will remain in forever.


IMPERIAL BAKERY, CHAMPION REEFS, KGF

 


This is a picture of the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Victory Confectionery Stores’ in Champion Reefs which is situated just opposite the Company Hospital. My late brother John White is standing before it when he last visited KGF in the year 2019. It is a fourth generation Bakery and Store that is still in existence and being managed by the great grandson of the Founder and Owner. 
It’s almost Holy Week, and with it, nostalgic memories of the delicious Hot Cross Buns that we used to get from this bakery when we were children. This Bakery and Store in the good old days, was any child’s delight with huge glass bottles filled with different kinds of sweets, biscuits, toffees, stick jaws, buns etc. The Egg Sweets, ‘Wording sweets’, lollipops, Jujips, Almond Sweets, etc were all so delicious and enticing. Since it was just opposite the hospital, no hospital visit was complete without visiting this delightful place. Parents often had to bribe their kids to take their medicines with promises of goodies from the New Imperial Bakery. Besides these exciting  sweets in bottles, the trays of Mutton and Vegetable Puffs, Buns, biscuits, cookies and other savouries was a gourmet's delight. 
Our daily bread was also ‘home delivered’ every day at 4 o’clock in the evening. The ‘Bread Man’ brought the freshly baked loaves in a large Wooden Box tied on the carrier of his bicycle. This bread was delivered from this ‘New Imperial Bakery and Victory Confectionery Stores’ for more than 35 years!! The loaves of bread were always still hot from the oven when he brought them. These loaves were sold whole not sliced and just before dinner every night my mum would slice the loaf and leave it on the table for us. Like the mincing machine, each Anglo-Indian family had their own bread board and bread knife to slice the bread. 
The payment for the bread that was delivered every day was done on a monthly basis. Every house had their own page in the ‘Bread Man’s’ long  account book, and entries would be made as to the number of loaves of bread and buns bought by them against the date. During the first week of the succeeding month, the representative of the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Stores’ would make the rounds for receiving payment of the bread delivered during the month. 
The bakery made special Hot Cross Buns filled with plums for Good Friday and our Baker would deliver them along with the bread on Maundy Thursday. We’d have to place an order as to the number of buns required about 10 days in advance. Since Good Friday was the day of fasting and abstinence we normally ate these Hot Cross buns for breakfast and dinner with a little butter.
This is a small excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE 

OUR GARDENS IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

THE GARDEN IN OUR MINING HOUSE IN KGF(This is an excerpt from my book Kolar Gold Fields Down Memory Lane)



Our mining house was in Nandydroog KGF, just opposite the Skating Rink. It was an independent Bungalow surrounded by a huge garden with lots of plants and trees. Our garden was always a profusion of colors, with huge beds of lovely flowering plants and shrubs in the front and back gardens. Asters, Daisies, Lilies, Roses, Cannas, Tiger Lilies, Spider Lilies, St Joseph’s lilies, Phlox, Hollyhocks, Cockscombs, Hydrangeas, Marguerites and Pansies were some of the flowering plants in our garden, besides the Jasmines, and Frangipanis. We didn’t have to go to a florist to buy a bouquet of flowers for anyone’s birthday. We had ample flowers in our own garden to make beautiful bouquets!!!



Our garden was lovingly tendered to by Yellappa our gardener or ‘Mali’.  Yellappa was part of our family for almost 25 years. He singlehandedly looked after the garden for many years but as he grew older his son Muniappa assisted him. Our garden was always a profusion of colours, with huge beds of lovely flowering plants and shrubs in the front and back gardens because of Yellappa’s efforts.

As young children we’d follow Yellappa around the garden and beg him to pluck the green mangoes and guavas from the trees for us. He was fiercely possessive of his garden, and we were not allowed to pluck any flowers without his permission. Every day he would cut a bunch of mixed flowers and roses and give them to my mum, to place in the vases and gardenias in the Drawing Room. He specially cut yellow and pink roses for the vases that were placed on the Alter of the Sacred Heart.

Our garden also had a number of fruit trees such as mangoes, guavas, custard apples, goose berries, papaya, Jack Fruit etc. All these trees had been lovingly planted by my grandmother Nana Maud and later nurtured by mummy.  The jackfruit trees bore delicious jackfruits that were huge and as sweet as honey. Since the trees bore so many jackfruits, my mum would distribute the jackfruits to the workers who worked under my dad and to all our neighbours, friends, servants, etc.  


During the Mango season, mummy would use some of the green mangoes to make pickle and ripen some of the mangoes for us. The rest of the mangoes were distributed among lots of people as the trees bore so many mangoes. The guava trees, Custard apple trees, Gooseberry trees and papaya trees too were always laden with fruit. We had quite a variety of fruit to choose from every day. The lime trees always bore a profusion of juicy limes on them and there was no dearth of lime juice or lime pickle in our home as my mum always made use of our own homegrown limes. I still remember the sweet smell of the lime blossoms from our lime trees when they were in season.

We also had a few Curry leaf Trees and Drumstick trees in the back garden The curry leaves were used for seasoning the curries and Pepper Water. The Drumstick tree bore long and tender drumsticks. Mummy would cook the Drumsticks along with meat or in a Dhal Curry and the drumstick leaves were turned into a delicious ‘Foogath’ which is a vegetarian side dish. Our gardener also grew green chillies, Coriander greens, Fenugreek greens, Mint and Coriander in a small kitchen garden on the left side of the garden.

With so many trees in our garden we were quite adept at climbing the guava and mango trees when we were children. These trees also made excellent hiding places for us during our games of Hide and Seek and Police and Robbers. The mango tree in front had a broad branch from which my dad hung a swing with a wooden seat for us. We spent many happy hours swinging from this mango tree shaded by its copious branches.

All these trees attracted a number of birds and insects. Squirrels,  Sparrows, Crows, Ravens, Mynahs, Pigeons, Parrots, Koels, etc flitted about and feasted on the mangoes and guavas during the season. Butterflies, dragonflies, garden lizards and even snakes could be seen in our garden. Daddy built a small bird bath out of an old aluminium basin in the back garden and the sparrows and crows drank their fill and splashed in the basin of water.

 Our garden also had sufficient space for Fowl Runs and Hen Houses. The guava trees were right next to the fowl runs / hen coops in the back garden, so it was very easy for us to climb onto the roof of the Fowl Runs using the branches of the guava trees for support, and cut as many guavas as we wanted. We spent many happy hours perched on the hen house roof munching green guavas. Needless to say, eating these many green guavas had its own effect on our tummies!!

My mum was fond of rearing hens, chickens, ducks and even turkeys. We had quite a number of White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Black leghorns as well as many Country Fowls. The eggs laid by these hens were used for our breakfast every day. When she noticed that a particular hen was nearing the ‘Broody’ season she would save all the eggs and mark them date wise. She would then arrange the eggs on a bed of soft sand, in a deep basket or ‘Makri’ and the hen would sit over the eggs for 21 days. We would eagerly wait for the eggs to hatch. She would leave grains and water near the hen so she wouldn’t get hungry.

I still remember the delight and happiness we felt when the eggs hatched and the tiny chickens came out. The hen would then get very protective of her chicks and keep them under her for at least 10 more days. If any of us went close, she’d try to peck us as she presumed that we wanted to take away her chicks!!

After about 10 days my mum would shift the mother hen and the chicks to a separate Fowl Run. These little chicks would slowly grow to be hens or roosters, and they would either be used for the table or again to hatch more chicks. The circle thus went on.

My mum also reared Turkeys and ducks for Christmas and for our First Holy Communions. The turkeys and ducks reared in our house were always big and well fed. They were fattened up with a special diet of oil cakes, ragi and grain. The oil cakes were known as ‘PUNAK’ in Tamil and we loved saying this word ‘PUNAK’. My mum was very particular about the health of her poultry.  She would always check and ensure that their eyes were bright, their nostrils dry, their feathers shiny and they were active and alert.

Any deviation from this would mean that they were sick or under the weather. She would immediately separate the affected bird from the others and give it some Omum water or some other medicine. The hens were fed with grains such as wheat, millets, and also some household food and vegetable scraps. With all this special attention, our poultry were really tasty and well-nourished birds when they finally landed up on our dining table.

These are all just memories now. The gardens in the mining houses are all barren and dry due to shortage of water. We were lucky to have spent our childhood in KGF where we had such big houses and all the facilities provided by the Mines.

CHRISTMAS TIME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

An excerpt from my book Kolar Gold Fields Down Memory Lane

Christmas time was the most enjoyable time of the year in Kolar Gold Fields when we were growing up. The month of December was the most awaited month, as the whole of KGF would be humming with activity.  Each Mine would have their own Christmas Tree Function and Dance. The Nundydroog Mine Function (which was the Mine where we lived) was always held on the 2nd Saturday of December and we would all eagerly wait for this day. The sports events were conducted on the grounds in front of Mr. Price’s House as Mr. Price was in charge of conducting the sports. The tracks would be drawn with white lime powder and the sacks for the Sack Race would be procured and kept ready. We took part in many of these events such as the 100 metres flat race, the lime and spoon race, balancing the potato on our foreheads, skipping race, sack race etc. We invariably won prizes for the 100 Metres Flat Race, Skipping, etc. These prices were a princely amount of Rs 10.00 for the First Prize, Rs 5 for the Second prize and Rs 2.00 for the Third Prize. After the sports events, there was a small Prize Distribution Function. Mrs Price, would give away the prizes to the winners.

After the Sports we would have the Christmas Tea and a Cultural Programme at the Skating Rink. The highlight of the evening was Santa Claus arriving in a sleigh to distribute the gifts to the Children. We loved this part of the programme as we always got the toys or gifts that we wanted since my dad would put down our names for gifts for each of us.

A funfair or carnival was also held in the compound of the Skating Rink simultaneously, with lots of side shows such as The Lucky Arrow, Ringing the Bottle, Skittles, Ringing the Duck, Belling the Cat, Pinning the tail on the Donkey etc. Daddy would buy us tickets for the Side shows and we’d try our luck at all the stalls. We’d be besides ourselves with joy, if we won cakes of soap, bottles of jam and tomato sauce etc as prizes on the Lucky Arrow., and in the Lucky Dip. Sometimes we would land up with almost 20 bottles of jam or tomato ketchup that all of us won at the Lucky Arrow.

There were also a number of Food stalls selling mouthwatering delicacies such as cakes, Vegetable Sandwiches, Curry Puffs, Bondas, Vadas, Hot stuff, etc., besides lemonade, Ginger Beer, Soda, etc., from our very own Mining Soda Factory. There were also vendors selling cotton candy, ice candy, balloons, windmills etc. We would thoroughly enjoy ourselves with all the activities besides gorging on the wonderful snacks that we bought with our prize money. It was with regret that we went home at 7 30 Pm when the sideshows closed down and the workers had to get the Skating Rink ready for the Christmas Tree dance at 9 o’clock.

The Christmas Tree celebrations just like this were held in the other Mines also on different days. Daddy would take us for the sideshows and other entertainments at these different mines. Ofcourse we couldn’t take part in the sports events and receive a gift from Santa Claus as we didn’t belong to that particular mine.

The month of December also saw us getting ready for Christmas, shopping for dress materials and visiting Pansy Tailor to get our dresses tailored. We normally had 3 new dresses or outfits for the festive season. One dress for the Nandydroog Mine Christmas Tree Function, one for Christmas day and one for New Year Day.  Some times our parents made a trip to Bangalore to buy the material for our Christmas dresses from Fazals and Adam Sait Stores and our shoes from Reliance Shoe Shop all on Commercial Street. Our Christmas shoes would invariably be a white pair so as to match all our new frocks. In case they couldn’t fit in a trip to Bangalore, then we went shopping for dress material in our own market in Robertsonpet Town from  Mohanlal, Sohans, Bhora and some other shops which also had quite a good selection of dress materials to choose from.

 Pansy Tailor was the most sought-after Ladies Tailor and Dress Maker in KGF. He was always deluged with stitching orders for dresses this time of the year, by almost all the Anglo-Indians in KGF for the various dances and for the Christmas. He warned all his customers to bring him their Christmas tailoring orders before the middle of November so that he was able to plan his schedule. He was a fantastic dressmaker and never disappointed anyone, most often sitting late into the night with his assistant Gopal to help him so as to deliver the dresses to his customers on the dates he promised to give them. Pansy Tailor’s   actual name was Eshwar Rao, but since he spoke English with a funny accent, and walked like a lady, he was nicknamed ‘Pansy Tailor’ and the name just stuck. In fact we still refer to him as Pansy tailor even though he’s now no more. Besides Pansy Tailor, Sham Rao and his brothers were also good Ladies Tailors. Kanappa Tailor and Mohan Rao Tailors were the famous Gents Tailors in KGF.

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 and Rose Cookies, Fruit Cakes, Coconut Sweets, the Christmas Pudding, Bole Cake, Dodol, Beveca, Marzipan Sweets, Peanut Fudge, Cashew nut Fudge, Murkus or Rice Crispies, Adarasams or Fried rice pancakes etc., were some of the goodies that were prepared in abundance by her. The house and neighbourhood would smell enticingly. One of my strongest childhood memories, is this enticing aroma of the preparation of these Christmas Goodies.

We children would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help our mum in the preparation of the Kulkuls, Rose Cookies, etc, We’d all sit around the dining table and each of us would take a lump of dough and spread it on a fork to make as many kulkuls as possible with it. These kulkuls were like small shells. To make other shapes, we would also roll out the dough and cut out various shapes like hearts, clubs, diamonds, etc with the cutters. It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. Mummy would fry the kulkuls as soon as we completed a good number, till all the kulkuls were fried and a huge heap was kept on the table to cool. She’d then frost them when they were cold, by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kulkuls. We had a lot of fun helping to make the kulkuls, and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join us and help us  in this happy task. Of course, a good portion of the fried kulkuls would go into our mouths while helping to make them.


Making the Doldol (a black rice halwa) at Christmas time was especially exciting for all of us as this particular sweet dish needed more than 3 hours to prepare and had to be stirred constantly. We would all take turns to stir the gooey mixture till it reached the right consistency. Making coconut sweets was another treat. All of us would fight to scrape the residue left over in the pan.


We also helped to churn the butter and sugar for the Christmas Pudding and the Fruit cakes. In those days there were no blenders or beaters and we churned the cake dough with the ‘Dhal Churner Stick’ or the ‘Mathu’ as it was called. We had to wait for our turn as each one wanted to put their fingers in the bowl while churning and lick the cake dough as it was getting smooth. 



I mustn’t forget to mention the Grape Wine and Ginger Wine that my mum made specially for Christmas. She would soak the Grapes and sugar in the month of October so that it was ready for Christmas. The wine would be strong and sweet and a dash of rum was added to it to give it a bit of punch. She also made Ginger Wine at Christmas time. This Ginger Wine wasn’t exactly a wine but more like a thick concoction that acted as an aid in digestion for all the rich food at Christmas.

 


The week preceding Christmas, the whole house would be in a festive mood, with the anticipation of Christmas. While mummy was busy preparing the Christmas Sweets and goodies, my dad would begin to decorate the house with coloured paper streamers, Chinese Lanterns, Balloons, etc, assisted by Viswa, Murthy, and some of his other workers. They would help Dad to hang the paper streamers, put up the star and arrange all the coloured lights.

We didn’t have artificial Christmas Trees in those days, so my Dad would arrange for a Casuarina Pine Tree, and we would decorate it with tinsel, coloured fairy lights, and silver and gold paper lanterns, baubles and China ornaments. The Christmas tree ornaments were carefully stored away each year after Christmas, and were taken out and lovingly hung on the Christmas tree each Christmas. We had a beautiful China Angel that was always placed right at the top with a beautiful silver star next to it. We’d then arrange wads of Cotton wool liberally, on the branches to look like snow, and string fairy lights all over the tree. Then all the Christmas gifts were placed under the tree to be opened only on Christmas morning


However, the most cherished part of our Christmas arrangements, was doing up the Crib and placing it on the table just under the altar of the Sacred Heart. My dad was very good at carpentry and he made a lovely wooden permanent crib, which was fashioned like a small house with a sloping roof. Every year we’d further decorate this crib, by placing straw on the sloping roof to resemble a thatched roof. We’d paint dark brown slashes on Brown paper and line the inside of the crib with this to resemble mud walls, and strew straw and grass on the floor to resemble the shed where the Child Jesus was born in.

We’d then fix a beautiful silver star on the roof of the Crib and dad would fix a small light inside the crib which was on the whole time. The Statues of St Joseph and Mother Mary would then lovingly be removed from their protective coverings and placed in the Crib. The sheep and other animals were placed at different locations in the crib and the shepherds were placed a little way off. The statue of Baby Jesus was placed in the Crib only after we returned from Midnight Mass, when we would all say a prayer and sing a Christmas carol. The statues of the 3 wise men and their camel were added to the Crib only on the 4th of January, the Feast of the Magi.


Every year my dad would hang a huge star in front of our house. The frame for this star was made out of metal wires and welded together to form a star. This frame was covered with coloured kite paper or cellophane paper. A light bulb was fixed inside and when it was switched on the star shone bright and beautiful in front of our house welcoming one and all with its light. The Star, Christmas Tree, and the Crib that were put up before Christmas would remain well past the New Year and were dismantled and taken down only after the 10th January.

Just before Christmas, my daddy accompanied by Issac our house boy, would travel to Bangalore to buy the Christmas cakes from ‘SWAMYS BAKERY’, a well known Bakery and Confectionery Store in Bangalore. This shop was on Broadway Road near the Russel Market in Bangalore and was popular with all the Anglo-Indians. All the Anglo-Indians would buy their Christmas Cakes from here if they didn’t bake their own at home. Daddy would buy quite a number of cakes and pastries, for us as well as to distribute to the neighbours, servants, friends, etc. He’d buy Ribbon cakes with pink icing, chocolate cakes with icing, Rich Plum cakes with almond icing, small assorted cakes, cupcakes, cream rolls, doughnuts, short bread, muffins, etc. All these cakes would be arranged in their boxes in a big black trunk so as not to crush them. Dad and Isaac would then travel back to KGF by train and Isaac had to carry the trunk on his head while bringing it back from the station. I loved the Soft Sponge Cakes and the Ribbon Cakes with pink cream Icing that just melted in my mouth. (Since there were no refrigerators in those days, we had to finish all these delicious pastries in one week).

 During the week preceding Christmas, groups of Carol Singers of both the Tamil and English Groups would come around to all the houses singing carols. The money they collected was used by the Parish Church to provide new clothes and food for the poor in the parish.When the carol singers came to our house, we’d join them in singing all the beautiful Carols. It was such a lovely Christmassy feeling and made us all the more impatient for Christmas day.

On Christmas Eve, we invariably attended Midnight Mass. We would dress up in our new Christmas Frocks, mostly lace dresses, specially tailored for the great day by Pansy Tailor and my dad and brother would wear their formal suits.  We would leave home at around 10.15 and walk for Midnight Mass. It used to be very cold in KGF at this time of the year so all of us would be warmly bundled up in our jackets and coats. The Service usually began with a Carol Singing Service at around 11 PM followed by the Christmas Mass.  By the time the Service ended it would be almost 1.30 in the morning. After mass, it was time to meet and greet the priests and all our friends. After midnight mass, we would go home and have a small sing song session, and partake of some delicious early Plum Cake and wine. By the time we finally went to bed it would be around 2.30 in the morning. However, we’d be up early on Christmas Morning to enjoy the day to its fullest.

On Christmas day mummy would send out Trays of goodies to neighbours and friends. All the men who worked with my dad would be given a Bakshis or money gift, a set of clothes, Christmas sweets and treats, and also a quarter bottle of Rum or Brandy.  Our domestic helpers also got new clothes and a money gift, besides a big bag of all the Christmas sweets and cakes.

Breakfast on Christmas morning was always Sausages, Bacon, Eggs, Pancakes, Bread and butter etc. The Sausages were specially bought for our Christmas Breakfast from the Bangalore Ham Shop on Mahatma Gandhi Road, in Bangalore, when my Dad went to buy the Christmas Cakes. After breakfast, we would then eagerly open our Christmas presents that were placed under the tree. As kids our Christmas presents were mostly kitchen sets, tea sets, Building blocks, Dolls, Coloured Balls, Nurse and doctor sets, crayons, painting books, needle work sets, etc. My brother John got Mechano sets, Foot Balls, Cricket sets, hockey sticks, Tennis sets, etc, and when he was a little older he got a bicycle.

We usually had Christmas lunch at home as the Christmas Dinner was always at “White Haven”, our Grand Parents house. My mum would prepare a delicious lunch of some coloured special rice such as Coconut rice or Mutton Pilaf or Chicken Pilaf, Chicken or Duck Vindaloo, ox tail vindaloo, salad, and a Roast which was either Beef Roast, Ox Tongue Roast or Pork Roast. These Roasts were usually left to cook the whole night on low heat or Dum on a charcoal oven and would be browned on Christmas Morning. (The leftovers from our Christmas lunch was always carried over to Boxing day lunch the next day and invariably made into a DEVIL FRY OR CURRY.


Christmas Dinner was always at ‘White Haven’, our grandparent’s home in Robertsonpet. The whole family would gather there for Christmas Dinner. We’d all assemble at ‘White Haven’ early in the evening. My dad would arrange for either Parker’s car to take us there or we’d go in Sabu’s jatka. All of us cousins would have a lot of fun singing, playing, exchanging greetings and gifts, eating cakes, sweets, kulkuls, Rose Cookies and generally having a whale of a time while the men sat around with their Whiskeys and Wine catching up with all the news. Nana and all the aunts would be quite busy getting the Turkey ready, basting it, preparing the stuffing with carrots, peas, bread etc., chopping onions and tomatoes, preparing the salads, etc. They also had a chance to share family gossip and news.

Then all of us would gather around Nana’s Dining Table and tuck in to the delicious food. Christmas Dinner was always Turkey Roast with Stuffing and Gravy in the good old days accompanied by Pork vindaloo, Duck Vindaloo, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, bread, dinner rolls, Christmas pudding, Cakes, Sweets, etc There was always fun and banter and small competitions as to who would get the ‘lucky bones’, the gizzards, ‘the pope’s nose’, the neck etc. (However, later on, when Turkey was in short supply and became more expensive, the Turkey Roast was replaced by Duck Roast or Chicken Roast for Christmas Dinner).

Nana served the Christmas Pudding at the end of the Christmas Dinner. Just before serving it, a glass of brandy or Rum would be poured over it by papa and then it was lit with a match stick. The lovely blue flame for those few minutes, would encompass the pudding and the heat would help the rum or brandy to soak in. For those who didn’t care for a piece of the pudding there was always Christmas sweets, fruit etc. We would then return home at around 11 o’clock with our stomachs full, tired out after a long exciting day. That night, after a very happy and tiring Christmas Day , a sense of sadness would set in that the day which we waited for and anticipated was over so quickly and we would then have to wait for another year for Christmas again!!!


 


St JOSEPH'S CONVENT CHAMPION REEF, KGF



 St Joseph’s Convent Champion Reefs, was established more than 165 years ago. I'm sharing below a writeup about the origins of St Joseph's Convent Champion Reefs from the Official website of the St Joseph of Tarbes Bangalore about the Origins and history of the Convent and School. As mentioned, in the official website, 2 schools (ie one English Medium and one Tamil Medium School) were started in the premises of the St Mary's Church in Champion Reef which was damaged in the Rock Burst of 23rd Jan 1952 which completely destroyed the Church and the Convent and  School. The Church was later rebuilt and renamed Our Lady of Victories Church, while the school was shifted to the Bungalow of Mr Arthur Taylor . This is the Link to the Official Website 

http://www.sjtbangalore.in/k-g-f-champion-reefs.html   

The impact of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Bangalore and Coonoor was felt far and wide like the fragrance of the rose. Calls came from everywhere. In the year 1904, there were Frs. J. Fraysse, J. F. Pesscin, and G. Lazaro taking care of the vast Catholic population in the entire K. G. F. area. Fr. Fraysse, the parish priest, invited our Sisters to Kolar to open a school for the children of the Mining Officers who were almost all Europeans and Eurasians. There were several local people who migrated from Dharmapuri and other places to work in the mines. Their children also needed a school.

Mother Marie Flavie, the Regional Superior of Bangalore at that time, responded to this call with the consent of the Superior General. Four European Sisters and one Indian Sister were selected to take up the mission. They were : Mother Marie Beatrix, Srs. Marie Dorothee, Marie Angeline and Teresa of Jesus – all three Europeans and Sr. Marie Anselmina ( Indian ). The community was blessed and inaugurated on the 9th of January 1904. Two separate schools were started – the European school for children of the Officers with 22 children and an Indian school for children of the mining workers with 6 – 7 children, in St. Mary’s Church compound, on January 15th 1904. 

Many Sisters, young and old, have worked in this Institution with great zeal.

In the year 2004 the Champion Reefs community and school celebrated the centenary of its foundation. Stepping into another century, the Sisters have envisioned not only to enlighten 4,500 students in the campus but also to empower women and to redress the pangs of the fangs left on miners. The toil of the Sisters has taken shape not only in education, but also in a boarding house for about 70 poor girls, medical care of the aged, the midday meal programme, house visiting and pastoral activities.



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



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

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

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



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


THE SKATING RINK IN NANDYDROOG MINE, KOLAR GOLD FIELDS











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


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




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

COOKING ON FIREWOOD OVENS IN KGF



COOKING ON FIREWOOD OVENS IN KGF

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


SHANDY DAY OR MARKET DAY ON SUNDAY IN KGF

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

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

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