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Friday, September 19, 2008

OOGAUM STATION

In 1894, the Mysore Government financed the construction of a branch railway line 10 miles in length connecting all the 5 mines between Mysore Mine (Marikuppam) and Bowringpet Junction (Bangarapet) to connect the Bangalore Madras Railway line. Oorgaum Station was the main link for people in Nandygroog, Oorgaum also Robertsonpet and surrounding areas.

Monday, September 15, 2008

KGF NOSTALGIA… Some childhood memories

I was privileged to be born and brought up in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State now known as Karnataka in India. K G F as everyone knows had a very sizable Anglo-Indian Population who lived and worked there for generations. It was well known for its colonial ambience with elegant bungalows replete with huge lawns and gardens and many clubs with tennis and badminton courts, golf courses etc. This place, which was known as “Little England” was unique for its secular and egalitarian society not found anywhere else in the world. Even though gold was being surface extracted by the natives earlier, K G F actually came into existence in the year 1880, when a small British Trading Company called JOHN TAYLOR AND SONS established the first shaft for systematic gold extraction. They continued to be the owners till 1950, when Mr. Arthur Taylor, the last of the Taylors handed over the company to the Government of Mysore. Since then KGF has been owned first by the state Government then later by the Government of India and now it is totally defunct. The mines were closed a few years ago and with it one of the most famous Gold Mines in the world came to an end. It is the end of an era.

Many generations of Anglo-Indians worked in the different mines in K G F in different capacities. Everyone was happy and contented. Since it was such a small mining town, everyone knew everyone else and for weddings, funerals, dances and other functions all the Anglo-Indians in K G F would more or less be present. Life in K G F was glorious and almost every family had a retinue of Domestic Helpers i.e. “Ayahs, Malis (Gardeners), Chokaras, Thais, Sweepers, Tea-Boys, etc. who were part of the family.

The A I boys studied at the K G F School in Nandidroog Mine, where my Aunts Pansy White and Beryl Morris were strict disciplinarians. The Pinto sisters, Mrs. Monnisse, Mrs O’Connor, Mrs Godfrey, etc were all famous and well loved teachers. The A I girls studied at St Joseph’s Convent in Champion Reefs, where the nuns Mother Margurite, Sisters Miriam, Mary of the Cross. Mary Presentation, Magdalene, Regina, Immaculata, Patricia, etc were equally strict. My aunt Luda Bertie, Miss Sharma, Mrs Johnson, the Steven sisters, etc are loved and remembered even today.

Childhood in K G F was blissful. No luxuries like the present generation but never the less happy with simple pleasures and games like Butch, Football, Throw ball, Spinning Tops, playing Rounders, and Seven Stones, “ L O N D O N”, flying kites (after coating the sting with “Manga” which is a mixture of glass pieces, paste etc so as to cut the other persons kite midair), I Spy and many other simple games. No T V then just a very old radio which would be tuned and switched on by the parents only, at times designated by them. Programes would be mostly news and songs from All India Radio and Radio Ceylon with Vijay Correra doing the honours. We would send in requests for favourite songs and wait eagerly for our names to be announced.

Now in a lighter vein, I would like to share a small childhood memory of the bathrooms/ Toilets in KGF. The houses in K G F were colonial style homes. Earlier, there was no underground drainage system, septic tank etc. As a matter of fact the modern W Cs were introduced only in the late 60s. Just aluminum Chamber Pots on Commode stands lined up in a row in the Toilets one for each member of the family, The Stands would be painted blue, green or brown with a matching wooden cover for each. In those early days in KGF we had Night Soil sweepers to clean the toilets. Every morning the night soil sweeper would come with her bucket to “Collect” the contents in the chamber pots and clean them with a mixture of soap solution and powdered Charcoal, which would make the pots literally shine like silver. This was quite a ritual and they would be inspected closely to see whether they were washed well without any residues left behind The pots would then be left in the sun to dry for some time while the sweeper lady washed the floors of the bathroom, then once again they would be replaced on their respective stands, ready for the day.

As children, we took this for granted as a way of life. Now looking back we cannot imagine asking present day children with their very luxurious bathrooms, which are now “Glamour Rooms” to use a Chamber Pot. The very occupation of the Night Soil Sweeper is now abolished and the old Chamber Pots have since vanished forever.

Likewise, K G F too is just a distant memory for all KGFites. The K G F of today makes us weep for its bygone glory. Long live K G F in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants wherever they may be.