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Thursday, December 10, 2009


On Christmas morning, trays of Christmas goodies were distributed to our friends and neighbours. We children dressed up in all their finery would be entrusted with this task. All the servants, the sweepers and other helpers would be given a ‘bakshis’ or money gift, also clothes and Christmas sweets. The men would also get a quarter bottle of booze.
We usually attended Midnight Mass dressed in our new Christmas frocks, specially tailored for the great day and bundled up in our jackets and coats as it was very cold in KGF in December.

A small mini fair would invariably come up outside the church gates, with vendors selling balloons, crackers, cheap plastic toys, plastic sunglasses, plastic spinning tops, bugles, trumpets, little bamboo sticks with balloons attached, etc., which we would gleefully buy and enjoy. After midnight Mass, we'd sometimes visit our firend's houses for a small sing song session and have some cake and wine or just go home and do the same thing.
As Christmas day was usually hectic with visiting and socializing, most of the cooking was done beforehand on Christmas Eve, except for the turkey or chicken that was left to slow roast on a low fire or ‘Dum’ over night. Other Anglo-Indian delicacies such as Oxtail Vindaloo, Tongue Roast, Trotters etc., would be left to cook the whole night on low heat, so that by Christmas morning the meat was succulent and tender. We normally woke up late on Christmas morning and then enjoyed a Hearty breakfast of Eggs, sausages and bacon. Christmas morning invariably had family and friends visiting us and enjoying some of the Christmas goodies prepared by my mum.

A typical Christmas lunch at our house was usually a large meal comprising of a Meat Pullao, Chicken Curry, Stuffed Roast turkey or Chicken Roast, Pork Vindaloo, Duck Vindaloo, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, bread, dinner rolls, Christmas pudding, Cakes, Sweets, etc, etc, all washed down with a glass or two of Wine or a peg or two of Whiskey, brandy or other liquor. There was always fun and banter round the festive table and small tiffs as to who would get the ‘lucky bones’, the gizzards, ‘the pope’s nose’, ‘the chicken neck’ etc.

My mum always served the Christmas pudding cold at the end of the Christmas Lunch. Just before serving it, my dad would pour a glass of brandy or Rum over it and he'd then light it 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. We usually ate it plain or with Fresh cream.

We usually spent Christmas evening visiting our grand parents, Aunts and Uncles and cousins at White Haven in Robertsonpet.

The 31st of December was another occasion to celebrate. A huge new year Ball was normally held in the Skating Rink to bring in the New Year, and just like the Christmas Shows local Anglo-Indian Bands or bands from Madras or Bangalore were engaged to play at it. A huge bonfire was lit outside the Skating Rink and 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 begininnings.

Friday, December 4, 2009


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’s day. Some times our parents made a trip to Bangalore to buy the material for our Christmas dresses and also to buy our shoes from Reliance Shoe Shop on Commercial Street in case we didn’t buy them during our visit to Bangalore in September for Our Lady’s feast. 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 Town. Mohanlal, Sohans, Bhora and some other shops 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.

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 mummy 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 ice them when they were cold by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kukkuls. We had a lot of fun helping mummy 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 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 mummy 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 mummy would add a dash of rum 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.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Christmas had its own gaiety and charm in KGF. All the Anglo-Indian homes were always beautifully decorated with colorful paper streamers, buntings, Chinese lanterns, balloons, etc. Every home put up a huge Casuarina Christmas tree that was decorated beautifully. In those days there were no plastic or synthetic Christmas trees and hence every family put up a Casuarina Tree. A huge drum or Flower Pot was filled with sand and the Casuarina Tree was placed securely in it.

The Christmas tree was always placed in a prominent place in the drawing room and was beautifully decorated with fairy lights, tinsel, colourful baubles, sliver and gold paper, and little China Ornaments. The Angel would be fixed on top of the tree, while the other tree ornaments and decorations were placed at intervals interspersed with gold and silver streamers and tinsel. Some of the Christmas decorations were saved over many years and were lovingly hung on the Christmas Tree each Christmas. Cotton wool was liberally placed on the branches to look like snow. The family’s Christmas gifts were usually placed under the tree and opened only on Christmas morning. Of course there was much excitement and mirth while the decorating was in progress and the children could hardly wait to open their Christmas gifts.

Besides the Christmas tree, every family put up a Crib without fail. The Crib was always placed in a prominent spot, sometimes beside the Christmas tree. It was normally made with straw or grass, cardboard, brown paper etc. The children used their imagination to create their own Crib and would innovate each year. The statues of Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, St. Joseph, the shepherds, the sheep, the three kings, etc, would be carefully removed from their cotton wool packing and loving placed in the Crib. Baby Jesus was placed in the Crib only after Midnight Mass and the three kings and the camel on the 4th of January.

Every Home would also hang a star with a light bulb fitted in it in front of their homes. Some times,people made their own huge paper stars out of thin bamboo sticks and kite paper or else they just bought the stars from the shops selling Christmas decorations..

The Christmas holidays usually began on the 20th December and the schools would reopen only after the first week of January. The children were on hand to help with the preparation of the Christmas Treats and also with decorating the house. There was always much fun and frolic when all of them got together in this happy task

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


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.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FIVE LIGHT'S CIRCLE, Nandydroog Mine

This is a picture of the FIVE LIGHTS CIRCLE, in Nandydroog Mine. It was on the main road to Oorgaum Station and Robertsonpet. The four Roads branched off to various areas in KGF. It was / is one of the landmarks of KGF


This is a picture of the Beef Butcher's Shop in Nandydroog Mine , close to the Swimming Bath and the Rescue Station. It looks the same as it did more than 50 years ago.

The Butcher whose name was Gafoor, would supply the different cuts of meat, depending on the dish that was to be prepared for lunch and dinner that day. Sadly Gafoor has since passed away. His son-in-law is now the proud owner of this shop.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This is a picture of the 4 Shops opposite the Skating Rink and Nandydroog Club. We lived in the house practically adjoining them except for a small lane between.
Pansy Tailor's Shop is at the far left with its Trellis still intact. 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 Ibrahim's shop is at the far right and is still doing business. However its not in the picture. Ibrahim is now a grand old man but still going strong. God bless him.


This is a picture of the Skating Rink in its present dilapidated state.
The Skating Rink which could be called the only auditorium in KGF at that time, was the most popular venue for Wedding receptions, Parties, get-togethers, Concerts, Musical Recitals, Meetings, Dances etc. The Cement floor was highly polished and very smooth and was initially used during the times of the British for Roller skating and ice skating and also for Ball Room Dances.

The building itself was not much to talk about, with corrugated iron sheets for its walls and roof and a false ceiling of Tatty Cane inside. It was more like a huge Shed that one sees in old Country and Western Movies and didn’t resemble an auditorium all. However this ‘Hall’ was close to everyone KGFites's heart and was iconic in its stature.

The Skating Rink was a land mark for the people of KGF. The Christmas Dances, May Queen Balls, Easter Balls, June Rose Balls, The Anglo-Indian Association AGM Ball, New Years Eve Ball, Wedding Receptions, Social and Religious functions, Conferences, etc, were all held at the Skating Rink. Its very sad to see it in its present neglected and rundown state.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


The Mysore Mine Club was a familiar hangout for the folks in Mysore Mine and Marikuppam just as the Nandydroog Club catered to the recreational needs of people of Nandidroog. The members played Badminton, Tennis, Snooker, Billiards etc and there was a well stocked Bar as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old Map of KGF

This is an old map of KGF which is displayed in the KGF Club. This will give you an idea of the place

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


This is a picture of my dad Sydney White with his award that he received at the Safety Week celebrations in 1965 at the Gymkhana Grounds. My brother John, Mr Rajan, Viswa and Murthy are also see in the picture.


This is a picture of my dad with his award that he received at the Safety Week celebrations in 1965

The Cynaide Dumps

The gold mining process at the KGF mines has generated about 32 million tons of tailings called Cyanide Dumps. These dumps are the accumulation of the slurry waste and residue that was piped out of the mills, after the gold was extracted from the ore. The residue slowly hardened over time and formed huge hills around all the mines in KGF of soft fine dust. They were known as the Cyanide Dumps because of the cyanide content that was used in the process of gold extraction. The Mines used a special technique for gold processing that involved dissolution of gold in the ore by water soluble alkali metal cyanides such as sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide. The gold ore was first crushed and agglomerated in the mill and then dissolved in the cyanide solutions in order to recover the gold. This process was known as Gold smelting and the chemicals would give out a bad odour whenever the smelting process was done. The whole of KGF would stink on smelting day!!! Due to the continuous mining activity of over a century and the regular pumping of the slurry waste, these cyanide dumps occupy almost 20% of the total area of KGF. The dumps have hardened over the years and look like hills all around the place, some of them more than 30 metres in height. These Cyanide Dumps that have been deposited here since inception of mines have now become a tourist attraction and are used as a film location for shooting dance sequences of many regional language films. However, they are still an environmental hazard even today. Many people suffer from respiratory related diseases such as Asthma, Wheezing etc because of the fine dust from these dumps.

The Oogaum Library

This is the gate leading to the Oorgaum Library and the Oograum Hall. English Movies were screened at the Oorgaum Hall for discerning minority who loved to watch English Films. The Popular movies in those days were, Ben Hur, Is Paris burning?, Bridge on the River Qwai, The Bible and later, My Fair lady, The Sound of Music, To Sir with love, Mary Poppins, etc to name a few.

The Oorgaum Library stocked books on various genre.

King George Hall Robertsonpet KGF

This is the King George Hall in Robertsonpet KGF. It was famous for its snooker and billiards parlour in the old days

KGF Club Oograum KGF

The KGF Golf Club was established in 1885 and is the oldest club in KGF. It has the distinction of being the 4th oldest Golf Club in India. In those days, it was totally out of bounds for the Indians, and only the British and Europeans could become members. This club was and still is affiliated to Indian Golf Union, and it has the best Golf course even today and the club is affiliated to all the major clubs in India.

These are a few pictures of the KGF Club taken during my recent visit to KGF. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club. The grand Piano in the erstwhile "Ladies Bar"now lies unused and in need of repairs. The Billiards Room however, is still in good condition.

Mr John Taylor, The Founder of the KGF Mines.

Mr John Taylor, The Founder of the KGF Mines.


This class photo was taken when I was studying in the 4th Std in KGF School. Mrs Monisse was the class teacher and Mr Dudley Pinto the Head Master. I'm seated 3rd from left. Seems a life time ago


The Mining Hospital in KGF.

A well equipped hospital to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families was established by the John Taylor and Sons Company as early as the 1920s. This Mining Company Hospital slowly gained the distinction of being the best hospital in the whole of the Kolar district and was staffed with eminent British and Indian doctors and British and Anglo-Indian nurses. The wards were named after retired English Officers of the Company.

This Company Hospital was later recognized by the Indian medical council as a reputed center for the treatment of Occupational Diseases, such as Tuberculosis, Silicosis, etc. Medical Treatment was free for the miners and their families. A well maintained Maternity Unit was also later established in a separate wing of the Hospital.

However, now this Company Hospital with its expensive equipment and more than 200 beds has been shut after the closure of the mines. Most of the medical equipment has been stolen. The Hospital Wards named after the erstwhile British bosses such as Gideon Ward, Henry’s Ward, Morgan Ward, etc., are completely denuded of the beds and furniture and the hospital now resembles a haunted building. Most of the equipment has been pilfered, and the building is slowly falling down in parts. No one can imagine that this hospital was once the best hospital in the whole district!!!!!