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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.