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Thursday, April 25, 2013


My dad Sydney White was an Underground Engineer in Nandydroog Mines. He was in charge of the Section dealing with the Hoists, pipes and sand stowing functions underground. He had about 300 miners working under him. He was a strict disciplinarian as well as a kind Boss. His workers were all loyal and hard working men who served their Boss and the Company faithfully and diligently.
On New Year’s Day every year, all the workers from his section would assemble at our house early in the morning to wish my dad and seek his blessings for the year ahead. They would place garlands of flowers made of roses, jasmines, marigolds and lilies around his neck, shake hands with him, then seek his blessings by touching his feet. They continued this small homely function every year till my dad retired from the mines. The Foreman and the Maistry would give a long speech in Tamil, and all of them would clap their hands loudly and cheer.
My mum would then serve Coffee and snacks to all of them, which they accepted with love and gratitude. Sometimes they brought smaller garlands and garlanded all of us too!!  We would feel quite thrilled with all the attention and adulation. They would also give each of us either an apple or a Mosambi (sweet lime) and then everyone would pose for a group photograph.

In the above photgraph taken in 1965, my dad, mum, my brother John, my sister Maryanne, Mr Daniel - my dad's Writer  and I are seen sitting and some his Section Workers are seen behind.

However, before they placed a garland around dad’s neck, they would first place a beautiful garland of lilies and roses on the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the sitting room. Dad’s workers were so humble and affectionate. They considered themselves part of our family and we shared in joys and sorrows. They carried us as babies, watched us grow up, attended our weddings, and were inconsolable when our parents passed away.

A few of these loyal and affectionate men who are now more than 80 years old are still in touch with us and visit us regularly. We specially remember Mr. Vishwanathan, affectionately call “Viswa”by us. He can be seen in the photograph below together with my dad, my brother John, Mr Rajan, Murthy, Sam, Lakshmana etc at the Safety Week Celebrations in 1970 at the Gymkhana Grounds.