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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019


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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


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’