Message from John Manley Australia

Re: Fwd: Kolar Gold Fields. Jon Manley writes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:43 PM
"Bridget Kumar"

Dear Bridget,
I have just finished reading your book, Kolar Gold Fields, Down Memory Lane. Oh Bridget! I am a grown man now, of 65 years of age, who left K.G.F. in 1957 aged 12, and your book has brought tears to my eyes, which are swelling up now as I write this. There were so many memories that flooded back, many I had forgotten years ago. Thank you Bridget for your wonderful, wonderful book. have asked me to review it. Just wait until you read that. My sister Fleur who lives in Kenya is also writing to you, as she has also read it.

The British Lady named Molly Manley you wrote about on page 24 was my mother, sadly she died in 2001. I wish she had been here to also read your book. After we left K.G.F. in 1957 mum would tell us stories about the place and people. I feel sure she would have recognised many of the names you mentioned. My father William Thomas Manley worked as the Chief Accountant for the mines for 33 years. We left in 1957, ten years after independence. Dad was asked to remain on longer, but as most of our friends had already left, we did likewise. I recall my father telling us that the Indian man who inherited his job after we left, had retired to Bombay, having made his fortune in about two years, when my father had not been able to do so in thirty-three.

Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about K.G.F., and some of my recollections.
I recall the church, Saint Mary's, which was demolished by the rock-burst you mentioned in page 34. I used to attend Mass there as a small boy, and went to school in a building where the priests house is today. My mother told me that when the rubble was cleared away after the rock-burst, a 'Consecrated Host' was found in the rubble near what was the front door of the church; that's how strong the shock wave was.

The Mr. W.T. Hocking who signed the document reproduced on page 48 was a family friend. The day before he left K.G.F. for England, my father walked us three children round to his house, which wasn't far from ours, to wish him and his wife Connie farewell. Hocking had a reputation as a man with a short 'bad' temper. On arrival in England, he caught a taxi from the wharf to wherever he was traveling, and for some reason he got off-side with the English Taxi Driver. The driver took offence to Hocking, and drove him and his long suffering wife, straight to a police station, where Hocking was charged, and locked away for some time to cool off. He couldn't get away with in England, with what he had in India!!

My mother told me that in the early days, whenever a new English person arrived at K.G.F. the established families would send the female new arrival an invitation to visit. This would read something like, 'Do call on me at your convenience. I look forward to meeting you and your family. Next Tuesday at 2 p.m. will be fine'. The new arrival would usually turn up at the time as suggested, in the back of one of those horse drawn carts you talked of, 'Jatkas'. It was customary for all the British to have calling cards. Upon arrival calling cards were exchanged. If there was an eligible male in the family, the left top corner of the card would be turned down, and if a female the right. Nothing was ever said about the eligible person, but one would know the situation. Protocol must be followed!!

You mentioned the company dairy, not far from the cricket ground. It was run by a Mr. King who had a daughter named Daphne, who was my age, about 7yrs. at that time. One day on the playing field near the tennis courts at Oorgaum, I told her I thought she was horrible, I can't recall why, and that when she grew up no boy would marry her. She took great offence to this and cried, and told her mother what I had said when she got home. When my mother heard of this, I was marched around to the King's house, and made to apologise to Daphne, who lauded it all over me from that day on. I really was a nasty little individual, then not now!!

What is now the 'School of Mine's in Oorgaum, was the house we lived in. It is just in-front of what is now 'Our Lady of Mines Church'. I have been back to K.G.F. twice in the last 20 yrs, and still love the place. I traced my Ayah, Theresa, down to an address in Delhi. She threw her arm around me and wouldn't let go; cried and cried and carried on. I eventually had to prise myself free. She asked to see my teeth. I have two crooked teeth in the front of my mouth. When she saw them she nodded and said "Yes, you are indeed Jonathan Manley, my baby boy". I was about 45 at the time. We had a long talk, and I sang for her the Tamil songs she taught me as a child, and which I still remember. Sadly she also has passed on.

I could keep this up forever Bridget, but you must be getting bored so I will sign off. Once again, I loved your book; it wasn't long enough. Please keep in touch.

Best regards,
Jonathan Manley.

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