Saturday, May 14, 2011


I am aware that what I write about recollected past is not of much interest to readers of my age group, but I hope it will be for the young. What was life like 60 years ago to what it is now is indeed interesting to know. When I was around ten, I saw my first motor car. It is not that there were not persons wealthy enough to own a car, but none felt the need for one, I remember the person who was the owner of the car was in all kinds of trouble. Forget it being the cause of his neighbor’s envy; it was a problem for the owner. First of all he had to face the daily nuisance of us children assembled in front of his house to see him take the car out .That was in itself was a sight. His house abutted the main road. The road carried all sorts of traffic which is mostly bullock carts and cycles with an accessional bus. When the bus was on the street there was no place for any other mode of transport to use the road, it was so narrow. Occasionally the bus would get stuck in the melee of pedestrians, cyclists and bullock carts all jostling for space. Into this chaos the owner had to reverse his car. It was easy to drive into his portico from the road than reverse into. So when he had to drive out he had to reverse on to this busy road. We [pedestrians, cyclists bullocks and bullock cart owners] had no idea of the space required for this contraption to move. So we stood gawking giving the owner just enough space to maneuver. Irritation writ large on his face he would shout in kannada,’ you idiots, do you want to die, you want to rot in police station’, and to the owner of the bullock cart, ’your bullocks have more sense than you have’ This was true because, to get a better view, the cart man had left his cart on the road side thus obstructing the car’s path, and had joined us. I also remember joining a crowd which was helping him to extricate his car from heavy and wet mud. It must have been just six months that the car stayed with him .He got rid of it at the earliest opportunity.

Most walked. Some cycled. Pocessing a cycle meant you were reasonably well off. Those who had Raleigh bicycles were considered upper class. Many of my class fellows walked miles to come to school and few cycled from nearby villages to reach the school. When it rained it was very tough to even walk let alone cycle. I remember there was a locally made umbrella of sorts with a fixed canopy made out of coconut leaves. This was not made to last and one had change these every other month. It was so unwieldy that it had to be kept out doors. Raincoats were unknown. Most of us did not have any special protective clothing and when we got soaking wet, which was quite often, we just took off the sodden clothes. Drying the wet clothes was another big problem. Those days washing and drying machines were unknown and one depended on the Sun to dry. And during rainy season it rained days on end and we went about clad in semi dry clothes! No wonder we suffered so much of ill health during rainy season. The kind of rains I saw as a child I have not seen since. It was so heavy that one was not able to see what is in front 3 feet away.

I had not seen a privately owned telephone in that town or I don’t have the memory of having seen one. Postal services were efficient and postman was one person every one welcomed as the only connection with the outside world. News papers arrived one day late and that too not always. Some had Radios and I remember when I was in high school listening to the Radio Commentary of the cricket matches. This was despite the fact India always lost the matches. There was a Station located in Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] which broadcast Hindi film songs which was very popular.

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