Fading chores of a bygone era

Jnanpith awardee U R Ananthamurthy, who during one of his visits to city, couple of years ago had said that ‘lice’ are very important creatures! The entire auditorium had broken into laughter on this statement.

“They are not just lice, you see. They were the social networking system because on the pretext of killing lice, the women used to come together and speak about all possible things on earth.


Today because of modernization, this scene of women having a friendly chat in the courtyards has vanished completely,” he had said leaving a thought to ponder over.

While the writer was speaking in context of the entire country and not just the city, Mangaloreans have to count on all those things the city has lost in the wave of modernisation. With Mangalore becoming one of the most sought after cities, there are many things that we are missing on.

Does anyone feel that how easy it was earlier to get a nail nailed on the wall or repair the leakage of a tap? Get a loose pair of dress altered or get the puncture of the cycle repaired.

Yes, gone are the days when occupation based small shops were found at every nook and corner of the lanes across the city.

With modernisation invading our lives, cycles have become a poor man’s transport. Today, we hardly find people peddling on the streets. Though certain groups are trying to promote cycling as a means for good health, there are hardly any numbers actually using it to even maintain health.

The tiny cycle lending shops/repair shops, which used to be a land mark in almost every busy street have been swallowed by high-rise buildings. There may not be even one cycle lending shops available today, outside which each one of us at one point of time had lined up with some coins in hand to borrow a cycle for a day or for an hour, especially during the summer vacations. The scenes of the cycle shop workers’ grease-stained expert hands dipping the cycle tube into a shabby bucket of water to spot the air bubbles gushing out to mend the puncture is probably only a memory now.

The old unsophisticated saloons with mounting chair with a huge mirror slightly inclined towards you, with a wooden plank holding faded powder box with flatten powder puff, stained sprayer, combs and brushes….

All have been replaced. Today there are air-conditioned plush boutiques or spas where a person will have to think twice before entering. Knowing just the ‘Bob cut,’ ‘Military cut,’ ‘boy cut’ for men and of course the age old ‘Sadhana cut’ (supposed to be named after diva of yesteryears Sadhana) for kids, the barbers of yesterday did not have the challenging task of funky youth demanding them to try their hands on Salman’s style in ‘Tere Naam’ or Amir in ‘Gajani’. Still the saloons had several people waiting outside, irrespective of caste and class to have a simple cut. Waiting for their turn too was a pleasure because it was during this waiting that people used to chew on freshly learnt gossips.

With big wave of jewelry brands conquering and smothering the city with gold, our small 20x 20 sq ft shops stocked with gold and silver items have died a slow death. Called ‘Bangarda Angadi,’ these shops were the places where grannies and moms had drawn on a plain white sheet of paper their designs and a simpleton on the other side had starred blankly wondering if he could meet the expectation or not.

What these ‘Bangarda Angandis’ lacked was a bunch of well-dressed, trained salesmen who would massage your ego with every ornament that you try on. Though set of such small but reliable and reputed gold shops are still functional in Car Street area, they have lost their most faithful customers to big players in the field. These small jewelers are remembered only when some minor repairs are to be done. For rest of the purchase, we all look for brands.

How can one forget the delicious, lip-smacking delicacies of the coastal area. The freshly fried ‘Golibaje,’ ‘Neerulli baje,’ ‘Biscuit (biskut) rotti’ and so on had never tasted the best in any of the big hotels in the city because they do not come from the age old wooden cupboard. A waiter would peep from the corner of his eyes and recite the menu like a child appearing for an oral examination or a memory test. Vanishing are those old hotels with cement flooring, wooden ceiling and some school bench and desk for seating on which sumptuous food were relished by thousands.

Not just these, vanishing are the carpenter shops, where people thronged to redo the handle of a sickle or sharpen the edges of knives. Today you can purchase range of exquisite furniture from one of those furniture showrooms but if a leg of the furniture is broken, then you may have to run from pillar to post to find a carpenter.

 Have you ever wondered, with so many dress designers making their presence felt in the city, there are no tailors left to take up minor alteration of clothes. Enter any tailoring shop urging them to alter your clothes, you will get a cold face staring at you, hinting that you have just requested for a highly unpleasant favour performing which is below the tailor’s dignity.

Now, looking back, these places were surely the ‘social networking centers,’ which the older generation will always cherish and the younger generation is missing on in its craze for ‘social networking sites.’

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