The foreign guests and the Ford Anglia

From the albums
Last Updated 28 September 2014, 15:31 IST

This photograph was taken in August 1960 when I was an active member of the Youth Association of Asia, India Chapter.

Eight students from the US and Japan were visiting Bangalore under the International Living Project. We had gathered at the Woodlands Hotel and decided to capture the moment. 

My date with this city began when my family decided to shift base from Mysore to Bangalore. I did my II PUC at Maharani’s College for Women, which was located near the jail. We were living in Basavanagudi at the time and the college bus used to take us to and fro. Traffic was not much those days and travelling was a joyous experience. 

Though we had shifted from Mysore, I was elected as the secretary of the college union and my sister, the president. However, some girls opposed this as we were new and were not really Bangalore girls. But those were days of fun. We even started a cricket club in the college. There was a Girl Guides’ hostel nearby and we used to play cricket in the premises, sometimes even with Ranji players.

I used to drive around in our Ford Anglia which had GB (Great Britain) written on the number plate. My sister and brother-in-law had brought the car from London. To say the least, the car was a matter of fascination for everyone. For my neighbours though, GB stood for Gandhi Bazar, instead of Great Britain.

As for the foreign students who were here, a few of us volunteered to host them for 10 days. My guests were June Lapinski and Gail Sheppard. It was fun looking after June and Gail. I took them around Bangalore in our good old Ford Anglia. It was a pleasure those days, driving on South Parade (now MG Road). I took them to meet MR Jain who was well-known for his predictions. I remember writing three questions on a piece of paper and putting it face downwards in front of him. June was pretty impressed with him after he predicted the first three letters of her boyfriend’s name.

I also took June and Gail for some incredible ‘masala dosas’. We even went into the kitchen to see how it was made! I didn’t know four ‘dosas’ could be made at the same time on a huge rectangular thava! Of course, we didn’t forget to have ice-creams from Lakeview, which was the norm those days.

My parents did their best to make the foreign guests comfortable. My mom had studied at London Mission School and could communicate with them well. She served plates of salads to them as she felt that the girls may not like our food. She also made sure mosquito nets were tied on their beds! “I don’t want the white girls to be bitten by mosquitoes,” she would say.

Years have gone by, many of those in the photograph have passed on. Sometimes, I wonder where June and Gail are. Do they still remember Bangalore?

(Published 28 September 2014, 15:31 IST)

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