A boulevard of adventure

A boulevard of adventure

From the albums

A boulevard of adventure

The year was 1955. I was 16 and raring to go. It was the start of a new academic year at St Joseph’s College for Inter-Science and I, was all set to pursue my education there.

  The William Quan Judge Cosmopolitan Home, run under the aegis of the Theosophical Society located opposite Krishna Rao Park, was to be my home, rather, hostel. This photograph is that of the 1955-56 batch of  William Quan Judge Cosmopolitan Home. Most of the inmates of the hostel were students from BMS College. There were 10 double rooms to accommodate 20 of us. I had just moved out of home and life was going to be disciplined.

Our monthly hostel fee was Rs 50. Breakfasts were usually wheat ‘upma’ and tea, while dinner was sumptuous. It was hygienically prepared under the  supervision of our hostel warden, Mrs Doraiswamy, who tasted our food at random to check the quality.

Come evenings and we would have devotional meetings chaired by eminent personalties. The august company of Professor BP Wadia, Shanta Wadia, among many others, remains in my memory. I also remember the Tenbrook Family from the USA who was an integral part of such meetings. Once the meeting was over, we would proceed to the dining hall for dinner. Squatting on a wooden plank, we would eat from a small table which was one feet above the ground. The cooks were clean and handpicked by our warden.

But not always did we adhere to this pattern of lifestyle like that fateful day when two of us decided to have a short adventure. We somehow managed to skip our dinner. What happened next is this: after the devotional meeting, we rushed to Gandhi Bazar on our bikes — to hear songs on ‘Binaca Geethmala’, anchored by Amin Sayani, which used to be aired from 8 pm to 9 pm. The songs were aired on the radio kept behind the cashier’s table at Geetha Mahal Hotel. To put things into context, transistors and radios were a rarity then. No sooner had the programme ended, than we rushed back to our hostel. But as destined, the gates were locked, promptly at 9 pm.

The inevitable had already happened during dinner time. When the headcount was taken, Cook Appu found out that two students were missing. He promptly reported the matter to the warden. He ordered the gate to be opened at 11 pm for our entry. Back in the hostel, we found a note in our room asking us to report to the warden at 8 am the next day. Need I say we got a dressing down? The warning was to not repeat this kind of misdemeanour ever, lest face expulsion

That apart, I did spend a lot of time in the library located next to the hostel. The librarian was Miss Haugh, whose nationality unfortunately, I cannot recollect now. The library was a fascinating place with several British magazines and it came free of cost. In no time, this became a part of my life.

Bangalore was a different world then. The Bangalore-Mysore Road, those days, was a single lane fully-concreted freeway to enable the Maharaja’s Bentley to glide through. I also can’t erase from my memory the visit of Richard Nixon, the then vice-president of the USA. The City was also graced by Mao Zedong, the then chairman of the Communist Party of China; Zhou Enlai, the then premier of the State Council of China etc.

   Much water has flown since then.  Looking back, those were the days that gifted me unlimited joy. This photograph, rooted in time, is a sweet reminder of that.
VMG Krishnan

(Retired regional manager, Usha Maruti group)
(As told to Anupama Ramakrishnan)

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