A slice of the rustic life

A slice of the rustic life
Childhood memories are always nostalgic. The days I have spent in Chitradurga, the land of ‘Madakari Nayaka’ and Palegars, are priceless. It was called Chitaldroog then by the Britishers. Spending nearly 18 years of my younger days (from early 40s to late 50s) there, have left an everlasting impression on me. Our forefathers might have settled there in the early part of 20th century, migrating from Hassan district.

Chitradurga was perhaps the most neglected of the nine districts of the then Mysore state.
There were no convent schools so our early education was in Government schools which had few facilities. But the teachers were quite dedicated and taught us values of life, apart from the curricular subjects.

Unlike the present day, tutorial classes and private tuitions were unheard of then and there were a few needy students who used to attend these. The Boys’ Scout movement was very active in Chitradurga. A troop called ‘Hill Comrades’, headed by one Seetharamaiah, was very popular in training children from ‘Cubs’ to ‘Rovers’.

As a ‘Cub’, I remember winning many prizes in skipping and memory tests. We were regularly taken for outings to the nearby ‘Elu Suttina Kote’ and other places like Ankali Swamy Mutt. We would scale the huge monolithic rock ‘Tuppada Kola’ with ease several times in a year.

Campfires and diving through fire-rings were the main attractions in scout activities. Kondajji Basappa was the district chief then.

My high school education started in 1952 at the Government High School for Boys where my father also studied in the early 30s.

I was put into the ‘A’ section which was th English Medium class and consisted of mainly Muslim boys. I got familiar with them and learnt conversing with them in Urdu. My good friend Abdul Samad taught me to read and write Urdu, in which I am conversant even today. My Muslim patients really love it. Samad retired as a Suprintending Engineer from the State Electricity Board.

Youth festivals were held every year in the town which had a population of about 24,000. I remember basketball teams from all over the State and one from Rajapaliyam in Tamil Nadu participating in the festival. I remember seeing ace basket ball players like Narasimha Rajan and others playing in the tournament. Chitradurga itself has produced university players like G Vasudeva Reddy.

It has also produced State volleyball players like SB Rama Raddy and Ajjaiah those days. I would like to mention here the name of HC Narayana Iyengar who donned the State colours in basketball at the age of 35. And the number on his jersey was 20 when Appaiah of HAL was leading the State team.

Chitradurga, being located almost at the imaginary line of demarcation of North and South Karnataka, attracted a number of wrestlers from both North and South for the weekend wrestling event (‘Jungi Kusti’) in a specially created ‘Akhada’ with a picturesquely overlooking Batheri, where the band music used to reverberate the entire atmosphere. That scene is really unforgettable.

Cricket was also a popular sport then. During our college days, we used to have matches between the ‘College Eleven’ and the ‘Towners’ Team’, in which elders between 25 and 40 were playing.

Though I was not good at cricket, I was made the captain of the college team by default. In 1956, we reached the second round in the MGS Tournament and went down to BDT College at Davanagere.

I remember our star cricketer RK Rama Rao got hurt and had to be admitted for a day in the hospital.

Swimming in the open-step wells called ‘Honda’ was a common sport. We were learning swimming in the  most crude manner by tying a hollow float to the waist. In one of the challenges to gobble 26 dosas, my friend RK Rama Rao could do nonstop 26 rounds of swimming in one of the ‘Hondas’.

He was hardly 16 then. Some of my friends excelled in table tennis which was introduced while we were in the intermediate college between 1955-57.

Two of them - BR Muralidhar and KN Nagaraj - could make it to the State-level. The latter was a very popular and dedicated chemistry teacher in Bengaluru till he passed away couple of years ago, the former, a PhD in Botany is also no more.

Joining Mysore Medical College in 1957, I could not pursue any sport due to various reasons. Later, starting private surgical practice, busy professional work kept me away from any form of sports. But now past 75, I am happy to have started swimming regularly in a local pool in Mysuru.

With hardly a couple of my old pals living in Chitradurga, I still keep in touch with them. I am sure the City, which has grown by leaps and bounds, has lot of things to offer for both youngsters and elders.                                                            

(Senior Consultant Surgeon, Mysuru)
(The author can be reached at 9845112899.)

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