Basking in the summer of life

From the albums

Basking in the summer of life

This photograph was taken sometime in the 1970s during our family picnic to Nandi Hills. There were a lot of outings then and all of us never missed a chance to have a family outing as it was filled with fun and frolic. During the picnics, our Ambassador cars were parked leaving a triangular space in the centre, where we used to make tea and coffee. We would then sit around and relish the food. Skimming pebbles was our favourite pastime.

   My son late Ramesh and nephew Mohan were called upon for everything from driving to looking after the younger ones. The roads were much calmer then when compared to today.

     It was in the summer of 1953 that we moved to our current residence on Kengal Hanumanthiah Road or famously known as Double Road, the first such road to come up in Bengaluru. Funnily enough the place was called monkey tope, civil station. It was a big joint family. Three families lived together in harmony with a little bit of ‘nok-jhok’. Those days Double Road seemed like a long stretch of road, primarily because it was almost deserted. We feared coming out of our home after six o clock.

We were quite self-contained, with a couple of cattle heads and a few of us were asked to make curds, buttermilk and butter. The house was on a fairly big plot and we had many trees and plants. Soon after, we planted a wide variety of fruit bearing trees. For some reason, everything was in pairs — two mango trees, two chikoo trees, two guava trees, two jackfruit trees (they are the only ones which have survived the onslaught of time), gooseberries and many more.

As the plants grew into trees, each of the families was getting extended and that is when slowly things started disintegrating. Despite the prosperity, differences arose as time went by. One family left within a few years, while the other two stayed on a little longer. Then it was the turn of another family moving out, they moved up the road, opposite the present BMTC bus stand. The kids would walk it up to their cousins’ house in five minutes. And during the rainy seasons, the favourite pastime was watching the rain-choked road. The children would stand there taking bets on which vehicle would get stuck. Bad sport maybe, but no harm done.

Then it was just our family. There have been mixed moments all these years, but
Double Road has transformed like anything and it is so difficult to cross the road now. There are fond memories of the deserted road and the peace and the quiet.

The only noise used to be from the kids who played cricket with fielders across the road. Their favourite pastime was climbing trees. The children played tag on the trees. They called the game ‘Mar koti’. I guess the competition between the two families made the games that much more interesting.

Living on a VIP road had its advantages. We got to see so many VIPs as they headed to Lalbagh. We saw Queen Elizabeth II as she sat on a ceremonial chair atop a horse-driven carriage. She was so very beautiful. Much later we got to see Pandit Nehru and then Indira Gandhi, both of whom had an aura of sophistication and power. The roads would be all spruced up. The corporation workers and officials would descend early morning no matter what time the motorcade would pass. We would rush through the cooking and house work and come out neatly dressed. Much camaraderie would happen in the neighbourhood, even across the road!

     The cops would start clearing the roads, going whistle-happy, rushing the few vehicles off the road. As the VIP motorcade moved closer, the excitement of seeing them up so close had its own thrill. All of us, irrespective of age and gender, would wave at the VIPs with much gusto.

The pilot cars would make us crane our necks towards the beginning of the road. The VIP would be in one of the open-hooded cars (Impalas, Plymouths) and the kids would count the number of cars that formed the motorcade. It was some kind of a major activity waiting to see a VIP pass and it kept all of us occupied and in good neighbourly banter. The kids would sit in the compound for longer, hoping there would be some more action, while the women of the house would get back to their chores.

Thanks to Lalbagh, we got to see the VIPs so close. But for us Lalbagh always held some charm. An early morning walk to the hillock was a must for my husband.

The kids would jog along in the cool dawn air. Bicycles were the norm and there were hardly any motorised vehicles, so there was no pollution! They would climb up the hillock and do some exercises below the Kempegowda tower. Tired, they would head straight for the main gate and the famous MTR.

Early in the morning, my husband and his group of friends had a table reserved for them at this crowded joint, and when the kids went, they too were accommodated. Masala dosa and by-two coffee was their all-time favourite. After the sumptuous breakfast, the walk back home seemed to take forever. As the kids turned into their teens and adult years, Double Road too transformed rapidly, becoming a fully commercial place. It was time for us to follow.

The trees were hacked and the bank building came up, kids moved on and some stayed. I stay alone with my children stopping by often. But it’s an empty nest nevertheless. Guess, I shouldn’t crib. They are all there when I need them, yet I have my space — on Double Road.

Gangu Bai
(The author can be contacted on nimsrao@gmail.com)

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