A home away from home

A home away from home

From the albums

A home away from home

This picture was taken at St Joseph’s College Hostel, Richmond Road, in 1979. It was taken by one of our common friends just outside my room.

I was in my first-year degree and not everyone in the picture are my batchmates. There are a few juniors as well but age didn’t matter to us — we were all good friends. The picture has Mickey Thimmaiah, M N Appaiah, Mandanna, Deepak, Nithin Bagmane, Jayachandra K B, Siddalinga Reddy and myself.

These were the most formative years of our lives. For me, my days in the hostel were most memorable. I clearly remember every single thing that we did in our hostel despite having a very strict warden — Fr Farias. Although we dreaded the sight of Fr Farias, looking back, I understand why he was such a terror. It would have been difficult for him to monitor 250 boys who were mischievous in every way. I still remember a bell would go off at 7 pm and dinner would be served between 7 pm and 8 pm. The gates would be shut at 8 pm sharp and wouldn’t open for anybody. We had to be in the hostel premises and nobody was allowed to go out after the stipulated hours. Whenever Fr Farias would be on his rounds, we would make sure we weren’t seen anywhere in the corridor. He never liked us loitering around.

There was this incident which I clearly remember. A few of my friends and I were returning after an ice-breaking session with the juniors a little after 9 pm when we were caught by Fr Farias. He was hiding behind the bougainvillea bush just to keep a watch on us and promptly caught us. He immediately wrote to my father saying that he had caught me ‘evidently ragging’ the juniors and that I smoked like a steam engine. My father rushed to the hostel wondering whether he had to take me back home but Fr Farias didn’t complain to my father. Instead, I was let off after a warning. 

Most of us in the group played cricket and table tennis. The winning team of the table tennis match had to treat the rest of us at ‘Sweekar’, a vegetarian restaurant, located just behind the hostel to sweets, ‘khara’ and coffee. If it was cricket, then the winning team had to treat the others at a little more expensive place called ‘Olympia’, a Kerala restaurant near Richmond Circle. Everybody in this picture are special. Mickey was a good hockey player and my classmate since school. Appaiah was a year junior to me and later became the president of the college. Mandanna was a coffee planter from Coorg.

Nithin, originally from Chikkamagaluru, was from very well-to-do family. He always carried himself well. I remember both Jayachandra K B and Siddalinga Reddy to be very mischievous boys.  

Ephraim John, another close friend who is not in this picture, didn’t study with us in St Jos­eph’s College. He was a student of Christ College but he stayed in the annexe cottage right across our hostel. The cottage was never directly under the supervision of Fr Farias but the students would come to our mess to eat. Whenever, we went out for a late night movie, we would always park our bikes in Ephraim’s cottage, jump over the hostel wall and quietly slip into our rooms. Hostel life has given me memories to last a lifetime.  Some of us have kept in touch even after we left the hostel and would meet whenever possible. A group of us from the hostel have been meeting regularly for the last one year in different venues across the City.

It was during one of these meetings that we decided we wanted to do something to express our support and solidarity with the families of the soliders who laid down their lives. It is this idea that prompted us to organise a St Joseph’s College Hostel reunion at Capitol Village in Madikeri on April 2 and 3. We lost no time in forming a WhatsApp group in an effort to reach out to as many people as possible. The word about the reunion has spread and we have been receiving a tremendous response.

We will use the occasion to pay our respects to the martyrs and pledge our support to their families. There will be an NCC band playing on the occasion. Those of us who are gathering at the reunion will also resolve to come up with a long-term support plan for the families of the martyrs. Air Marshal Cariappa (retd), has agreed to be the mentor of our movement.​

Harsha Kanekal
(Harsha can be reached at harshakanekal@gmail.com or call Ephraim John on 98450484869845048486.)

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