A tale of generations

From the albums

A tale of generations

This family photograph was taken on June 23, 1961, when almost all my cousins had assembled for the wedding of my cousin (brother) RSA Rao, IAAS (Rtd AG, Karnataka and PAG, Tamil Nadu), whom all of us affectionately called ‘Puttanna’. I was about 22 years old then. The photo was taken in front of Devanga Sanga Hostel, behind Corporation Office, Hudson Circle. Incidentally, my cousin and his wife are not in the picture.

I am happy to have a few of the older generation members amongst us even today. Two of my sisters, Giraja and Vanaja, are in their 80s while Shakunthala Bai is 90 plus! In fact, the oldest and the youngest alive today, in the photo, are Shakunthala Bai and Srinath who are 94 and 56 years old respectively. My father Venkoba Rao died at the ripe age of 91 in 1973 while my mother Rama Bai passed away in 1987. I am 77 years old.

 We lived in Gavipuram Guttahalli from 1949 to 1993. My father built a house when there were very few houses there and our family was one of the early ones to settle in the area. As such, we were known to everyone there. My father had served as a ‘taluk shirastedar’ at Hassan (where I was born in 1939), in the government of old Mysore, worked in many districts and finally settled in Bengaluru.

I have many pleasant memories of my parents. My father was a strict vegetarian and I hardly remember him taking any medicines throughout his life. He worked even after his retirement till he turned 80. My mother was a very good cook and used to prepare delicious dishes like ‘omapodi’ and ‘ambode’. Being the only son among 7 children, I used to get preference over the others and I quite enjoyed that.

 My father had a very artistic hand — he used to cut flowers from coloured paper and decorate ‘mantaps’ during Ganesha Chaturthi. He was known for his legible and beautiful handwriting in English. He never used anything other than a post card to write letters to me. He would write a lot of information in a post card very legibly and it amazed me!
 We were a middle-class family and very religious. 3 of my sisters used to work in factories. I remember visiting ‘Sri Rayara Mutt’ in Chamrajpet every Thursday. I also fondly remember Bangalore High School where I studied from 1954 to 1957. Some of my favourite teachers, who are no more, are headmaster Srinivasa Rao, M R Nagaraja Rao, Gundu Rao, Varadaraja Iyengar, Rameswara Avdhani and B C Ramachandra Sharma.

 Another thing that I remember is that I used to walk to and fro all the way from Gavipuram Gutahalli to S J Polytechnic, a distance of nearly 13 kms everyday, during my first year of engineering. For the subsequent two years, my father bought me an old cycle for Rs 80, unbelievable in today’s times!

The old Bangalore that I saw in the 50s and 60s with its lush greenery is just a memory now. The city has lost a good part of its lung space and become a concrete jungle. When I think of old Bangalore, a few of my favourite restaurants in Gandhi Bazaar come to my mind. Youngsters had nicknamed the area as ‘Paris Corner’. Vidyarthi Bhavan is one that I adored then and even today for their crisp masala dosa. The other one was Geetha Restaurant which closed long back. I also liked Sri Krishna Bhavan in Chickpet; one of their branches has opened in Gandhi Bazaar, which I frequent often, as a resident of Kathriguppe.

My parents continued to stay in Guttahalli while I left that house and Bengaluru in 1965 in search of better opportunities. I came here for occasional visits only until I moved back in 1999 after my retirement.

Later, we disposed that house and have our own establishments in different parts of Bengaluru. But the memory of the golden era of our stay at Gavipuram Guttahalli will remain forever etched in our minds.

 With time, the stature of many people in this photograph has also changed. A good number of them have acquired educational qualifications and positions in companies and visited foreign countries. Out of my 2 daughters, the elder one Vijaya, 45, got married after completing her MSc in Biochemistry. She is settled in the USA and is working for Caltech. She has 2 daughters, 11 and 8 years old. My younger daughter Indira, 39, is settled in Mumbai with her husband and works for an NGO. My wife Vathsala and I are settled in the city. Many of us, who are in Bengaluru, meet frequently at somebody or the other’s house for various occasions and keep our relations intact and healthy.

 I am happy to see that some of us from the photograph have had the privilege of becoming grandparents! This cycle of yesterday, today and tomorrow is there in all families but the beauty remains in the cohesion among the existing members of the 3 generations.

(The author can be contacted on ssrao30@yahoo.in)

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