A whiff of nostalgia

A whiff of nostalgia

From the albums

A whiff of nostalgia

This photograph was taken at National Studio, Kalasipalyam in 1963. The occasion was the reunion of friends of the 50s on the commissioning of Capt A N Ramanathan from IMA, Dehradun. Freshly-won Independence had fired up a sense of idealism in the young minds, all in their teens. All of us came from Mavalli, a triangular locality adjoining Lalbagh.

The love for cricket prompted us to start a team. ‘Ever Jolly Cricket Club’ (EJCC) had a humble beginning. It had just a tennis ball and kid’s bat to start with. For official matches, each player had to contribute 8 annas to buy a ‘Special Crown’ leather ball from Commercial Street. ‘Bowl at the wicket’ and ‘Don’t just swing the bat, defend’ was the mantra then. The diversification bug bit the bunch and thus sprang ‘Minerva Cosmopolitan Club’ (MCC), the cultural sister of EJCC! Those in the picture were active members of this club.

It began with publishing a handwritten students magazine. The maiden issue was a success with articles in 4 languages. In a master stroke, the editorial team also produced a moral code for its members. A 10-point code was pruned to just five, making ‘Hope of Exemption’ an incentive. The club used to organise debates, songs, Kannada dramas, recitation competitions for High School students and a bit of social service in the locality. The members did not aspire for name or fame. They believed in the slogan ‘Do your best and leave the rest to nature’. Capt A N Ramanathan joined the Indian Airforce at the age of 17 and he was the elder member of our group. As he was the only earning member then, he used to bear a major portion of the expenses incurred by the club. He remained a bachelor and continued to offer his voluntary service to the needy persons in the locality.

A special mention must be made of Late Sri Tatachar, Head Master, R V High School, for providing free space in the school premises for our functions.

Also, pardon me for calling Lalbagh the ‘Backyard of Mavalli’. In actuality, in those days, it was when you come to think of it. Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) in a decrepit house in Mavalli was already making waves. Minerva Talkies was the only theatre in the neighbourhood that catered to regional films. By-two coffee or dosa was a custom at Modern Hotel on Diagonal Road. We were day scholars with no homework and no sack full of books to carry – a rough notebook is all you needed.

Policemen were only seen occasionally, but never heard! The major traffic offences included ‘Cycle without light or bell or licence’. There was no spot fine and paying a bribe was not an option. If you had no money, the cop did his job — deflated both the tubes. Only on 3 occasions, one saw crowd on the road — ‘Karaga’, ‘Kadlekai Parishe’ and ‘Silver Chariot’ at Sajjan Rao Circle. The old Bangalore conjures up a past of grandeur.

As for those in the picture, Nawab did his engineering, left for the USA and is settled there. Vasu identifies himself with LIC of India where he is remembered for his training skills and performance par excellence. Bobby and Balwant are no more. Raghavendra (Raghanna) retired from MICO and passed away recently. Venkoba, steady as a rock, served his innings with Binnys and MICO in a manner worthy of emulation.

Ramachandran, a good-looking and stylish boy, earned laurels in acting. Siddalingiah was an assuming volunteer. Lakshman was the baby of the team. From corporal to Captain, Ramanathan always found life full of challenges, but enjoyable all the same. I was under the influence of Dr H Narasimhaiah (National College) and my maternal uncle, freedom fighter H S Doreswsamy. I worked in a few companies including Nagarjuna Steels and experienced the hardships of honest living. At 80, some of us in the city still meet and the ‘dreamtime’ we spent in the ‘golden age of the past’ beckons us again.

S V Iyer
(The author can be contacted on 22445690).