Embracing the greenery

Embracing the greenery

Embracing the greenery

This photograph was taken sometime in late 1972 from my Click III box camera, at Lalbagh, down the Glass House. Seen here are the officers and staff of the Chief Financial Controller’s Office (CFC), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru. At that time, there used to be one Chief Financial Controller, deputed from the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS), looking after all the finance functions of all the divisions of HAL.

In 1972, the finance functions were decentralised and the staff were to take charge at their respective divisions. On the last day, we had a small get-together at Lalbagh. We had our breakfast at Lalbagh Restaurant and lunch at Kamath Hotel outside Lalbagh. In those days, there was no entry fee to enter Lalbagh and cycles were permitted, but no riding was allowed inside. It was at that time when Lalbagh Restaurant had just opened and the food and beverages used to be excellent. We had ‘masala dosa’ with coconut chutney and coffee for breakfast.

Once a month, I used to visit Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) along with another friend from HAL. The owner’s sons would be at the entrance to greet and receive us with smiling faces and offer us a seat. We would usually have either ‘rava idli’ or ‘uppittu’ for snacks and ‘dumroot’, ‘badam halva’ or ‘gulab jamun’ for sweet. Alternatively, we also visited New Modern Hotel near Minerva Circle which was also very famous then.

When I came to Bengaluru sometime in 1955 from a remote village in Tamil Nadu, I felt like I had arrived in heaven. There were innumerable Gulmohar trees in full bloom in yellow, orange and red colours and there was a lot of green lung space in the city. The roads were very clean. I would gaze at the buildings, theatres and advertisement hoardings illuminated in coloured lights in sheer amazement for I had not seen even an electric light in my village. There were several theatres in the city, about 14 on Kempegowda Road alone.  There were Naaz and New City theatres on Narasimharaja Road and Shivaji, Bharath and Minerva on J C Road. The luxurious theatres at that time were Alankar in Majestic, Lido in Ulsoor and Galaxy near Mayo Hall. Most of these theatres do not exist anymore.

The ‘Karaga’ festival in the City Market area would attract huge crowds and all roads would be flooded with people and chariots along with beggars. There were hardly any buildings with more than three storeys at that time. This itself was a wonder to me. Now one can find more than 14 storey buildings.

When I was in high school, seeing HAL employees boarding the HAL bus from the pick-up point near my house, my mother would express her desire that I, being her first son, would get a job in HAL and travel in the same bus. Her wish came true when I got a job there after a few months of passing SSLC in high first class. At that time, whoever passed SSLC in first class, got a job in HAL through employment exchange.

I joined HAL in September 1960 as a B grade clerk and took voluntary retirement in April 1993 as a deputy accounts manager, after serving in almost all the divisions and in various capacities. All of us shared a great camaraderie and had a wonderful time during our tenure there. B R Venugopal and I were stenographers initially and there used to be some confusion when somebody called one of us without knowing the initials.

P S Raghunatha Rao left HAL to join Indian Telephone Industries as the deputy financial controller while Padmanabha Rao retired from HAL as the chief finance manager. Raghunatha Rao lives in BTM Layout.

Padmanabha Rao lives in Gokula near Mathikere, where I too live presently. He is doing service as a trustee at Rayar Mutt in Mathikere.

B N Murthy, who joined HAL from the defence audit as deputy finance manager, is no more now, as also Sundararajan, who practised as a lawyer for some time after retiring from HAL. Parthasarathy, who joined HAL as a stenographer, was promoted as the personal secretary and personal assistant to the CFC. Later, he was transferred to the corporate office and retired from there.

I was in touch with a few of them till recently. I am 74-years-old now. I also served as the administrative manager at the Karnataka Golf Association, worked in a private company as well and have fully retired now after years of active service.

Working at HAL, sharing pleasant memories with my colleagues there and experiencing Bengaluru at its best — these are the priceless treasures that I have accumulated over the years.

Venugopal R
(The author can be contacted on venugopalr_b@yahoo.com)

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