In a walker's paradise

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In a walker's paradise

This picture was taken in Bengaluru in 1947 at Central College Hostel during the annual hostel day celebration. I have very fond memories of time spent in this prestigious institution.

There were two colleges — one, the intermediate college, now known as science college, and the other, Central College across the road. This was the only science college in the state those days. They were under the administration of Mysore University. All students in the erstwhile princely state of Mysore pursuing science subjects, joined this prestigious institution.  The inspiring professors and lecturers, with their immaculate attire and immense knowledge, created an aura within the campus.                                                                                                                           
The hostel for the students was located across the road on the campus and was under the direct supervision of the principal of the college. A senior professor of the college was appointed the warden of the hostel.

He administered the management of the hostel with the assistance of prefects elected by the boarders. He was housed within the premises of the hostel.                                                                                                                                                        
I did my schooling in Kolar Gold Felds of M/s John Tylor and Sons,  where my father worked as a cashier in the security department of the company. I joined the Intermediate College in the year 1942, in the beginning of the year of Freedom movement.

Bengaluru was very different in those days. It was very calm with only a few cars on the road. Those few vehicles belonged to the state and were rarely seen on the road. I have known most of the top ranking officers of the state cycling to their  office.

There were also a few rickety buses on the road. Almost every other person either walked or cycled in the city. The city was almost dead after dark.

The Central College hostel was a prestigious student’s hostel of that time. I was a boarder till I passed out in the year 1948.  There were two blocks in  the imposing structure. The food was good and service excellent.

A very high level of discipline was maintained due to the constant monitoring and visits from the warden.

The bill of the hostel came to about Rs 50 to Rs 60 a month, after providing early morning coffee, sumptuous breakfast, unlimited lunch and dinner, afternoon snacks and coffee topped with fruit and milk at night. 

During our time Dr Sanjeeva Rao, the principal of the college, was also the official head of the hostel and Prof S B Bondade  was the warden of the hostel.

Life in the hostel was comfortable and provided a good opportunity and atmosphere for studying. Most of the time, we walked around the city and I remember walking with friends in the evening from Avenue Road to MTR. It was then housed in a small building on the road leading from Minerva Circle to Lalbagh. Another popular place that was famous for its food was Udupi Krishna Bhavan on Balepet Road.

Some of us liked English movies and they were screened only in the Bangalore Cantonment area. It was far away from the hostel and we would cycle the distance through the Cubbon Park.

Those days even cycles were required to possess a licence issued by the civic
authority. Double riding was an offence. The cycle needed  to have lights for night riding. The only source was oil lamps. We were always worried that it would extinguish and get us into trouble with the police in the cantonment area.

We used to constantly feel the top of the lamp to make sure it was always lit.
Those were the days of freedom movement. There were frequent disturbances with someone or the other holding a meeting on campus.

The classes had to be suspended. I recall the names of a few of the important leaders who lead the movement.

They were G P Krishna Rao, M S Krishnan, Vasanthiah and Dayananda Sagar. I remember the college was even closed for some time during this movement; leading to us losing one year in the Intermediate College. 

At last, while I was in my first year of BSc in 1947, we achieved our Independence and freedom and I heard the great midnight speech of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 15 August, 1947.

I completed my education and joined the services of the gold mines as a mining probationer and took over as Technical Director and officiating CMD of the company before retiring in 1983.

The once famous Central College hostel now looks dilapidated and the notice board says it houses some of the offices of the education department. I am 92 years old now and everytime I pass that way, it brings back some great memories.

M H R Rao
(Rao can be reached on 26635016)  

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