Covering miles from the past

From the albums

Whenever I look at this photograph taken at National College in 1970, I am transported back to those wonderful years in college. I was in the BSc PCM ‘C’ section which had nearly 90 students.

Our principal Dr H Narasimhiah was a true Gandhian. A bachelor, he made a college hostel room his home and spent his spare time playing table tennis and volleyball with students. Becoming the vice-chancellor of Bangalore University was the just reward for his sustained interest and commitment to education.

The college had introduced a novel strategy, though on a trial basis, to conduct mid-term exams without invigilators. Our principal’s faith in students that they would not copy or cheat must have prompted him to take this bold step. The move was largely successful, as it tugged at the conscience of students to exercise restraint and not succumb to the temptation to cheat.

In the academic field, our college was the envy of many. Back then, we were without the services of the three ‘Ts — telephone, television and transportation (personal vehicles). Still, we were quite happy and went about our routines with gay abandon. Reaching college in time was not a big problem in those days, despite the long distances we had to cover. We took a city bus, cycled or just walked the few miles, to and fro, each day. School and college transportation was unheard of then. Roads were relatively empty, free of traffic jams and noise pollution. Most importantly, it was safe even for girls to venture out on roads. The tag ‘Garden City’ was still valid for this city, which was also famous for its cinemas halls; nearly ninety of them. But, we as students, were unable to take advantage of this bounty, as we were constrained by our pocket money, or rather, the lack of it.

The college had the rare distinction of playing hosts to the World champion West Indies cricket team, under Captain Clive Lloyd. While they were feared for their pace bowling attack, the Indian spin quartet posed enough problems to all cricketing teams. Two of these spin bowlers, E A S Prasanna and B S Chandersekher, were past students of National College, Basavanagudi.

Though ours was a coeducation institution, many of us hardly ever spoke to any of our girl classmates and vice-versa. This was partly because of the conservative upbringing, and in part, due to certain self-imposed inhibitions.

After graduation, we grew apart due to some seeking employment and others opting for higher education. A large chunk of our classmates got employed in the banking sector. A G Gururaja Murthy became the General Manager in Canara Bank. Others such as V Jayaprakash, H L Guruprasad, B S Sarvamangala, S N Narasimha Murthy attained levels of DGM, AGM and so on in their respective banks. H L Guruprasad is an enthusiastic mountaineer, scaling several peaks in the Himalayan region. Udaya Holla was a leader in the NCC in college. Later, he studied Law and became an Advocate General. M K Sridhar, a post-graduate in chemistry, carried out research at the NAL, Bangalore and retired after heading the Materials Sciences Division. Recently, nine of us from the 1970 batch met after a gap of more than four decades. We  plan to meet more often. Such occasions not only bring us face to face, but also fill our hearts with a sense of togetherness and nostalgia.

I am a retired senior scientist from the Department of Biochemistry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
(The author can be contacted at 8861296831)

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