A journey to remember

A journey to remember
This photograph was taken in the year 1966 at the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was clicked when the students of SJ Polytechnic, situated at KR Circle in Bengaluru, went for an industrial/ technical tour of places in India.

We were in the final year of diploma of the radio engineering course at the famous Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic (SJP) in the city. The institution was started in 1943 by the great visionary and statesman, Dr M Visvesvaraya, for special training in various engineering trades.

The tour was mainly organised for visiting places of technical interest, both private and government establishments. Cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Allahabad, Agra, Delhi and Mumbai and historical places as well as monuments were also included. The tour was for a period of one month and we travelled entirely by train.

Although there were about 12 female students in our batch, they did not accompany us on this industrial tour and as such, we missed their presence. Radio engineering was, at that time, a special course dealing with industrial, commercial and defence electronic applications.

In addition to exposure to the construction and working of AM and FM radio station transmission and reception, we had a detailed programme to understand the working of trans-receivers, radar, TV, airbase and defence equipment.

We studied communication through Morse Code. This was being used in those days in defence, railways and post offices including ham radio operators. During the industrial tour, we got an opportunity to visit establishments like various AIR studios and transmission stations, overseas communication services in Mumbai, and radio giants of that time like Philips and Murphy. It was an enriching experience indeed. In those days, the valve technology was in its waning phase and semiconductor device and IC chips were the order of the day.

Even then, we had the opportunity to see the giant-sized transmitting tubes of the transmitters and huge antennas at AIR’s Radio Transmitting station at Hosakote near Bengaluru.

Our institute had its own outdoor transmission practical unit. One of our outstation visits was to the Civil Defence training centre at Doddaballapur near Bengaluru, for conducting transmission practices with our equipment. We also took a memorable picture on that occasion. We had the opportunity to construct transmission lines and conduct transmission and reception through them. This gave us practical knowledge in the construction of transmission lines and hands-on training.

We also got an opportunity to use a trans-receiver of those days used in countries like America and brought by one of our talented classmates. This FM unit worked at UHF which was then called Citizens Band.

Another unique feature was that this radio engineering course, the first of its kind in Bengaluru, was identified as a special one. Some of the film industry bigwigs were products of our institution. Kannada actor Srinath was one such person.

Some of my classmates established their own industries while many worked and climbed up the ladder of success at ITI, BEL, CQAL, LRDE, IISc, ISRO, AIR stations and HAL in Bengaluru and OCS Mumbai (now VSNL). Col Rajan V G and K G Nagaraja are two among the many successful candidates. I have retired from the railways.

I have some really pleasant memories with my classmates at SJP. We had a really nice time during the course and we enjoyed every bit of the three years spent there. NCC, drama and cultural activities were sources of enjoyment and pastime there. We often visited in groups hotels around Majestic circle and Cubbon Park which were close by. We also frequented Sri Saraswati Lodge in Gandhinagar, Sree Vishnu Bhavan on K G Road and Janatha Lodge on Avenue Road.

Cinema halls were also close by and sometimes, we would bunk uninteresting classes and lectures and go watch films, mostly Kannada and Tamil. I miss many of my illustrious classmates who I am not in touch with at present and who are no more. Some of us who are now retired and are residing in Bengaluru meet often. Nostalgia strikes us as we remember those wonderful days of learning, bonding and constant growth.

P S Thammanna

(The author can be contacted at thammanna_ynk@yahoo.com)
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