The trip of a lifetime

From the albums

The trip of a lifetime

Unlike the present generation of students, we as college students in the mid 1960s and early 1970s,  did not have many avenues for student activity.

We did have the annual ‘strike’ of course; we also had the annual inter-college cricket matches and the ‘jam sessions’. And then there was the YMCA.

The YMCA on Nrupathunga Road was a centre for students to converge for various activities. One of them was the Toastmaster’s Club which trained youngsters in public speaking and leadership. We students from the few colleges that existed at that time  in Bangalore would invariably be at the Toastmaster’s Club on Saturday evenings.

Among its other activities, the Toastmaster’s Club YMCA also conducted an annual event in the manner of a model Lok Sabha, model UN General Assembly etc. These events were conducted in a big and grand manner. The events were held either in the Town Hall or the Ravindra Kalakshetra which were the only two halls existing then.

Except for one year when the event was held in the Banquet Hall of the Vidhana Soudha. Those days, Vidhana Soudha was easily accessible unlike today. The grandeur of the Banquet Hall added to the vibrancy of the participating students and the colourful proceedings!

It was during this time that a model Lok Sabha on an all- India scale was held at the
Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, perhaps for the first time. About 20 of us, boys and girls from various colleges in Bangalore and part of the YMCA Toastmaster’s  Club,  made the trip to New Delhi for this model Lok Sabha. We had all become ‘MPs’ albeit for a very short period!

Though the model Lok Sabha session was only for three days, the trip took us 10 days or so considering that we had to travel by train to New Delhi. We had to first travel to Madras (now Chennai) to board the GT Express to New Delhi. The GT Express at that time was a prestigious train. It had a fancy pantry car in the form of a sitting restaurant. We would be in the pantry car for most of the journey.

The then President of India Dr Zakir Hussain, was ‘at home’ to the ‘MPs’ at this model Lok Sabha on one of the days. This was at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. This photograph was clicked on this occasion. Dr Zakir Hussain is  seen greeting and speaking to a few of us from Bangalore. The lone lady in this photograph is Eunice Misquith, then studying in Mount Carmel College.

She is a well-established doctor now settled down in the UK. Flanking her are Tilak Raghunath and Sumanth Raghunath of RC Commerce College. Tilak had earned the nickname ‘Abdul’. These brothers went on to become makers of premier furniture and interiors at Bangalore. Both have since closed the business and retired to Coorg. Next to Sumanth Rao stands Laxman of Central College. He is the son of a senior advocate from M/s King & Patridge, a leading firm of solicitors.

Jayant Bhide whose face one can see partially next to Lakshman was studying Engineering at the BMS College. To the right of Tilak Raghunath is yours truly then studying in St Josephs College, Bangalore. After graduating in science and mathematics in 1969, I took up accountancy and have been a practicing chartered accountant last 40 plus.

Needless to mention, we had a whale of a time at New Delhi in spite of our limited financial resources as students. Bangalore during our college days was totally different from what it is today. In fact we could cycle all around Bangalore in as less as three hours. The only localities that existed those days were Basavanagudi, Malleshwaram, Chamarajpet, Cantonment. Even Rajajinagar and Jayanagar were non-existent then.  

The BTS service was not dependable. There were hardly any auto rickshaws. Not that we could afford to travel in them.

The YMCA brought many students from different colleges together into a close bond – a bond which many of us share even to this day – even as the then students have now become grandfathers and grandmothers!


(The author can be contacted at panthco@vsnl.com)

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