Caught in the books

From the albums

Caught in the books

This photograph was taken at our class socials in April 1972,  just before the final year examinations of BSc (Honours) Statistics, at  Central College. Our beloved R R Umarji, head of the statistics department, is also in the picture.

Most of the people seen in the photograph are now retired and well-settled in life. A few of them who are not seen here are Jayaram, Sundaresh, Rukmini and Renuka Bai. 

I was a front-bencher and also a ‘kudumi’ (bookworm), trying to answer all the questions posed by my teachers and classmates. I was very active in NCC at Central College and have commanded three prominent colleges of our time, namely Central College, Government College of Arts and Science and RC College at the Channapatna NCC camp. I was also an under-officer and must have made most of the students run thrice around the college for wearing incomplete uniform!

In those days, chemistry, physics, mathematics, botany and zoology were popular subjects and often a choice of students with high scores and ranks in PUC. Aspirants for BE and MBBS were very few due to poor financial backgrounds and education loans were something unheard of.

Our monthly college fee was Rs 16. We joined the first batch of Statistics Honours. I had passed PUC with first class from MES College and had scored 70 in maths. This made me eligible for maths and later statistics as specials in my Honours degree. Professor M J Naronha was the principal. The teachers were really good at their subjects. The way they taught us made me a good mentor and guide to all my juniors and seniors as well.

My NCC teacher was Lieutenant Nanjappa who encouraged me throughout. I faced stiff competition from Kishore and Chikkappaiaah. The latter was selected to go for mountaineering at J N Institute in Manali while I was selected for Army training with the Rajput regiment at Baird Barracks in Bengaluru. I enjoyed firing light machine guns and medium machine guns (mounted in jeep), and sten guns in addition to .303 rifles. This, I used to boast of in the bank (SBI), so as to keep the erring staff and fraudulent customers at bay! As students, we were not dependent on any outside food from hotels. We used to have a full meal in the morning and return home at 5 pm for evening snacks. In those days, coffee shops/ darshinis were not heard of.

The  Central College canteen near the library would host a few rich students and outsiders. We were issued tokens in NCC for the number of parades we attended, once a week. In exchange of those, we would enjoy ‘masala dosa’ and coffee. We envied people going to Vishnu Bhavan on KG Road and Kamath Hotel on Tank Bund Road.

N S Viswanath and M Aswathnarayana also took interest in NCC and were good friends of mine. We used to cycle together to Jayanagar 4th Block from Rajajinagar 1st Block on holidays to meet other friends. Dilip Tonapi and Jayaram joined me daily in cycling to Central College (then located near Mysore Bank circle). We never went for any excursions or tours as a group or through college. Study tours were not a part of our curriculum. Our pocket money was a maximum of Rs 5 which was generally spent on cycle repair and similar things. Most of us avoided non-vegetarian food and refrained from smoking.

I was a ‘strict college-going student’ who never diverted while going to or returning from college. Nevertheless, I had fun in my own ways, usually playing cricket till late in the evening near my house.

My leadership continued at SBI which I joined when I was less than 20 years old. I was very strict in all the assignments, enjoyed my service as an officer for 40 years and retired as the chief manager. I have been teaching post my retirement at a private institute as a guest faculty for bankers.

All in all, my college days were wonderful and gave me beautiful memories.

(The author can be contacted at chandrashekaranageshrao@gmail.com)

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