It was in 1935 when I was 15 years of age and studying in the middle of fourth form (presently referred to as eighth standard) that my father sent me to Bengaluru under the care of Maurice Frydman. Frydman was a Polish Engineer and a follower of Ramana Maharshi.
Frydman used to frequently visit Ramana Ashram in Tiruvannamalai, where my father, T K Sundersa Iyer, who was also a staunch disciple of his, was a high school teacher.
Maurice Frydman was the founder of the Government Electric Factory (GEF, now known as Kavika). This factory was started in the year 1933 during the regime of Sri Mirza Ismail who was the Diwan of Mysuru then.
I came to Bengaluru under the care of Frydman. I was given accommodation in the premises of the GEF along with three others. We were provided food from the factory mess. The food that was served used to be bland — just baked vegetables without salt or spice, together with red rice and sugar.
Frydman was a highly disciplined person and very strict in food habits when it came to himself and to all others.
I am now 95 years of age and my recollection of Bengaluru was a small town consisting of a few extensions like Chamarajpet, Shankapuram (few roads), Basavanagudi, NR Colony (two roads), Cottonpet, Balepet, City Market, Avenue Road, and Majestic area. The only mode of public conveyance that time was ‘jatka gadi’ driven by horse.
It was only around 1940 that one of the oil mill owners, CM Garudachar, started running a bus for the public between City Market and Guttahalli. The fare was half anna per person. Later, in the 70s, BTS introduced regular bus services. I still remember superstar Rajnikanth as a conductor in the BTS bus. He was a lively person who entertained the passengers, and I was one among them and enjoyed his courteous behaviour.
It is very interesting, if not unbelievable, to remember that the price of any commodity in general costed less than half a rupee. C Rajagopalachari had once remarked that “people would go to bazaar with handful of money and bring a bag full of things but now we have to take a bag full of money and bring a handful of things”.
But as we progressed with development, this situation became the other way round and currently the condition is worse.
When I set up my family in Bengaluru in 1939, I was paying a house rent of Rs four per month for 1BHK house, the rent included all utilities like water and electricity. The rents in Bengaluru kept rising gradually. It rose to Rs 15 per month in 1950s.
During my younger days in Bengaluru, I had seen and moved with people with contentment, satisfaction and honesty. Everyone was service-minded and willing to help people in trouble.
People used to feel secure with people and the surrounding. Corruption was unheard of then.