Fraser Town of the ’60s

Fraser Town of the ’60s


Fraser town east railway station. Wikimedia Commons

I pride myself on having grown up in Fraser town. Back in the 1960s, the area had a sizeable Anglo-Indian and Hindu population. Residents lived a laidback life in quaint monkey-top bungalows filled with fruit trees and flower beds, and one could find a modest accommodation for an unbelievable Rs 2 per month.

The fruiting season would see monkeys raid the orchards, but the bounty was enough to be shared with the neighbours. People either walked or cycled to their destinations, used the humble cycle rickshaw or the horse tonga. Bengaluru boasted of a salubrious climate then and people often donned sweaters knitted by older women.

The beautiful Madhavraya Mudaliar Road (Palm Road), lined with majestic coconut palms, was our favourite haunt. Some popular landmarks along the stretch included the Lakshmi Bhavan Hotel (since closed), Fraser Town Police Station, Everest Cinema (still around), and the East Ground. The Independence Day Cup hosted at the ground drew footballers from far and wide, and the keenly contested matches saw a full house. Drama troupes performed here on festive occasions, and the Bangalore Muslim's hockey team--a misnomer as it had players from different faiths--trained here.

On New Year's Day, the market show was a unique attraction where stall owners vied to put up an attractive display of meat, vegetables and fruit. We would wait to view pictures of famous personalities and actors on slide projectors and would get sticky sweets that would tie around our wrists like watches.

To our houses, the milkman was the first to show up with his cow and pail, milking the bovine right under our nose. Before beginning his exercise, he would turn the bucket upside down to demonstrate there is no water. Vendors called on us to hawk cookies, eggs, salt, coconuts, crabs and curds -- to name only a few. The dhobi brought his donkey along, bundled the clothes meant for washing and returned them a week later. None of the clothes ever went missing. 

An enduring memory of the town was that neighbours professing different faiths lived in harmony and called on each other frequently to indulge in chatter or gossip to pass the time. Festivals witnessed the exchange of pleasantries and goodies. Evenings came alive with street games, and one would halt a game of football or hockey and wait for the odd motorcar or scooter to pass.

Today's bustling Fraser Town is a far cry from the once sleepy town of yesteryears!

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