Total Recall (DH remembered)

Shashi Deshpande, writer

At the time when we relocated to Bengaluru (the late 50s), newspapers were not published simultaneously from different cities. Therefore, it was the local newspapers that held sway. Deccan Herald (DH) was the prominent paper in the city then. Its office, a stately building on M G Road, spelt out that position. If one was in Bengaluru, one read DH; morning coffee and DH went together. Of course there was Prajavani too. A news agent once came home trying to sell Prajavani to my father. ‘Take it for the women in your family, sir,’ he said. ‘It’s the women in my family who don’t know Kannada,’ my father said. And so DH it was.

We three siblings had been newspaper readers from very young. What did we read in DH? The sports pages, I think. Maybe we glanced at the headlines. Read the comics. I was always fascinated by the local news, by human interest stories. To read a newspaper, to read the local news, is to get a feel of the place. The editor at the time was Pothan Joseph and I regularly read his column, ‘Over a Cup of Tea’. One piece by him, something about religion and religious heads, was so humorous that my brother and I split our sides laughing. Nobody can write like this today. People are  sensitive; one can never be sure what kind of protests will follow. In fact, there was a time when DH got into trouble because of a short story! Our own Salman Rushdie story. A mob almost burnt down the building at the time. For me, DH stands like a beacon light in my literary career because it was in this paper that I was first published. I was living in Bombay then. Our family had gone to England for a year and, coming back, I wrote three small pieces about our stay.

For some reason, I sent what I had written to my father. As always, my father made no comment, but a few weeks later I got a letter from him with three cuttings from DH. He had sent my pieces to DH and they had been published. I still have one, with my father’s handwritten note saying ‘Deccan Herald’ and giving the date. I was paid for this, a handsome sum of 75 rupees, 25 per piece, money which I spent buying gifts for my family. (I must say it here that DH has always been good and prompt paymasters.) Later, when I came to Bengaluru and became a writer, I wrote a number of articles for them. Opinion pieces. I was happy to find space to write some of the things I wanted to say. However, it soon came to an end. But much before that I had begun sending DH my short stories. Reviews and fiction had by then become for me the most important features of DH. In time, however, fiction fell off the pages and comics and Crossword and Sudoku became my focus in the paper ­­— after a quick glance at the headlines. My mother loved the DH crossword and I often got a call from her asking me for a word. I kept that tradition going for long, until my own writing consumed all my time. Nevertheless, in spite of the plethora of newspapers now in town, Bengaluru and DH continue to be linked for me.

Anant Nag, actor 

I came to Bengaluru in 1971. My association with the newspaper began when I first met  Prajavani’s editor YNK. Then, YNK was the only friend I had, and I visited the office for days on end. I have met Guruswamy a couple of times there — in his trademark dhoti, coat and Mysore peta… 

Here, I was first exposed to the printing machines,  understood what publishing and journalism were — it’s so tough (sticking to truth) against all political powers. I learnt a lot of English only by reading newspapers like Deccan Herald (DH). That’s when my friendship with newspapers grew. And of course, I have been a subscriber to Deccan Herald since then (1971). If I don’t read it on any particular day, then I feel that the day is gone! If there is a holiday, I miss the newspaper. When I return from out of town, I read what I have missed with a retrospective effect, including the editorial pages! My family accuses me, saying, “He always has his head buried in the newspapers — we don’t know what he reads — he doesn’t talk to anyone at all!” DH and I will soon share the same age.

Roger Binny, former cricketer

As long as I can remember, Deccan Herald has been at home. I began reading it during school days; it extensively covered sports, you know, local sports especially. Even if we scored 20 runs in our matches, our names would be in print the next day. We were excited to see it. The coverage of local news and state news was interesting.

Sudha Murty, writer

Ah! I’ve always been a Sudha (magazine) person. But my observation is, for someone from Bengaluru or Mysuru, even my husband Narayan 
Murthy, it was always a cup of coffee and Deccan Herald. When you were a little well off, it was a cup of coffee, Deccan Herald, bisi bele bath, Mysore Pak, Vidyarthi Bhavan, and MTR! The paper occupied the first page of everyone’s morning.

Prof Venkatasubbiah, scholar 
 
I’m older than Deccan Herald; I’m 105! (laughs). I remember that all of us enjoyed the first edition of Deccan Herald in 1948. It was the first English daily from Bengaluru. Even now I subscribe to it. At that time I was a professor in Vijaya College. I asked students to read newspapers, particularly Deccan Herald. The newspaper became popular in South Canara and throughout Mysore State, near Bombay, Andhra Pradesh and many other places.

People liked the standard of the newspaper.  And for youngsters, there was a column called ‘Know your English’, and all of us discussed this interesting work. The Sunday magazine was quite interesting, too.

Srinath, actor 

Those days, people uttered Deccan Herald & Prajavani in the same breath. It was a household name then. It’s the same even today. And I liked the paper so much because of its content and printing. Their  news reports were accurate. When I got into cinema, V N Subba Rao was the reviewer there. When he reviewed our films, he guided us in a way. He came to our sets and gave us suggestions. It was great for me as an actor and as a person. The amount of confidence the paper gave me during my career has helped me complete 50 years in the film industry. For me to remain popular and be around even now is because of the guidance I then got through the paper. I still subscribe to the paper and am grateful to it.

Chandrashekhara Kambara, writer, poet

When I was away from Bengaluru, it was my link, an anchor to my sthala (place). When my stints in Delhi began, Deccan Herald (DH) was ‘the’ paper I read to find out what happened in Karnataka. I felt the journalists there would be better placed to understand and write on the happenings there, and so would always turn to it for news. DH, along with Prajavani, had encouraged Kannada literature and writers so much. I used to read the Sunday magazine without fail, and waited for it, the anticipation even more the day before.

I felt proud whenever I saw others in Delhi reading DH. When articles aboutwere printed, it gave me a special kind of joy. It also stood for credibility. I had many dear friends who worked or wrote for this paper.

Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, actor

If you mention ‘Deccan Herald’, I remember V N Subba Rao — he was always supportive of all of us. If we had any doubts about any events, we would call him up. Not just about films, any subject. We would then read about it in the paper. Sure, there are many newspapers in Bengaluru now, but Deccan Herald will always be a great part of Bengaluru and Karnataka.

Suma Sudhindra, veena maestro

I have grown up with Deccan Herald and Prajavani being brought home. Not a single day goes by without them in the house.

The information in it is authentic. Art and culture were given their place. It matters a lot that a leading newspaper like Deccan Herald carries reviews of art and culture, especially of youngsters’ performances — they get a lot of help and opportunities. I hope it’ll reach its centenary also.

EAS Prasanna, former cricketer

“The Deccan Herald  (DH)  was the go-to newspaper for anyone who wanted information about the South. It gave me the platform and encouragement to grow as a cricketer. 

I glanced the sports columns in the paper and also remember liking the vivid coverage of the less popular sports back then, like football and hockey. After the local cricket league matches, in which I took part, my teammates would rush to DH to hand over scorecards and for briefings. It was instrumental in projecting me as a sportsperson. After all these years, in spite of the competition, in spite of other newspapers, DH retains a sentimental flavour. I wish many more years of existence for the paper, and like to congratulate it on its completion of 70 years.

S G Vasudev, artist

In the early 1950s, I was a high- school and college student in Bengaluru. It was the only newspaper in English then, particularly in Karnataka. It was a newspaper read by most of the employees of public-sector companies like ITI, HAL... their employees got up between 5.30  and 6 am, and when they went to work on the bus, they would read the paper.

I moved to Chennai in 1960. I was there from 1960 to 1988, at the Cholamandalam College of Art. Deccan Herald (DH) was not available there, but then I came to Bengaluru and read it. I wish DH had remained more locally focussed, because Bengaluru has become an international City. But all the other English newspapers that came to Bengaluru after it became more city-centric. This reaction comes from a real connection with the newspaper. DH is the second newspaper I read, after Prajavani,  because of my association with Karnataka, and because it is a local paper. I read other newspapers later.

M P Ganesh, former hockey player

From my childhood to the days of playing hockey, to coaching and sports administration, Deccan Herald (DH) has been there. DH’s sports reporters would come to the ground to cover matches, write in the right way about the game’s tactical moves in simple English, with the right kind of encouragement. It was the only English daily present at the time. My family and I grew up reading it. It’s close to our hearts. Not reading the paper felt like not having breakfast.

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Total Recall (DH remembered)

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