Wednesday, March 31, 2010


They were not tensions but for all practical purposes riots. I am not very very sure if the year was 1973 but could be an year or two more on the leading side.

All the temples in our vicinity held chariot processions regularly. This was a treat to watch but has diminished in quantity now. A typical chariot procession called theru in the local language had a well decked tractor trolley carrying a diety some times with wonderful decorations illuminated by bulbs of various colours powered by a generator that went along with the entourage. What a treat to watch. Some times many such processions would be slated for a given night with each one competing with the other in decor and design. Streets would be full with spectators even at 2:00 am an unearythly hour by people who woke from their sleep to catch as glimpse of this parade. Such was the dynamism and enthusiasm hidden in the generation of people at our place. Occassionally electric lines would obstruct the progress of a chariot and the wire was carefully pushed upwards with a specially designed staff created for the situation.

One such procession I was told as a child came to be attacked by some rival group triggerring tensions gradually erupting into sporadic violence of a serious nature the aftermath of which lasted for nearly three months. Work within the Indian Telephone Industries were disrupted and every one began to feel insecure as to what the night could bring forth. Some of the smaller shops near my house were burnt down and I was a witness of one. Curfew was passed by the police and the streets wore a deserted look with shops closed and a general feel of disarray.

I remember my father's friend Nizamuddin whom we helped in right earnest. This person used to work with my father and expressed the idea of leaving Bangalore for atleast a month until order was restored but was in a quandry. He had some valuables and lots of utensils which he wanted to deposit with some one who could keep them safe until his return. We agreed to be of help and in the thick of the night had them all transported to our house and a barely eight year old boy like me was caught busy in his own way sensing the gravity of the situation to help transfer some utensils into our house. The entire activity was completed without incident and Mr. Nizamuddin took possession of the articles after a month or so.

The crpf was called in and the trouble makers from all sides rounded up and the crpf conducted a flag march sending the right signals. Thus ended a riot which lasted for a few months and never happened again in our place to my memory and would never ever in the future. People of Vijanapura have evolved well in the right directions and continue to do so.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Through these columns Iam happy that I can pay tribute to our dog Gypsy that was part of our lives for around five years. My brother and myself had some fascination for puppies and would bring some country puppy found wandering somewhere in the streets home only to be admonished by people at home and we let the puppy back on the street from whence it came. This happenned several times; but for once when we could retain a puppy at home.

This was of an exalted breed probably an american breed which we got from our school and the home of Mr. Robert our physical education trainer who was more than eager to part with it and from then on this puppy was both our ecstasy and agony. It grew into a full grown hound before long and was tied to our mango tree which formed part of our house. We never trained it and hence had its own mannerisms. Some times it used to bark at us when we tried to enter our house and ly quiet when some stranger made an entry. We were very protective about our dog and had named it gypsy. I dont know if our dog ever knew its name as it would respond to many names. We were very protective about gypsy anyway.

I used to go to the mutton shops in our vicinity and fetch bones for this mammal once in a while. That used to be special feild day for it. I could see it wagging its tail from afar sensing what I was carrying and would be highly impatient until emptied into its bin.

I think gypsy died one morning in 1979. We kept it tied to our tree most of the times and did not know the other possible yearnings of our dog. We never let it go out and have a stroll and free time in the sun which our dog probably wanted. We used to chase away many other dogs in the vicinity that used to take a menacing glance into our compound once in a while . I think we were unjust to Gypsy and not our mistake as we were to get a hang of many things letting alone the hidden aspirations of our beloved bitch. Sorry my dear Gypsy please pardon our ignorance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


National Highway 4 winds through our residential area and is an important highway in the country. The stretch of highway from Bangalore to Chennai (Madras) is called the OMR meaning Old Madras Road. Off the highway near the K R Puram railway station came the Pushpanjali Talkies somewhere in 1973. Almost during the same time another talkies came up in Ramamurthy nagar called the Laxmi talkies. Pushpanjali talkies is on a busy stretch of road making it more accessible and hence had more visitors.

What is a Talkies ? 007 Talkies is a slightly impoverished version of a Theatre which used to be some 300ft in length and 150 ft in width. It had pucca walls almost like a fence covered by a tatched roof. It had two sections almost divided at the middle . The front section had no chairs and one had to squat on the floor and the rear section which had benches and chairs. Largely tamil movies used to be shown at this talkies. A rare feature of the talkies is that the sound track of the movies can be heard as vividly outside as in the inside and many a people would assemble outside too to listen to their favourite dialogues and predict the future scenes.

There is none in the area who have not been to this talkies atleast once. Families used to make advanced planning to watch a movie not to mention many children who sneaked away from their homes with few coins collected over the past few weeks to be at the talkies. During show time the roads leading to the talkies wore a frenzied look with a sense of urgency filled with prospective cinema goers rushing to be at the talkies on time. Children were rebuked by the elderly to be faster and the older ones too doing their best to prove vigorous. this was the influence the talkies had on the public living in the vicinity. In the sporting feilds most of the time was whiled away discussing the stories of the movies and some children pretending to be heroes and others imitating the villains --- not to mention the lady folk for whom the discussions ranged from the locales seen in the movies to the attires of the heroines. Some times in a whisper they used to discuss the more romantic scenes and other escapades at the movie attracting the special attention of the children who wanted to be explained the reasons for the secrecy and the occassional giggling only to be driven away and silenced under some pretext.

In 1980 Shivananda theatre came up close to this venue to some extent damaging the fortune of the talkies. Pushpanjali talkies was converted into a theatre somewhere in the early 1990's leading to the closure of Shivananda theatre in 1995 or so. Shivananda theatre is the only theatre in the world where stray dogs would be found seated in some corners of the hall staring at the screen proving a point that they understood everything that transpired. They were driven out only if they ganged together and created some raucus.

The very important aspect of the Pushpanjali talkies is the peculiar entry schemes in practice at the talkies. You can enter the talkies even after one hour after the show has begun by tipping the gate keeper. Depending upon the time elapsed the rates were negotiated. The children never had the money in full to buy a full fledged ticket but were short of some specified sum but could see a part of the movie depending upon the mood of the keeper. I have sneaked into the talkies on several occassions to only see few climax scenes of the movie.

I cant forget Pushpanjali Talkies for one important reason- it taught me a very important lesson in financial and risk management. The setting was an MGR movie the posters of which were stuck everywhere in the neighbourhood and the heroines in the background attired in peculiar dresses were enough to unsettle a young mind fuelled further by the narration of the movie and its attractions by peers. I was debating with myself for several days and could not sum up the courage to make a venture to see this movie.

However one saturday afternoon with 40 paise clamped tight in the pocket of my half-pants and with a sense of guilt I sneaked out of the backdoor one afternoon sensing my mother was fast asleep to the talkies to be there on time; crossing the railway line with care and the national highway thereafer very carefully implementing the principles of executing these tasks as indoctrinated by my mother and reinforced year after year. Reaching the talkies was a mission accomplished. The entry fee was 60 paise and I was 20 paise short which means I have to adopt the unofficial entry procedure of tipping the keeper. I knew I was not very good at the task but with 40 paise I approached the attender or gate keeper whatever we would call him but the amount didnt seem impressive to him and he signalled me to wait. The movie had started and roars of laughter and appaluse could be heard by any one and I felt I was missing something and I approached the keeper again only to be turned down. There was nothing much I could do but to beesech his grace which never seemed to be forthcoming; added to this I was apprehensive that one of my father's friends would show up somewhere and inform my household about my mis - adventure and uncertainty and gloom filled the air. The gate keeper seemed peculiarly difficult on the day and none of my approaches could get the better of his fastidious nature. At school I was taught to pray when in trouble and I tried that too but lo my prayer seemed to have been answered when my class mate Mohan showed up at the scene and I explained the situation to him. He could not reconcile to the fact that a decent lad like me should be caught waiting at an unearthly place seeking the grace of a semi clad and unschooled being who was making full use and dominance and importance of being cast as a gatekeeper of Pushpanjali talkies.

At school Mohan was known for notorities and did not gave a good track record, a reason enough for me not to have trusted him. But he seemed more than eager to help me and the forty paise in my pocket seemed particularly attractive to him. He tried to negotiate on my behalf with the keeper but to no avail ;a job I think today Mohan did not do earnestly and by now my 40 paise was firmly entrenched in his hands and he being physically more astout I could not rip it off my hands.

Mohan gave me an idea-- There are many gambling dens in the vicinity and he would invest my forty paise there and with the spoils both of us could make a royal entry into the talkies. I was hesitant but had no other go and before long found myself in the company of vagabonds and uncouth people playing some kind of money game the modus-operandi of which I could not very well understand.My friend Mohan was in the thick of things and put my 20 paise first and another 20 later only to emerge a winner with almost two rupees. I was happy and signalled to Mohan to quit because our purpose was served but this rascal as I should call him now never relented and he went about playing with the two rupees to loose everything. My face was becoming red with every loss that was being incurred but nothing could prevent this man from calling it quits so that I could atleast have my forty paise back. Today I think Mohan was all day at this venue and must have lost lot of money and was using my forty paise to salvage his own damages. In no time my friend vanished leaving me alone deprived of my capital and in the midst of people quarelling with each other with the most combinations of foul languages the meaning of which I could comprehend only in isolation.

God seemed to have answered my prayers - never undertake such missions in the future. I was neither sobbing or smiling but was caught some where in between. I trudged back home in dissapointment and despair. My mother asked me where I had been only mutely to give an evasive answer.

When I look back at this incident I learnt a very valuable lesson for sure- never to give your money to a third party to play with it. Many modern day comapnies come to me with many plans to multiply money some at the stock market and few others with some queer schemes. I remember Mohan; the Pushpanjali talkies; the MGR movie and its heroines and the gambling dens. I conciously refrain from any involvement what so ever. Pushpanjali talkies near my home defanitely game me a million dollar lesson.

Friday, March 19, 2010


There is no word Mohalla in the english language but can be imported from the local vernacular to mean a closely clustered residential area with heterogenity in population and the possibility of many languages being spoken. The presence of many children palying around is a characteristic of such a place.

My father purchased for me a cricket bat some where in 1975 and it was a priced possession for me for many years. It cost Rs. 3.75 and was purchased from Rakhra sports - commercial street. It was a small bat apt for a 10 year old and it used to be in great demand with my friends both at school and in the neighbourhood and a darling to many eyes. My bat was a matter of discussion and cynosure at many levels. I dont know how I lost it. Some friends at school courted me into parting with it and I possibly lost track of it. It could have been kept in a musuem as I feel there is no other cricket bat in the entire history of cricketing that must have drawn so much attention from every one around and touching it for many was a rare sceptre. I dont know what was so magical of that bat of mine. It must be lying some where unnoticed in some house but I can recognise it even today if I were to catch a glance of it.

Every boy playing cricket in my Mohalla wanted to be in the Indian cricket team and nothing short. What a lofty goal and every one played the game sincerely and with utmost involvement befitting a world cup. One thing is sure. All that stood between them and the Indian cricket team were their parents who would encourage anything but cricket. Parents want their children to study and not play cricket. Of the many years of aspirations of many children and their prayers, we did send one person to the Indian squad in Venkatesh Prasad the fast bowler who used to live near our place. Venkatesh Prasad must remember he represents the aspirations of a vast genre of youngsters who wanted to play for the country. My mother used to care a damn for anything when it used to came to education of her children. She would disrupt our cricket matches coming straight into the feild and yelling at me and my brother to come home for lunch and reminding us of the exams few weeks ahead. What an embarassing thing. I had to convince her that all the academic work were in tandy and explained to her all the chapters I had learnt and only few chapters which I would be studying this evening. I had to request her to leave us alone so that the match could progress and we could win the match or whatsoever. This is the style in which my mother operated and may be for good. She used to leave after lot of grumbling and ado.

The bowler would take a run-up nothing less than that of Imran khan and a bowling action imagined and imitated from some world cricketer or an action of some key bowler seen in the pages of the newspaper. Some passers-by would comment of the high politics in the selection of cricket players because it was widely felt that this lad must be touring the west-indies this season. By mistake if this comment fell in to the ears of the bowler he even felt heartened and emboldened to stretch even more and give his utmost. One of the deliveries would hit the leg of the batsman and there was a huge appeal for an LBW. No one knew at that time what LBW actually meant. There were many versions and pictures. Some said if the ball hit the leg the batsman must be out for LBW because the literal translation of it means Leg before the wicket. Children studying in convent schools brought out their version of what it means. They said it means Legs before the wicket and the ball must strike both the legs and not one and the ball must stike below the knee and not above it. There was huge argument and many a matches were disrupted and sometimes cancelled midway because of the dispute of what LBW meant. Some elderly observers in the fringes would try to mediate at times and bring harmony among the warring sides taking some live case studies and convincing the lads. I get scared of these three alphabets LBW even to this day because sometimes matters were settled after a physical bout spreading first from between two people gradually towards the entire lot with blows and punches exchanged at random and few peace loving people like me running away fro the scene and watching the wrestling and boxing in the middle of the pitch. Gradually the wickets and bails would become weapons not to mention the bats. Enough is enough we got rid of LBW from our very scheme of things. This means getting a batsman out in our Mohalla even Andy Roberts cannot because along with the bat there was free use of the legs the choice depending on the level of desperation.

The captains of the teams did exactly what was done in international matches. Rubbing the ball on the thighs vehemently before it was presented to the bowler.This he did relegiously for every delivery and advising the bowler how to bowl. To become a captain in our place you must be better than others in cricketing jargon. You must have a rough idea of what backward-short-leg means. It was very often not the position mentioned in cricketing annals. That doesnt matter. He used to always set three slips and a gully because the commentators of international matches start out with the refrain "three slips and a gully". Our captains forgot that they were playing with a soft ball and three slips and a gully were a wanton wastage of resources. Time and again there were many gaps in the feilding freely used to get runs by the batsmen but this pious norm was not to be broken. Not to forget the umpires. People who were not selected to play are chosen at random to become umpires. Some were keen to do this job using six peices of small pebbles to count the number of deliveries the bowler was bowling.This used to be the most dangerous job because the umpires cannot be totally impartial and must be moderately partisan. Be it with run-outs or caught-behinds or what-so-ever. Our umpires largely relied on public opinion in the way they went about their jobs. Many -a-times the umpire had his index finger lifted signalling an "out" only to back down when he sensed fury from some quarter.

But our place was unique for one thing. The scorers decide who should win the match. Five and five need not be ten at our place- it can be fifteen. Very often hooligans usurped the scorers job and decided before-hand who should be the winner. There was no disputing with them by the very nature of their persona and many a tale of their exploits going the rounds. If any team wants to win a match they must make a veiled representation to the scorers about their desires and incur their soft-corner. Ultimately this is what mattered and you simply cannot remove the scorers who operated at our place as in the absence of their co-operation no match can be played that reaches some logical ends.


Any sketch of Bangalore is incomplete without a discussion of Cricket. Once cricket happenned to be a favourite past time here. The difference between cricket during the 70's and the game now is that the excitement of cricket today ends in a quick surge-thanks to one day cricket and 20-20 matches unlike during the bygone era where it used to be a long drawn affair for five days. Many matches dilly-dally between becoming a draw to one of victory. The uncertainty was enthralling both to a connosieur of the game and the layman alike.

Television comes into Bangalore somewhere in the early 1980's which means in the 60's and 70's the luxury of watching a match from the home did not exist. There used to be a commentary of the match on the radio and from bus stands to offices to households almost every one had a small transistor radio clasped tight to the ears following discreetly every single word being said by the commentator. There used to be exciting moments when yelling s of the crowd at the venue would shroud the voice of the commentator and the whole world would come to a standstill to know if Gavaskar was caught in the boundary or the ball has gone for a six.

The Chinnaswamy stadium of the KSCA used to be the venue for international cricket matches in Bangalore and this stadium is very close to the cubbon park and the only stadium tuned to world standards in the city.

Bangalore as a city has contributed many cricketers to the world arena and some of them distinguished themselves. Cricket has changed a lot during the past decades from being a gentleman's game to just any other game with the present day fury with which it is played reminds someone of boxing or fencing. The skills and strategies and administration has changed drastically over the years and it is anything but gentle. My prediction some where is that the mantle of Cricket would pass from people in the metros to children growing in the smaller towns because their life-style inculcates the kind of aggression needed badly by the cricketing world.

B S Chandrashekar; Gundappa Vishwanath; Syed Kirmani; Erapalli Prasanna ; Rahul Dravid ; Anil Kumble; Venkatesh Prasad are cricketing greats that can be attributed to Bangalore. Each of them made dazzling contributions. Syed Kirmani whom I met on some occassions was the finest wicket keeper the world produced at our times. Alan Knot, Wasim Bari are few other wicker keepers who come to my mind. Farookh Engineer used to keep wickets for India before Kirmani. Many of these players have excelled at international cricketing venues and the careers of some of them came to an abrupt end though lot of the game was still left in them . I have missed out Roger Binny who also used to be a good player getting Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan clean bowled at one instance. The only cricket match I watched live incidentally was not in Bangalore but at Calicut(Kozhikode) in 1983 when the Ranji trophy match between Kerala and Karnataka was being played and happenned to see Roger Binny there and once more much later on M G Road. I might have missed out some recent players because I have stopped following the game astutely as I did before. That Bangalore has provided many players to the World is by itself a testimony of its special status in World affairs.

There must be many international cricketers who would have Bangalore stored fondly some where in their minds either for having got their centuries or for having won some match. Cricketing greats like Garfield Sobers also must have played in the city but I was too young to figure out things. But one cricketer comes live to my mind who should fondly remember Bangalore and that must be Clive Lloyd of West Indies and the setting is the test match between India and West Indies in 1974. MAK Pataudi was the Indian Captain. Clive Lloyd made more than 200 runs at that test. One of his shots; the ball shot over the stadium and fell on M G Road hurting a passer-by if gossip is to be believed. I think we lost that test and Brijesh Patel another bangalore based cricketer scored 76.

Today the growth of internet and television may be veering youngsters away from playing cricket and many natural players of the game may become a thing of the past. With Film stars and business people owning cricket teams players may become a race horse with a jockey and the task cut out to them in the future would be to race well and better just to stay in the game. W G Grace should be amused.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Some where in history is hidden a character whom not many have heard of but has his roots basically in our part of the world. The life and times of this man may not be directly linked to bangalore of today but it still seems relevant to me.

This is the story of a small boy who was forcibly brought from cannanore district to Sriranga pattana by Hyder ali during one of his expeditions only to later grow into a formidable ally of the ruler and then face misfortune in the hands of Tipu and the British establishment. From historical studies I understand that Hyder Ali had an ability to make use of people and their talents well , the secret behind his succesful military conquests.

The name of the boy was Kammaran nambiar and could be some relative of mine if some data is to be beleived. What the lad basically did at Srirangapattana is not clear but he gradually grew into becoming a very important confidant of Hyder. Hyder Ali renamed the boy Md. Ayaz Khan and there after he is known as Ayaz khan. Ayaz khan was illiterate and so was Hyder. To my mind it seems Ayaz was a good military strategist and Hyder Ali implemented the strategies and was in constant consultation with Ayaz in the battle feilds.

As a reward for the many succesful military conquests Ayaz Khan was made governor of Bidnur today I think called Nagara in Shimoga. Bidnur is also called bendore and bidurur which literally translates into the "Land of bamboo". Initially Ayaz was offered a larger county for Governorship namely Chitradurg but Ayaz politely refused for reasons unknown to be later given Bidnur.

Hyder Ali suddenly dies in Chitoor in present day Andhra Pradesh at the age of 60 reversing the fortunes of Ayaz. He is replaced as Governor by Tipu - the information of which reaches him in advance. Ayaz khan hands over his kingdom and wealth to General mathews of the British possibly for safe keeping. In a surprise military conquest Tipu Sultan retakes the bidnur fort and takes Gen Mathews prisoner and later has the general killed. Tipu was thirsting for the blood of Ayaz but could not lay hands on him possibly because the British provided him some kind of a safe haven somewhere in Bombay.

The only connection I possibly think ayaz would have had with bangalore is that he must have passed through the city if at all during the various military conquests with Hyder. I have got to like Hyder Ali for the affection he showered on Ayaz and the trust he put in him not to the liking of many people around.

It must be pointed out that the combine of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan over looked a very vast empire by any standards covering the coasts of kerala from palghat to mangalore stretching nothwards into almost the midst of modern day karnataka state and south towards a sizeable chunk of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Though the empire did not last for more than 40 years due to incessant conflict head-on with British forces and their allies. Bangalore must have been a key place of reckoning for them for various reasons both as a tranit point and as a point of residence at times.

Whenever people travel through Srirangapattana they should remind themselves that the ruins were once upon a time a enlivened citadel which was the capital of a large kingdom and the blood of many a people from distant lands have been shed in the many skirmishes to which history was witness. How sad that the travellers on the highway alongside this place do not care to take a second look at the fort and its environs. From scots through a distant land to english to french to marattas to muslim soldiers of nizam to wodeyars and many lands possibly not known Srirangapattana had them all. I happenned to visit Srirangapattana fort recently which looks like a modern day residential layout. There is a large era of history encapsulated in this place and not known to many and only to few who care. The stones and walls of this place have many a story to tell and possibly we do not understand their language a impossible handicap to overcome. Many a authentic story ly deeply hidden at this place which only few intelligent could possibly piece together through conjecture and assume they were true.

Ayaz Khan had some descendants who is beleived settled in Bombay. If any one has something more about this character Ayaz Khan alias Kammaran Nambiar from our place please communicate and I would like to know them better.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


What would be the link between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Bangalore. I see a distinct connection between Nehruvian policies and modern Bangalore.

I have met many people in life who do Nehru bashing...and few praise him and I personally find him worthy of praise. I think some where it is the good fortune of India to have had him as a Prime Minister for a considerable period of time where key progress was made. Nehru was far ahead of his times and a well educated scholar and brought this vision with vigour and vitality on the PM's job. He built solid foundations for India and his calibre was much beyond ordinary and many world leaders of his times. What could have a fledgling India asked for more than have such a leader of his stature.

Nehru was not parochial and was a very good planner. Planning was his forte and he had a team of dedicated leaders around him who implemented his plans. All the many public sectors that were established in bangalore owe in totality to his far reaching vision. The west was critical of our public sector concept but I feel a infant nation like ours had no other choice or alternative. And every public sector was built with formidable investments and on ultra modern lines. Scores of Indians who ferried themselves into this city with little or no education found respectable employment at these outfits. If anyone were to call India a developing or developed economy; its largely because of societal engineering that has happenned as a result of these organizations. We had something to bank upon and look up to. Many people learned their first lessons in business owing to these sectors- not to mention the small tea shops or petty shops that operated near the gates of these mammoth enterprises which gave sustenance and hope for many.

Nehru was not partisan or parochial because he found Bangalore to be an ideal breeding ground for such units and put many of them, here. Bangalore has become some kind of a server of utilities and services to the rest of the country and the world. That many of these sectors continue to thrive even to this day is a tribute to the independence of thinking and vision of our leaders who broke away from many accepted moulds of the past to mould a new format for themselves.

Thank you Panditji.....You did something unprecedented both in precept and practice. Modern Bangalore amidst all it growth and fanfare will not forget this modern leader of India.