Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First flight of our Mysore King Nalwadi

"I can remember from my earliest childhood, one particular photo in our veranda, hung above the door frame of my grandfather's office room.  I did not know for many years that it was an aircraft or the people in it were elite and royal!  I used to look at it often.  I learn now that this was part of the historic maiden trip [across the seas] of our Mysore Maharaja, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1936. This was on his first ever flight and taken at Croydon airport.  I still wonder how pictures of such occasions came here and in framed condition for display."  This is what I wrote in a post in my Junk blog, [click on it]  

Some details were required. I had forgotten the exact information which was shared on a facebook group.  So, I turned to my friend Sri Raja Chandra on facebook who happened to be online at that moment.  I got washed away in his 'info-flood', which he let out with his usual quick promptness, besides the two names I wanted, [Sir Mirza and our Mysore King Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar]!  

I thought of sharing that information here, which is among thousands in our Mysore King's grand life, because that picture was of him on his first ever flight, taken at Croydon Airport on August 19, 1936 en route to Berlin, Germany.

The following in italics are "copied and pasted" matter Sri Raja shared with the group.

Dignitaries in the [above] frame: D.N. Neelakanta Rao, D.S. Lakshmikanth Raj Urs, Rajasevabhooshana A.V. Subramanya Raj Urs, Major Nabhi Khan, Maharaja, Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail, Rajkumar Capt. C. Desaraj Urs, Lt. Col. B.P. Krishne Urs, Rajsevatilaka Col. S. Gopala Rao, Siddique Ul Mulk Sadeg Sad Shah, Dr. T. Balakrishna Mudaliyar.

After the death of His Mother, Maharani Regent HH Vani Vilas sannidhana and death of his sister Maharaja Kumari Cheluvajammanni in 1936, Maharaja's own health deteriorated a bit. To recuperate he was advised to go abroad. Soon after his birthday celebration, he left Mysore on June 21, 1936. He left with his entourage from Bangalore by Train on 23rd and reached Bombay on 26th. On the same night he left Bombay on board Ship HMS Rampura. Reached Aden on July 2. In the Ship itself a Pooja Room was provided to keep the Golden Idol of Goddess Chamundeswari and daily poojas were performed. Ve|| Ritwik Rama Shastry and Ve|| Nanjunda Shastry were part of the entourage. Reached Marseille- France on July 10. Left Marseille by train and reached Paris. Left Paris on July 16 evening and reached London Victoria Station on the same night.

Maharaja was received by a lot of dignitaries which included Lord and Lady Goschen, Major General Frederick Sykes, Sir Spencer Harcourt Butler, Sir Stuart Fraser (guardian and Tutor of Maharaja from 1896–1902 and Frazer town in Bangalore is named after him. But an ignorant BBMP has named it as Pulikeshi Nagar), Sir A. R. Banerjee (former Dewan of Mysore), On behalf of India State secretary Col. Neil & Sir William Barton, Raja Jagannatha Rao, Sri. Bhandarakar ....

It is said there were at-least more than 150 Indian students and the cavalcade took half an Hour to reach the Hotel Dorchester!  Even here he had a separate pooja room where the golden idol of Goddess Chamundeswari was installed and daily pooja was performed.

During his stay he also performed Upakarama on the banks of River Thames near Oakley Court.

A report in Daily Sketch dated July 17, 1936- Friday :

"No-8 Platform of grey Victoria Station last night looked for half an hour like a place where the rainbow ends.

East and West met and mingled - waiting for the Dover Train to bring the Maharaja of Mysore, one of the richest princes in the world on his first visit to England.

In the crowds, diamonds flashed from nose and ear; red and gold and green gleamed silken saris. The platform was scented like a florist's with perfume from garlands brought in accordance with the Indian custom of welcome."

With the Indian Olympic Hockey Team on Board Ship Rampura was Meher Baba.  His description on his encounter with Maharaja:

His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore, with his suite of thirty passengers, including the Yuvaraj, was an interesting personage on board the ship. A major portion of his staff travelled with us in second class, but as they happened to be members of the personal staff of an Indian prince, aloofness and reserve were regarded as safe barriers for a common crowd like us.

The Maharaja and the Yuvaraja appeared to be very simple in habits as well as in dress. Often they passed hours on our side of the ship, gossiping with the members of their staff in Tamil, Kannada or Telugu, which were all Greek to us.

The Maharaja had left Indian shores for the first time in his long life with a view to being operated upon in England. Being an orthodox Hindu, he brought everything necessary for the preparation of his usual food, even the water of the holy Ganga. And, of course, his own cooks. 

Ten pounds of curds was sent every morning for our consumption, which we took in the form of 'lassi', the delight of our Punjabi friends.


Enough to know something of the times, back then.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

House Sparrow Memories

It is the 1960s timeline yet again, this time, about the then ubiquitous House Sparrows.  
Click on the link and read - it is in Kannada. Kagakka is a she-crow and Gubbakka is a she-sparrow.
In italics below is the English translation [thanks to my veteran friend Gouri Satya for this] for non-Kannada readers:

“In a little village, lived Kagakka and Gubbakka. Kagakka’s house was of mud. Gubbakka’s house was built of stone.  One day it rained heavily. Kagakka’s house was washed away in the rain. Thinking of what to do, she went to Gubbakka’s house and knocked ‘tuk’,‘tuk’ on the door. When Gubbakka asked who it was, “I am Kagakka. The heavy rain has washed away my house. Allow me to stay for a day in your house” said Kagakka.

Gubbakka replied, “Come after five minutes. My husband is eating now.”

After five minutes, Kagakka again knocked ‘tup’, ‘tup’ on Gubbakka’s door. When Gubbakka asked who it was knocking on the door, Kagakka replied that it was herself. Then Gubbakka said, “Come after five minutes. My children are eating their food.”

Kagakka returned again after five minutes and knocked ‘tup’, ‘tup’ on Gubbakka’s door. Gubbakka immediately opened the door and asked Kagakka to come in. “Where will you sleep?  There are rice bags, wheat bags, Bengalgram bag,”, Gubbakka asked Kagakka.  Kagakka chose the Bengalgram bag.   

After some time, there was ‘Katam’,’Kutam’ sound. When Gubbakka asked what that noise was, Kagakka replied, “I am hungry. So, I am eating some grains of Bengalgram.” Gubbakka asked her to eat without making any noise.

Kagakka ate quietly and slept. She flew away after getting up next morning saying thanks to Gubbakka, to build a new house.

There are a few variations of the story but this is more or less the same I had heard in my childhood, except that the ending was slightly different.  In our version, Gubbakka wakes up the next morning and finds Kagakka missing, so also the entire content of the bengalgram bag and to her disgust Kagakka had pooped a huge smelly heap after eating so much of bengalgram grains!  The story ended there and left us wondering.  We fell asleep in that wonderland and never questioned why, when or how!  The next night was the same story!  It was the top bedtime story in our generation. It thrilled us because real kagakkas and gubbakkas were an integral part of our neighbourhood.  By the way, there was a Subbakka [in fact it was novelist 'VaNi'], also! 

There were plenty of kagakkas and gubbakkas in those days.
In the evenings the racket created by the murder of crows [flock] to reserve their space on the branches was sometimes too noisy for tolerance.  We were also used to get splatted on our heads and shirts with hot crow-poops [crows were black but their poops were white!] walking under the roadside trees.  Such was their number which has alarmingly declined due to several reasons. The chirping of the sparrows in the shrubs at dawn was as pleasant as it was noisy at times. The cuckoos, sunbirds, tailorbirds and sometimes parakeets and mynahs also joined the chorus.  Good times they were!
It is sad that we have reached a day when 'World House Sparrow Day' [March 20th] is being observed worldwide and there are several 'Save the Sparrow' campaigns!  

Let me share some of the Sparrow [gubbi or gubbacchi in Kannada] memories from my childhood I spent at the famous 1100, Devaparthiva Road, Chamarajapuram [Pictures that follow are taken after sparrows disappeared - all the greenery were created by my own hands - except for trees].

Front yard. 

Side yard shrubbery.

Front yard - right.

More shrubs near the gate. 

Entrance gate.

House sparrows had thrived because they got their food by various means.  Hand cleaning of grains at home and throwing the bad ones out in the yard was enough for them and they knew that the ladies who were culling rice would sprinkle the broken grains for them. They roosted in the nearby shrubs and also made nests inside old houses which had roof tiles where they found suitable crevices.  We had a lot of shrubs and plenty of open spaces in our yard as did many houses, which they loved. They lived happily where they found plenty of seeds, worms and insects. In the olden days, kitchen waste water was let into the earth behind the kitchen where also a small vegetable garden used to exist.  So they found something there also. It was a common sight to see sparrows flitting here and there.  I relived this sight when we visited the Andaman Islands recently. See a few pictures down below.

Sparrows also controlled the small pests in the garden and because of them we hardly knew of any infestations!  We realized this only when they disappeared from the neighbourhood when the infestations began to ask our attention!

Sparrows flying in and out of the house was a regular affair.  We had not known of any superstitions of a bird flying into the house, both positive and negative. Otherwise, my grandmother would have amplified them no end! They had made a nest inside the damaged portion between the beam and the wall near the ceiling. They used to enter through the mesh grills or through the broken portion of the glass ventilator in the hall [picture below].

The sparrows would sometimes perch on those photo frames. That is the beam I mentioned above. 

  When our house was painted in 1970, the nest was closed with a piece of cardboard.  From many angles this nesting business was reaching a level of nuisance.  We had respite thereafter.  The invasion of concrete monsters and electronic mobile towers in peaceful old cities drove these sensitive little birds away.  Mysore also became a victim. Their number quickly declined when they could no longer make their nests when people started cutting away shrubs, paving open grounds and stopped throwing out grains in the open and old houses gave way to concrete ones. 

Sparrows still thrive in the city but in just a few areas, esp. the vintage Devaraja Market. Its old structure has provided shelter to the sparrows for all its life!  Their food also is just there!  The following two shots are from April 2013.  The blue tint is from the plastic sheet they have hoisted as sun shade. 

House sparrows are quite abundant in the world, but disappearing in many places.  In Switzerland they live happily.  While a sparrow enjoys the park the other takes a mud bath.

In the Andaman Islands, they are at peace, even in the Cellular Jail! 

These little birds foraging on the ground and flitting near our hotel at Port Blair brought back nice memories of those beautiful days at Devaparthiva Road.

Sparrows have lived with human habitation, but human urbanization has driven them away.  Many bird-lovers are making their little attempts to invite sparrows back by making bird-houses and spreading grains, but many experts opine that the proliferation of the mobile transmitting towers is one of the main causes of their discomfort in cities, being extremely sensitive birds.

I close this, mimicking the typical whistling-chirp of the sparrow.
Let's hope to hear the Sparrows chirping back. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Mirrors

All of us grow with mirrors. It has become one of the most indispensable objects wherever we go.  Also, there is no end to getting fascinated by them, even unknowingly!  Even birds enjoy looking at them! Like our sunbird on my scooter mirror.

Let us see this entertaining 'mirror maze' sequence from Charlie Chaplin's 'The Circus' first, one of Chaplin's hits and one of my favourites. 

The first mirror [click - Wikilink] I recall from childhood is this adjustable mirror.

My grandfather used to keep his hair oil, comb and hair brush in its niche.  This used to be on a table and could be stored face down when not in use, but it was always ready to show faces whoever faced it!  It was also the shaving mirror taken down on the floor where my grandfather, father, cousin or other male guests who stayed for a few days would sit cross-legged, with shaving soap, hot water in a bowl and razor in front of them. I used to watch this shaving business with great awe. 
[Click on all pictures to enlargify].
When my shaving days had arrived, I had made my own mirror from some junked rosewood piece and a cheap mirror frame that was broken.  It was just enough to show my face for shaving. I  have featured this in my junk blog as well. [Click].

The other mirror was the larger one, attached to a dressing table, made by one Byata Rao, who was a carpenter. He had one foot turned awkwardly and he would limp.  I did not know at that very young age he was a carpenter who had made that dressing table. It was suspended by two screws on either side resting on grooves on a frame for angle alteration as per need. It is suspended on the wall  now.
Every day, it shows my face. My favourite mirror is this one, suspended by a nail on my room wall. at face height, near a window for natural light.  My grandfather used it too and he used to take it on his travels.  This also served as a shaving mirror at times.   The beveled edges are beautiful.  I look at the edges involuntarily!
This is also a vintage hand mirror embedded in wood.  
My father's initials are painted on its back and he used to say he was using it in his tenure in Bombay between 1951 and 1958.   The mirror broke in the 80s and I got a new one and re-fixed myself.   I made a hanger using a bicycle spoke to enhance the mirror's usability. 

In the late 70s, I found a late 19th century object in the 'God Room'.  It was cute and compact, having some god's image on one side, in very bad condition. When I turned to investigate the other side, I was surprised to see a mirror.  It had never been wiped.  The mirror was in reasonably good shape.  The tension on the U-shaped leg held it in place.  Since the mirror was the size of a Playing Card I replaced the god picture with a playing card to protect the reflective coating on its back.  It is still serving me as a traveling mirror and goes with the kit on almost every tour and has proved to be an invaluable thing on many occasions. 

The above mirror was used by my grandmother for one of her rice-grain crafts. I salvaged it just to show how backs of mirrors were coated in earlier times.  It was some orange-red paint which we were told was 'mercury coated' and poisonous and so we were told to be very careful esp. when the mirror broke, besides the superstition of bringing bad omen.

Even now I continue to wonder how it produces a reflective surface on the opposite side! The hand for proportion.

Modern mirrors have a stronger coating at the back [right].  
Mysore Zoo had a few Crazy Mirrors and entertained visitors who looked at them.  But there are no photos of those times.  When we went to the Science Park at Kolkata in 2010, I was reminded of those days by these mirrors and more.  

If you google 'crazy mirrors', you will see mirrors that can make you really crazy.

My scooter mirror is my third eye. 

Took this shot with a purpose!

I undertook a little project called "Infinity Mirror".  Read what it is here [Click]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Mission Hospital" - A historical sketch

Following an article published in Star of Mysore, August, 2006, I compiled some historical information and the same was also published.  That was the Centenary Year.  I reproduce below my compilation from 2006. I also submitted it with a desire to get it printed in its Centenary Souvenir which was not brought out during the celebrations which I attended for an hour, because that is the place where I entered this world and may be, may be, Dr.Stephen [read tribute in link] was the one who first saw me take the first breath. 

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It is Mysore’s good fortune to have hosted Rev. George W. Sawday, a great missionary of the Wesleyan Mission. One of his greatest and important contributions to the Mysore citizenry is the “Mission Hospital”, which completes a grand century, precisely on 21st August, 2006.

On June 3, 1904, Mrs. Mary Calvert Holdsworth (of Hastings, England) laid the foundation stone. On 21st August 1906, HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV declared the building open. The hospital premises, in what was then called the ‘Edgah Extension’, occupy an area of about seven acres, the gift of the Government of His Highness the Maharaja. The building had cost nearly Rs.1,50,000/-. (Source: Handbook of the City of Mysore by TG Lakshmana Rao, President of Municipal Council, 1915 - picture on top from the same book)

This is a handsome, imposing and commodious building and was one of the first buildings seen as one entered the city by train from Bangalore, in those days, understandably. 

The hospital bore the name of “Mary Calvert Holdsworth” who, with her husband, the Rev. W.W.Holdsworth, M.A., lived for several years in the city and took a never-failing interest in the welfare of women and children, esp. in the plague-swept years. (Hence, “Holdsworth Memorial Hospital”). In days when there were only eleven small hospitals and dispensaries in the city, this ‘centre of healing’ with modern equipment came as a great boon to the citizens of Mysore and around. The Wesleyan Mission maintained the hospital.

The “Mission Hospital” (in 1915) had several wards with accommodation for about 70 in-patients for all classes of people, irrespective of caste and creed. One of the chief features was for gosha patients where curtains for privacy surrounded every bed. Also, small separate rooms meant for patients from other distant parts of the state and ‘family’ wards were provided. There was a large Operation Theatre with up-to-that-date features. They were those days’ attractions that had gained great popularity, besides great service.

In 1928 alone, 1,648 in-patients and 11,817 out-patients were treated and the total attendances were 48,097. By then, there were facilities for 100 in-patients indicating the rapid growth of the Hospital. Lamps and apparatus for ultra-violet ray treatment had been added and staffed with European and Indian doctors and nurses. Two of its fine band of doctors, Dr.Alexander and Dr.Anne Hardy Banks, who gave all they had to give, brilliant gifts and tender service in the 1920s, must be remembered here. They died as a result of over-working, in unceasing efforts to heal and help the sick and suffering.

Constance Parsons writes in his book Mysore City: “The hospital is a great memorial to a lovely life; and no less to the generosity and untiring efforts of the Rev. G.W.Sawday.” Rev. Sawday served tirelessly in Mysore for more than 50 years.

In fact, Rev. Sawday, in addition to his multifarious duties, planned and built, and was responsible in collecting subscriptions, with the exception of the Govt. grant, for its regular maintenance. The Mysore Royal Family lent its valuable support with generous donations to the cause and saw that it was on a sound financial footing.

When visiting Mysore, before the opening of the Hospital, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward and Queen Alexandra) on their visit to Mysore were much interested in the progress of work towards the hospital and to evince their sympathy, had sent large autographed portraits to the Hospital for the opening ceremony as they could not visit. Subsequently, King George V and Queen Mary sent theirs. The Maharaja also gave to the hospital a large handsome picture of himself.

HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in his Opening Ceremony Speech, appreciated and admired the yeoman services of Rev. Sawday and his fellow-workers. “The Wesleyan Mission are old friends of us all in Mysore. They were the pioneers of modern education in the City and their good works are well-known to everyone …..” He also went on to request, after announcing a munificent donation of Rs.10,000/- from Her Highness the Maharani of Mysore, the charitably disposed citizens of Mysore to contribute generously.

The solid foundation built then has taken the Hospital where it is today and the good services have been ceaselessly carried on for a hundred years. On a personal note, I have two lucky privileges: of “experiencing” the Hospital’s tender service, having been born there after its golden jubilee year and of living next to what is known as the “Sawday House”, a famous landmark since my great grandfather’s time! Our house used to be identified as the one next to Sawday House.

The Hospital has now greatly grown in stature and reputation. As coincidence would have it, its recognition as a Scientific & Industrial Research Organization by the Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of India comes as a fitting tribute during its Centenary Year.

The Highness while declaring the hospital open, had said “I pray that under the Divine blessing, the aspirations of its founders may be fulfilled a thousand-fold." Truly, the great King’s prayers and the efforts of the selfless Rev. Sawday, et al, have not gone in vain. Will never, in spite of the emergence of competition from other commercial medical giants.

Single photo I took with my first digital camera - a tiny and cheap basic model - during the speech after the visual presentation of the hospital's progress.

Photo posted by AKS Jayaram on facebook.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Monkey Memories


Our locality of Chamarajapuram was regularly visited by a school of monkeys. Just pass a thought why they were not seen for the last two days, ..... blink ten times and you heard them jumping on the branches - if it was a daytime thought!  If it was after dusk, expect them the next day!

Our premises on Devaparthiva Road had trees and yard space around the house, a perfect setting for them to stop by in their perpetual quest for food and mischief.  They got coconut water, jackfruit, rose apples, mangoes, guavas, pomegranates, custard apples and sometimes food items kept for sun drying outside.  They jumped from house to tree and from branch to branch, ran all over, preventing any kitchen plant we attempted to grow. Their rampage was a headache and a perpetual nuisance to the extent of forcing a prayer to Lord Hanuman whose avatar they are to stop the menace.
All said and done, monkeys have always fascinated me no end.

Picture above taken in 2012 when the house was being demolished by the new owner after it was vacated by our family in 2008.  See the surrounding greenery.  Jackfruit tree is obscured on the left by the roadside tree.  Mango tree is seen at the back. 

Sometimes their arrival was silent but usually we would hear the rustle of the branch when they jumped. That signaled my entry into the scene to drive them away.  My catapult was kept ever ready and handy lest they damaged anything in the garden. I also kept some small stones and rose apple seeds for shooting with the catapult, which was the only weapon they were afraid of the most. Throwing stones or using a toy gun were ineffective. They would easily evade stones hand-hurled at them with amazing reflexes. Read this short post on catapult I made.  They feared this weapon to such an extent that even pretending to shoot was enough to rattle them, but I also shot at times. They knew their reflexes are too slow when an object is fired from a catapult, what with my stance and body language during the chase. I aimed at areas around the monkeys and never directly at them lest I hurt or injured any.  They only needed to be scared out of the premise.

I claim myself to be their only nemesis in the chase act and some of them recognized me even when they were in other streets when I did that catapult action!!  And I could identify at least 4 of them, 2 veterans. Sometimes, firing small crackers which we saved after Deepavali [Diwali - festival of lights] also scared them. When some neighbour burst a cracker at an odd time of the day, we knew they were around!

Especially in summer months, sun drying of certain food stuff was a common thing.  Someone had to keep watch often to prevent monkeys [or crows or squirrels] looting it.  When some veteran attempted to loot and we tried to chase away, it used to 'grrrr' back with their menacing stance in retaliation and succeeded in picking a handful before scampering away.

A portion of the big jackfruit tree and rose apple tree. 

They were more stubborn when a jackfruit was ripe.  They are so fond of it. No amount of threatening would make them leave the place, esp. if the fruit was higher up on the branch and the leader monkey would be having its lion's share without allowing others to come near it till it had its fill both in the stomach and cheek pouches. If their arrival was silent and we were completely unaware of it, we would hear the sound of the big seeds of the jackfruit being dropped by them on the dry leaves beneath. It was an emergency to save the fruit for us.  I would run out with my catapult to chase them away.  They knew which fruit was ripe and we could smell it only when the monkeys scratched it open!  

Front yard. Left was gate, right was main entrance door.

If I was successful in chasing a few monkeys out of the premises I knew others would follow suit. They always moved together.  Sometimes for kicks, I would 'trap' one or two who were slow, and block their jumping route from house to branch to follow the route others went.  I chased them around the house as it ran on cornices or rooftop to the other side of the big house. If it failed to escape and got desperate, there was its SOS call, in a very unusual sound.  It was then the other veterans came back to rescue - they knew something was wrong!! It was fun running around and fooling the poor monkey.  Not sadistic pleasure though, just young age fun.

 We had six tall coconut trees. They love to stay overnight on coconut trees as they are safe.  But our trees were very old, tall and swayed too much which was probably unsafe factors for their overnight halts here.  They preferred shorter trees in nearby streets where they are a real nuisance, even now.  They have made certain trees as their permanent residential address!

To deter monkeys from climbing the tall coconut trees, tying a bunch of thorny plants about 20 feet up and around the trunk helped until the thorns wore off.  But it was a tough job bringing and tying on the trunk which the coconut pluckers used to do on extra payment.  We tried it to good effect and it lasted one year.  Some people nailed a 3-ft long[high] zinc sheet around the trunk to make it slippery for the monkeys, but long enough for the tree-climber to climb over easily.

One evening, a veteran monkey had climbed the tallest tree having its fronds and fruits right above Iyengar's house which had tiled roof, across the back gully.  Normally they dropped the nuts after drinking the water from the nut after neatly drilling it.  But one evening, that fellow left the empty nut precariously in the groove of a horizontal frond and climbed down!!  I was watching it.  It created tension because if the nut rolled out of the groove and fell, it would surely be on the tiled roof and there was the risk of someone being really hurt.  We prayed for our coconut plucker Murali or someone to arrive, but none came. One day, two days. The nut fortunately stayed put.  We could not get sleep properly due to the perched nut!  Finally on the third day, Murali came, like godsend, climbed and dropped it to safety.  I cannot count the number of times we looked up in the 2 days to confirm it was still there!! 

When there was nothing to protect in the yard, jackfruit, mangoes or anything, I did not chase out the monkeys, but chose to entertain myself by watching them play esp. on the Rose Apple tree which was next to the kitchen window.   The younger lot played just like little kids - teasing one another, running, chasing and jumping.  It was a joy to watch them play.   Sometimes, it would climb the window sill of our kitchen and sit. I used to feed groundnut or something through the mesh and watch closely how its fingers were.  Watching closely was fun esp. when a mirror was kept on the inside of the window.  The little fellows sitting there would look at themselves with awe and surprise, make sounds and enjoy their reflections!

When the door was left ajar, stealthily some monkey would enter the house in search of food.  When someone noticed the monkey inside, there would be a loud scream!! The monkey would panic and run helter skelter which made us panic!! Finally it would find its way out.  Our tenant's house upstairs had tiled roof.  Some monkeys knew how to enter a house, removing a roof tile.  The occupants were surprised by the extra skylight and panicked!! The monkey would keep the tile aside and go away.  Climbing there for us was not possible but needed a paid help to replace the tile!

It was a pathetic sight when a young one died clinging to its mother. The mother was dragging the decomposed corpse for two days in mourning, with unusual shreiks every now and then.  It was so upset.  It had happened more than once.

The tap in the wash area under the mango tree.

There was a water tap in the backyard.  24x7 water supply had become 8x7.  The monkeys knew its water source and they knew how to open a tap.   They would open the tap and go away.  So in the wee hours of the night when water was let to the locality, water would keep gushing all night.  If someone heard the water noise, the tap would be closed.  We hear present day monkeys are more concerned about conserving water than its two legged version.  They have learnt how to close back the taps after using it while humans fail to be careful in this regard! See video here: [Click]

They can be human and we can be monkey!!  The latter is not funny to others.  Humans can be inhuman, but monkeys cannot be 'inmonkey', do you agree?

There was one Narasimha - a few years senior to me, a street mate.  He had started calling me as 'Kothi' [ಕೋತಿ] means 'Monkey'.  I was in 7th class. Read this short blogpost what happened later [Click here].  Now I can call myself as monkey but not when I was 12-13 years old!


The earliest memory of a monkey is when I was about 4.  It was in front of the Sanctum sanctorum of Tirupati in 1961 or 62.  The scene was different then.  No queues or rush.  I can recall vividly that I was standing alone [my relatives were close by] with small biscuits in hand.  There was a pandal above.  I could clearly see the face of Lord Srinivasa's statue between the heads of a small number of worshiping people at the door of the Sanctum sanctorum. There were monkeys, some were perching on the poles that held the pandal, a few were on the ground looking for food and there were a handful of people here and there.  That is the scene.  All of a sudden one monkey rushed towards me and jumped up to my chest....... Eeeeeeeeeeee.  It snatched the biscuit from my hand and ran away, scaring the living daylights out of me.  That is why this memory is permanently imprinted!! 

We have seen monkeys being pet-slaved to do tricks and earn money, but it is rare to hear somebody keeping one as pet at home.  I used to wonder with gaping mouth when my father used to mention that his friend, one N.S.Krishna in whose house there was a pet monkey that lived for many years till the 1950s. 

I left the Chamarajapuram house in 1998 and moved to Lakshmipuram.  Here also monkeys were not much of a menace to begin with.  I was worried if I could make a garden now. But probably with growing traffic and our location, they stopped coming after a few years.  My garden arrived.

See the neighbour's greenery on the left and our tiled house.

The last I noticed monkeys crossing our house was in 2009.  See picture.  They continue to live in Chamarajapuram and also in our vast locality, but somewhere else they feel safe from traffic etc. much to my relief. 

Monkeys always fascinated me.  See this short post on the toy monkey I made: [Click]. When I visited the zoo, I would stand watching the Chimpanzee and Gorilla or in the row of monkey cages side by side having different varieties. Time would stand still.  When the camera came, I find an unavoidable urge to shoot them.
Here are some I have shot on my several tours. 

This is at Paschimavahini where River Cauvery flows.  15 kms from Mysore. 

There are many near our Chamundi Hill.  This is scratching its head with its leg!

Rishikesh, on Ram Jhoola. 2008.

A senior citizen there, I mean the one in fur coat.

One more on Ram Jhoola.

Ok, never mind, it is just two-legged.

Grooming monkeys at Sahastradhara, Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, 2013

A seasoned veteran, near Gangtok, by River Teesta, 2010.

A youngster on pine tree branch at Pahalgam, Kashmir 2011.  

My favourite.  A youngster I found on Suttur Road, Mysore.  Familiar?  
Then you have either seen me or my avatar on facebook. 
Fear, surprise, curiosity, innocence. 

My present desktop background, a collage of 4 lovely expressions, gathered from the web.

 Monkey God.  Anjaneya/Hanuman.
[At Ramadri, beside the Bay of Bengal, Visakhapatnam, pictured during my visit in 2008]

Jai Hanuman! 

Keyboard monkey