Monday, November 26, 2007

Mysorean Mind Runs - Backwards

The mind is running.... keep pace with it!
If you can.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. So went a proverb. We felt it applied only to those bookworms. Traditional games from gulli-danda to popular cricket were all enjoyed by children of the previous generation which belonged to the pre-Idiot box era. I refer to the 1960s and 70s. The middle of the road and footpath was a virtual playground every evening, every holiday. Getting children back home was a headache for the parents, other than bookworms! On holidays, they had to search the entire neighbourhood if they wanted their kids home!

The variety of games played on the streets and footpaths (no weeds in those times) was such that each season had a new attraction: summer, it was gulli-danda and marbles outdoors, indoors it was either chowka-baara, kavade, pagade, halagulimane, or any board games; festival season, it was playing tops; some houses had playing cards and we used to play many games with it among chess, draughts, snake and ladder, money-trade, etc. The neighborhood boys and girls joined the fun. “I spy you” was extremely popular as it needed only hiding space and no equipment. Traditional games had been designed to make the body healthy and the mind clean. The e-games that the present children play are no way in comparison to the thrills of their old counterparts. We collected empty cigaratte packs for playing ‘tikki’. Not popular for long. We collected match-labels and marbles.

You may ask what about birthday parties….. in fact, they were not heard of! Those kids having their birthdays would bring in a (traditional) sweet or two (prepared at home) and share it among friends! It was such a peaceful event that helped good wishes to actually reach the kid! Look at it now – what a nuisance it creates! Cutting cakes, candles inserted into the later-distributed cake, throwing shining powder (which also settles on edibles, tiny coloured thermocole globules, balloons, aluminium foils and finally noise from the “sound blaster” playing what they call “music”, under all of which the purpose is forgotten!!

Hotels were few and mostly they had their own typical flavour and popularity. Ballal Hotel was once famous for its Masala Dosa and the Radio. Meenakshi Bhavan was more famous for its Radio than its dishes – Binaca Geet Mala was popular Amin Sayani presentation which people who did not have radios at home thronged here. Sales and Radio seemed to have a link! [see my other post]

We never screamed for ice-cream! There was no paani-poori, gobi manchoori or churmuri. But the Jamoon, Masala Dosa and coffee provided a satisfying kick. And none craved for variety. None got confused with too many recipes - the old ladies at home knew enough traditional foods to nourish [importantly] and to tickle the taste buds.

Minds were comparatively unpolluted until the movie-world stripped off decency. Watching films in theatres was always a family event. Movies of yore (in toto) had a team of intellects, from Directors to the helpers in the shots. It's the opposite now. Movies had a theme, good script spiced with beautiful proverbs; they had sequences that touched emotions, but there were decent comedians particularly Narasimharaju and Balakrishna in scenes to soothe the audience who had a hearty laughter. And they had suspense too. Pronounciation of dialogues - a joy to listen! Dr.Rajkumar, KS Ashwath, et al. The Black and White movie era was the best, even though the scenes imitated a stage-drama. It had quality!

A telephone and a wrist-watch were luxuries with scooters or motorcycles coming in next. Car-owners were even sparse. Power-failure was rarely heard. A watch was a major gift item in weddings, much inquired and demanded.

Water flowed in pipes with such explosive power that they would make froth and even slightly weak taps leak and throw away the hosepipes fixed while watering plants! It was not in the thoughts to build tanks to store water for emergencies – they were only for convenience – it flowed generally 24x7 in most parts of the city. Overhead tanks were nowhere seen! If any water-stoppage happened, it was news! Now, it is announced in the press when it trickles in the pipes!

Plastic was not recycled. We still have some 40-yr old virgin-plastic materials still in use! Now we get dirty recycled plastic that breaks off from a few years use.

The glare from the sun was not piercing like now. Except in the hot months, exposure to sun never scorched. Now even in winter months we have to bring the eyebrows closer to adjust to the glare.

Onions were so pungent that it made all people 'weep'. Now hardly anybody “cries” –they cry for other things or rather crave! Pizzas, Gobis and whatnot. “Chats” and Dhabas came from the North many years later. Rice was tasty – as it was also cooked over charcoal and in bronze vessels and pressure cookers had not made its impact. Rice of today goes under the trend “whiter the better”! Dining tables were taboo. Squatting was commonly practiced – for they knew no other method! Because of that, orthopaedics only treated fractures and not had patients complaining joint pains! There was need only for the Family Physicians. Now we have 'specialists' for every part and side of the body's organs!! You name it, lo, you will find them! Visiting family physicians was only after home remedies failed to give results and also without prior appointments. Sometimes the physician also visited the patient, also as a family friend who gave the healing [physical] touch, now unheard of! Now we run to a specialist for every cough and sneeze. The ‘compounder’ at the pharmacy mixing the colourful liquids that were taken home in bottles was a common sight. Medical stores were far and few. There was a doctor in the famous Krishnarajendra Hospital in the 1960s. He was supposed to be the most knowledgeable (in public view) doctor in that hospital and went by the nickname “Dodda Doctru” (of short stature, ironically!). I remember his name as Dr.A.K.Gopalarajan.

At night, it was common to offer food to those who came asking "bhavati bhikshaandehi", usually at dinner time. They were usually poor boys or men. Some families also had the noble tradition of "Vaaraanna" (weekly food). One poor college student - his name was Somu - used to visit us for dinner every particular weekday during the mid sixties. Some poor people also came for alms during the morning hours. On Saturdays, "Daasayya" came blowing the conch and striking that flat bell. A coin or a handful of rice was offered to him, which was gleefully accepted.

There was the 'fortune teller' [they knew what the birds said of homes and events and it was said that they would tell them if paid] who came with that small 'Bud-budke' sounded musically. If not paid substantially, he would tell about some danger in the family and leave. That once became true to us when my grandfather met with a cycle accident in the early 70s. The Bud-budke sound became much feared to us thereafter! Now they are extinct.

Then there were a group of people - supposedly from Mylara with Bearskin and shells. They would know which family's deity is theirs and then they would enter those houses for 'pooja' and then demamd a hefty sum. They usually came for their rounds when all men went out for work and just entered the houses.

There were no food considered as 'junk' in those days. The bakeries attracted customers with colourful icing on cakes and flavoury biscuits and chips. No packed foods! Just toffees and chocolates.

Conservancies [gullies] were meant for throwing garbage. Even they were clean! Because all waste was organic. Now this plastic is making a mockery on environment. Time will tell at what cost we are buying convenience. Each dose of a peppermint, toffee or chocolate produces one piece of waste. Imagine trillions of them strewn all over the Earth! Now this Areca - zarda - pan ... habituated people tear the aluminium foil-packet with their teeth, pour the contents into their mouths and then drop it off wherever they are. Trillions again! Then every little thing that is purchased in shops are packed in plastic - even vegetables now in Hi-fi malls - and delivered! So many thousands of tons of non-biodegradable waste is generated on our Earth. And more,it is mixed with organic waste! All just to bring the product home! Carrying plastic carrybags is a fashion, instead of cloth bags!

In those days, provisions were packed in paper covers and tied with jute thread. It took time to pack, but it never created waste. And another problem at times was that the heavier packets would get torn and get mixed up! Carefully they were brought home in bags.

In hotels, parcels were made in banana leaf and paper, not plastic! Now each Dosa and Idli is packed in plastic, chutney and sambar and whatnot in plastic covers. Plastic is abused. They are the ones that choke the drains and intestines of poor cattle. We call ours as civilization, yet, we do such nasty things.
Hiring of bicycles from cycle shops was popular - hourly or daily basis. We had Shivaram close to our house for this service, but we had our own Sunbeam, Raleigh and Robin Hood. We had hired a few times a smaller kid's bicycle as it was a pleasure to ride it in streets, like adults did!
Kerosene was sold on the streets in the 60s and 70s. There used to be bullock-carts with horizontally arranged twin drums with a pipe and tap. The rider made a sound by tapping the drum with his 'spanner' that opened the tap, to attract/announce his arrival/passing by.
Our Ajji traveled to Bangalore by train with 'Rail Chombu' - bronze water pot! Some people brought water in glass bottles which sometimes fell and broke and create a mess.  Plastic water bottles were there, but it was smelly.

All said and done, we had lots of time, tension - never heard of. BP or diabetes, not much. Operations in hospitals - extremely rare. Stoppage of water in taps - unheard. Load shedding - what was that? Traffic jam - we would have thought of some brand of 'jam'.

This is an endless post. The mind runs haywire. Will jot down more in newer posts, with pictures perhaps......


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Interesting....really interesting. It's all so very different from what we do in our free time now. Some of my classmates cannot live without Pizzas, which I unusually loathe. Nice post, though.

Karthik said...

It made a great reading & I thoroughly enjoyed reading every line of it. Though I was born the late 70s, I was able to easily correlate myself with so many aspects of life style that you have mentioned.