Monday, May 4, 2009

Memorabilia from a golden era

Let's begin this short 'journey' by walking on this carpet.............

............ a carpet that has seen a lot of history of this home in the last century and still spread out, but out of view for obvious reasons!

Shifting of houses for various reasons is also a process of disposing old and 'unwanted' things and move out lighter. Less luggage, more comfort said a railway slogan. But it is not the case when sentiment overrides other things. We tend to cling on to antiques. If a thing has to become an 'antique', it has to spend many decades either in metal trunks or in the attic! Rarely are antiques 'used' on a regular basis, though they are usable and 'made to last'. Okay, so what are we talking about?

My grandfather shifted residence just once, in 1950, letting out the one built by his father. This blogger moved back in to end the 47-year tenancy. As such, many things that went out of here and stayed put on the attic in the other house, returned. In the bargain, there were some 'new finds'! Now, quite obviously, space was at a premium.

Somehow, to some people, these things cling on like a monkey babe to its mother's tummy. Sometimes, it is hard to find space and some items do leave us but it is difficult to draw that line. We drag those remaining ones on and on. The wise people say "have a detached attachment [to people]". It holds good to things also.

Here I'm going to show a few random things like letters, pictures and knick-knacks that belonged to a different era.

The same carpet can be seen here at "Sahakara Bhavana" where my parents' wedding reception was held in 1956. I understand it was with us much before that.

This is one of quite a few letters my grandfather and his teacher at Presidency College, Madras exchanged even many years after the teacher Mr.J.G.Tait retired and went back to England. He mentions the conditions that prevailed and the World War that was about to begin. He preserved Tait's letters.

Who does not know "Bangalore Press" in this area? Their calendars were in almost every home and office. This is one of their sheets of 1935. My great grandfather had used the blank back of it for some pencil-drafting. Note the patriotism. Five of the Mysore Royal family featured. My great grandfather died in 1936. So that jotting behind it must be one of his last few.

A postcard from 1898. Click for larger view. Note Queen Victoria's head on the card with seal of Chitaldroog [now Chitradurga]. It was written by a Paul to my greatgrandmother to Shimoga. She knew how to read.... English! Also note the smallness of the card and the even smaller handwriting!

C.S.Venkatachar and my grandfather were close friends at Presidency College Madras. I vaguely remember my grandfather referring his name. Here are two letters written by him during his studies in England. He later became the Dewan of Udaipur and much later, the High Commissioner of India to Canada. He was close to Sardar Vallabhai Patel and was considered as one of the leading civil servants. He completed his ICS and completed the probation at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1922. In the letter below, he mentions his successfully passing the ICS.

I do not know which of the two Indians at either end is C.S.Venkatachar. I post this because he became famous and that some of his relatives can recognize him here. It's a very small fading picture that is about the width of a matchbox!

Click on picture to take a look first. Guess what they are? They are 'negatives' to make 'positives'! They belong to the early part of the last century before the era of plastic. So, these 'negatives' are all on glass. For curiosity, I got a few printed many years back to see who were all in there. Quite amazing. Those were carts that belonged to our family. In the centre is a negative where my great grandparents are in. My grandmother used to tell how adamant her MiL was to get photographed. Those oldtimers - some of them - felt it bad to be 'photographed'!! It appears that she had to be cheated to pose for that picture! Many of the persons there could not be recognized.

This is a set of little folders "Health Hints". Click picture to enlarge and read who published it. Interesting subjects. I do not know anything beyond that. It must be from the first decade of last century.
I guess my great grandfather had bought 3 pairs of "Superior smoked neutral tinted rest pillared half-crape side-eye preservers with nickel silver turn-pin frame" for twenty one rupees. Read the bill for interesting descriptions! I still have this piece in good condition and I guess the three were shared among 3 persons. So, Seven Rupees for one pair.

This is the very piece.

Guess what? It's an estimate to get the bicycle repaired! Read the letter that follows now.

I don't think that any seller would write like this. I wondered what this 'machine' he was referring to. But he was only trying to convince my great grandfather who had complained about the problems of the bicycle. There were no street-hawkers with pump and tools sitting under trees those days. The 'machines' had to be sent for specialized treatment to the seller himself!

My great grandfather had a horse carriage and also a bullock cart. We had stables for the animals behind the house. This is an estimate for repairing a carriage. Read items that are interesting and see how meticulously they calculated them. I think, 1916.

Later he had bought a car, probably a Ford Model T car, one of them above. The book is the 'operation manual' for the car. No license to drive the car those days. There was a 'car shed' beside the stable to keep it in. But that portion now no longer belong to the main house. After a short period, unable to maintain the 'guzzlers', he had sold it off. The car was for the elite and he was one, but it was too much of a luxury to maintain what with a big joint family.

My g/g/father had a disciplined life that was much renown at that time and well after that as well! He was very knowledgeable and had a healthy body in a healthy mind. The above are his a few of his 'fitness equipment' that have survived to see and being used in the next century. He took a stroll, played tennis and bridge to relax from his tight schedule. He also habit of keeping his dairy. There was a large library of books, many of which were given away for want of space, yet some remain.

Back to my time for a break. Threptin biscuits! I was a fussy eater then and so to compensate nutrients, this attractive, expensive and tasty 'food' was advised. The little plastic box came free with the tin and held 4 discs. They are not as popular now as it was in the early 60s.

Presenting portraits were a fancy in the last century. Studios made them at extra cost. Here are two such. Even the Maharaja used to distribute his portraits like this, often with messages.

Unless the content is read carefully, one cannot make out what it is. This is an invitation to my g/g/father to attend the ceremony in 1902 when H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV ascended the throne.

Each shelf in these two showcases holds much history and memory. But then, they will be shared some other time. So much for now. This is the way things cling on to the 'heart' and space makes itself available, somehow!! "Old is gold'.