Saturday, March 30, 2013

My grandfather's career dilemma

Scene from 1923 and this post is 'letterfull'. My grandfather K.M.Subba Rao had completed his B.A from Presidency College, Madras [now Chennai].  Obviously, it was University of Madras which was one of the oldest and renown schools of learning already.  Subba Rao was 27.   He had been married 9 years before and my father had been born in 1922.   B.A. in those days had a different structure.  If you see the beautiful certificate [below] that was awarded to him, the optional subjects are also mentioned.  English was his Part 1, whatever it had and for Part 2 which was his optional, he had chosen Physical Science. 

Click on the picture to enlarge, read and enjoy. 

Wondering why I have posted this weird image?  Did you read 'Physical Science' above?  Wanted to show the oval shaped wooden board hung there!  My grandfather often used to tell that it was the board he had made for his carpentry project during his that time in Madras, between 1918 and 1923  It has a really perfect shape and very neatly done and was regularly used by my grandmother for rolling chapatis for my father for many decades.  In my time, a new stone board arrived and this was sidelined.  I found use for it in my trash-to-treasure project.  I fastened some brass tumblers and hung the unit as a calling bell!!!  

Just B.A.had no weight.  Subba Rao wanted to study further. What next to pursue for his career?  It appears he was in a dilemma at that stage and had written to some of his well-wishers and teachers. All the letters were in a bunch, excepting one from his brother-in-law C.Srikantia which is missing.  See them:

It appears that B.B.Dey was a teacher at Presidency College.  He does not recommend him joining the science/research. 

One B.Narasinga Rao must have been some family friend / well-wisher.  He also does not recommend him going to science. 

Same with M.Sampath Iyengar. Most of them knew of the already reputed legal practice in the office of K.M.Subba Rao's uncle, another Subba Rao with the initial 'K'. This Subba Rao was a renown 'Pleader' in those times [around 1900 itself!] and the office he partnered with another respected practitioner, B.K.Ramakrishnaiah was at 'Soji Street' near Gandhi Square.  It was to keep the reputation for nearly 90 years.  

With this background, most of them advise/suggest Subba Rao to take up Law.

This is a reply by one D'Souza to Subba Rao's father.  He must  have written to him for guidance.  

After gathering all the responses, Subba Rao writes to his father who was posted for his duties in another town, updating the situation.  Subba Rao obviously had returned to Mysore to the house from where this blogpost is being made, 90 years later! 

Subba Rao prepares to follow the guidance from those letters and went to study Bachelor of Law at Bombay the same year. 

His favourite teacher Tait also wrote to him in July 1923: "I think you will find some interest in Law when you have been a little longer at it."  Subba Rao studied Physical Science and he was now going for Law.  

A year later Tait writes to him again and see what he has written..... he motivates him in such a beautiful manner.  See page 2.

There are no photographs or any more mention of his stay in Bombay, but I have this beautiful large certificate which was awarded to him when he completed the L.L.B in 1925.

That embossed aluminum name-board became my earliest English alphabet recognition thing.  Mails were delivered to him when just his name and city were on the envelope.  He had become that renown and why not!  He was the son of another elite and respected person, K.Mylar Rao, who retired in 1926 when he had risen to Dy. Commissioner.  

Subba Rao became a very respected advocate who, as expected, continued to practice Law with his uncle in 1925 and then attended the office till the day he died in 1976, with the same ideologies which won the hearts of many people/clients.  The office saw its end around 1985, thus ending its glorious run as 'Subba Rao's office'.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teacher-pupil association, some letters

When I was quite young, my grandfather K.M.Subba Rao was very fond of mentioning Tait's name often but I cannot recollect the precise situations.  This is how I got familiar with the name of Tait.  Subba Rao died in 1976.

J.G.Tait, M.A was his teacher in two colleges between 1916 and 1922. Let me show some pictures first. 

Cropped picture from 1915-16, from group picture below.
Click on all the pictures to see and read the enlarged views.

My grandfather's cousin K.S.Krishna Rao is in the picture [arrow marked].  Tait must have been a very reputed teacher already.  I know not what subject he taught.

This is from the picture below, 'Senior Intermediate' class, 1916-17. 

 K.M.Subba Rao [marked S] and another illustrious person who was to become renown [and relative to him] in Mysore University, S.V.Ranganna [marked R] are in this picture. Central College, Bangalore.

Young Subba Rao, cropped from the group picture above was like this.  He was 20 years old in 1916. He had been married in 1914.  Senior Intermediate would be now equal to, I think Class XII.

Tait also taught at Madras Christian College, Madras [Chennai].  Picture above is from 1918 and shows him seated behind the huge winner's trophy and looking a wee bit older and Subba Rao is standing behind him.  I am not sure what he studied at Christian College before his stint for B.A. at Presidency College, also at Madras between 1919 and 1922.  The picture is with a few members of Christian College cricket team taken after it became winners. I will soon connect Tait's letter with this picture.  

Tait must have retired in thereabouts of 1920 and had gone back to his home in Edinburgh and had kept in touch with his old pupil through letters for many years after his retirement.  

A couple of years after Subba Rao died, my search for old postal stamps landed me at a bunch of letters in an old dusty almirah.  Among the hundreds of letters also from Subba Rao's father's time, were a few letters which were signed,  "J.G.Tait", kept in their respective postal envelopes, coming from Britain.   The name 'Tait' rung a bell. I read the letters and was impressed by the beautiful way they were written, in typically British style, and without missing the personal touch. I took care of them the way Subba Rao did, thereafter.  

One letter Tait wrote in 1926 was of particular fondness to me also because of the mention of Subba Rao's cricket and his finger accident at cricket!  Tait remembers and writes about the very match in which how Subba Rao's magnificent bowling was instrumental in bringing victory for Christian College [group picture shown above]: "I am sorry to hear of the accident that had ended your cricketing career.  I shall never forget that match with Law College when you got their three best wickets clean bowled. They looked like winning when you went on, but your first over made a startling change."   Read this in the second image below.

The last bone of my grandfather's little finger of the right hand was missing and I could relate the story he used to narrate us how it was damaged when he tried to take a catch during a cricket match.  Also observe how Tait recallrs names of his pupils vividly, years since they were separated.

It goes to show how beautiful the relationships were between them.  Tait also writes about his son Peter and his cricket, about his old mother's health and about various other things.  

Keep an eye on the postmarks to see how long it took for Tait's letter to reach Subba Rao. Amazingly quick even in those days!

After his B.A, Subba Rao graduated in Law [LLB] from Bombay University, in 1924 and was a renown advocate from 1925-1976 till his death.  How he chose Law is another story for another post.  Subba Rao was also a true and fine sportsman having made a name for himself in many sports also, of which I have separately posted.

From the letters, I see how important Tait's impression was on Subba Rao's future career and personality and proving that a good basis is of utmost value. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I will call this Mysore Sundigay!

I hope the title is agreed upon. Some spell this crisp dish as 'sandige' but I like to spell 'sundigay'.  This is to avoid people mispronouncing 'sandige' as 'sandaij' and such!  Sundigay is a nutritious traditional food typical of Karnataka, made from puffed rice, eaten deep-fat-fried.

My grandmother used to prepare this every summer almost till her death in 1978.   When a sack full of puffed rice [AraLu] was bought we knew about the occasion, which was a big one!  A bicycle-riding vendor sold and delivered at doorsteps this during summer months as many people of Mysore engaged themselves in preparation of Sundigay in their houses.  My grandmohter prepared it in large quantities because some sun-dried pieces were happily handed to many visitors as a gift when they left.

My grandmother's culinary skills were too well known among relatives and friends.  All her preparations were high class and her sundigays were no exception.  She was assisted by my late aunt and my mother and sometimes we assisted in 'sensory evaluation' relating to chilli-pungency or salt balance.   Any alteration was possible at the mixing statge.


She would get everything ready by 9 am before mixing the ingredients.  When puffed rice and ingredients were being mixed, we would gather for a palm full of this raw mix.  It had its own taste due to the presence of coriander leaves, salt and green chilli.  My aunt was also very fond of this.

When the sundigays were laid on the trays for drying we had to keep vigil on 'our ancestors' [monkeys] and crows which came 'from nowhere' in search of food.  We had to be very alert. These two days were hectic.  Since this was always done in summer [to enable drying] we had holidays, with exams finished.  From time to time we also had to adjust the trays to see that the shadows of the tree did not fall on them.  When the sun was hot the first day itself my grandmother would remove 2-3 and fry them before dinner time for taste-trial and distribute a small quantity for evaluation.  No alteration of taste was possible anyhow.

The grandmother's sundigays puffed many times larger.  Nobody knew what her secret was. It would get ten out of ten on all attributes. Such was that quality which I can clearly recall.  Some of this have been passed on to my mother also.  So we get to see sundigay being prepared on those lines even now. Now we have cameras to capture the images as well.  

Coriander-chilli-salt mix being added to puffed rice.  Some cooked sago is also added as a binder.

Ground paste of coriander-chilli-salt for the next batch. Asafoetida also is added. 

Zinc trays [with a handle on either side] are very handy to sundry things.  

Sundigays are shaped using a deep spoon. Fill the spoon, press the mix slightly and tap it on the tray. 

Sundrying Mysore Sundigays!

This link provides some information :Click - Sundigay

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nostalgic Oddments

In recent years, the word 'shoebox' is often getting seen in articles of magazine section in newspapers.  Triggered by this idea, I finally made one, two and three shoeboxes to preserve the various oddments I had gathered over since my childhood.  Sentiments and memories of the items I list here are many, but I will try to be brief on each item.  Let us have some nostalgic moments. 

This is the first 'shoebox', but actually it was a banian [vest] box.  This cardboard box was suitable to keep the items. The box itself is Mysore vintage, most likely from the 60s.  The vests manufactured by the long defunct and famous Krishnarajendra Mills [K.R.Mills] were used by my grandfather. 

Let me begin with this since this is of the earliest toy I can remember.  Wooden blocks with pictures pasted on them.  The kids had to arrange the blocks to make the picture - like a puzzle. There were six pictures to be made with each side having a picture on the six sides of the cuboid block. There were 12 in the set, but three are missing. The block I hold shows a portion of an areoplane.   There was 'cow' and 'horse' on other sides.

Frame of counting beads.  The original frame had gone weak and when I grew old enough to do some carpentry and when it was time for my daughter to play with it, I replaced it with suitable old wood and replaced the wire also.  Some beads had to be left out.  But they are safe in a box.  This is my pre-school counting instrument. 

This little plastic elephant can walk on its own.  All it asks is a sufficient down gradient to show its ability.  It was bought at Mysore Dasara Exhibition in the 1960s.  My favourite toy.  I feature it here despite keeping it in the showcase and not in the shoebox..  It has no place in the box because it is an ELEPHANT!  :)

Another memorable drawing toy.  I used to make a number of designs using these wheels and different coloured ball pen refills.  Also bought at Dasara Exhibition in the late 60s.

Yet another toy from the Exhibition bought for ten paise in about 1970.  It produces a shrill and loud 'tic-toc' when the flat piece is pressed in and left.  Extremely popular toy.  The eardrums hummed in pain when friends stealthily came and pressed it very close to the ear. 

I have featured most of the Exhibition-bought toys in the 'Dasara Exhibition' blogpost. [click]  This was another very good toy to play. Just a good rubber band was needed to make it work well.

A key chain with my name on it in gold letters!  A gift from my late aunt.  More of it is written on the other blogpost.

Burmah Shell Petrol Bunks were common in our city.  This is a gift from my friend Ashok, the grandson of famous novelist 'Vani' who lived opposite our house.  His uncle had a lot of these, but I never knew why there were so many.  Ashok had given me two and both of them are in tact.  One is in use. 1970 or thereabouts.

Meccano Set  - above, collage picture of instruction manual.  Below, pieces that have survived 4 decades. 

And stored in a smaller box of K.R.Mills, may be banians bought for a then young me.

I recently wrote a separate post on this memorable book.  See here: [Click].

This itself is a box.  Still, I include in the 'shoebox'!  Aluminium boxes for carrying school books was a fashion in 1968-70.  That is mine, pestered and got from my grandfather. It is serving as a container for homoeo pills now.  Those who carried these boxes to the class were 'executives' - in the view of others, or so we thought!   :)

Panama Cigarette box.  They may be short duration special offers. They were very popular in the late 60s.  My father did not smoke but he acquired from someone and used to keep small coins as savings in this.

I will show how my handwriting was at a very young age.  That is a small diary gifted by an uncle.  

See who he was.  1966. 

..."and was laid to rest in Grayfrairs churchyard..." This was a sentence from an English lesson 'Grayfrairs Bobby' [a dog] from Class Two.  I used to write this to check my pen.  Somehow this part of the sentence has stuck in my mind.  I now learn [from browsing for this post] that the spelling is 'Grayfriars' and that this is a popular story of a terrier dog!  It was a real story.  Read this - very interesting: [Click]

Click to read my middle school writing.

Addition/Subtraction.... this served as my scribble book for many years!


This is much earlier.  My grandfather writes the questions from the lessons on the top right. My script is easily identifiable. 

80% of these are from my marble-playing times.  A few are worn out as can be seen.  My elder streetmate who lived in the opposite house had actually won 500 or 600 marbles.  His name is Ganapathy. We used to envy him.  He was a sure shot.  I lost many to his great talent.  For satisfaction, I used to buy the marbles at a shop at Devaraja Market on Sayyaji Rao Road, next to Komala Bakery. 1960s and early 70s.  For ten paise, we got ten marbles. Later I used to buy nails for my cricket boots in the same shop in the early 80s. Thereafter the shop was closed as the Shetty owner probably had got old.

High school. Tenth Std.  I wanted to copy Kariappa's Motor Bus.  A motor was pestered and got for Rupees fifteen [large sum in 1972-73].  Was successful to some extent and even managed to show it in the 'Science Exhibition' in 1973.  The leaflet is in tact.  The shaft and coil survived....... but not its body. The shaft is seen in the picture below - on the left. 

This was another silly toy I had bought in about 1974. But I had used it as a calling bell! 

This is the second toy motor I bought in 1976-77 or so.  I had made an improvised bus using gears. 

This is another very memorable toy I made for the sake of old memories.  Read about it in a separate post here: [Click]

Both are not my tops.  The one on the left, landed dangerously in front of our door from somewhere and fortunately it did not hurt anyone.  When I heard its sound, I went out and saw this top but none were in the street!  It remains a mystery.  None came after it either. I tried to play it, but it was ugly as it was 'top-heavy'!  The smaller one is with me for many years and I cannot remember its history.   This is the design we bought and they had good centre of gravity. 

Mysore Dasara Exhibition purchase.  Cannot remember the cost. It is the same size as the 20-paisa coin in brass.  It was the same design as that but plain on the other side. A key chain - Mahatma Gandhi Birth Centenary, 1969.  It was popular in those times. 

Tweezers I had bought for zoology dissection in Class 11 and 12 [Pre-University years].  Still in use for various things.

This is the thimble we were made to buy [also needle and thread] by our 'Work Experience' Teacher, MKG at Sarada Vilas High School [1972].  The skills he showed us in those days have been so handy even now.  

Two special key chains given by my wife.  One is watch-like- to open at the back.

The other one is even more special.  It has a cartoon strip folded into a tiny book form.  When the tab is pulled, the strip spreads.  Russian product.

Thanks for the time at least scrolling up to here!!   
There are some more, but that will be in Part 2.