Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jawa Bike, My Ring Finger and 'Coolie'!

Jawa was a very popular motorbike manufactured in its factory in Mysore, under Czech collaboration.  
What has it got to do with my ring finger?  Do not be surprised if I tell it is a cricket match!
Those who know a bit of cricket will understand this write-up better.

An advertisement of the bike from the 60s.  [click to enlarge]
Even now, many fans have preserved them as vintage bikes long after the factory was shut. 

"Ideal Jawa" had a very fine cricket team with highly experienced and talented players.  Our club The Mysore Gymkhana and "Jawa team" had good rivalry.  Some of the Jawa players were from our club before. 

In 1982, precisely, 26th July, we were meeting each other at the historic Maharaja's College Ground in the local tournament.  My talent as a young all-rounder was on the up-rise and I was our team's No.3 in the batting order along with being an opening bowler. 

2009 photo of the same ground, which was a 'turf' in 1982. Same end batting on that day.

We were batting first that morning.  The pitch [playing area, also called the 'strip'] was unusually and undesirably moist.  We learnt that the groundsman had overwatered the previous evening.  Cricket and wetness are inimical.  Our opener David Purushotham struggled and succumbed soon, as it was difficult to bat on that 'spongy' surface with the ball playing tricks. I went in to bat and was beginning to get the feel of the wicket.  

Jawa's fast bowler Sridhar was bowling with good pace, from the southern end. I had glanced a boundary and was on 11.  His next ball was fast and pitched on a 'good length', in cricketing terms. I saw it clearly, prodded my left foot out to play the forward defence as I would, by habit and expected the ball to hit the bat. But instead of  the ball hitting my bat, it had stuck my 'bottom hand' glove [right hand] holding the bat.  The ball had taken off the surface more than it normally would, due to the slight wetness.  I ran a single writhing my right hand.  I knew something was really wrong.  Removing the glove and examining, I saw the ring finger in a weird position!  Our senior opponents feared a fracture.  Dinakar, 'retired hurt' 12, recorded the score book.  That was the end of the game for me.  I was very disappointed.

David took me on his scooter to the X-ray clinc, fingers tied together with a kerchief. Fracture was confirmed and the X-ray was taken to K.R.Hospital's orthopaedic dept.

Dr.Manjunath was on duty. After local anesthesia to the finger, he very skilfully joined the pieces back in position.  My middle finger and little finger acted as supports on either side and the three fingers were to stay plastered [not cast] together for 6 weeks. I was walking out of the hospital with a sling and was to be back in two weeks with another X-ray to see the progress. It was a good job he had done.

In recent years, I keep reading the news about one "Dr.Manjunath" of K.R.Hospital accomplishing some good things in the field of orthopaedics and I never stop wondering if it was the same person who had set my bone right.

After buying the prescribed medicines, David and I returned to the ground.  My eyes were closing on their own. I was very groggy from the injection, so I was dropped back home to be welcomed by my worried mother and aunt. I was to become a left hander for most things till that healed.  This handicap brought out my left-handed skills. I was brushing my teeth, combing my hair and washing my face with the 'odd hand'.  Scrubbing during bath and pouring water from the mug was yet another skill I got to exhibit on myself.  I had to use a spoon to have my food.  My pajamas had the thread belt and tying it was another challenge!  I could button my shirt with support from the handicapped hand.

The fracture was not a pain, but missing the Mysore Zone "Under 25" selection trials greatly was, because as I mentioned, my talent was blossoming at that stage.  The timing of this injury was hard to take.  The selection was taking place 3 weeks after my injury and I was watching it from outside with my slung right hand.  Cricket teaches us hard lessons on realities.  The groundsman's carelessness, Sridhar's pace and my bad luck merged to rule me out of the game for at least six weeks.  The batting gloves I borrowed from Girish Nikam [who was not playing in this] for this match also did not offer the expected protection.

I went to work and managed to write slowly with my two free fingers, the thumb and the index while the other 3 enjoyed the rest! I could draw money from the bank, return the thirty eight rupees David spent for my X-ray and medicines on that day.

On the same day my injury happened, another injury was making headlines - hindi movie hero Amitabh Bachchan's injury on the sets of the movie 'Coolie' at Bangalore University campus. It had shocked the entire country.  Such was his popularity and fan following. It was a miracle that he survived from the jaws of death, more than once. I resumed my cricket slowly and so did he to acting but it took him many months.

If the movie Coolie recalls Amitabh's accident, my finger fracture reminds me of Jawa through Sridhar!  I can still visualize that ball and still think how it had kicked up.  It took some confidence away from my batting for a long time and I guess Amitabh stopped making his own stunt scenes thereafter too.  This is one cricket match I will never forget.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Nandi Bull of Chamundi Hill

At the outset, see some of the very old and rare pictures [click on them to view larger] of the Nandi Bull on our Mysore's Chamundi Hill. The old images are gathered from the web, years shown on them were as in their websites. The colour images are taken by me.  The one of Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar was kindly shared by Sri Nagaraj Gargya.

Photo by William Henry Pigou.

Nandi Bull can be found in all Shiva Temples.  In fact, there is also a small cave temple, carved under an overhanging boulder, close to its left. Also, the Hill's original shrine is of Lord Shiva [Mahabala] but the temple of Goddess Chamundi became famous in the 18th century. 

Above: From the book in our library you will find mention as you scroll.  Notice electric light poles. See water in Doddakere in the background.

A Picture Card from Shanker and Co., famous photographers in the 40s and 50s.

From "Life" magazine - may be from late 60s.

Ah there, another boy is coming out under the Bull's leg!

This Nandi Bull is listed as one of the seven largest monolith Bulls in India. It was carved in situ during the time of Dodda Deva Raja Wadiyar's reign between 1659-73, situated in the range of the 600th and 700th steps.  Climbing up the 1000 steps [read my other post on the legendary steps, click] on the way to the top of the hill, this is a must-stop place. Nandi is the vehicle of Lord Shiva in Hindu Mythology.

Let me reproduce a portion from the book "Mysore City", by Constance E. Parsons, Oxford University Press, 1930:

The Sacred Bull
Descending (by the footpath) past the little lake of Herekere, constructed 350 years ago by Bettada Chama Raja Wadiyar V, you may reach the Bull in a few minutes.  (A motor road, branching off from the 'Douglas Rice Circle', also leads to it.)  Fashioned, says a legend, in one night, out of the basalt of the hill, this recumbent, colossal Nandi (the vehicle of Siva) was a gift of Dodda Deva Raja, who reigned from 1659 to 1673; a valiant and pious king, who defeated enemies on all sides of the little kingdom, which he greatly extended and which he divided into four equal parts; the revenues of which, it is said, he gave to Brahmins, to the gods, to charities, and of the fourth, spent half on jewels for his queens and half on his State and palace. 'Temples', says an inscription, 'he has made, he is making, and he will make.'  He built rest houses at intervals of a yogana on all the main roads of the State, and stone 'rests' - a horizontal granite stone, laid on two upright stones - on to which weary travelers could slip their shouldered burdens.

Over 25 feet long and 16 high, adorned with ropes, chains, bells and jewels of stone, the Bull - from the days when in England Cavelier and Roundhead fought for mastery - has lain, massive, calm, inscrutable; with  half-shut eyes which seem, in yogi fashion, to be closing in meditation.  The carving, declared by Mr.Rice to be 'in no way extraordinary,' is bold and by no means without beauty. It is neither coarse nor finicking, and nothing could be more suitable for its exposed position and the distance from which it must be viewed.

Nearby is a small lamp-post, erected by a European and lighted, as part of the daily ritual, by the Brahmin priest in charge.

This picture was shared by my friend Gowri which shows probably the same lamp-post mentioned in the book. It is the oil lamp.

Whenever we climbed the steps of Chamundi, we had to stop over at the Nandi Bull for worshipping it. The most thrilling 'ritual' we children used to perform as we circumambulated was to pass under the left leg, crouching.  It was done on the same platform where the statue sits.  The gap we passed through appears 'wide enough', but when you actually pass you have to squeeze yourself out!  I do not remember any superstition attached to this 'passing through ritual'. In recent years, the 'Bettada BaLaga group [ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಬಳಗ] has prevented people from going on the platform itself by building a fence [notice it in the 'colour pictures']. 

See the picture below.  The lady is doing what many of us used to do.  Do you know who she is? She is none other than the wife of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt!!   Eleanor Roosevelt.  [Click]  She is 68 years old at this time.  She toured Mysore in 1952. 

Two more pictures of her trip to Chamumdi Bull:

In recent times, the statue gets 'decorated' with all kinds of materials, flowers, cloth, ash.  The statue also gets anointment every year which 'tradition' was never done before.  It is beautiful without decoration and the paint on its eyes is not a good idea in my opinion. 'Feeding' the Bull was also a ritual some people did - fix a banana horizontally in the mouth of the statue to please the Lord. 

See the picture above and the one below [taken at night].  
Interestingly, I have taken these almost one year apart and from the very same angle!

A portion of the Nandi Bull is actually visible from our house top, far away. Can you see?

See the indicated white structure.  The telescope I had made in the 70s could focus on the Bull. [Click] 
Click on the image and focus your eyes. The back of the bull is seen.

This is the spot. Shops mar the sanctity of the spot.
Such a beautifully serene environ has become a victim of commercialization with too many vendors and shops selling various items like cane juice, tender coconut and whatnot. 

Some different views of the Bull.

Superstition is that when this Bull stands up and bugles, it would be doomsday. Another rumour is that the bull is 'growing' in size!  

These are from picture postcards from the 1980s. 

May serenity and sanctity return!

I wrote a post on the Hill's beauty and legend recently. Click here.