Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Model T Ford Car of Mylar Rao

Many decades ago, owners of cars were recognized by their wheeled possessions! "Is it the one who has a car?"  The bicycle was a common mode of transport. A car at home reflected the elite status. Even before that, it was the bullock cart or horse cart.
(Do not forget to click on images to get a magnified view)

Going by the presence of my grand uncle's teacher peeping in the window of the bullock cart and my grand uncle himself [boy, left] in the horse carriage, I must strongly assume that these belonged to my great grandfather. The same bullock cart's window shutters were later fixed to a storage shelf which sits by my side!

Way back in the 1920s into the 1930s, my great grandfather, Mylar Rao who had risen to be an elite citizen had a car, a "Model T Ford".  He could afford a Ford!  Those were good days when a rupee could buy a lot and large joint families could run comfortably on a hundred rupee income, which was considered high.  Mylar Rao died in 1936 and I learn from uncle Sathya [his memories and hearsay from his young days] that later my grandfather Subba Rao continued to use the Ford for some time before disposing it off, for its frequent trouble and repairs.  Sathya recalls that Subba Rao had bought a dark green Morris - with a 'hand brake'.  He had to dispose it off as he could no longer afford to sustain.  A few things related to the Ford Model T and probably the Morris, still hang around. 

Operation Manual, with full details of parts!

In all probability, it would have been the model shown on top.

Parts description.

About the book, signature is of some Wajid, may be the mechanic, known to Mylar Rao.

The Shell can (right) was, repurposed for something else. The Mobiloil BB can had unused gear oil that had the most awful smell, having stored for decades!  I can show how bad it smells!  Such cans are listed as antiques and are sold online! 

In my great grandfather's diaries, I found these separate accounting entries for petrol purchases.  

Gallon measures.  1929.  Page starts with 3 rupees and 15 annas, for 3 gallons. 

Agent/Supplier's seal for receiving the money. 1930.  I learn that S.Vittal Rao & Son, Agents Messrs BEST & Co. Ltd. were the first petrol pump owners in the city. 

See that every 3-4 days petrol was bought.  1934.

More accounts, granduncle's signature for having paid. He would have driven the car!?  1934.

1936, February.  Another supplier, A.Gopalaratnam?  December that year, my great grandfather died.

Photo of my time.... look for the house in the background, which was originally the stables and motor shed. Uncle Sathya recalls the motor shed had GI doors actually where the door and window is and had a pit in the centre for cleaning. 
Later that portion which was at the back of the main house was sold off in the 60s. The stables housed the bullocks, cows and horses.  What life!

Old time cars were petrol guzzlers.  That was the best technology available then.
Maintaining cars have always been an expensive proposition.
Earlier models required much maintenance for wear and tear.

There is no record available as to where. when, how or for how much the Ford was bought.
My uncle Sathya says my grandfather did not drive much but had engaged a driver by name Thammaiah who in fact continued from Mylar Rao's time, driving the Ford.  When the family moved to another house in 1950, the Morris used to be parked in one Prof. Srikantaiah's house.  Sathya says, from here, my other uncle, young Kitti used to stealthily take it out to enjoy rides.  This worried Kitti's mother. Sathya also recalls that selling off the car was a problem because there were no buyers.  No one now can tell how he got rid of it finally. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lighthouse at Surathkal

Port Cities and lighthouses go hand in hand.  Lighthouses are vital guides that facilitate night time navigation. The lighthouse towers in themselves have a beauty of their own, besides history, so much so that they have even become icons and graphics, not to speak of its own charm that has attracted people to them. Many countries have even featured lighthouses on postage stamps, including India.  The lighthouse on North Bay Island in Andaman Islands is featured on the backside of a twenty rupee banknote.  (Click on all images to enlarge)

We cruised past this, from a distance, last year.  The fixed window of our cruise boat was tinted blue. 

One of the most thrilling subjects captured by photographers and painters is of the rough waves in the seas splashing hard at the lonely lighthouses, standing on solid rock.

Web-grab image

Navigation itself is hundreds of years old!  Oldest existing lighthouse in the world is in Spain, The Tower of Hercules, dating back to the late 1st century!

Oldest Lighthouse, Spain.

Then there is a tallest lighthouse in the world, the tallest brick lighthouse, the tallest natural lighthouse and so on.  The Navigation Lighthouse is a great subject of interest in itself, ranging from its shape, location, robustness, optics, antiquity etc.  As such, it has always been visited by tourists.

I read that our Indian govt. plans to tap the huge tourism potential and make them full-fledged tourist destinations!  The Ministry of Shipping plans to draw tourists to the romance of lighthouses by developing 78 lighthouses and generate revenue from their adjacent open areas also.  A portion of the screenshot of press release:

From the first time I had climbed to the top of the Marina Lighthouse in Madras [now Chennai] in 1966, I've always loved it mainly for the panoramic view from that vantage point.  My memory of that lighthouse is rather jumbled, but I can still picture the scene that is impressed in my mind.  If I had the ability of 'Mandrake the Magician', [a famous comic series], who hypnotized the suspect and 'projected' his memory on a wall to 'see' the truth, you would see this - I was on top of the tower: There was the vast sea, the sandy beach and a road. It was Sri Murari Rao [grandfather's client] who had taken us to Madras in his car.

Recent image from The Hindu, of that place.

My next visit to a lighthouse came in Februray 1980 at Surathkal, close to the port city of Mangalore. I was with my college cricket team [for my first tour] to play the Inter-collegiate tournament hosted by KREC [Karnataka Regional Engg. College, now National Inst. of Technology].  One late evening, most of us made a visit to the Surathkal Beach.

Surathkal beach and lighthouse [web-grab]

It was a clean beach presenting a very peaceful ambiance.  Clean, probably because it was not yet frequented by too many visitors at that time. My impression was that lighthouses were old.  But this appeared simple and humble but not old. I learn now, that this was actually built as recently as in 1972.  Entry ticket to the top, reached by a flight of winding stairs, was fifty paisa, if memory serves me correct.  I vividly remember the beautiful optics of the beacon lighting system. A special powerful bulb was fixed in the centre, around which a large lens revolved 360 degrees at a set speed.  It was a very interesting mechanism.  The beacon beam flashing for a long distance at night was a thrilling sight from the town as well.  I was never tired of watching it.  I used to wonder how a neat beam was possible. Here, I found how the beacon light beam worked:

Am yearning to see another lighthouse, no one knows when that will come to fruition.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How I stumbled at Ravi, old mate

"Ravi" has always been my favourite name.  I have always wished it to be mine, so much so that on certain occasions I have even answered my name as "Ravi", of course where it has not mattered.  In Sanskrit, both names mean the same, 'Sun'.  No wonder Ravi is such a common name.  It may not be as common as 'Smith' in London's telephone directory!  This piece is about a dear friend of mine, one of the many Ravis in my list!

"H.R.Ravi" was my brilliant classmate from Class 1, up to 10, with the exception of a few when he studied in some other school.

Class 2 Photo - Me in front of Ravi, coincidence. Me, next to suit-boy Ramu.
{Click to enlarge all images}

My fondness for this fine fellow is from a young age.  Reasons may be for his brilliance, neatness, gentleness, his crop of hair, skill with drawing, handwriting and soft speech, to name some.  He was often a topper in class, shuffling with Zakir or Sujaya but I was never one that fought to dislodge any of them at the top which appeared to be way beyond my reach!  Only once in Class 4 or 5, my rank was 4th and that too in a class test.  I had literally ran home all the way with the report card in hand, in glee, to show it off!  The next highest I can recall was #12.

Many of us had exchanged little messages in our little autograph books when boys had to leave the "Christ the King Convent" after Class 7th. I remember having taken his in mine and he had written something like this (unclear recollection): "Forget me not.... HR Ravi". 

We found ourselves in the same class at "Sarada Vilas High School", for Class 8.  On many Saturdays Ravi and I used to play chess in our house and at times Gopi [another mate] would also join. The Saturday morning school closed at 11 am allowing us plenty of play time, homework, "afterwards"!  After Class 10, we separated for college and lost contact.  I had also lost my invaluable little autograph book at the very end of 10th.  In it were all the lovely words my little mates and teachers had written.  I miss this.

Ravi and I seemed to have a fine rapport. He was good in whatever he did. His Gandhi face caricature was highly impressive.  I can never forget how beautifully he drew it on the middle-school blackboard during the short period breaks.  I have kept imitating this all the way through!

Two pages from my wild sketchbook, 1983.  

CKC Alumni Meet, 2011. Ravi does what he used to do, same class room, 35 years back.

Around the mid 80s, I was on a stroll on Avenue Road in Bangalore, trying to locate uncle Chandu's office. League cricket had taken me there and I made use of the evenings to meet relatives.  A familiar face appeared to cross me.  I knew it was HR Ravi.  We stopped, exchanged excited and happy faces!  His home, an old one as I can recall, was a few feet away, upstairs, entry to which was not easy to locate as it was among the long row of shops in that busy road.  He took me in.

If my memory serves right, he was studying for a post graduation degree in medicine at that time. Such things are suited to people like Ravi's intellect!  I was really happy he was in the process of becoming a specialist-doctor.  We exchanged some school memories and then I left.  He had come down to the street on some errand which proved lucky to me to find him, but this luck ended there!  Mistake - not taking his address, to keep in touch further. So I lost him again thereafter.

Many years clipped past.  Ravi's welfare and whereabouts remained a mystery to me.  Each time I drew a Gandhi face in the sketch book, I remembered Ravi.  I could not think of any common friend to inquire.

Came 2004 September.  I was in Bangalore, again for cricket.  Our Guest House was opposite Manipal Hospital where we stayed for 4-5 days.  Each evening some of our team mates would go either to the telephone booth in the hospital premises to call our homes or to eat something in the adjacent canteen for a change.  Cellphones were slowly arriving at that time.  The telephone booth was attached to the hospital building.

One night, I was waiting for my friend using the booth.  Casually looking here and there in the eerie corridors of the huge hospital, a board showing "Dr.H.R.Ravi" caught my eye.  My joy knew no bounds. To me, there could be only one HR Ravi!  Immediately, I went to the inquiry desk and got his residence telephone number - landline of course.  I called from the booth the very next evening.  "Did you study at CKC in Mysore?"  I knew he would say 'yes'.  Hurray!  In turn, he was astonished the way I found him, yet again. In fact, in the preceding 4-5 years, I had hunted and gathered old mates back, after a gap of 30-35 years and in the next 5-8 years many got added, much to the delight of everyone and to my own satisfaction of seeing many old mates reunite.

With communication facilities expanding everywhere, we have since found it easy to keep in touch.  We have minded to do it, also with many of our mates from Class 1.

Dr.Ravi visits my home, 2008.

Ravi and I met on a few occasions thereafter, also visiting each other's homes.  He has earned great respect among his patients in various hospitals he worked as a surgeon.  Talented, intelligent and skilled as he is, it is no surprise he has earned a high reputation in his specialized profession now and it makes me proud to have him as a friend and having known him for this long!  He has not changed. He did not.

Some pictures and short notes:

2011 Alumni Meet, we meet the most feared Maths teacher. Ravi shows Sr.Prudentia her own signature/autograph he got in 1970. Rajaram, Ebby and yours truly look on.

Ravi shows the same to Miss Leela, the much loved Hindi language teacher. Her expression and mate Rajgopal's need no description

"How to be good". This is a book Ravi presented me in 1970. 

Though I lost the autograph book, at least his writing remains here in this book, on morals. 

Here is a sample of a couple of pages.  I must admit I have never read the book. May be if I had done so, the world would have seen a better person!  But I can guess why Ravi was so much better at that age and later became a respected surgeon, teacher, person.  It is my privilege to have known him.