Life Back Then

Weddings among the Patidars

Author: 
Gangaben Patel

Category:

Tags:

Editor's Note: This article is in Gujarati. It was originally written in 1964. It has been scanned from વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન ("Vees-mi Sadee-nun Gujarati Nari-lekhan", 20th Century women's writing in Gujarati). Nikhil Desai has provided this brief description of the article.

 

Gangaben Patel (1890-1972) wrote this essay "Dharmaj" (a village) in 1964. She describes how a young bride was brought to her new home, what she brought with her, and the customs of greeting her. She says she was only nine when she came to Dharmaj, implying that's when she got married. She describes various jewelry pieces in detail.

Toward the end, she writes "Because of these customs, if a girl arrived in a poor home, she was just returned. A quarter's worth of opium, and she went from the womb to the earth."

She also describes how sometime in the 1860s her caste group had passed, under her grandfather's lead, some reforms limiting the cost of marriage to a girl coming from a particular "six village" grouping (and presumably marrying in those villages). Then she mentions how this in turn led to some families looking for brides outside those six villages and collecting more money than they were allowed under their caste group's rules.

A few months ago, I heard my mother say that in the caste group we belong to, "Girls could marry into the village, but not could marry out." I asked her if this was because of a shortage of girls. She said, "Who knows? Back then, people wanted to keep an eye on their daughters after they were married, and make sure they were treated well or else complain to the caste council."

Women in the Partition

Author: 
Kamalaben Patel

Category:

Tags:

 

Editor's Note: This article is in Gujarati. It has been scanned from વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન ("Vees-mi Sadee-nun Gujarati Nari-lekhan", 20th Century women's writing in Gujarati). Nikhil Desai has provided this brief description of the article.

This untitled essay by Kamalaben Patel (1912- ) is excerpted from her writings in 1977 and 1985 under મૂળ સોતાં ઉખડેલા ("Mool sotan ukhadela", pulled from the roots). The story is about one of the most painful aspects - recovery and repatriation of women left behind - of the Partition of India and Pakistan.

She was with the Indian government on the Punjab border at the time, guiding the women social workers who were recruited to work with the police in repatriation of women, and occasionally went back and forth, working with the Pakistani authorities as well.

Sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers were lost, kidnapped, or simply fell behind when families ran from one side to the other. The author mentions an incident where a village well was filled with bodies of dead women who had jumped in to avoid assault and rape. She also mentions how in the midst of then ongoing war in Kashmir, tensions were high on both sides and made the repatriation work more difficult.

Some related articles selected by Nikhil Desai:

Gireesh J., "Gendered Violence, Nationalism and the Hegemonic Projects of Modern Nation States: A Reading of Kamalaben Patel's Partition Memoir Torn from the Roots". Samyukta, July 2009.

Aparna Basu (1996) Rebel with a cause: Mridula Sarabhai. Oxford University Press. Excerpt at http://www.rediff.com/freedom/1111mig3.htm.

A peek into the future

Author: 
Shantabahen Gandhi

Category:

Tags:

Editor's Note: This article is in Gujarati. It was originally written in 1948. It has been scanned from વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન ("Vees-mi Sadee-nun Gujarati Nari-lekhan", 20th Century women's writing in Gujarati). Nikhil Desai has provided this brief description of the article.

This essay -  ભવિષ્યમાં ડોકિયું ("Bhavishya-man doki-yun", a peek into the future) ­- is taken from ગુજરાતણને પગલે પગલે ("Gujaratan-ne pagale pagale", along the footsteps of a Gujarati woman). It is notable for the ambition of an educated urban (Ahmedabad) woman just after India's Independence.

She enthusiastically notes that the new Bombay Government (the erstwhile Bombay State included parts of current Gujarat, including Ahmedabad) has formulated laws to outlaw polygamy and permit divorce, and that the issue of  bride/groom payment is also under consideration in the state legislature. She is proud that Indian women are being sent to international conferences to represent the women of India, and that new authors and performance artists are emerging, though they are still just a few in number.

Family crisis

Author: 
Sharada Mehta

Category:

Tags:

Editor's Note:This article is in Gujarati. It was originally written in 1938. It has been scanned from વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન ("Vees-mi Sadee-nun Gujarati Nari-lekhan", 20th Century women's writing in Gujarati). Nikhil Desai has provided this brief description of the article. .

This memoir - કૌટુંબિક આપત્તિ (Family crisis) - is by Sharada Mehta (1882-1970), who was one of the first Gujarati women college graduates in Ahmedabad. The memoir begins with her circumstances in 1901.

The author's wedding had taken place, but she had continued to stay with her parents to complete her last college examination . Just then, her mother-in-law passed away, leaving behind two sons studying in England (one of them the author's husband), a daughter, three young children including a four-year old daughter, and three other children. She mentions how her mother-in-law was enthusiastic about her going to college, and her father-in-law insisted she complete her college examinations before moving in to help with the young children.

She also describes her experience with running a remedial class for a year or so for girls who had dropped out of school, before moving to Vadodara (former Baroda) when her husband returned. She found the Vadodara environment more conservative than in Ahmedabad. She and her husband were unusual in going out for walks together, and even the king seemed to have not been favorable to it initially. She does mention, however, that within a year, a lot many more couples had started taking walks together near the Race Course.

The bicycle of my dreams

Author: 
Subodh Mathur

Category:

Subodh was born in Alwar, and educated in Jaipur, Delhi, and Cambridge, USA. He taught economics for one year at Rajasthan University, Jaipur, and now teaches at American University, Washington, D.C. He was an independent consultant for nearly two decades. He lives with his wife, Anuradha Deolalikar, and two children in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In his spare time, he is an avid gardener, and the editor of this website.

I got my first bicycle in 1960 when I was about 10 years old. More accurately, Ashok, my older brother, and I got our first shared bicycle at that time.

It's a story that sticks in my mind, and also of some other family members. Our other older brothers - Prakash, Kailash and Subhash - already had a cycle each. I don't know how much of a blessing it was for Subhash to have a bicycle, as he often had to lug his two younger brothers, Ashok and me, on his cycle all the way to our school (St. Xavier's, Jaipur) in the evenings for a swim!

Well, Ashok and I wanted our own ‘wheels' - with them would come freedom to roam and grown-up status.

Braille press for Calcutta Blind School

Author: 
Amit Shah

Category:

 

Amit is a digital entrepreneur and owner of Green Comma, a print and digital educational materials development company. He lives in Somerville, MA, with his wife, Pam, youngest son, Simon, and three cats. His oldest son, Arnav, lives in Washington, DC, and has visited the Calcutta Blind School and the Shah Braille Library.

 

Editor's note: The article below first appeared in "The Oriental Watchman and Herald of Health: A Magazine for Home and Happiness" February 1956, which is available at http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/OWAHOH/OWAHOH19560201-V33-02__C.pdf.

The following commentary is provided by Amit Shah.

 

The article below says that India's Health Minister, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, wrote to Dr. Merle E. Frampton, the head of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, the oldest institution for the blind in the western world, and this led to the gift of a Braille press for the Calcutta (now Kolkata) Blind School in 1956. This is the behind-the-scenes story of how the Braille press came to this school.

Fond Memories of India

Author: 
Rodney Hall

Category:

 

Rodney trained for a nautical career at HMS Conway in Anglesey and joined the Cunard Line in 1958. He went on to command various vessels around the world until his retirement in 1993. He lives in the UK.

Editor's note: This article is an expanded version of My First School Days, which is available at http://rmhh.co.uk/ooty.html.

 

I was born in 1940 in Vizagapatam (shortened to Vizag, now called Vishakapatnam), on the Bay of Bengal.

Rodney Hall, held by his Telugu-speaking Ayah, 1940, Vizag.

My father was then the chief pilot in that port, and he went on to become Harbourmaster. However, my story in India really goes back to 1906, when my paternal grandfather, Harry Hall, came to Calcutta to bring Pathé News ( Ed: Pathé News produced newsreels, which were shown in cinema halls.) to India for the Pathé Frères, whom he knew from his days in Paris. With him, he brought his wife, Suzanne and his 5 year old son, Herbert, my father. This was Herbert's introduction to India.

Harry Hall

Shakoor Sahib - my middle school teacher

Author: 
R C Mody

Category:

R C Mody

R C Mody is a postgraduate in Economics and a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, where he headed several all-India departments, and was also Principal of the Staff College. Now 81 years old, he is busy in social work, reading, writing, and travelling. He lives in New Delhi with his wife.

 

I had my initial schooling at home under private tutors as my father was not inclined to send me to any school in Alwar, where my parents lived, because he thought none of them offered a good education. Editor's note: Alwar was a Princely State at that time, not part of British India.

But, my father changed his mind when a new school, named Model School, opened in 1936. Model School, with classes up to Standard VIII, had a well selected staff, and a very forward-looking Headmaster, Mr Ram Narain Sharma, who went on to become Joint Director of Education in Rajasthan.

I took a rigorous admission test. To my great delight, I was found fit for Class VII, even though I was only 10 years old. Straight away, I was a senior student! Some of my teachers, though not highly paid, were excellent: they were dedicated and they knew how to teach.

Judge Saheb – Judicial Administration in UP

Author: 
Anand Sarup

Category:

Anand Sarup

Born in Lahore on 5th January, 1930, to Savitri Devi and Shanti Sarup and brought up in an open environment, without any mental conditioning by a denominational commitment. He imbibed a deep commitment to democracy and freedom because his family participated actively in the freedom struggle. In 1947, together with his family, he went through the trauma of losing all, and then participating in rebuilding a new status and identity. He Joined the IAS in 1954 and retired in 1988 as Education Secretary, Government of India. Later, he became Chairman, National Book Trust. Also co-authored, with Sulabha Brahme, Planning for the Millions.

Editor’s note: This is one of several stories about district administration and officials in Uttar Pradesh in the 1940s-1960s.

It was February 1968. The wind was cold, and the chill was accentuated by the isolation of the place the five men were stuck in. The road between Ranikhet and Kathgodam had been blocked near the iron bridge leading to Garam Pani, Bhowali, the famous sanatorium.

They were the personal staff members of senior officers returning to Kathgodam from a conference in Ranikhet. The senior officers had managed to get escape the blockade by walking across the bridge, leaving their heavy luggage and bulky papers with their staff, who would bring it later when the blockade was lifted.

PWD Administration in UP

Author: 
Anand Sarup

Category:

Anand Sarup

Born in Lahore on 5th January, 1930, to Savitri Devi and Shanti Sarup and brought up in an open environment, without any mental conditioning by a denominational commitment. He imbibed a deep commitment to democracy and freedom because his family participated actively in the freedom struggle. In 1947, together with his family, he went through the trauma of losing all, and then participating in rebuilding a new status and identity. He Joined the IAS in 1954 and retired in 1988 as Education Secretary, Government of India. Later, he became Chairman, National Book Trust. Also co-authored, with Sulabha Brahme, Planning for the Millions.

Editor’s note: This is one of several stories about district administration and officials in Uttar Pradesh in the 1940s-1960s.

It was February 1968. The wind was cold, and the chill was accentuated by the isolation of the place the five men were stuck in. The road between Ranikhet and Kathgodam had been blocked near the iron bridge leading to Garam Pani, Bhowali, the famous sanatorium.

They were the personal staff members of senior officers returning to Kathgodam from a conference in Ranikhet. The senior officers had managed to get escape the blockade by walking across the bridge, leaving their heavy luggage and bulky papers with their staff, who would bring it later when the blockade was lifted.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Life Back Then