Life Back Then

Trauma of Widow Tonsure During 1920s

Author: 
Jyotsna Kamat

Category:

Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna, who has a Ph.D. in History, has been a teacher (Women's Training College, Dharwad), researcher (Karnatak University, Dharwad), and broadcaster (All India Radio, Dharwad, Bangalore, Mysore, Calcutta, Bombay, Jaipur).  She speaks Konkani, Kannada, English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, and Sanskrit, has written many books and articles, and has received a number of awards, including  Karnataka Literary  Academy Award 1988 (for the book Karnatakada Shikshana Parampare), and Rajyotsava Award 1991. A widow, she lives in Bangalore and blogs at http://www.kamat.com/jyotsna/blog/

Editor's note: This article is reproduced from http://www.kamat.com/jyotsna/blog/ with the author's permission. Another story that discusses the shaving of a widow's head is Number 2898, Saraswatipuram by T.S. Nagarajan.

Parvatibai Athavale (1870-1955), sister-in-law of Professor Dhondo Keshav Karve, the great social reformer, was widowed in her 20's. She had to undergo all strictures including tonsure. Later she decided to grow hair to set an example.

Buddan Sahib and the Mysore Tonga

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Category:

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

Editor's note: This story has two parts. Buddan Sahib is the focus of the first part while the Mysore Tonga is the focus of the second part.

His full name was Ali Hussein Buddan Sahib. But hardly any one knew him by that name\; none of his customers, not even the regulars. To all of them he was Buddan sahib.
In Mysore in the 1940s, he was the owner of a Shah Pasand Tonga (horse carriage -see below for details), which ferried most of us in our mohalla (neighbourhood) to other parts of the town or beyond to near by villages. It was also the pride of the mohalla.

Most of the Tonga owners in Mysore were Muslims. Around the stands, it was common to see clusters of Muslims homes, with mosques and Madarasas (schools) nearby. As his name indicates, Buddan Sahib too was a Muslim.

Awara Hoon

Author: 
V. S. Gopalakrishnan

Category:

V. S. Gopalakrishnan

V. S. Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., retired from the Maharashtra IAS cadre in 1995, and was subsequently the Director General, World Trade Centre, Mumbai, 1995-2005. He is fluent in French, and knows German, Italian and Spanish. He has a diploma in cartooning, Madhyama in Hindustani vocal music, and a certificate in music composition and direction. He has published five cartoon books and two books of poem, apart from a professional book WTO and India: Some Insights. He is now interested in social causes such as fighting injustice, corruption, etc. He lives in Mumbai.

Editor’s Note: This story is slightly adapted, with the author’s permission, from the original published on www.sulekha.com.

I think I saw the movie Awara (1951) at Rajkumari Talkies, Mambalam in Madras (now Chennai). I was nearly ten years old.
I fell in love at once with Raj Kapoor, the lead actor, and also the title song Awara Hoon!

Number 2898, Saraswatipuram

Author: 
T.S. Nagarajan

Category:

T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

I have no ancestral home. I never had one. My forefathers belonged to a village called Tambarahalli, in the ashtagram cluster of villages in the Kolar district of Karnataka.

Seethamma Madam and My Mother: A Tale of Two Widows

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Category:

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.



In the 1940s, she might have been about fifty years old when I, a teenage boy, became aware of her as a teacher who lived in the corner house of our lane in Mysore. Her house had a high boundary wall, and was built on a high plinth, so that you had to walk up a short flight of steps to reach the entrance door. These were indications that the house had been built for a family that had a status higher than that of most others in the neighbourhood.

A Memorable Mix of Grammar and Football

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Category:

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues.His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

Somehow, the forthcoming (2010) FIFA World Cup in South Africa has reminded me of my English teacher in Maharaja’s High School in Mysore in 1948.


Maharaja’s High School, Mysore was one of the earliest to be started in India on the model of English Higher Secondary education, and was one of the prestigious schools of Mysore State. In the pre-Independence days, some of its graduates were absorbed in Subordinate Cadres of the Government of Mysore, some became teachers, and some went for higher studies to Madras and Bombay. Never short of patronage, grants and good teachers, it enjoyed a high status for many years.

The link, weak as it is, is that Mr. Syed Ibrahim, or 'SI' as he was called by all the students, was a great football fan, though naturally his area of interest was local, not international. In addition to his football wisdom, SI had many other interesting attributes that made him the most admired and, at the same time, the most feared among our teachers.

A Fun Bus Journey in Tough Times

Author: 
M P V Shenoi

Category:

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues.His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

Times were tough for our family in the mid-1940s. My father had died young, most probably with heart failure – he just did not wake up one morning. My mother was widowed at the age of thirty with four children to look after. My father’s family had migrated to Mysore, then a Princely State, after a business loss in trading of copra and coconut oil in Bombay. My father’s elder brother had found job in the Mysore Palace, while my father was clerk in the Municipality, with an income of, I was told, Rs. 25 per month.

y uncle and my father had separated five years before he died, so there was no close older male to look after our family. Money was tight. Our family did not get a pension from the Municipality – perhaps, at that time, there were no benefits available for a person who died in service. My mother told us that we did get some lump-sum money, perhaps as gratuity.

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