Life Back Then

Memories of Delhi 1950s

Author: 
Jatinder Sethi

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Jatinder Sethi was born in Lyallpur, now Faislabad, in pre-Independence India. He finished his M.A. (English) from Delhi University in 1956, and went off to London to study Advertising in 1958. He passed his Membership Exam of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (M.I.P.A) in1965, and joined Rallis India in Bombay. Later, for over 20 years, he worked for the advertising agency Ogilvy &amp\; Mather. Now retired, he helps his son in his ad agency in Delhi.

Editor's note: Another version of this article first appeared at http://www.apnaorg.com/articles/sethi-2/

Recently, I bumped into some very old college friends while roaming in the inner circle of Connaught Place (CP), New Delhi. More than 50 years ago, we used to stroll around CP after spending hours in the India Coffee House discussing everything under the sun. I had left Delhi in 1958, and had recently relocated myself in nearby Gurgaon after about 50 years. We decided to have dinner together in Delhi ‘O' Delhi restaurant in the Habitat Centre.

1962 Sino-Indian War: Memories of Assam Tea Estates

Author: 
Roy Church et al

Category:

 

Editor's note: These stories initially appeared on www.koi-hai.com. They were collated by Roy Church. They have been edited and revised for this website.



Roy Church worked in Assam tea estates over 1959-67, after three years in the British Army. He is married and his eldest son was born at Panitola Central Hospital, Dibrugarh in 1965. For the last 20 years he has travelled extensively in the Central Himalaya leading groups of friends.

 

1962 War Background

Anyone who has travelled in the higher areas of the Central Himalaya will appreciate that just where the boundary is between India and China/Tibet has been a problem for many years.

Historically The Great Game revolved around moving or defending boundaries dependant on the relative strengths and subsequent threats of hostility between Britain, Russia, Tibet, China and, to some extent, Persia. For much of the boundary with India, while there were occasional border posts at well-frequented passes, only a very small length of the border was actually marked.

In such circumstances, in 1914, McMahon of the Survey of India was instructed to undertake to survey and mark where he considered the boundary should be. Despite a long history of offers and negotiations between the various parties, total agreement was not, unsurprisingly, ever reached, and, despite the huge effort, the McMahon Line was largely ignored.

Memories of my family and of weddings in Kolar Gold Fields

Author: 
Bridget White-Kumar

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Bridget was born and brought up in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in Karnataka. She got her B Ed degree in Bangalore, taught for two years, and then joined Canara Bank, from where she retired a few years ago. Now she is a self-published author of six cookbooks specializing in Anglo-Indian cuisine, and works as a consultant on food related matters. Bridget has also published a nostalgic book on KGF entitled Kolar Gold Fields Down Memory Lane. For copies of her books, contact her at bidkumar@gmail.com or visit http://anglo-indianfood.blogspot.com

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My family

I was born and brought up in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), a charming little mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State, which is now a part of Karnataka. I was the second born child to Sydney and Doris White. My brother John was born two years earlier than me, and my younger sisters Maryanne and Bernadette were born two and four years after me, respectively. We were a well-known Anglo-Indian family, which traced our roots to British ancestry on my paternal side and Portuguese and Dutch ancestry on my maternal side.

Memories of Assam: 1940s-1960s

Author: 
BIll Charlier

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Bill Charlier worked in Assam’s tea gardens for many years. He eventually retired to live in Spain. He passed away in 2012.

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Editor's note: This is a slightly reformulated version of material that originally appeared at http://www.koi-hai.com/Default.aspx?id=570017.

A Journey into the Unknown

When the war ended in 1945, everybody was trying to find a job as most of us were going to be demobbed. Fortunately, through family connections, I heard of some jobs, which might be available. Whilst still in the RAF, I went to London to meet the Chairman of the Assam Company. He said that there was the possibility of a job in Tea in India. Other choices included openings in Africa and in America. I chose Tea.

He asked whether I could get immediate release from the Air force, but I preferred to wait a few months until my proper group number came up. He then told me that I would have to go before the Board of the Assam Company in London.

My Early Years: 1920s-30s

Author: 
Munir Kadri

Category:

Munir Kadri

Dr. Kadri, a surgeon, lives in New Zealand. He was born in 1927, and grew up in Ahmedabad.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on http://posterous.com/site/profile/munirsmemories It is reproduced here with Dr. Kadri's consent.

I was born left-handed. I do not know if this was fortunate or unfortunate. However, it is interesting to note that our son Sunil was also born left-handed and I now note that many global visionaries have been left handed.

I was born on 6 December 1927. Back then, left-handedness was viewed as a handicap for a variety of reasons, including the use of the left hand for ablution. It was considered mandatory to convert left-handed children into right-handed ones. So attempts were made, especially on the part of my mother, to convert me into right handed via a myriad of methods which included both incentives and disincentives. Initially I was reminded repeatedly which was my right hand and which was the left. Naturally, I still used my left hand for most functions. When the verbal incentives were exhausted at one point, I was lightly branded on the back of my right hand to make the message clear. When I started to write it was compulsory for me to use my right hand. This of course created a certain confusion in my mind.

Bangalore Bus Route No.16 in the 1950s

Author: 
E R Ramachandraan

Category:

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E.R. Ramachandran was born in 1942 in Belgaum. He has settled in Mysore after working in Government and Philips Organizations. He has contributed to the Hindustan Times, Cricketnext.com, and is a regular contributor to Churumuri and humour magazine Aparanji in Kannada.

I had written earlier how, in the 1950s, one travelled in Bangalore by BTS Route No. # 11 bus from Gandhi Bazaar to the Tata Institute of Science, Malleshwaram 18th Cross in a time slightly less than infinity.

That is only half the story.

From the same stop, started another bus, Route no. 16, which became an unofficial bridge between the City and Cantonment parts of Bangalore.

Unlike other buses, Route #16 had an air of authority and pomp for it took the inhabitants across the city to a place where the British stayed when they lorded over Bangalore. To a majority of citizens, Cantonment was Dandu in Kannada and ‘Kantrumentru' for villagers.

To get the bus started on a cold morning, the driver had to repeatedly crank the engine with a steel rod, which would propel the engine with ear-piercing sounds, making scores of sparrows fluttering around old buildings in the vicinity go momentarily crazy.

Company Gardens: Amritsar

Author: 
Vinod K. Puri

Category:

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Born in 1941, Vinod was brought up and educated in Amritsar. He attended Government Medical College, and subsequently trained as a surgeon at PGI, Chandigarh. He left for USA in 1969, and retired in 2003 as Director of Critical Care Services at a teaching hospital in Michigan. Married with two grown sons, he continues to visit India at least once a year. Sadly, three of the family members mentioned in the following story were dead by 1975.

The man wearing the shades had no legs. As I returned from my morning walk, the small figure half way up the bridge sat on the side-walk performing his morning ablutions with the stumps of his arms.

The dark-skinned man nodded and moved to an inaudible tune as if keeping time. From a distance his round face appeared much younger. With a white rag wrapped around his head, his leonine face appeared content or even happy. That was an absurd thought! But how could I think of happiness? This was a tableau, very different than what I remembered from my childhood. For over forty years I had lived abroad, and once a year got a chance to visit the ancient hometown for a few days. Several years ago I had started to go for a morning walk.

Chabua Airfield and Fishing in Assam

Author: 
Roy Church

Category:


Roy Church worked in Assam tea estates over 1959-67, after three years in the British Army. He is married and his eldest son was born at Panitola Central Hospital, Dibrugarh in 1965. For the last 20 years he has travelled extensively in the Central Himalaya leading groups of friends.

Editor’s note: This story initially appeared on www.koi-hai.com. It has been edited for this website.

Chabua

I was garden assistant at Dikom Tea Estate in Dibrugarh district when Indian Air Force (IAF) Squadron Leader John O’quino arrived in the 1960s to reopen the Chabua airfield.

This airstrip had been unused since it had been abandoned by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) at the end of WWII. During the War, USAAF had used it to undertake what was called ‘flying the hump’– a high altitude military aerial supply route from Assam, across northern Burma, to Yunnan province in southwestern China. The airfield had no buildings, and the jungle had grown prolifically through cracks in the concrete runway. Readers who have spent time in Assam will recall that the Americans not only built a concrete runway but also concreted the main Dibrugarh-Tinsukia highway 37. It was the only place for miles around where you could ‘put your foot down'.

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