The pool that changed swimming

July 9, 1976 was the turning point of swimming in Karnataka. The swimming pool in Baldwin Girls’ High School (BGHS), Bangalore was inaugurated, and looking back, it definitely impacted competitive swimming in India as well.

dedication pg1

Back in the 1970s, there were only a handful of swimming pools in Bangalore for the public. The Corporation Pool at Corporation Circle, a 30 yard pool, was one of the most popular ones. It’s gone now, and buildings occupy the place where it once stood. Kensington Pool, next to Ulsoor Lake, is another old summer time recreation spot, still a sought-after swimming space, especially because it’s a 50 metre pool, ideal for competitive training.

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Ah! The fragrance of boiled groundnuts

groundnut vendor
Groundnut seller, Richmond Town, Dec 2014

One of our favourite childhood snacks. Ever so often dad would bring home these big newspaper cones filled with kadalaikai, that he’d have bought from a pushcart doing a round of the neighbourhood. As soon as he entered the door, the room would be filled with a fragrance like no other. I wish I could catch that smell and put it on the page to linger.

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Remembering our friends, the Dalbys

As expressed by my mother Rukmani Manay (nee Nair)

Our home on Serpentine Street-Leonard Lane was always alive with music, games and lots of fun. Many of the neighbourhood children (including the four of us siblings – Leela, Ramani/Pappi, Bala/Sundra and I ), used to meet here everyday. Our home – because the compound was large with many trees, and our parents were very friendly, hospitable and tolerant.

Some weeks ago, I read a write up in The Times of India (TOI Bangalore dated 26-May-2019), about a memorial that has been made by the SJBHS Old Boys’ Assn., for the war heroes of the school/college – as a tribute to Captain John Dalby and other old boys. John was from our neighbourhood, and reading this brought back a flood of memories.

TOI John Dalby
TOI 26-May-2019

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Mrs Pringle, the Richmond Road neighbour

16-17 Richmond Road is where Spartan Heights Apartments is located. This is one of the early multi-storied residential buildings of Richmond Town built in the 1980s, but in the 1960s, this is where Mrs Hetty Pringle (and a few other families) lived.

After my grand mom died a few weeks ago, my mom and I were looking though the old photographs and some of the things of the old days that hadn’t been given away or thrown out. This brought back memories of growing up in Richmond Town… the friends, the hobbies, the homes, the neighbours… and Mrs Pringle. 

Mr and Mrs Pringle
Mr & Mrs Pringle

Pringle name plate

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Our grandma Kalyani

Our grandmother Kalyani Kutty Nair moved on, on 26th September 2018, at the ripe old age of 98. Today, as per Malayalee tradition, the final ceremonies were completed and we hope that her soul rests peacefully.

Grandma was one of the most open minded old ladies one would ever meet, standing apart from others of her generation. Mom tells me that way back, in the 1950s-60s when Princess Margaret (sister of Queen Elizabeth II) was forbidden from marrying Group Captain Peter Townstead, grandma was one of the most upset people in Richmond Town. “She couldn’t even marry whom she wanted to”, she would say. As a mother, her sentiments were echoed by her actions. She was accepting of those her children chose to marry, reassuring them that they were always welcome back if the situation arose. Years later, grandma and grandpa had the opportunity to help a relative by conducting his marriage when the parents refused to accept the alliance.

Kalyani Kutty young
Many many years ago

Mrs Nair, as she was known, would qualify as one of the old timers of Richmond Town having resided there in the 1940s-1970s (on Leonard Lane-Serpentine Street, Richmond Road, Langford Road) before moving to Domlur in the 1980s, and then back to Richmond Town (Rose Lane in 2004) and Yelahanka. Till a couple of years ago, she would recall events and stories of the neighbourhood that were recorded in her mind.

On life, she was quite practical. When grandpa passed away at the age of 96, she felt it was a merciful release. “This machine has to stop sometime, she would sometimes say.” Indeed. Her tenacious heart would have beaten about a whopping 412,40,00,000 times before finally giving way. Her soul lives on in this lovely Badminton Ball tree she planted at Puttenahalli Lake on her 90th birthday 8 years ago. (Read about it here.)

   Planting, 19th Sep 2010

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-18 at 1.28.02 PM (3)
Grandma’s Badminton Ball Tree, Sep 2018

She will be dearly missed by the 8 of us cousins – Ajith, Meena, Ajay, Pradeep, Sunitha, Nagesh, Nandan, Arathi, and her 4 children Leela Gautam, Rukmani Manay, Ramani Nair, Bala Nair and 11 great-grand children.

Gma obit

Meeting old school friends

Mom finished Std 11 at Sacred Heart Girls’ High School way back in 1962. Living in Richmond Town has been convenient to keep in touch with old school friends, though they seldom really meet these days. Yesterday, mom caught up with a few of them. It was Mary (Veena) aunty’s birthday, and her daughter Gitu had organised this surprise lunch party for her.

Mom doesn’t venture out of Richmond Town much, usually going only to places that are walkable distance. She is very wary of taxis, so when she does go a bit away, she generally likes to have someone with her. This outing though, she didn’t have to worry. Gitu picked up the old ladies and dropped them back.  Gitu later sent me these lovely pics. Looks like they had a great time talking about old times. Even when leaving, they couldn’t stop!

Sacred Heart group 13-Jul-2018

(L-R) Neelavani, Radha, Rukmani, Mary, Lena, Patricia

Sacred Heart group2 13-Jul-2018

Cant stop talking 2018-07-13

A bygone Langford Road home

When thinking about my growing up years, there are a few homes I recall with much fondness. Homes I never lived in, but where my brother and I spent hours with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

59 Langford Road was one. Close to Norris Road/Rose Lane where we lived, we would often walk up or cycle there. On weekends for sure, but also on weekdays after doing homework. Sometimes mom would leave us there if she had things to do on her own, and sometimes she would come along.

Langford Road 59 in 1983
59 Langford Road (circa 1983)

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Sandalwood thieves

In one of my earlier posts, I had talked about a real life midnight adventure.

It was September 1995. Veerappan, the notorious sandalwood smuggler (and his associates) was active in the forests of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, having killed several people who came in his way. Efforts to capture him and his team were being made by both state governments. With the forests being well guarded, it seems that the urban sandalwood trees were easier for them to access. Or so we discovered.

That night, the residents of Rose Lane, a quiet by-lane in Richmond Town, were woken up by a loud crash, that brought down the overhead power and telephone cables. The sandalwood tree in the Thomas compound had been cut!

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The Rondo House

Scanning through some old pictures, I came upon the Rondo sisters Connie and Frank, taken at their Rose Lane home, probably in the late 1970s. Blanche, the eldest of the three who also lived there is missing in it.

No. 2 Rose Lane, circa 1980s
Connie and Frank Rondo at No.2 Rose Lane, circa late 1970s

From conversations with the Rondos, we had got to know that they had a sister Rose who had married into the Pacheco family and stayed in the house next door. The house is called Rose Villa. Her family subsequently sold the place and they immigrated somewhere. There was also a brother who had immigrated to the UK, and who I recall having seen when the house was sold off in the late 1980s. Continue reading