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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SABU - THE JTAKA / TONGA WALLAH IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS

Subsequent to my sharing of a childhood memory of the Jatkas or Tongas in the earlier days in KGF and more especially about Sabu, the tonga wallah, I received this message from Mr Naushad Ahmed
"This excerpt made me nostalgic like most other excerpts you have shared. This one more as the humble jatkawala Sabu was my mom's 'Chacha, brother of my maternal grandpa. Sabu chacha, as we used to call him, lived in Oorgaumpet behind the Govt Kannada primary school near the famous Murugan temple. We too lived in Oorgaumpet those days. Whenever we had to go to our grandparents house in Robertsonpet, Sabu chacha's tanga was ready to take us. He never once charged us for a ride as he considered my mother as his 'beti' or daughter".
Mr Naushad Ahmed subsequently put me in touch with his uncle Mr Gaffar who is the son of Sabu. Mr Gaffar works in the KSRTC and both he and I spoke at length about Sabu and KGF. Later Mr Gaffar's grand daughter-in-law also spoke to me and said their whole family were so happy to read my memories of Sabu and know that he is so fondly remembered. She has shared an old photograph of Sabu that I'm sharing with all of you.


I'm also appending my old post below
A small excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE on ' Jatkas and Tongas were the only means of transport in KGF in the olden days"
Public transport was very limited when we were growing up as children in Kolar Gold Fields . We had no local bus facility to take us around the mines and to Robertsonpet, the Town. The only buses that passed through the Nandydroog Mine where we lived, were the long distance buses that came from Bangalore and Kolar via Bangarapet. These buses too were quite infrequent so no one really depended on them as a means of local conveyance.
 KGF also didn’t have a regular Taxi service. There were only one or two people like Mr. Parker, or Mr. Das from Robertsonpet who ran their old cars as Taxis.
The ‘Jakta’ Service was the only means of conveyance for many, many years. People either traveled in the jaktas or else just walked.
 The Jatka or Tonga or the Horse drawn carriages came into existence in mid 18th century through the traders of East India Company in Calcutta. It was originally conceived and built for use of the Company but soon spread to other places in India and soon became a popular means of transport for the common man. The Jatkas and Tongas were the most used mode of local conveyance in KGF from the early 1900s till the late 1970s. These Jatkas were fondly called ‘BANDIES’ by the Anglo-Indians which was an Anglicized version of the Tamil word “WUNDIE’.
Whenever we needed to go to the market, church or to our grandparent’s house in Town, we invariably went by Jatka or Tonga. There was a Jakta Stand near the Oorgaum Railway station where one could engage a Jakta. We had a few known Jatka wallahs who we usually engaged on a regular basis. However, our favorite Jakta man was ‘Sabu’. Sabu was a fair skinned Muslim man with bright blue eyes which were always twinkling. Sabu knew our Saturday routine well, as we visited our grandparents in Town every Saturday. He’d come home with his Jakta exactly at 3.45 PM every Saturday, without being told and wait for us to set out at 4 o’clock. While waiting for us to get ready, he’d release his horse from the jakta and leave it to relax and enjoy a nosebag of grass and hay.
Sabu’s jatka was our own personal limousine service in those days. John would sit in front of the jakta with Sabu and once in a way twirl Sabu’s whip with great flair. We three girls would sit breadth ways inside the jatka resting our backs on the sides and stretching out our legs. Mummy and daddy sat at the rear and hung their legs outside the jakta.
 Sabu loved his horse and his horse loved him in return and listened and obeyed his every command. Sabu knew a few English words and his famous one liner was “Giddy up a Ding Dong” .No one knows how or from where he learned this but his horse obliged him whenever he uttered these words by trotting faster, the bells tied around its neck jingling merrily. He always had a whip in his hand and would twirl it all the time but never once did we see him using it on his horse.
 Sometimes, Sabu and some other  Tonga drivers  would have races on the ‘Oorgaum Station to Robertsonpet Road’. They’d urge their horses to go faster and the horses too enjoyed this little bit of fun. His ‘Giddy up a Ding Dong’ would be uttered more often and his horse would oblige by throwing back its head and cantering faster. The horse also looked as it was enjoying the race and its mouth seemed to be smiling all the time.
 Of course my parents didn’t approved of this type of racing with all of us seated in the jatka with the risk of the horse slipping and all of us falling out of the jatka. So they’d sternly tell Sabbu to stop his nonsense and take us at a more sedate pace. Sabu with disappointment writ large on his face would have to obey them. Nevertheless we children enjoyed all the excitement.
 As the years rolled by Sabu’s horse grew sick and old and eventually died and he had to get another horse. Sabu also grew older and when Auto rickshaws were introduced in KGF in the late 1970s, everyone began using them and that was the death knell for the Jatkas and soon the old fashioned jaktas became redundant.
 The Jatkas are now used only to transport goods such as hardware, pipes, sacks of rice and pulses, electrical items, etc, instead of passengers. Sabu faced a lot of hardship as his means of livelihood was threatened. We hardly saw Sabu after that as we too began traveling by auto rickshaws instead of the jatkas. We later heard that Sabu became very ill and died. All of us were sad when we heard the news. It seemed like the end of an era.

Monday, October 24, 2016

JATKAS / TONGAS - THE ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORT IN KGF IN THE OLDEN DAYS




Public transport was very limited when we were growing up as children in Kolar Gold Fields . We had no local bus facility to take us around the mines and to Robertsonpet, the Town. The only buses that passed through the Nandydroog Mine where we lived, were the long distance buses that came from Bangalore and Kolar via Bangarapet. These buses too were quite infrequent so no one really depended on them as a means of local conveyance.
 KGF also didn’t have a regular Taxi service. There were only one or two people like Mr. Parker, or Mr. Das from Robertsonpet who ran their old cars as Taxis. 
The ‘Jakta’ Service was the only means of conveyance for many, many years. People either traveled in the jaktas or else just walked.
 The Jatka or Tonga or the Horse drawn carriages came into existence in mid 18th century through the traders of East India Company in Calcutta. It was originally conceived and built for use of the Company but soon spread to other places in India and soon became a popular means of transport for the common man. The Jatkas and Tongas were the most used mode of local conveyance in KGF from the early 1900s till the late 1970s. These Jatkas were fondly called ‘BANDIES’ by the Anglo-Indians which was an Anglicized version of the Tamil word “WUNDIE’.



Whenever we needed to go to the market, church or to our grandparent’s house in Town, we invariably went by Jatka or Tonga. There was a Jakta Stand near the Oorgaum Railway station where one could engage a Jakta. We had a few known Jatka wallahs who we usually engaged on a regular basis. However, our favorite Jakta man was ‘Sabu’. Sabu was a fair skinned Muslim man with bright blue eyes which were always twinkling. Sabu knew our Saturday routine well, as we visited our grandparents in Town every Saturday. He’d come home with his Jakta exactly at 3.45 PM every Saturday, without being told and wait for us to set out at 4 o’clock. While waiting for us to get ready, he’d release his horse from the jakta and leave it to relax and enjoy a nosebag of grass and hay.
Sabu’s jatka was our own personal limousine service in those days. John would sit in front of the jakta with Sabu and once in a way twirl Sabu’s whip with great flair. We three girls would sit breadth ways inside the jatka resting our backs on the sides and stretching out our legs. Mummy and daddy sat at the rear and hung their legs outside the jakta. 
 Sabu loved his horse and his horse loved him in return and listened and obeyed his every command. Sabu knew a few English words and his famous one liner was “Giddy up a Ding Dong” .No one knows how or from where he learned this but his horse obliged him whenever he uttered these words by trotting faster, the bells tied around its neck jingling merrily. He always had a whip in his hand and would twirl it all the time but never once did we see him using it on his horse.
 Sometimes, Sabu and some other  Tonga drivers  would have races on the ‘Oorgaum Station to Robertsonpet Road’. They’d urge their horses to go faster and the horses too enjoyed this little bit of fun. His ‘Giddy up a Ding Dong’ would be uttered more often and his horse would oblige by throwing back its head and cantering faster. The horse also looked as it was enjoying the race and its mouth seemed to be smiling all the time.
 Of course my parents didn’t approved of this type of racing with all of us seated in the jatka with the risk of the horse slipping and all of us falling out of the jatka. So they’d sternly tell Sabbu to stop his nonsense and take us at a more sedate pace. Sabu with disappointment writ large on his face would have to obey them. Nevertheless we children enjoyed all the excitement. 
 As the years rolled by Sabu’s horse grew sick and old and eventually died and he had to get another horse. Sabu also grew older and when Auto rickshaws were introduced in KGF in the late 1970s, everyone began using them and that was the death knell for the Jatkas and soon the old fashioned jaktas became redundant.
 The Jatkas are now used only to transport goods such as hardware, pipes, sacks of rice and pulses, electrical items, etc, instead of passengers. Sabu faced a lot of hardship as his means of livelihood was threatened. We hardly saw Sabu after that as we too began traveling by auto rickshaws instead of the jatkas. We later heard that Sabu became very ill and died. All of were sad when we heard the news. It seemed like the end of an era.  


Friday, October 7, 2016

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE - Book Review by Dr. Beatrix D"Souza Member of Parliament Lok Sabha 1999-2004







KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE
 by BRIDGET WHITE


Indian Editions - 2010 & 2014 Matha Printers & Publishers , Bangalore 
Price: Rs 260 
BOOK REVIEW - by Dr. Beatrix D'Souza
Member of Parliament Lok Sabha 1999 - 2004
Kolar Gold Fields , the name itself suggests not just a mining town but is evocative of the lure and romance of gold ; of fields of gold , hidden beneath the barren rocky terrain which is the Deccan Plateau in Karnataka
Bridget White's book is a well -researched historical and sociological document, apart from being a personal Memoir.According to legend attributed to the Ramayana. Rama, Sita and Lakshmananwhen sent into exile wandered in the forests of present day Avani village ,20 kms from what is now known as KGF . Rama chased and killed the Golden Deer with his arrow. The deer fragmented, its pieces scattered and created the ' fields of gold ' Gold was first extracted in shallow pits by nomadic tribes who noticed the unusual rocks. Gold mining existed in the time of the Guptas, the Cholas and during the reign of Tippu Sultan. The British Company, John Taylor and Sons started mining operations in 1880. The Mines were nationalized after Independence in 1956 and closed down in 2001 after 125 years of mining. As a sociological document the book points to the presence of migrants from Andhra ( Telugu )Madras State ( Tamil ), Punjabis ( Watch and Ward), and Marwaris (Rajasthan ) who started businesses. Their descendants continue to live in KGF and Karnataka. The Europeans at that time besides the British, were the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh as well as the Italians, the Germans and the Spanish. The European women staying behind in their native countries, the men married native women and the Anglo- Indian community was further strengthened in this part of Karnataka or erstwhile Mysore State. In the 1920s the Mines employed 24,000, of which 400 were Europeans, 650 were Anglo-Indian and the rest miners and other workforce. The Anglo-Indians as elsewhere in British India, served as a link between the Europeans and the other Indians whose language they spoke and understood. They worked in middle level positions under the British and after Independence in Administrative and Managerial posts . There were many A-I Covenanted officers who enjoyed special privileges. The posts were almost hereditary with the son succeeding the father and occupying the Company bungalow. Mr Sydney White (Bridget’s father) was a Covenanted officer. These three groups who worked together to amass huge profits for the British Company, lived in clearly demarcated social enclaves. While the Europeans lived in large bungalows as did the Anglo-Indians, the miners lived in the Miners Lines in rows of tin shacks with little ventilation, no safe drinking water or proper toilet facilities. Epidemics were common. Illicit liquor added to their woes. Their working conditions were no better. In the early days, they went down the mines in buckets with candles to light the way. Things gradually improved over the years, especially after they formed Unions to protect their interests. 
Anglo-Indians in their bungalows with a British lifestyle and customs lived life to the hilt in what came to be known as Little England. The men worked hard and were known for their efficiency and integrity. The women worked as Nurses,Teachers and Secretaries or stayed home as housewives. Not only former KGF residents but all A-Is will recognise ourselves,  our homes our food and our lingo in Bridget's detailed and interesting account of her childhood and growing up years . Our homes were furnished in the same way with rosewood furniture, Planter's chairs, dinner -wagons and meat safes. We had glass bead curtains, crocheted doilies and brass jardinieres . Foreign goods were easily available like Dutch Ball cheese, Polson's butter,Lea & Perrin Worcester sauce etc. at Cresswells that was owned by an Anglo-Indian which also sold perfumes cosmetics and the famous Tony perm lotion. They also imported dresses for formal occasions. There were also local tailors like Pansy Tailor (he walked like a girl ! ) who followed the latest pattern books. Anglo-Indian women were excellent cooks and had a retinue of servants to assist them in running the house . Bridget White herself is an accomplished cook and through her cook books has attempted to preserve and promote Anglo -Indian cuisine. While the Anglo-Indian men were called Dorai the women were called Missy. The men were always ' suited and booted ' to fit the occasion. The women dressed in the latest fashion. They wore hats and gloves and carried parasols on their way to church . They often had to listen to the good natured taunts of the local urchins ( in Madras too ) : Missy , Missy Lol , Meenkara Mol . Aramoodi thenga , kaapikottai , manga  Bridget gives a translation : 
“Lady, lady,  you are the fisherman's darling. He will give you half a coconut, coffee seeds and mangoes” It must have originated in Madras as KGF is not a seaside town. It was not ridicule and A-I women knew the local people respected them as nurses, teachers and employers. Small boys enjoy a good rhyme and there was no harm done. 
By the end of the 19th century, KGF was a thriving township, one of India's first industrialized towns with electricity, good water supply, well -equipped hospitals and schools. A truly secular society places of worship sprang up . In 1885,the KGF Gymkhana was established. It was a ' Whites Only ' club. It was only in the late 1940s that Indian officers were allowed membership. Other Clubs were the Nandidroog club, the Catholic club etc. The Skating Rink, converted to host weddings, Balls, concerts etc is still a popular venue. Although there were well known A-I dance bands there was Mr Gallyot 's Brass Band. The 15 musicians playing western instruments, marched along the streets playing for Marwari weddings. They also played for funerals. Mr Gallyot dressed up in bright satin jackets and pants and wore a colourful turban. The bandsmen also dressed up. For funerals they wore black. They played a medley of English marches and Tamil and Hindi film songs. I remember that similar bands in Madras ( non A-I ) always started with Come September ! 
I have my own memories of KGF. My sister Barbara lived there for 30 years when her husband, Neslyn D'Gama worked at BEML. The first time we visited my daughter Bettina fell out of the jutka. It was a peaceful place with a leisurely lifestyle like the Bangalore of old. As an MP I visited KGF to inaugurate the Computer Room I had funded at St Teresa 's School. It was a memorable visit with the nuns sending me a breakfast of trotters and hoppers and to my sister's astonishment and my amusement 
arranging for police to guard the house the previous night!
 

There were many A-I teachers. One I particularly remember was Carol Chapman who continues to live in KGF. With emigration thinning the ranks of A-I's and families moving to Bangalore , the community presence though small is significant especially in Robertsonpet. The A-I's, descendents of the early pioneering families are happily settled in their own homes and retain and are proud of their identity. There are still Dances and Housie and Christmas is a joyous time with children coming home from abroad.
KGF is still proud of its Olympic heroes & other sportsmen like the hockey players the Booseys and Kenneth Powell the athlete the first sportsperson to be honoured with the Arjuna Award in Karnataka. There were eminent cricketers like Ren Naylor and John Snaize in the 1940s. The Cyanide dumps still stand, silent sentinels of the mining past. A signboard at the entrance of the Nandydroog mine proudly proclaims ‘Welcome to the land of gold’
I enjoyed reading this book and will add it to my collection on Anglo India. Books like this one are necessary as they keep history alive. Change is the only constant. The old continue with their lives which embody the traditions that they hand down. The young seek new avenues without losing sight of old values and traditions and in this way a community continues to survive. We reinvent not to die but to continue 
to live.
Numbers don't matter. We have always been a small community but as Frank Anthony has famously said we have contributed to our country of origin far in excess of our numbers. Now
 wherever we have settled we contribute to the countries we have adopted, especially in the multi -cultural societies of today. With our mixed-race heritage we have lived all over India and been exposed to different religions, languages and customs. In ourselves we have metamorphosed into two world -views and two cultures. This legacy of tolerance, of understanding is our legacy to the 
outside world. Our children and our children's children will carry forward and our community will continue to survive through them.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

KGF CLUB - The First Club established in Kolar Gold Fields and the fourth oldest golf club in India.

This is is an extract from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE

In 1885, the British Mining Company of John Taylor and Sons established the first club in Kolar Gold Fields and named it the KGF Gymkhana Club. Bridget Kumar charts the history of the club. Among its members was T P Kailasam, one of the greatest Kannada playwrights.
By the end of the 19th century, a sprawling British township was in place in Kolar Gold Fields and it came to be known as ‘Little England’ due to its British and Anglo-Indian population and its colonial ambience.
Being a British mining colony, the social life of people at KGF was greatly influenced by British culture. The region saw the establishment of quite a few Associations towards the middle of the 1800s, such as the Kolar Gold Fields Choral and Dramatic Society which organised plays and choral functions, The Royal Army Temperance Association, The Trades list, etc. These Institutes catered to the social and cultural needs of the local British and European population. 

However, the need for recreational and sports facilities and clubs was greatly felt. In 1885, the British Mining Company of John Taylor and Sons established the first club in Kolar Gold Fields and named it the KGF Gymkhana Club. They built a 12-hole golf course and a beautiful Victorian Club House. This club was the first of its kind to be established in KGF and is ranked as the fourth oldest golf club in India.

 It had its own polo, golf and hockey teams. The club was and still is affiliated to Indian Golf Union and is also affiliated to all the major clubs in India. The club house was equipped with a traditional bar, library, snooker and billiard rooms, tennis courts, shuttle badminton courts and a ballroom with a wooden floor – all built and completed in a period of just six months since the company had vast man power and resources to complete the project in record time.


The foyer of the club was decorated with many deer and bison heads on its walls, as mementos of hunting spoils by the members. The club was surrounded by a beautiful garden with well-maintained sprawling lawns and flower beds. The serene surroundings of the club, with the golf course on the side looked like a picture from the English countryside.

Unique golf course
Because of the hilly terrain of KGF, the 12-hole golf course was located in a winding picturesque landscape with bungalows and villas along its course. Unlike other golf courses which have putting greens, the KGF Golf Club had no putting greens. Instead it had ‘browns’ constructed of river sand in place of greens. The golf course had a number of natural canals cutting across the fairways lined by huge trees planted when the club was established and gave it the setting of a British country side.

The club house


The KGF Club House has a regal colonial ambience. The old club house that is now more than a century old, was built of stone quarried from the area itself, with beautiful teak wood doors and windows. It also had a teak wood floor and the floor was always polished.The door handles, hinges and knobs and other fittings for the Club House were brought specially from England by the John Taylor and Sons Company, when the club was constructed. The solid brass door handles and hinges shone like gold all the time with constant polishing. The sterling silver cutlery and the beautiful crockery with the club’s emblem were also specially ordered and brought from Sheffield in the UK.

The KGF Club also had the distinction of having an exclusive ‘ladies bar’ just off the main lounge, where the ladies enjoyed their pims and sodas, gin and lime or vodka and orange juice, whiskey and soda, etc while catching up with the latest news and exchanging gossip.

The ladies lounge also had a huge grand piano and the ladies invariably gathered around it singing all the old songs and ballads while one of them played the piano. The gentlemen had their own bar to enjoy their evening drinks, and the ladies were strictly prohibited from entering it.

The KGF Club was famous for its English and colonial food in the old days. Mulligatawny soup, roast lamb with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, club sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and caramel pudding were the main items on its menu.

In those early days, getting membership in the KGF Gymkhana Club was practically impossible if one was not British or European and was totally out of bounds for Indians. Only the British and European officers could become members. Even Anglo-Indian officers of the Company were refused membership to the KGF Club. 
T P Kailasam, an exception
However, in the 1930s, an exception was made in the case of a young Indian, a Tamil geologist who returned to Kolar Gold Fields after his studies in Ireland. His name was T P Kailasam (one of Kannada literature’s greatest playwrights), the son of one of the old timers in KGF. He charmed the British with his wit and impromptu singing and ball room dancing that he picked up in Ireland.

It was only because he was a “foreign returned” Indian who according to the British, knew his manners and etiquette, that he was given the ‘honour’ of becoming a member of the Club. No other Indian was allowed these liberties in the club. 

However, in the 1940s, things began to change and the management realised that they had to change the rules to some extent. They made an exception that only Indian covenanted officers would be allowed membership of KGF Club. This trend continued even after the mines were nationalised and the British left KGF.
Over the years with most of the old members retiring from the mines and the eventual closure of the mines a few years ago, the KGF Club now allows membership to persons from outside KGF as well.