Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

August 4, 2014

I was looking at a Facebook post, made by Viju JB,of a very old photograph, of a couple, taken at their wedding. This suddenly put me in mind of an old English magazine that was very much a part of our lives…the

Illustrated Weekly of India.

The subject title is because we had a Marwari newspaper/magazine agent, who would come regularly to our home, bringing the latest magazines, and comics. (Something that just doesn’t happen any more.) I can still remember his face! He would arrive on his cycle, accept a cup of chai from my mother, and both of them would sit, and settle down for a nice session. Dell (and later, Gold Key) comics, Archie comics, Illustrated Classics comics, and Disney….my mother truly bought them by the dozen, and though the Reader’s Digest had started coming home by post, my mother (my father only provided; he was never home, all these were my mother’s interests!) would buy the magazines…I remember the starting of the “Junior Statesman” which was soon called “JS” and became the trendy youth magazine. (I also remember feeling out of touch with the very Westernized lifestyle it seemed to espouse.) Time, Life, National Geographic, Femina, Caravan, Filmfare…and of course, what our newsagent called the “Lusted Weekly”, and which most of us referred to as just the “Weekly”. It was a large-sized magazine (they all were!), and I went through each issue eagerly.

The wedding photos used to be a regular feature at the back of the issue, comprising many couples, looking deadpan into the camera in the wedding fashions of the day. (Almost no one had a smile on their faces.)

I also remember Nissim Ezekiel writing regularly, Kamala Das’ “My Life”, and Khushwant Singh’s editorial stamp on the magazine….I do remember that Pritish Nandy was the editor at a later stage…his daughter and mine were born on the same day, and the mothers shared a room at the Woodlands Nursing Home (Nov 2, 1978.)

I enjoyed Mario Miranda’s wonderful cartoons, and Raji Nimboopani and Moonswamy were good friends. I remember Raghu Rai’s excellent photographs….oh…the Lusted Weekly was certainly a wonderful part of our lives in those days. R K Laxman did a lot of work for the magazine, too; I never dreamed that years later (Dec 8, 1992) I would meet Laxman himself, in Bangalore, and have a long chat with him about his work and life.

I never did know why or how the closed down, but it did, and passed into history…the Wiki says it closed down in 1993….the Wiki says it started in 1880, so that’s more than a century of life!

My life was always full of excellent reading material, and I must say, the “Weekly” supplied a lot of it! Thank you, Viju, for making me look back….v

2013….looking back

December 31, 2013

A fairly eventful, momentous year.
Some moments brought a
Many brought a smile.
Each phase lasted a little while.

There was the end of my ailing marriage.
The horse separated from the straying carriage.
There was the birth of my dear grandson.
I took care of him …and the elder one.

Grandchildren are one of life’s great joys…
Whether they are girls or boys.
I enjoyed the love of my daughter
And the joys that her life brought her.

I spent a lot of time in another home.
The baby kept me there…I didn’t roam.
I managed, through it all to click and write.
I was happy, I seemed to be doing something right.

I fought major issues in my mind, and life.
It was a time of very great strife.
Meditation and medication are seeing me through.
I still dip occasionally..and am blue.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be.
In the mirror I want to see
A much better person than I am now.
I will keep trying…that’s what I vow.

Here are my wishes to all of you, too.
I hope this year brings happiness to you.
I must say it gives me pleasure
To wish my friends…my greatest treasure.


Ek nagm

October 25, 2013

Ek bachpan kA zamAna thA,
jismE khushiyOn kA khazAna thA;

There was a world of childhood,
Where there was a treasury of joys;

chAhat chAnd kO pAnE kI thI,
par dil titli kA dIwAnA thA.

The ambition was to get the moon,
But the heart wanted the butterfly, too.

khabar na thI kuch subah kI,
na shAm kA thikAnA thA;

There was no knowledge of mornings
No certainty of the evenings;

thak hArke AnA padhAyI sE,
par khElnE bhI jAnA thA.

We’d come tired from school
But we could go and play.

mA kI kahAnI thI,
pariyOn kA fasAnA thA;
bArish mEn kAgaz kI nAv thI,
har mausam suhAnA thA.

There were mother’s stories,
Stories about fairies;
There were paper boats in the rains;
Every season was pleasant.

har khEl mEn sAthI thE,
har rishtA nibhAnA thA;
gam kI zubAn na hOtI thI,
na zakhmOn kA paimAnA thA.

There were friends for every game,
Every relationship was important;
There was no sorrow,
Nor the pain of wounds.

rOnE kI wajah na thI,
na hansne kA bahAnA thA;
kyOn hO gayE ham itnE badE,
isse achhA tO wOh bachpan kA zamAnA thA…

No cause to cry,
No pretense in laughter;
Why have we grown up…
Our world of childhood was better….

August 22, 2013

As I got it, spelling mistakes and all.


Dear friends

Today while taking the morning coffee my thinking went about the
Kumbakonam degree coffee and about the degree associated. “Degree
coffee” is the certificate awarded to high standard of Kumbakonam
filer coffee.

Just because a coffee is prepared with Kumbakonam coffee powder, it
need not be the degree coffee. It has to be brewed in the special
manner, the method first started in Kumbakonam. We get Kumbakonam
degree coffee in a shop at Usman Road, T Nagar. We have to ask for it.

I had read elsewhere recently that the addition “degree” to the
Kumbakonam coffee was not only with the type of coffee seeds and
method of preparation, but also or more based on the DEGREE OF MILK.

I surfed for the details of Kumbakonam degree coffee. Today I thought
I will write about coffee.

1. Offering coffee

Coffee is something of a cultural icon in Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu today among all religions. It is customary to offer a
cup of coffee to any visitor.

2. Coffee brief history

Coffee was originally introduced by Baba Budan to South India in 17th
century and became very popular under the British Rule.

Until the middle of the 20th century traditional households would not
use granulated sugar but used jaggery or honey, instead in coffee.

3. Karupetti coffee and chakkara coffee
During my boyhood days we used to get what is called KARUPETTI to the
size of half the coconut and prepared in coconut shell using
PANAVELLAM. Chakkara coffee was the one using jagerry from sugarcane.
My father used to make a provision for karupetti- 4 numbers in the
provision list on those days. One by one karupetti will be broken to
bigger pieces and kept in tin for daily use near Kitchen Almirah

Now also in Chennai we get panam karupetti but very smaller but oval
in shape probably using bottom alone of the coconut shell. This is
sold mostly by street vendors near railway station like Tambaram,
Mambalam etc. It is sold in shops selling pooja items also. There one
can get it all the time.

Chukku coffee adding dry ginger, kurumulaku coffee adding pepper
powder is still common. These coffee use coffee powder, hot water and
either dried ginger or powdered pepper. While we are having cough,
kurumulaku coffee is felt very effective (even better than cough
syrups some times- The opinion could differ between persons)

4. Coffee powder.

On my boyhood days we used to get local coffee powder in tins and
brook bond in packets. The addition of chicory or anything about
chicory was never thought.

The sales man will pack ¼ kg or ½ kg in news paper from big tins and
in reaching home it was put in our small tin.

5. Coffee preparation

After well boiling about a litre of water in a copper pot, coffee
powder was added about three or four spoons. It was closed with a lid
for about five minutes.

Coffee water will be there at top, the sediments will remain at
bottom. The water at top was taken to other vessels with out stirring.
The sediments were some times used again pouring boiled water for 2nd
coffee. It had lesser taste comparing to first one.

Even now this method is followed in tea shops. In the sabarimala route
chukku coffee is served in this method getting coffee water.

In due course instead of karupetti we started using sugar. Probably
Karupetti would have come to the same price of sugar or its non

Filter coffee was something not much known in our houses in central
Kerala and coffee powder was something readily available in provision
shops till early 1955’s.

6. Coffee powder shops.

By 1955’s coffee powder shops started to appear in towns. Here
grinding machine was there, different type of coffee powders and still
nothing like FILTER TYPE GRINDING. The shop people will fry different
types of seeds to certain kilos, grind and keep ready in tins. It will
be packed in front of us by weighing.

7. Special grinding

Appearance of filter and special grinding started by 1960’s. The shop
people started asking whether for filter use. A coarse type grinding
was started for filter. Mostly it was Brahmins started using filter

Having a coffee filter and consuming filter coffee was considered an
ELEVATED STATUS even among Brahmins.

8. Poti kappiyo filtero( Whether normal coffee or filter coffee?)

The Brahmin hotels started asking about the coffee type to the
customers. Filter consumed time, more powder of quality. Hence
charging was some 50% more than powder coffee.

9 . More on Kumbakonam coffee

Kumbakonam Degree Coffee is a coffee beverage associated with the town
of Kumbakonam, India. Its specialty is the usage of PURE COW’S MILK

South Indian Kumbakonam Filter Coffee, also known as Filter Coffee is
a sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans (70%-80%) and
chicory (20%-30%), especially popular in the southern states of Tamil
Nadu, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh.

The most commonly used coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta grown in
the hills of Tamil Nadu (Nilgiris District, Yercaud and Kodaikanal),
Karnataka (Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan), and Kerala (Malabar

Outside India, a coffee drink prepared using a filter may be known as
DRIP COFFEE as the water passes through the grounds solely by gravity
and not under pressure or in longer-term contact.

The upper cup of the filter is loaded with fresh ground coffee mixed
with chicory (~2 tablespoons of mixture per serving). The grounds are
gently compressed with the stemmed disc into a uniform layer across
the cup’s pierced bottom. With the press disc left in place, the upper
cup is nested into the top of the tumbler and boiling water is poured
inside. The lid is placed on top, and the device is left to slowly
drip the brewed coffee into the bottom. The chicory sort of holds on
to the hot water a little longer, lets the water extract more flavour
from the coffee powder. The brew is generally stronger than western
“drip style” coffee.

The resulting brew is very potent, and is traditionally consumed by
adding 1–2 tablespoons to a cup of boiling milk with the preferred
amount of sugar.

The coffee is served in tumbler with a dabarah – Coffee is typically
served after pouring back and forth between the dabarah and the
tumbler in huge arc-like motions of the hand.

This serves several purposes: mixing the ingredients (including sugar)
thoroughly; cooling the hot coffee down to a sipping temperature; and
most importantly, aerating the mix without introducing extra water
An anecdote related to the distance between the pouring and receiving
cup leads to the coffee’s another name “METER COFFEE”.

10. Degree coffee

A term often heard for high-quality coffee is Filter coffee. Milk
certified as pure with a lactometer was called degree milk owing to a
mistaken association with the thermometer. Coffee prepared with degree
milk became known as degree coffee.

Another explanation for Filter coffee is that chicory beans were used
to make the coffee finally became degree.

Yet another explanation is that, when coffee is decocted for the first
time, it is called as the first degree or simply as the “Degree
Coffee”. This has the strongest flavour and the necessary strength to
mix with milk without watering down the taste.

In less affluent households, in earlier days, coffee was decocted for
a second or third time from the same initial load; this became the
second degree coffee and naturally, is not as strong. Affluent
households drank first degree or the famous “Degree Coffee” only.

11. Nescafe and Bru.

By early 1970’s instant coffee appear. It had more welcoming though
cost was more. For sudden coffee preparation these instants help. By
seeing the flavour many confuse also with filter coffee. Today all
houses will have a packet of instant coffee

12. Coffee powder shops.

Today coffee powder shops different qualities like pebery, plantation,
robusto, and home mix ready roasted. Grinding is always to filter
standard. At one time roasting was done while one asked for coffee
powder. Now roasted and kept. The hot grinded coffee powder is

13. Decoction.
Now having refrigerator in all houses, coffee decoction is prepared
for 2-3 days requirement in medium filters and kept in closed
containers in fridge. Every morning and evening, what is required is
taken from the container.

However freshly prepared decoction has more flavour. Second decoction
and all are things of past.

14. Brook bond coffee powder

There are many who use the packed coffee powder in filter of the
companies and make filter coffee rather than using powder from shops.
I think the companies too now a grind to filter stage and not very

While in Trivandrum having no coffee powder shops near, my wife was
using the packed powder in filter for coffee.

Writer- R. Gopala Krishnan, 69, retired AGM Telecom, Trivandrum now at Chennai.

Madonna, and memories of the past…

August 1, 2013

The lyrics are:

[Chorus (first time without background vocals):]

This used to be my playground (used to be)
This used to be my childhood dream
This used to be the place I ran to
Whenever I was in need
Of a friend
Why did it have to end
And why do they always say

Don’t look back
Keep your head held high
Don’t ask them why
Because life is short
And before you know
You’re feeling old
And your heart is breaking
Don’t hold on to the past
Well that’s too much to ask

[Long and movie versions only:]

Live and learn
Well the years they flew
And we never knew
We were foolish then
We would never tire
And that little fire
Is still alive in me
It will never go away
Can’t say goodbye to yesterday (can’t say goodbye)


No regrets
But I wish that you
Were here with me
Well then there’s hope yet
I can see your face
In our secret place
You’re not just a memory
Say goodbye to yesterday (the dream)
Those are words I’ll never say (I’ll never say)

This used to be my playground (used to be)
This used to be our pride and joy
This used to be the place we ran to
That no one in the world could dare destroy

[Short and movie versions only:]

This used to be our playground (used to be)
This used to be our childhood dream
This used to be the place we ran to
I wish you were standing here with me

[Movie version only:]

This used to be our playground (used to be)
This used to be our great escape
This used to be the place we ran to
This used to be our secret hiding place

This used to be our playground (used to be)
This used to be our childhood dream
This used to be the place we ran to
The best things in life are always free
Wishing you were here with me
Send “This Used To Be My Playground” Ringtone to your Cell
This Used To Be My Playground lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Paul Fernandes, and Old Bangalore

July 24, 2013

A set of beautiful posters, by

Paul Fernandes ,

click here to view

Guru Purnima

July 22, 2013

September 5th is usually celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India, but a lot of people are thinking of their preceptors today, which is Guru Purnima. Here are my thoughts…

All my life, I’ve been taught…I’ve learnt some lessons, others I’ve still to learn.

I started with kindergarten…I remember the Anglo-Indian ladies in Swarna School who were such dedicated teachers. Jackie Teacher, Colin Teacher, Ollie Teacher…it never occurred to me that all of them seemed to have the same last name! There was Gayatri teacher who was the Art teacher in the school; Mrs Ghoshal who taught us Geography; Mrs Sundaram (who started the school) who taught us a few subjects, and her assistant, Mrs Bani Sen, whom I went in mortal fear of (yes..I used to feel that her eyes followed me everywhere in the school, waiting to catch me in some transgression.) We had a “Sir” in Class 8; only in hindsight do I realize that he must have been a Palghat Iyer. He was excellent at Maths, English, and off-colour jokes, which used to embarrass some of us very much. Mrs. Rao was the Science teacher (hindsight…she was a Kannadiga). I cannot forget Mrs. Datta, who taught Hindi so well that she inculcated a love of the language in me, even as I detested its grammar.

I remember Polly di (I don’t know her last name) whom my mother engaged to teach me to read and write Bengali, as well as to speak it. I took Bengali as my third language, and still am fluent in it!

In National High School for Girls, several teachers helped shape my learning..and thoughts. C V Lakshmi Teacher, Kanaka Teacher, a smiling-faced lady who made me like Physics…Mrs Omana Varma who taught Maths, that went (and continues to go) right over my head.

My college teachers (Gokhale Memorial College) were uniformly excellent. The two Hindi masters (I forget their names); Mrs Chakraborti, Miss Dutta, Mrs Chatterjee…ladies who ensured that I took a rank (University 5th, if I recollect) in my English Honours degree. Mrs Chatterjee and Mrs Mukherjee, who taught us Philosophy.

Through all these years,through all my academics, like a string in the garland… my music Guru, R.Meenakshi, who took a lot of trouble to make me a good Carnatic vocal singer. I never missed classes for exams or holidays. That rigorous training still tells.

The girls who taught me so much…I was academically very good, but very young for my age, as well as being nearly two years young for my class. They taught me Robindro Songeet, Adhunik songs…and about a lifestyle and culture that was more freewheeling than my repressed TamBram upbringing.

My own mother, who taught me how to be interested in many, many things…bird-watching, plants, the world of Nature. My father…who taught me the value of absolute integrity..and how to laugh and joke, and enjoy life. My brother, who taught me not to take things too seriously. His happiness was infectious.

My two preceptors, who helped me in “progressing” my Honours degree into a Master’s. I never even collected that certificate..but I enjoyed a liberal arts education in a time when the term had not been invented. I enjoyed learning for learning’s sake…how many of us have that good fortune?

My various teachers, through the various courses I took. Miss Karnik, my German teacher; Mr Brownlee, my Esperanto teacher; Mr Sathyapal, who was my HAM instructor; the various faculty who taught the Tourism Guide course; Mr Rao, my Japanese teacher (I enjoyed learning Japanese, but no second level course was offered, and I quickly forgot everything…but “wasure mashita!”) Mr Pandit, my Sanskrit teacher…Seeta, who taught me how to swim (at the age of 50 or 52, I think!)

My friends, who taught me the value of staunch, unwavering affection. The others, who taught me valuable life-lessons…how to deal with friendships that waned, with envy, with malice…yes, they taught me, too.

My own music students, who taught me a lot. When students ask question, one is forced to learn before one can answer them!

My many techie friends, who taught me how to use my computer and how to use the internet…I was not a good or apt pupil but I did learn slowly.

My many friends who taught me a lot about the world of Nature, birdwatching, and help me, even today, through the many mistakes I make.

KM and his family, who taught me how to be independent, and do things for myself. I’d been brought up in cotton wool, and this was a valuable lesson to learn. My daughter and her family, who continue to teach me many things.

My Nature Guru, Karthik, a walking encyclopaedia, who showed me that every inch of one’s path through the garden can be riveting!

Poonam Natarajan, who taught me how to deal with special children, and how to appreciate the daily miracle of my own child.

Travel..which has been a great teacher, indeed. And the best teacher of all…Life…I’ve made many major mistakes, but I am trying to progress towards my goal of being a Better Person.

I look back, and like the leaves in a forest, too numerous to count or mention, but giving support, shade, and beauty to my life… are the gurus who have taught me so much…I look back and salute, in gratitude, and affection, even towards those who did not think they were teaching me something!

Blasts from the past…

July 10, 2013

KM’s cousin, Raju Srikumar, put up a lot of family photographs on FB, and I downloaded these….

Here’s KM and his family (I think the youngest brother wasn’t yet born!)..this must be circa 1960:

aapnk 1960 probably

Here I am, with AM (who’s definitely less than a year old, so this must be early 1979), in Santhome, in Chennai:

am dm santhome 1979

Here’s my father, holding AM, in Bompas Road, Kolkata, in September 1979:

ambu sntm 1977

The photo below is from October 1979; it was also taken in Santhome.

Here’s a pic where my brother seems to have joined all of us. As says, probably faking the “good boy” look before going out on the town! I was lucky to have a brother and brother in laws who were on excellent terms..and in my mind, there was no difference between them…my brothers in law, too, were extremely affectionate.

Memories suddenly surfaced today…they are both happy and painful. Life has always been a mixture of the good and the bad, but the good has always predominated, and I am fortunate, and grateful for that!

Names that go together…

July 3, 2013

Some names from the past that just go together…Hall and Stevens (geometry), Wren and Martin (English grammar), Swan and Edgar (shopping in London), Lakshmikant and Pyarelal, Shankar and Jaikishen (Hindi film music) Viswanathan and Ramamurthy (Tamizh film music), Simon and Garfunkel (pop music)….

I read a P G Wodehouse piece where he said that in an attempt to make the most unlikely people the murderers in a mystery book, the author would say the murder was committed by two people who appeared on the first page…Hodder and Stoughton! :)))) Inspired by a friend’s post. Thank you, Vandana Murthy!

For no particular reason, I am posting this picture of bright colours, and this one of black and white, together…just for the contrast!


University City Children’s Center, 010713


Random sighting on a footpath, St.Louis, 010713.

Passenger aircraft from the past…

June 17, 2013

I was just musing on a few lines in a novel by Dick Francis, “Smokescreen”…”You can’t keep a good Dakota down. There were two of them …..sitting on their tail wheels and pointing their dolphin snouts hopefully to the sky.”

I remember the Dakota as being the very first aircraft I travelled in. The only airline we had then was Indian Airlines, a nice, neat logo and a navy-and-silver livery. I must have been very young, but I do remember the incline that we had to climb up after having got in at the rear of the aircraft. I think this was the Douglas DC-3 Dakota…it was only decades later that I knew the “why” of the aircraft’s name. I also vaguely remember going to Dumdum Airport (as it was then, in Kolkata) to see a Dakota aircraft belonging to the Maharaja of Darbhanga. Funny, how that memory came back to me when I thought about the Dakota, with its aerial stretching from the top of the cockpit to the tail!

The next plane I remember was the Viscount. (I am deliberately not googling for the details of all these aircraft, but writing about them from memory.) The Viscount, probably made by Vickers?…was a sleeker-looking aircraft.

Another propeller craft that I liked very much was the Fokker Friendship. With its wings over the fuselage, I travelled in it, too, many times. I do not remember destinations other than the annual visit to Madras (now Chennai) during the summer or winter vacations. I recollect that there was also a Fokker Fellowship, though I cannot recall how the aircraft looked.

As children, we would often go to the “aerodrome” just to see aircraft, in that age of innocence. Everything was accessible,behind just some aluminium fences! We would see the aircraft control tower, and be awed by the miracle of flight (which is still as miraculous to me!)

Then began the age of jet flights, and as my father moved up the corporate ladder, we made the trip to Chennai, not on the Howrah Mail or, later, the Coromandel Express, but by the Caravelle. I realize, from the spelling, that this must have been a French company… and I remember the sleek shape of the craft, with the engines by the tail instead of on the wings.

I cannot recollect when Boeing started figuring in my aircraft horizon; but I recollect my parents travelling by the 707 when it was a newly-introduced aircraft. I did follow all the models, number-wise…now we have the Dreamliner, which I suppose is the 777 🙂

I followed the slow deterioration of Indian Airlines…the rise of Air India into a world-class airline and then its rapid decline, too, as politicians got their dirty hands on the act…my father used Air India exclusively, in those heady days. As the MD of a huge British company, he travelled to London twice a year…first class! My mother, too, flew first class, often travelling with him to Europe, onwards from London. It was they who inculcated in me, my love of travel.

KM, too, was a big traveller, and I also started seeing the Airbus aircraft. I used to drop him and pick him up from every single flight, and airports were still friendly places, within fifteen minutes’ drive… On his many travels around the world, he did make a memorable trip on the Concorde, from London to New York, and his account of his experiences were the highlight of my interest in passenger aircraft, for a long time.

I remember the pride that airlines took in their craft…the Caravelles were named after rivers, I think, and the Jumbos after Himalayan peaks.I would check to see what each aircraft was called!

My younger brother had his own area of interest…any time our father travelled by a new aircraft, his questions were, “How many toilets did it have? Where were they located?”

Slowly, the glamour faded out of air travel, as the process got faster and faster in the air, and simultaneously, slower and slower on the ground. An aircraft was a marvel of engineering, a magic of science, and yet, became just an air bus, ferrying people from A to B. And yet, with shrinking seats, luggage allowances, blackout dates for frequent flier miles, and other inconveniences….I still like to look at the big aluminium bird that is about to lift me into the air and take me to a distant destination…and the marvel of flight has me in thrall once again!