BAPU SATHYANARAYANA writes: Travelling down memory lane in Mysore can be an expensive proposition; there is such a wealth of nuggets that pop up in the windscreen of the mind at every twist and turn.
Unlike now, the music concerts were not held in several halls across the City. There was just one major concert hall, Bidarkrishnappa Ramamandira, and it was where the cultural action was. But the lack of halls did not in any way handicap connoisseurs.
Concerts used to be held in the open near the Aralikatte in Chamarajapuram or in advocate Puttu Rao‘s house.
These open-air concerts had a unique flavour and ambience all their own. People would leisurely amble around and sit on the ground, or on the compound and culverts, savouring divine music from the cream of the cultural ream from cities and towns, near and far.
The open sky, the twinkling stars, the swaying trees, the cool breeze and above all the homely surroundings made it a unique setting.
Like the Tour de France, music came home; we didn’t have to go it.
We used to live on Weaver’s Lane, now called Ram Iyer road in Krishnamurthypuram. The house was situated in front of the present Raghavendra Swamy Mutt. There was a huge open ground with a big drain running across its eastern border.
Our house used to serve as the cricket pavilion and teams from Bangalore used to come and play with local boys.
The open ground was called Oval Grounds. It was the venue for kho-kho, football, chinni dandu. On any evening one could see all games being played in different parts of the ground. Whenever somebody completed 25 runs we used to shout quarter-century “up”; similarly half-a-century “up” on completion of fifty.
Exhortations to the bowlers was dime a dozen from catch-ball haako or pinda uruliso!
Back in those days, the electricity authorities used to switch off all the lights across the city for about a second or so exactly at 9 pm. I don’t know when the practice was started or why. At least it served to make us aware of the time.
Night time was the most precarious time for us, young boys. We used to be mortally afraid of the police catching us cycling without light during nights. Despite our trying to dodge them, we would hear an whistle emerging from nowhere, invariably from the conservancy road.
Every cycle was expected to have a dynamo by a contraption pressed against the running wheel which would produce direct current, lighting the bulb. In the absence of it, we would carry a torch or a lighted candle firmly struck in sand in a paper pouch and precariously held in one hand while steering with the other.
My other memory is of children in virtually every house where we stayed staging dramas, mostly historical, at home.
A makeshift stage would be erected in the hall (or drawing room as they are called now), usually the biggest in the house, with an apology for the screen made up of sarees or bedsheets hanging from the string put across tied to the nails in the wall.
Neighbours used to be invited and it was such a delight to see everyone enjoying the fare. It was an age of simplicity, and the contrast is stark as we see modern-day children with their video games and computers and play stations.
And still finding it difficult to while away their time without getting bored.