In the morning of 12 August 2016, my friend Ramaraj came with his young son Rithvik to take me to their home.
His wife Ramya had made an elaborate breakfast, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
After the meal we played Pass the Pigs, a silly dice game with two plastic pigs.
This family had set the whole day apart for me to take me wherever I needed to go, and I am indebted to them for their many acts of kindness over the course of the day. Our first stop would be the house of my childhood from about June 1974 to December 1977.
On the way, I could not resist this shot of a guava seller.
We had lived close to Ulsoor lake in an area called Shree Kodhandaram Layout. The lake was where it used to be but had an ugly fence around it. In my day we had a bench on the pavement to sit and enjoy an unhindered view of the water. This was how it was for the rest of the place. The main landmarks from 40 years ago were the same but the peripheral things had changed big time.
This is the front view of my home. The building had six apartments, three on the right, which are not visible in this photo, that were used by our landlords and three on the left that were rented out. Of these three rentals, we lived in the first floor and the well-known Leong family lived below us. I think the house above us was empty, for much of the time we lived there, for I cannot seem to remember who lived there.
I have many memories of these years, some bad, but mostly very pleasant. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the elderly Chinese grandpa and his dog Tintin. I enjoyed hours of fun with the Leong girls, Sophie, Shirley, and Sharon. And also with their boy cousin Iyeen.
In those days , the room with the curved window shade did not exist. That part of the house was our back balcony and had a water tank. I spent many hours seated on the water tank, watching the world go by. From my perch up there, I observed the construction of several houses, notably the white-coloured one that can be seen to the left of the photo. If I am not afraid to use a trowel and mortar today, it must have been from those endless fascinating hours of watching walls come up.
The window below the airconditioner, belonged to what was then my parents’ bedroom. One evening when my parents were out, drowsy with Periactin, an antihistamine for my eczema, I was asleep in that bedroom and could not be roused. After knocking and shouting for a long time, it was Iyeen who climbed the guava tree that grew on that side of the house, and called me through the open window. I woke up quite confused to see him through the window. Today there is no trace of that tree nor of the pomegranate tree that grew next to it.
This is a very precious photo indeed. I know the banister and these gates so intimately. In this case, unlike the rest of the house, even the colour is very similar to what it used to be.
A somewhat-elderly man came out to ask me what I wanted. I told him that I used to live here 40 years ago and asked if he had known the Kodhandarams. He said that he was Kodhandaram, who used own all the neighbourhood. I peered at him and realised that he was the young man I had seen when I lived there. That he had owned the whole area was a bit exaggerated. It was true that the family had owned much land in those parts, but even by the time we resided there, much of it had been sold. The name Sudhir comes to mind, but I could be wrong about the name. However, I knew his sisters, Chithra, Durga, and Nithya. I asked after them and was told that Durga was in Australia.
Time passes by slowly when you are watching it, but turn away for a bit and it’s gone.
Ramaraj then drove us to Brigade Road. On the way, we passed one familiar-but-yet-so-changed road after another. M.G. Road was a shock to me. Where was that old grandeur? And as for Brigade Road the old charm was missing.
This photo shows Rithvik and Ramaraj looking at a little water-feature item. It took us a while to figure out what the mechanism was. We then had lunch in a so-so place before going to Richmond Road to see Baldwins, about which I have written in Meeting a Baldwin-Girls girl.
Poor Rithvik had waited and waited for me to come out of the school and had fallen asleep out of sheer boredom. He is such a sweet and well-behaved boy.
As I had an important meeting with my Clarence-School classmates that evening, we headed for home.
On the way, we made one small stop at a clothes shop. I made a purchase, but my credit card did not go through, Ramaraj paid and would not let me pay him back.
I do not have any way of returning the kindness I have received this day. But I must pray faithfully for this family that they may be blessed with the most important things in life.