Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vani Vilasa Sannidhana,

This is my compilation contributed for Star of Mysore and published on 21st October, 2004.
The information was gathered from various sources and the picture below is from a book borrowed from the Curator of Jagan Mohan Palace, Dr.Narasimha Iyengar. 

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MAHARANI KEMPANANJAMMANNI OF VANI VILASA SANNIDHANA

The name of 'Sri Vani Vilasa' is to Mysore what Queen Victoria is to the British. Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vani Vilasa Sannidhana [in full] occupies as high a place as any in the annals of Mysore history. Her contributions to the citizenry, in her roles of Maharani-regent and as mother of Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, one of the most illustrious rulers of our country, stand aloft. She was considered as a rare gem in our erstwhile princely state.

Kempananjammanni was born in 1866 to Narase Urs and Kempananjammanni [same name] of Kalale. When she was five, an efficient teacher was engaged to educate her on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavatha. She was a brilliant girl with amazing gifts of sharp memory and grasping power. People adored her unique skill of memorization of stories on Sita, Savitri, Draupadi, Damayanti and Ahalya and also for her remarkable qualities like patriotism, humility, nobility, kindness, affection and generosity.

When Kempananjammanni was 12 years old, her mother decided to get her married. Since Narase Urs was known to the Royal family and also that her fine prowess had reached their attention, a proposal was made for the young Maharaja Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar. Both parties agreed.

The Palace was in debts due to drought in Mysore at the time, 1878. But it was decided to proceed with the marriage in spite of the prevailing conditions. As it so happened, the rain-god rescued the situation with a great bounty just a couple of days before the royal wedding which took place on 26.5.1878 and appeased everybody.

In 1881, the famous Rendition of Mysore was carried out and the British handed over the rule back to the natural prince [Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar was now 18], after 50 years. In 1884, Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar was born to the royal couple. In quick succession, they also had another son in Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar and three daughters.

Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar, on one of his annual visits to Calcutta in 1894 [to the Court of Viceroy who resided there], developed diphtheria and died there, thus abruptly cutting short, a promising reign that lasted only 13 years. He was just 32 and had already left his mark as an excellent leader. His death suddenly created a void as prince Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV was still in minority. The unexpected tragedy was regarded as a great national misfortune throughout India and was deplored by the British Government as an Imperial loss. The royal family plunged into great sorrow and the citizens felt orphaned. Such was his stature.

The burden fell on Maharani Kempananjammanni. It was here all her sterling, divine qualities came to the fore, as she courageously stepped forward to play her beloved husband's responsible role in such a crisis. She was nominated as Maharani-regent, a post this saviour faire held for eight tough years [1895-1902] and served the people with great aplomb, dignity, devotion, discipline and distinction. She earned the respect of one and all for the fabulous way she held fort.

It was fortunate that the services of such great intellects as Diwan Sir K.Seshadri Aiyar was on hand at that time. His excellent guidance to the Regent helped Mysore recover from slump. Progress in all fields resulted from their efficient administration and beatified the entire citizenry.  To mention a few, generation of electricity from river Cauvery, construction of Mari valley anicut, construction of the new Palace [after a fire tragedy], extension of new localities in Mysore, water supply through pipes and laying of foundation stone of Victoria Hospital in Bangalore were enough testimony. Also, the Maharani-regent's concern for mankind shone like a diamond.

[Web-grab image]

Maharani Kempananjamanni was a great believer in women's education and under her patronage Maharani's College got all its due attention. She was a staunch follower of Hinduism, but respected all faiths equally.

When her son Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar came of age, it was time for her to retire. On 8.8.1902, he ascended the throne that marked the end of a memorable regency and the beginning of what was to become Mysore's 'golden era', an era that came to be known by the encomium 'Ramarajya'. All her exemplary qualities that had been imbibed on the young prince was in full glow during his long reign of 38 years hence. That he was reckoned as a 'Rajarishi' was ample proof. In recognition of her fine regency, the British Government awarded her with a 'C.I.'. She continued to share her wisdom till the end.

After a brief illness, 69-year old Maharani Kempananjammanni died on Saturday midnight, 7th July 1934 [ekadashi, uttarayana], believed to be an auspicious and rare moment. It is said that the end comes at such moments only to great persons, of purity, calibre and stature.

For a girl born in a poor family and achieving what she did in a most praiseworthy manner, considering Mysore's predicament in that period speaks for itself, her greatness, which few have equaled. Rao Bahadur R.Narasimhachar, paying tributes had said, "…there are three jewels in Mysore's history, who have struggled for the country's good. Maharani Lakshamanni, Sri Sitavilasa Sannidhana and Sri Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. She was not only a mother to Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, but also to all the citizens. For the contributions they have made, their names deserve to be written in golden letters…"

Prefixing 'Vani Vilasa' to a Mohalla[locality], Water Works, Maternity Hospital, Girls High School, Bridge, Ladies Club and a Road [now mercilessly being attempted to superimpose with that of *Mahatma Gandhi's name] is a privilege Mysoreans [and ruling netas] are fortunate to have. We must never ever forget the invaluable role of this "Mahamatrushri" to our city. Such a name has to linger for ever!

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*  Vani Vilasa Road got back its name and Mahatma Gandhi's name was removed following a strong objection from esp. the Ursu families.  Rightly!  It is Vani Vilasa Road from Law Courts up to Old Agrahara and its extension that passes near Lalith Mahal Palace [eastwards] got the name of Mahatma Gandhi. I'm proud to be a resident on 'VV' Road.  There are numerous accomplishments during her reign, but just a few have been mentioned above.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Surviving under buffalo hooves...

There was a light drizzle.  In spite of it I started off from my Devaparthiva Road home to look up my recovering grand uncle at the hospital on the way to my fiancĂ©e's house.  It was in 1988.  I was on my new scooter, a Kinetic-Honda, which was only 3 months old. My route was through a stretch of narrow road near KG Koppal that was poorly lit.  Evening had already turned into night.

A short distance after I turned to that stretch of road, I found myself close behind a slow-moving autorickshaw.  I had noticed a herd of buffaloes to my left, some distance away before I neared that vehicle.  There might have been 15-20 in it. They were about to cross that road.  I was right behind that autorickshaw now.  I checked if the way ahead was safe to overtake.  It was, as there was no traffic from the opposite side.  So I slowly raised the throttle to overtake from its right.  

Like a 'bolt from the blue', nay, 'a black buffalo from the dark' appeared in front of me.  It had been crossing the road in front of the autorickshaw by which I was obscured.  It was now towards my left.  Buffaloes are renown for their lethargy and my grandfather used to refer them as 'brake inspectors'. But here, it seemed to be on some real urgency.  


'Brake Inspectors' have the 'right' to walk in the middle of the road.  Recent picture.
An 'autorickshaw' is seen on the right.

Its sudden appearance only about 6 feet away rattled me as the scooter was slowly gathering pace, only 25kph.  In a reflex action I applied both brakes [hand].  The sudden application and the smooth rain-wet road made the hind portion of the scooter swerve.  I lost balance and a fall was inevitable. All of a sudden, I was lying on my back, shocked, listening to my fallen scooter that was sputtering at some distance. I had fallen at the feet of that crossing buffalo that got rattled and galloped! 

More suddenly, clickety-clickety-clicketyclick.......... tens of buffalo-hooves clattered, running helter-skelter, confused by the unexpected mishap across their path.  They all began to run across the road, me and my head. I could feel one hoof scraping my eyebrow!  I still wonder how only one hoof scraped as tens of hooves passed above me within inches!  How could they know/see they had to step over 'something'?  They were stepping over me at speed, close to one another!  All happened in seconds.  Need I tell the size and weight of even an ordinary Mysore buffalo? 

After the autorickshaw had stopped and the galloping herd had crossed the road, a few passersby gathered at the spot.  Light was only from the overcast night sky and not from any street light.  In such light I saw one among them lift up my sputtering scooter to its stand, switching the engine off and then approaching me.  When he came near to see who this person was [it was dark], I called out, "Maeshtray!".  "Oh, is that you?" he said.  His familiar voice was reassuring.  I was feeling my eyebrow that had been scraped, luckily only just!  Some minor scrapes in the hand and no other bodily damage from the fall had resulted, but I was in a shocked state, but I was trying to feel reality.  He asked me for any medical help.  I said I was actually on my way to Kamakshi Hospital.  

The scooter was miraculously unscathed, except for a grotesque twist at the handlebar and the front mudguard.  One kind fellow had diagnosed the problem and straightened them out for me on the spot!

"Maeshtru" was kind to accompany me up to the hospital's first-aid room on his two wheeler and I was back on mine.  He was returning home which was close by.  I remember his help. A bit about this man.  "Maeshtru" in Kannada is Teacher.  Everyone called  him so.  He was a popular school teacher and state awardee [for best teacher].  Our acquaintance was very brief, so brief that it was only during the year-long tenancy of a small shed of his house to my doctor friend Dr.Rajgopal Nidamboor where he had started his homeopathic profession.  I would visit his clinic every night just to chat with him esp. on our walk back home.  Dr.Raj would walk beside me as I pushed my bicycle along.  Often, "Maeshtru" too would sit for a chat when no patients were to be attended, before closure.    

From opposite the hospital first-aid room a friend who had admitted his sick father, rushed towards me asking what happened.  I was still in a state of shock, but talking.  I still remember telling him 'Oh, nothing has happened to me' which this friend remembers even now.  He could recognize it was not normal behaviour, in spite of the injuries however little they were.

I soon saw my granduncle and continued with that evening's agenda.  The marriage was just a 6-7 weeks away and everyone was so relieved to learn that I had just escaped with only that much, in a most miraculous manner.

How lucky I was to stand up again, surviving under the buffalo stampede!  

How those tens of powerful hooves that crossed me missed crushing my head or eyes or body and that nothing serious and untoward happened remains a mystery.  The very thought of those hooves passing over my face chills my blood even today!   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

3D Viewmaster - Stereoscope

As a young kid I used to envy my friend Srinivas because he had a Viewmaster.  The present generation may not know about this beautiful toy.  There were seven views in one disk - see picture below.  Rotation of the disk was with a lever that changed the views step by step.  Since these toys were targeted to the very young age group, there were usually cartoon characters in them.  


We had film viewers made from brittle plastic.  They were just mono, very cheap and crude.  A small packet of about 10-15 cut films were given with it.  They were from scrapped 35mm film from the damaged reels that the theatres disposed.  It used to give thrill.  

The more sophisticated ones had views printed on a film and rolled manually - like you would wind film in a camera.   Such ones were usually sold in tourist centres.   The one presented by my late uncle who had bought it during his visit to Delhi in the mid 1960s is still with me. It has black and white pictures of historical Delhi's famous locations.  Look here:







Quality of images are also good in this!

The other mode of viewing entertainment  in the olden days, and even up to the 60s, was the 'Bioscope' 'Bioscopewallas' carried the 'Bioscope Box' and arrived at a particular shady place of the street.  Children would soon come to know of his arrival and would curiously gather there. I had not seen through a bioscope but remember vaguely, to have seen the bioscopewalla near our locality in Mysore, in the 60s. He took a fee of 2 paise for viewing.  They did not frequent the towns as much as they did to rural areas where their business was better.

If you wonder what a bioscope is, the writer in this blog has briefly pictured it: [Click].  

Here is another link with some pictures that reminded me of my younger days. [Click].  The Viewmaster became its modern substitute.

Whenever I went to my friend Srinivas' house, I used to ask him for the Viewmaster and he gladly showed me. The very operation of it gave me great thrill.  Decades had passed.  Srinivas had gone abroad to make his career and was out of touch for a number of years.  When we resumed contact, there was our next generation.  On one of his subsequent visits, he had come with a Viewmaster [pictured above] which he gifted to my young child!  It was as if he remembered my fancy for it decades ago, but it was only a coincidence.  What a wonderful surprise anyway!  It took me 40 years back in time!

The slides he had brought with it were of Walt Disney's famous story "Lion King".  And it has this '3D' effect.  I looked at the pair of each slide to study why we get that 3D effect looking with both eyes.  If one eye is closed that effect is gone.  Observe closely and compare the background and foreground drawings in these two [left and right] images:

 Left slide.

Right slide.

The 3D effect is such a beautiful creation! You will want to look at them again and again, through the Viewmaster!  The 'depth' in the image comes up on view!

This is what we look with one eye.

 The title of the slide being watched shows in the window.

The Viewmaster Disc.

Another picture of the Disc.

All these old toys have been pushed aside by the recent development in electronics.  Today's children are never satisfied even with cartoon movies.  The thrills of those days cannot be matched.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mysore Dasara Exhibition Memories

Dasara Exhibition at Mysore has always been quite famous but was certainly more charming in those times.  Let me share some most unforgettable memories from my childhood here.

This is a longish post.  With many memories and a few related photos, it could not be short and brief.  There are no pictures from those days to share, unfortunately.  But in an attempt to relive those beautiful days I've grabbed a few images of toys from the web where I could not share my own. If you have time, please read on and 'nostalgiate' yourself!
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The month of September signaled the arrival of the ten-day Dasara Festival.  We eagerly awaited it - short vacation to schools! It was a time to switch our modes from "study" to "festive".  It was also the time when the Dasara Exhibition would begin and go on for two months.  'Dasara time' was a period when Mysore looked at its traditional and colourful best; Mysoreans, even better! The atmosphere was electric and the climate itself, salubrious.

"September" smoothly and vividly takes my memory down the '1960s and early 1970s' lane. After the grand Vijayadashami Procession, it was the Dasara Exhibition that sustained the 'Dasara spirit' extending for a few more weeks.

A bit of history.  The Dasara Exhibition was first started under the royal patronage in the year 1888, with an intention to promote, industry, art and culture, with which the city was rich and renown even from olden times.  In its initial years, it was arranged where the Fire Brigade Station in Saraswathipuram is now housed. Last year, I happened to peep in to see how this heritage stucture looked. 


This is the Fire Brigade Station entrance portico.


Inside its premise, these tiled structures would probably have housed the Dasara Exhibition in those days.

After some years, it was shifted to the spacious building belonging to the Mysore Medical College (next to the Railway Offices).  Its popularity had risen manifold.  Those who have visited here through the 1930s to very early 70s, will never ever forget that magnificent ambiance and charm.  The place had become renown as 'Exhibition Buildings".

The erstwhile 'Exhibition Building' as it looks from the road now. The grown up trees obscure it.


The above picture is from a Tourist Guide book of 1958.  The Exhibition logo board on top is seen. 
Imagine the series 'blinking light bulbs' on the parapet of the entire length of the building at night!

The decent exteriors, gateway, the blinking series lights that lined on the top of the full length of the building were lovely to watch.  "Dasara Exhibition" was displayed in neon tubes above the entrance.  It was Mysore's temporary "Disneyland"! On entry, the visitors were greeted by the captivating sight of the majestic, cascading waterfall at some distance. The beauty of the arena itself fortified its entertainment value. Entry ticket cost fifty paise for adults and twenty five for children between 5-12.

I visited the same venue after 4 decades to see how it was and took some pictures.  The ticket-window was still there in the entrance passage and the old structures in the premises still in tact, but somewhat neglected, or so I thought. There were some boys playing a game of tennis ball cricket. 

Imagine the cascading waterfall (against a light blue wall) to the left of the building there. It was a temporary structure erected on a stall.  Wonder if it was the irrigation dept. That was the most attractive arrangement.

We usually began from this side, clockwise. This building was not noticed as there were stalls all round!

This is to the right and we usually finished from this direction.  There was a platform which had been erected on a pool of water - it was clumsy. Only the concrete floor is remains now, under those trees.

Totally neglected area. Those were the very stalls which were very beautifully decorated by the temporary owners displaying various products for sale. This is towards the other end (west).

Those arches are still in place.  I think it led to the entertainment area - giant wheel, drama stage.... open area.

This is the entrance passage.  I have taken this picture after coming into the premises. It was in this building - now being used by Mysore Medical College itself.  You may like to know that this is from where Mysore Akashvani (AIR) also transmitted its programmes for a short period (first floor) before its own building was constructed.

Dasara Exhibition was the best chosen alternative for entertainment and relaxation, besides the cinema or the Circus that went on opposite the Palace during the last quarter of every year.  Almost like part of the custom, ''Dasara guests" stayed for many days on either side of Vijayadashami Day, whether the hosts liked or not.  There even used to be cartoons in Kannada magazines on this!  Guests, elders and children would reach the Exhibition either by bus or by foot, well before sun-down. The 'Tonga' [horse cart / Shah-pasand] was always another option.  Autorickshaws were hardly a dozen in the late 60s.  Even at that time, there were empty stalls for 2-3 weeks after the start of the exhibition. As such, more people planned visits after one month!

People pronounced "exhibition" in their own ways!  'Ejjamishan', 'eggibishan'.. and so on.  It was funny.

The "Ladies Section" was of particular interest to our family because my grandmother displayed her unique handicrafts there. Ever since 1931, she had been doing so and seldom did her talents went unrewarded. The neatly filled up certificates (dating back to 1931).  Its length is about 20 inches on thick sheet!  My grandfather had specially got a bound album to fit that size to preserve many such ones that were awarded to her in later years also.


A certificate from 1931.


 This work was made in 1935 using rice grains and won many prizes.


These are two works from paddy grains. 

Her crafts included the replica of the Clock Tower (1940s), a house named 'Gandhi Kuteer' (1950s),  pictures depicting the 'ganduberunda' [all pictured above] and a floral design using rice grains (made also in 1935 in the same way) and some other smaller crafts. They were really her chef-de'aeuvre. She used to proudly display them. These unique crafts are still treasured at home. Her culinary skills never failed to win prizes at the cooking section too. Muchore, Badami/halkova Obbattu were her specialties. I know, first hand, how tasty they were.  My mother too used to chip in with her talents and used to follow suit in the rangoli and crafts sections during the 1960s. 

I cannot forget one particular rangoli art, drawn by someone.  It was a beautiful large portrait [chest upwards] His Highness Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. It was done on the floor in one of the spacious halls upstairs in the same hall where probably Mysore Akashvani was broadcasting its programmes, before the present building [All India Radio] was built at Yadavgiri.

That rangoli was a lot like this image of his shown below, but with his Royal Coat:

There were photo studios having stalls.  It was great fun and fancy those days to get manipulated pictures like the one below.  The children would be made to sit on a wooden box seat with dark background for the pose.  It was fun to see the end print which was desired and ordered. 

[From album]

The Exhibition provided a beautifully balanced blend of shopping, education, entertainment, information [they have now coined the word 'infotainment'] and relaxation. It was in fact the Dasara Industrial Exhibition where many industries showcased their works.  Most of us skipped these stalls.

The loud speakers ['loud' is a really harsh word here because they did not blare to disturb] carried pleasing music or the programmes [dance or drama or music - no orchestra!] that went on the stage.  The popular voice of our local Amin Sayani - "Mike Chandru" who was probably beginning to make his career would fill the air.  He would announce names of any missing children who were brought to his 'radio room' by finders.  He would then ask the parents of the found child to come and 'collect' there.  Also, some friend would announce through him his arrival so that his already-arrived friend may come and meet him!  During daytime, Chandru would roam the roads in an auto rickshaw announcing that evening's programme, distributing pamphlets.  We would run [we were usually barefoot] after the vehicle to collect the thrown pamphlets.  It was like a competition among the boys as the pamphlets flew around on the street.  The ones who collected more felt 'great'!  You can imagine how sparse traffic was in those days for us to do that chasing!

In those days and beyond, Hygiene was an important subject in schools. No wonder, cleanliness was Mysore's trademark culture, which seems to have percolated down clogged drains now. The exhibition premises was as clean as one can imagine in those plastic-free days.  Children would drop chocolate wrappers or some poor-sensed elders threw their used paper holders they just had some snack on it.  The sincere sweepers were always on the prowl, armed with special nail-ended sticks to haul up such rubbish by piercing, picking and depositing in their shoulder bags without bending down.  There were stone benches for people to sit and relax. 

Cheap, short-lasting and simple toys were bought as if it was a right. The China ball [water balloon], the size of an orange, had an elastic attached to it. Holding this, we would release the ball and we had to catch it as it sprung back without touching the floor.  It was thrown in the direction of others also to startle them.  It would soon puncture and let the water out before we reached home!  That was the death of it!  I came to know now that it is called a Yoyo and found an image too.
[Yoyo ball - Web grab image]

The 'hydrogen balloons' were a wee bit expensive and they lasted till morning - we would leave it off at home and it would rise to the ceiling and stay there after playing that night!  The gas would weaken by morning and it would have dropped to the ground.
[Web grab image]

There also used to be balloons in different shapes - like that of a cat, etc.  This cat thing had a cardboard piece at the bottom.  When thrown in any direction, it would settle on the bottom - fun to watch!

The wind-up snake toy was another popular one like this.

There used to be a clay roller concealed beneath the head and a string to pull.  The snake body was of paper. The string was hard to notice and it could startle people easily.  

The monkey toy which was made using a bicycle spoke and a ball pen spring that held the plastic monkey was a great and funny contraption - the monkey would jerkily climb down the spoke, like it does a coconut tree!


From memory, I tried to recreate this toy for this post.  It worked!  Imagine that cardboard piece as a 'monkey'.  See this 17-second video [click here] how it works.

Who can forget the man making faces and selling moustaches and beards?
[Web grab image]
The ones with 'fake glasses and funny nose' were costlier.

The little tik-tok-sound-making metallic toy was sold for ten paise. Just before I put up this post, I noticed a schoolboy near my house going to school playing with such a one.  Only then I realized it may still be on the exhitibion-market.  That boy was also having fun by 'playing' it near his friend's ear.  The hum that persists after we hear it lingers and annoys for a quite a while!  It has a sharp shrill sound.


Somehow, this one has not been lost!  You can see the short video of how it works here on YouTube (click).

Another expensive toy was a microscope for which I pestered my grandfather to buy for fifteen rupees. It was from 'Dynam' company that made educative toys.  This may be in the last or penultimate year when the exhibition was shifted away.


This is the small globular lens of the microscope, now showing my garden yard! 

Embossing on plastic key-holder-rings had just made its arrival. My aunt got one made for me with my name on it. I was using it for my bicycle key for many years.


This toy elephant is my favourite.  It walks on its own, but only down a gradient of a particular angle. It is a simple design.  You can see how it walks in my video here - [click]


The above four are my most cherished mementoes of that Dasara dreamland.

The 'Spirograph' ![click on Wiki-link]  Those children who were fond of drawing got attracted to this beautiful toy.  One set with its box in tact, has survived!


Then there was that green painted tin boat that worked on a few drops of oil and a burning wick.  When the wick was lit, the boat would float making a 'phut-phut-phut' sound. The vendor demonstrated in a basin of water.  I found some information on this: [click here].  Pop-pop boat [image from Wiki]!

Long pencils with plastic cap shaped like the hand and armed with four sharp 'fingers' was another fun toy.  The fingers were meant to scratch our own backs and the junk pencil, the handle.  The pencil's lead was of lowest quality.  It would break and keep breaking at we tried to shave the wood for writing.  It soon became short.  It was unsuitable for writing, in the first place!  Imagine the thing in this web grab image as a foot-long pencil with a plastic cap having five fingers.

There were also small ball pens shaped like a filter cigarette.  We posed like smokers and even let out imaginary smoke!
[Web grab image]

The Magic Slate for kids was also an attractive toy.
Write something, peel the plastic layer to erase.. and write again....!

During a few seasons, among other plastic toys, there was the magic knife.  It had a yellow handle and gray knife, the same colours as that elephant toy above.  It was a fun knife because it was meant only for stabbing!   When 'stabbed', the knife would retract into the handle.  'First time onlookers' were fooled.  My grandmother was very afraid of watching me stab myself many times!  The knife died soon.


There was another toy - a plastic top like a pistol, which required a rubber band to wind.  When the trigger was pulled, the top would get released and spin nicely.


The Egg-laying hen was another beautiful plastic toy.  The hen's legs were so brittle that it would not withstand careless use.  Once they fractured, the toy was invalid.  A spring action of the legs when the hen's body was pressed, it would lay eggs. This is an image from the web.


Impressed by the music the seller skilfully created with his instrument, we made our parents buy one for us.  This was the one-string violin.  It had a half-cut coconut shell on which a strong paper [sometimes parchment and costlier] was stuck to make the resonator.  A bamboo stick went through the shell.  To that, a string was fixed.  A bamboo-handled bow used on it created music!  See this video, somewhere from Mysore.   But we created noise and undesirable tunes at home as we lacked the skill.  The paper, string or bow would never survive long!

Bhadravati Paper Mills had its stall.  People made a rush to buy paper and books - Bison Brand - cheap and best quality. Usually the stock they brought would soon get sold out and people were unhappy at the short supply which made them to visit the exhibition again expecting a new stock!  The one pictured below is from about 1970.


This one below may be from the 1950s or so. My grandfather was using it. May not be from the Exhibition.


There were stalls erected by the many Cotton Mills for selling cotton items like towels, kerchiefs, napkins, bed sheets, bed spreads and the likes. It was the best place and time to buy them as they were direct from the mills and were cheaper.  There was good demand for these.

Our own Krishnarajendra Mills also used to have a stall.  This is a cardboard box of this famous Mysore mill.


There used to be more stalls outside the buildings.  This was only for a couple of years methinks. They were in the Jeevaraayana Katte [hope spelling is right] grounds across the road.  Separate entry tickets. I remember the famous singer of that time, P.Kalinga Rao standing in the queue before us. Elders had recognized him. One of his songs "Brahma ningay  jodisteeni yenda muttidkainaa.." was a hit.

There was an unforgettable incident. Three of us high-school friends from the neighbourhood, Rajagopal, Manjunath and I, decided to visit the exhibition one planned evening - our first trip sans elders. My grandfather was to pick us back at around 9 p.m. We enjoyed our time and it was time to leave. As we came out, the clouds came down! It was a very heavy thunderstorm. Panicky, we ran and settled in one of the bus-shelters nearby. This is the one:


Power failed, darkness filled. Still there was no sign of my grandfather. We were all afraid. Then suddenly, in one of the numerous flashes of lightning, I could recognize him under the umbrella manouvering the soggy path in front of us holding his pulled up trousers with his left hand. I called him out. We felt as if saved from a death-trap.  We returned home in one of the very few autorickshaws that plied our roads at that time. It was still raining when Mysore woke up the next day! The following morning's paper carried a headline: "14-hour continuous rain in Mysore". It is a record.  I have a separate post on this incident in the same blog. [click on that link]

In those days, neither was there harsh 'music' to 'entertain' nor any gobi-manchurian to tickle the taste buds. No one screamed for Ice-cream either! Yet, people enjoyed the fun in its purest form. There was no hullabaloo!

There were only few who owned scooters and fewer had cars. Even great personalities used the humble bicycle.  There was no need for a 'parking area' in or around the exhibition at all, if my memory is right. Those who came in cars or scooters parked them by the roadside and just walked in. Mysore was a small city and any locality was within an hour walking distance. Sometimes we took the bus [red was the colour then] or the Mysore Tonga {horse cart] to reach the exhibition.  Mostly we went by foot as there seemed to be lots of time on hand and we never rushed!  It was just two kilometres from home.

The Mysore Medical College was to take the building back into its custody.  It was painful news to all Mysoreans when it was made known that the venue of the exhibition was to be shifted to Doddakere Maidan.  Doddakere [lake] had dried up in the 1940s.  The shifting took place for the 1972-3 Dasara.  All of us remember how slushy it was the first time here after rains and how difficult it was for everyone.  It was miserable!  Gradually things improved, but we always compared it to the 'old place charm' of that Exhibition Buildings.

The sublimity of the vintage Dasara and the Exhibition reside permanently only in memories of those that have been part of it. 

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