Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Childhood follies and pranks can be very amusing when one recollects the same after decades of aging. It is rightly said that living with children, especially aged between  1 and 5 years can be quite exciting provided one is willing to be alert 24 hours a day to protect them from grievous injuries. The thrills and pains of rearing kids are fully comprehended by people when they grow enough to become grand parents. Some of the information I am sharing here in this Blog piece pertains to my own stupid childhood which I can recall with nostalgia.

I was supposed to be a non-serious kid during my early childhood with practically no interest in learning. My father, to me at that time was a "tyrant" though it took almost 5 decades for me to fully appreciate his noble intentions. Serious schooling was indeed a heart breaking effort and any excuse was good enough to skulk the classes. Realizing that I would not become some body in life about which parents could be proud of, father invariably threatened me with stopping the schooling and taking me to the hotel for grinding batter for idli, vada and dosa! It was in this context the idea of tuition was thought about and I had to be restrained every day in the evening for "coaching" by the tutor. Though there were good text books which I was supposed to read, lazy as I am it never occurred to me that reading is necessary at all. Every day the tutor would give a small home work and one day he asked me to read some thing about Indian history. Next day he asked me a question which I thought very simple viz who rules the world? Without battling an eye lid I answered that our Moopathi ( the servant maid) who comes every morning and sweeps the front of the house is the one who rules the world! Probably I got mixed up between ruling and sweeping prompting me to shoot the answer. Though it provoked laughter at that time, my coaching sessions became more and more rigorous as a result of the stupid answer.

Being a kid of boundless energy playing when not sleeping was the main avocation. During the early childhood during one of my tree climbing activities I fell down inflicting a deep wound on my forehead which after healing created a permanent scar. What is interesting was not getting wounded but my subsequent action in stuffing the deep wound with sand to hide from the parents and getting into the bed without telling any one. It was only later that they discovered that I had a wound with oozing blood for which necessary medical treatment was given. In one way it was a lucky incident because for almost 70 years my permanent identification mark has been this scar!

Growing in a house surrounded by schools of all colors and hues probably would inculcate among the children some interest in studying. Alas that was the last thing in my mind. Playing games like Vattu Kali, Andi Kali, Kuttiyum Koum, Chati Kutu with friends was the top priority. The big compound of S D V school in front of our home at Alleppey was a great place for playing all sorts of games with a fulfledged foot ball ground. Though there was a gate which invariably was locked most of the time our usual route is climbing over the wall and jumbing down about 5 feet to gather near the trees for spending the time in exciting local games. One of my friends used to help me in Andi Kali which uses raw unshelled cashewnuts as the main playing material and every one playing this game required a master Cashewnut ( known locally as Vakkan) of big size with which the scoring has to be done. After throwing the nuts into a small hole on the ground some 5 ft away, the player has to take aim at the particular one shown by his opponent and if it is hit all the nuts can be taken by the winner. The Master nut is some time prepared specially by replacing the kernel inside with lead to make it heavy and for hitting the nut precisely. My friend must have supplied me at least about about two dozen such master nuts for which I had to shell out heavily! Some times this game is played with tamarind fruit seed also. Vattu kali is played using glass marbles which are used to hit the opponents marble using deft fingers!

One of the amusing incidents I still remember was the visit of Pangal Seshagiri Rao to Alleppey to see my sister Vishala as a prospective bride. The old house at Thondankulangara could be accessed during rainy season only through a small channel overflowing with water and the bridegroom's party coming all the way from Madras had to wade through about 2 ft deep water before arriving at the house. After entering the house Dr Seshagiri Rao leaned on one of the wooden pillars in the main hall and it was a terrible sight to see the pillar getting loosened from its fittings ending up in his hands! It was a miracle, in spite of such a welcome, he was bowled over by the "girl" agreeing to marry her. Rest is history! This marriage gave me an opportunity to visit Madras where the wedding was organized. Being totally ignorant of Kannada language, speaking as well as writing, going to the house of Pangal Sreenivasa Rao (father of Dr Seshagiri Rao) was a nightmare but eventually picked up little bit of conversational Kannada. Is it not surprising that to day Tulu appears to be the language even Kannada speaking people want to talk and providentially picking up Tulu from us has helped our Bhava to settle comfortably in Paniyur and the Kannada I picked up from his family during my many visits helped me to settle down in Mysore! The well maintained Fiat car of our Bhava was some thing we all yearned to get in as he was the first one among our relations to own a car! To day those who do not own a car in Badettu family are very few! Pangal Vadiraja Rao, a renowned physician, Pangal Krishna Rao, a reputed veterinary surgeon, late Pangal Govinda Rao, a senior bank official and their spouses are extra ordinary people, with impeccable credentials. My frequent visits to Kombattu Vittal Rao, another remarkable personality who married my second sister Sunanda can be the subject matter of another story for another time!

Coming back to my school days, it was with great pride I took my slate after one of my examinations with the marks scored by me to father imagining that I did very well. I was shocked when I got a spanking in stead of appreciation! It turned out that my teacher wrote down my single digit marks, 5 out of 100 in bold, spreading the whole slate which I thought was very good! This trend continued till the SSLC though I never was retained in any class during my school days. My friends used to tease me saying that I got pass because I supplied the teachers with Vada from our hotel during examination time! It was only after the arrival of Seena, my cousin from Padubidri with whom I went to S D College for 4 years I got the competitive spirit in learning and I was not far behind him in studies there after. Probably my 63% marks in B.Sc as against 65% for Seena was indeed notable considering my previous track record. In a twist of fate, Seena ended up in Banarese Hindu University doing his M.Sc while I, after failing to get admission there, served as a demonstrator in S D College for one year. As luck would have it I got admission in Department of Chemical Technology, Mantunga, Bombay for B.Sc (Tech) in foods, eventually obtaining my Ph.D in the same subject. Seena probably should get some credit for what I am to day while late Jayaram Bhaya was my mentor while in Bombay.

My poori loving days are interesting indeed but cannot be described here for want of space. While I loved poori-masala, Vedavyas was a masala dosa worshipper and my father was a vada loving person their dedication to their chosen food items being almost fanatic! Hearing about my love for 'eacha mithai" (fly sweet, so called because of the flies swarming the container), my pretha fear, "cheating" the Jayalakshmi annachi, taking regularly changes from my father's shirt pocket or the hotel cash for meeting my daily "obligations", fight with mother for avoiding eating "Kanji", "Gulla Bajji", "Padippe Mudde", my near drowning in Mullakkal pond, my RSS DAYS etc are some thing on which I must write one day!

Answer to the last Quiz (B-1034)

Alleppey Venkatraya ( my father) might probably the only person belonging to second generation who traveled all over the country including Srinagar, Haridwar, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Varanasi, Budda Gaya, Konarak Temple, Kolkatta, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Rameshwaram in 1986 accompanied by me to fulfill one of his wishes. At the age of 78 he showed better grittiness, courage and stamina than me, 32 years younger to him!

Quiz for the current issue of the Blog

Has any one heard of a name Athulya who is a fourth generation descendant of Badettu family who is a highly accomplished dancer with no one to rival her? Look for further info about her in the next issue.


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