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life in Barkur in the Fifties & Sixties.
The earliest memories of my childhood start from the age of around 5 to 6. I was the last of the three children, until my younger sister was born when I was little over 6 years of age. I vividly remember an incident that occurred when my mother was about seven months pregnant; it was sometime in the month of November, all of us children (brother, sister, cousin and I) were playing away happily when a flash of lightening appeared and it looked as if it struck somewhere very close. Yes, it had struck a coconut tree at our neighbour's (aunty Josephine or Jeppy as she was called), courtyard, where my mother had gone for an afternoon chat. Being seven months pregnant, my mother was terribly shaken and came home gasping. To allay her fears, my grandmother made an iron sickle red hot and held it behind my mother without her knowledge and poured cold water over it, believing that sudden sound would remove her gasping and fear. She was even made to drink that water!! - those and many others were some of the grand mothers' remedies practiced in those days! May be they are practiced even now!
school days at Maryknol School in Barkur were full of fun. My
teacher in the 1st standard
was Josephine (Zuzepin teacher as she was known in Konkani!). We used to
have full day school spread over two sessions, with lunch break of about
one and a half hour. Since our house was quite close to the school, I
used to come home for lunch. It so happened that one day we were
expecting some guests at home in the evening and a lot of goodies were
being prepared for the afternoon. I was naturally tempted to stay back
home, and a `smart aleck' like me, I tried to bully the teacher saying
`I will have fever in the afternoon so I will not come back to school
after lunch' (exact words were `nanage madyanha jwara barutthade, nanu
madyanha shalege barudilla') . The teacher was smarter; she actually
landed at our house on her way back to school, to check why I had such a
premonition! Everyone at home, except me of course, had a hearty laugh,
and after much coaxing I had to go back to school with the teacher. This
goes to prove how dedicated the teachers were and how well they
maintained a personal rapport with each of their students!
village in the district had a specific market day (they still do), and
Friday was the market day for Barkur ( Sukrarachi Saanth as it was
known). Going to the Friday Market
used to be a major activity in Barkur for many a men and women.
As a kid I used to wait for school holidays, to go to the `Saanth' with my grand mother and on our way back, invariably I would
make my grand mother to stop for a Red Soda (Goti Soda) at Raghava's
shop which stood between the old post office and Mr.Braganza's house (Bargasab,
the Undertaker). When I remember `Bargasab', I also remember the deep
snoring sound that his wife used to make, that could be heard on the
road while returning from the Christmas/Easter midnight mass.
summer holidays, the only vacation enjoyed by most of the children those
days, used to be to go to their maternal grand father's house (aptly put
as `maainchya kulera' ). Likewise, I too used to go to my maternal
grandfather's house in the neighboring village of Mhabukal.
in the fifties there was no `CYM' or ICYM, where young girls and boys
could meet and do social/religious work together without any parental
opposition, and which, in many a youngsters' case, proves to be a match
making organization! For children up to elementary level there used to
be Catechism class on Sunday afternoons and for children in the high
school, besides the Sunday catechism, there used to be a religion class
in the church on Wednesdays after school. Attending this Wednesday class
used to be very tiring after school, as the National High School was at
one end of Barkur and the church was at the other end, but attending
this class (`Shikown' as it was called) was highly mandatory and there
were instances, when children who did not attend such class were
publicly refused communion during Sunday Mass!
for some entertainment, people from Barkur had to cross the Seeta river
in two stages and go to `Jai Bharat Talkies' at Brahmavar, for an
occasional Kannada movie and may be a very rare Hindi movie. On some
rarest of rare occasions, whenever English movies like
`The Ten Commandments' and `The Bible' came to the distant city
of Mangalore, our benevolent priests would organize a trip by a hired
bus, at a small price, to go and see the movie along with a tour of the
Mangalore city. This was a great outing of all and I remember going on
one such occasion to see `The Bible'.
completed my SSC at National High School in the year 1964-65. That year,
to my good luck, PUC was started in our school and I was fortunate
enough to be in the first batch of PUC (1965-66 those days PUC was a one
year course) at National High School, which later came to be known as
National Higher Secondary School, then National Jr.College and currently
known as National Degree College, hope I am right with the names. We had
Seetaram Shetty Sir as one of the lecturers, who went on to become the
Principal of National Junior College. However, we were not very
fortunate to have a Degree College at Barkur and in those days commuting
between Udupi/Manipal and Barkur, to attend college, was not as easy as
it is now. The construction of bridge across the Seeta river between
Barkur and Brahmavar was not fully complete then,
and we had to cross the river in two stages to go to Brahmavar.
Thus, to complete graduation, one had to go to colleges either in
distant Managlore city, Udupi/Manipal or Coondapur, and had to stay in
hostels or at some relative's place. Staying in hostels meant having to
spend more money, which was not possible for my family, so I could not
get college education, though I had a great desire to complete
graduation. The next best thing I could do at Barkur was, a course in
stenography, as `Bharat
School of Commerce', Brahmavar, had opened a branch at Barkur, located
adjacent to Pattabhi Ramachandra Temple, opposite
present day Stany Pais's shop (I wonder whether it is still there
now). I joined this class, and after completing the course in
stenography, like many who used to come to Bombay in search of jobs, I
too came to Bombay in search of a job, with the help of my aunt. A few
months before I left for Bombay, tragedy struck us; my mother died a
most untimely death.
are some of the happy and sad memories of life in Barkur.
readers, alhough this article may seem autobiographical, its intended
aim is to give a vivid
picture of sorts of life in a small village some decades ago, as most of
the events and circumstances (except the personal tragedy) hold good for
a majority of people.}
Diana , 15/08/2002
For a glimpse of the life at Barkur as remembered by Barkurians, check archives
Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210
Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.