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Memories of  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!

Early 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!

Each 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. 

During 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.

Back 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!

As 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'.

I 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.

These are some of the happy and sad memories of life in Barkur. 

{Dear 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.