Thursday, April 15, 2004

KTWV05 - Issue 5: Bee Bop A Luulaa

What does the title of the blog mean?

It means that I could not think of a good enough title for this entry. This hit tune of the fifties passed through my mind, so down it went. Could not have found a better title...

When I had the email from Cathedralite 54er, Rumy Kapadia, with the subject line "Help", I sort of acted and sent his request out to a few on my list. Promptly came a reply from my faithful correspondent, Willie Shiri, our school Physics mentor, now retired and living in Canada, who identified the brother of one of the persons that Rumy was trying to contact. In the process, Willie mentioned that his local contact, Atul Shenoy, a Cathedralite 52er, had known of my family in Bangalore and had remembered me from my exploits way back in 1953, even before I became a Cathedralite.

I wrote to Atul and elder brother of Cathedralite 54er, Arun. We had a lively email exchange of those really old days. I was amazed that he could remember a 11 year old boy and his exploits of 51 years onwards.

At that time I was an active Bishop Cottonian and had many friends from Cottons who used to form part of our evening cricket team. Cottonian classmate, Om Prakash, cousin Anand, brother Ranjit, Clifford Ealing, Sahadev (now somewhere in Brazil), and a whole host of other little ones whose names I cannot remember were all part of our crowd.

In 1952 and 1953, I used to frequent the St. Joseph College Hostel on Lalbagh Road, Bangalore which was opposite our house. I made friends with several hosteliers. I used to watch the cricket and hockey matches as the college hockey and cricket grounds which were adjacent to the hostel. I used to fly kites on the college grounds.

I became so close to the cricket team which was captained by L. T. Subba, brother of Mysore Ranji Trophy player, L. T. Adisesh. Subba later went on to also become a Ranji Trophy team player for Mysore. My contacts with them gave my friends a chance to use their pitch for our practice and cricket games whenever we wanted, which was just great when we youngsters wanted to play matches against teams of others in Bangalore.

I started my career for the St. Joseph College team as the runner to update the scoreboard. Later I was promoted to be their scorer for their local games. Also, Subba got us passes for the Ranji Trophy and international matches (the MCC team with babyface Tom Graveney is the one I remember) that were played in Bangalore.

The college hockey goalkeeper, Abe Tharakan, also became a close friend. I was so taken up by Abe's superb goalkeeping that I took up goalkeeping myself to later become the Cathedral School First Eleven goalkeeper for two years running and later became the St. Stephen's College goalkeeper. However, my goalkeeping career in college was tragically cut short when I got a splinter from my hockey stick into my right hand index finder. It swelled up to the size of a ripe tomato. That put me out of the game at the crucial time when the season was at its height, and being in St. Stephen's, we had at least two others knocking hard at the doors of the team. Six weeks away from the top team was the end of my career at the top. The spot was filled by a good friend and classmate - Norval Prakash from Sherwood College, Nanital. Norval was one of three Sherwoodians in my class, the others being Rajiva Srivastava and Kuldip Singh Shergill.

Norval was a great goalkeeper, and once given the spot, it was virtually impossible to get back into the top team except as the reserve goalkeeper.

Just as an aside, the Captain of the St. Stephen's hockey team was none other than Arun Shourie, noted Magasay award winning journalist, who gave up his morals to become an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim activist in his ambition to become a politician so as to get his own back on the newspaper that cut him down to size. He has almost achieved his ends by now becoming a Minister in the Indian Government, but in the process has lost the respect of many of those, like me, who used to admire him and his journalistic talent prior his hate journalism days.

Going back to Atul, he did know that Abe had a crush on my late elder sister, Nalini. I was the go between them. We moved from Bangalore to Bombay in 1954 (Nalini went to Women's Christian College in Madras) so that blossoming friendship ended.

Nalini's classmates, our neighbour Chitra Rao, and other Cottonians, Niino Bhagvagar and her brother Aspi, who served in the Indian Air Force, Nimmi Apoodorai, Pushpa Bhatia, Beverley Wilson, now in Australia and daughter of then Police Inspector Doug Wilson (whose family wife Marge, brothers Abe and Cedric and sisters Dinky and Zeena) were all featured in our reminiscences.

Was it not amazing that this contact with Atul in Canada revived all these great nostalgic memories of the past!! Thank you Rumuy and Willie.

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