Life Back Then

My memories: Delhi 1946-1953

Author: 
Mahen Das

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Mahen Das

Mahen Das studied mechanical engineering at IIT BHU. He retired from Shell International, in 2002, after 43 years of work in their petroleum refineries and gas plants. He practiced as an independent consultant until 2009. His learning and experience has been acquired from hands-on work, at all levels of asset management, at 40 sites in 22 countries. This includes Process Management, Maintenance Management, Engineering Management and Optimisation of reliability, Integrity and availability of plants. Mahen is a co-author of Case Studies in Maintenance & Reliability. He plays golf and bridge.

Editor’s note: The author’s memories of Lahore 1937-1945 are available here. http://www.indiaofthepast.org/mahen-das/life-back-then/my-memories-lahore-1937-1945

Our home and daily life

In 1946 Papaji was transferred to his company, The Delhi Cloth and General Mills (DCM), headquarters, Delhi. We moved there in April of that year. We were given accommodation in the company officer’s housing compound at Rohtak Road, Karol Bagh.

My memories: Lahore 1937-1945

Author: 
Mahen Das

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Mahen Das studied mechanical engineering at IIT BHU. He retired from Shell International, in 2002, after 43 years of work in their petroleum refineries and gas plants. He practiced as an independent consultant until 2009. His learning and experience has been acquired from hands-on work, at all levels of asset management, at 40 sites in 22 countries. This includes Process Management, Maintenance Management, Engineering Management and Optimisation of reliability, Integrity and availability of plants. Mahen is a co-author of Case Studies in Maintenance & Reliability. He plays golf and bridge.

I was born on October 12 1937 in Kila Gujjar Singh, Lahore, which was then a part of India. My ancestors came, a few generations ago, from Afghanistan and settled in Leiah, a village in district Dehra Ismail Khan, North Western Frontier Province. They owned land which was tilled by hired labour. Leiah was on the bank of river Sindh. They were also de facto leaders of the minority Hindu community in the predominantly Muslim province. Because they had built a Krishna temple in Leiah and did other services to the community, they were awarded the title of Gosain.

Cricket memories: Aussies were ‘Lakered’ in 1956

Author: 
Subhash Mathur

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Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur is a resident of Jaipur, after his superannuation from the Indian Revenue Service in 2007. Presently, Subhash is engaged in social and charitable work in rural areas. Subhash is also Editor of http://www.inourdays.org/, an online portal for preserving work-related memories.

My earliest memory of International cricket goes back to 1956. At that point of time, I was living in Bikaner, where my father, Shri Khemchand, was posted as Collector & District Magistrate upon transfer from Jhalawar.

List of Bikaner Collectors, starting November 1949. My father was the fifth Collector of Bikaner, from February 1954 to September 1957.

We used to live in the huge bungalow earmarked for the Collector of the District. The same bungalow is being used by the Collector at present also.

Collector’s Residence, Bikaner. Photo is recent but looked the same in the 1950s.

My family in Bannu and India

Author: 
Pradeep Kumar Banga

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Pradeep Kumar Banga

Pradeep Kumar Banga was born in Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh, where his father worked in the Government’s Public Works Department after leaving Bannu for India.

Pradeep did his Mechanical Engineering from Maulana Azad College of Technology (now NIT), Bhopal in 1977, and joined Steel Authority of India Limited in May 1978. He retired from the Bhilai Steel Plant in Dec 2015.

Author’s note: I was born in India after Independence. Hence, all the information I have about Bannu, which went to Pakistan, is through what I have heard from my elders.

My grandparents’ generation

My grandfather, Dr. Partool Chand Banga, practiced medicine in Bannu. He got his LMP (Licensed Medical Practitioner) degree from Agra in 1922.

Remembering (?) the Day India Became Free

Author: 
T.S. Nagarajan

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T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.



Chikkanayakanahalli is a small town about 130 km from Bangalore. I still remember vividly that a group of people – volunteers for the Independence movement – stopped my friends and me as we were walking to our school. They snatched the felt hat I was wearing and threw it on a bonfire of clothes. As the rising flames swallowed my hat, I felt a sense of shock at losing my precious possession and walked back home, crying all the way. It was the Quit India year, 1942.

On the day India became independent, I was a schoolboy in a small town called Doddaballapur in Karnataka. My father was the doctor in charge of the government hospital there. We lived in a small ‘out house’, a two-room block, behind a local jeweller’s mansion. My mother and the rest of the family were in Mysore, about 180 km away.

From Balloki to Shimla – August 1947

Author: 
Veena Sharma

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Veena Sharma

Veena is a scholar in African studies, in which she has a PhD from JNU, Delhi, and Vedanta, in which she is self-taught. She retired as the Head of All-India Radio's Swahili Service, broadcasting every day in Swahili for 22 years. For over 15 years, she has taught the philosophy of leisure at the International Centre of Excellence, Wageningen, Netherlands. She is the author of Kailash Manasarovar: A Saced Journey (Roli Books 2004). In recent years she has given talks on the Upanishads in many countries. At present, she is the Chairperson of Prajna Foundation, an NGO dedicated to educational and cultural activities, and the development of economically non-privileged youth and children

In 1947, I was six, getting on to seven. My parents, elder brother, a younger sister and I were living in Balloki, a small township in western part of undivided Punjab, located on the site of a headworks from where the Bari Doab canal emerged from the Ravi River. My father, the Executive Engineer in charge of the headworks, had been posted there three years earlier.

Apart from my parents and siblings, there were a lot of people around in our household, all of whom seemed to be like members of our extended family. Called by different names or designations like chowkidars, malis, beldars, orderlies, mates and so on, they were in and out of the house at all times of day and night.

Life around Kukkarhalli tank Mysore in the 1940s

Author: 
M. P. V. Shenoi

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Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues.His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

In the early part of the 20th century, the former Princely State of Mysore, covering the southern part of the Deccan plateau, had an excellent network of water tanks (lake), with water overflow from one tank draining into a downstream tank, and so conserving water to the extent possible without any modern technology (see Annex for more details.

However, since these tanks, with their stagnant water, were also associated with malaria, over time many of the tanks within and near the major towns were drained out.

By the time I was ten years old, in the 1940s, in Mysore city we had only the Kukkarhalli tank at the western end and the Karanji tank at the eastern end near the zoo. Both were in disrepair, yet they were the source of pleasure and adventure for boys like me who loved the outdoors. These were the places where boys from the poorer families could learn how to swim, perform crude aquatics, and catch fish. Though there were a few swimming pools in Mysore, they were in palaces or hotels, and few people had access to them. So, the tanks did attract a sizable number of people.

Growing up in Lucknow in 1940-1950s

Author: 
Dinesh Chandra Sanghi

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Dinesh, born 1936, studied commerce and won gold medals for his academic excellence. A certificated associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers, he held many key positions during his 36 years with the State Bank of India (SBI), including co-founder and Vice-Principal, SBI Staff College, and CEO SBI California, USA. He retired as Deputy Managing Director SBI, on deputation to State Bank of Indore as its Managing Director. He loves music, reading, writing, travelling He lives with his wife in New Delhi, while his children and grandchildren reside in USA.

My father, late Shri Harish Chandra Sanghi, was one of the ten children (seven brothers and three sisters) of a family living in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He went for his education to Banaras Hindu University and Allahabad University. In the late 1930s, my parents settled down in Lucknow – the capital city of what was United Provinces in those days, renamed Uttar Pradesh after Independence. Prior to British rule, the area was called Awadh, though the British usually spelled it as Oudh.

Roses Red and Papers Brown: Five Years at Delhi University

Author: 
Surjit Mansingh

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Surjit was brought up in many different places in India, went from Delhi University into the Indian Foreign Service, and subsequently joined her husband in academics, shuttling between India and the United States. Now a semi-retired professor with two grown-up sons, she lives with her Himalayan cat, music, books, and walks in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Editor’s Note: This piece was originally written for “Down Memory Lane: The Platinum Year 1922-1997”, Delhi: University of Delhi” 2000 when the author was a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The author was a Delhi University student over 1953-58 in Miranda House.

Roses. Roses. It was not roses all the way, not by a long stretch, and there was no myrtle strewn on the muddy paths. But it is roses I remember best, in serried ranks of yellow and white, pink and flame and hectic red, encircling the fountain. Where on its steps I was accustomed to pass winter afternoons, book in lap, heady with the scented air\; until a sudden chill, a change of light, or a dry throat, reminded me that it was time for tea.

Growing Up in Small-town Rajasthan

Author: 
Kailash Mathur

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Kailash, called Chanda by his parents, is an electrical engineer, who was born in Tijara, which is even now a very small city in Rajasthan. He lived in East Germany from 1965 to 1971, where he married Annemarie, a German, in 1969. Since 1971, he has lived in Vienna, Austria. He became a widower when Annemarie died of cancer in 2004.

It’s transfer time! 1946-57

My father was a civil servant in Rajasthan, who was transferred frequently in the early part of his career. So, as children (six brothers and two sisters) we never stayed in one city for more than four years and in some not even for two years. Between 1946, from where my memory starts, until 1958, when I started to go college, we lived, in succession, in Alwar, Bharatpur, Alwar, Udaipur, Jhalawar, Bikaner, and Ajmer, all in Rajasthan. It is often said that children suffer from transfers because each time they move to a new city they face a new school, a different way of teaching, new classmates, new books, etc.

Fortunately, I do not remember suffering in my school performance from these transfers\; instead, I can clearly remember having enjoyed the transfer upheavals.

The transfer news was always a big shock/event and it changed the family life like an earthquake. Mummy always had to do the biggest share of the work for transfers. We children were of no help to her and did not take part in any serious activity. A lot of food and snacks were cooked in preparation of the journey and packed in various boxes, so that we hardly ever bought anything at the train stops.

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