How Dalda mesmerised us in the 1940s

M P V Shenoi


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


Introduction to Dalda - 1940s

In the early 1940s, my family lived in Mysore in a complex known colloquially as Nanju Malige (shops built by Nanju).

Nanju, a wholesale grains merchant, had bought a triangular plot and enclosed it with shops at the front and houses at the back, with a huge open area serving as inner court. One road defining the triangular plot was a macadam (non-tarred) highway leading to Manandavady in Kerala, which was known for the tropical forests surrounding it and the forest produce such as timber and honey. The other was a new tarred road from the city to Chamundipuram, leading ultimately to Chamundi hill.

A Time of Wonder

Vijay Padaki


Vijay is a theatre educator. He has been a life member of Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) since its inception in 1960. He has written over 30 plays, produced widely in India and abroad. In addition, he has adapted and translated several Indian plays into English. By professional training, Vijay is a psychologist and behavioural scientist, and has vast experience in management consultancy, policy research and training in the areas of Organization and Institutional Development..


It was Platform No. 1 of Allahabad Junction on the East Indian Railway. The year must have been 1945.

"Hello, sonny, want a bite of chocolate?" It was a Tommy (a British soldier), seated on a wooden crate, a kit bag next to him and a great big smile on his face. Which little boy of six would decline a chunk of chocolate? A fat bar of dark chocolate in a black wrapper with silver lettering. "Hard rations", the Tommy explained, offering the whole bar if I cared to have it. He had lots more in the kit bag, he explained. I shook my head, not able to make conversation in English, but taking a piece anyway from the bar held out.

Fond Memories of India

Rodney Hall



Rodney trained for a nautical career at HMS Conway in Anglesey and joined the Cunard Line in 1958. He went on to command various vessels around the world until his retirement in 1993. He lives in the UK.

Editor's note: This article is an expanded version of My First School Days, which is available at


I was born in 1940 in Vizagapatam (shortened to Vizag, now called Vishakapatnam), on the Bay of Bengal.

Rodney Hall, held by his Telugu-speaking Ayah, 1940, Vizag.

My father was then the chief pilot in that port, and he went on to become Harbourmaster. However, my story in India really goes back to 1906, when my paternal grandfather, Harry Hall, came to Calcutta to bring Pathé News ( Ed: Pathé News produced newsreels, which were shown in cinema halls.) to India for the Pathé Frères, whom he knew from his days in Paris. With him, he brought his wife, Suzanne and his 5 year old son, Herbert, my father. This was Herbert's introduction to India.

Harry Hall

My mother’s blue kitchen

Meera Balasubramanian



Meera was born and brought up in Madras, Tamil Nadu. She graduated from Stella Maris College with a BA in Sociology, and got her MBA from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila. She has enjoyed living in Manila, Istanbul and Hong Kong, and currently lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with her husband.

Editor's note:  Lakshmi Raman, the author's mother, was born in 1922. The memories in this story are of mid-1960s to early 1980s.

L to R: Lakshmi Raman and Meera Raman. Madras (now Chennai).1982.

Mother's Day - I am trying to put together a meal for some dear friends and am hard pressed for choices from my limited range of capabilities. I would never have imagined the need to plan and plot a dinner - I had never seen Amma (mother) cook by design - she just cooked - it was supposed to be natural! As usual, with my lack of focus, I let my mind wander - and I find myself in my comfort zone - Amma's blue kitchen. I get lost in its aromatic flavors, feel the vibrancy of its high level of activity, its constant stream of visitors and warm embrace.

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