Friday, March 27, 2009

Journey down the memory lane

Ever since I took voluntary retirement from Allahabad Bank in 2001 after serving for 28 years, it was my long cherished dream on the back of my mind to revisit those places wherever I had my education starting from Ist standard to the last and to visit all those schools/colleges where I have studied, to show my gratitude for what I am today, talk to the present teaching fraternity, visit the house where we spent our old days, meet old friends and teachers if possible.
I was born in Durg, Madhya Pradesh in 1950 where my father was working for M.P. State PWD, as an Engineer. After completion of my post graduation, got a job in Allahabad Bank in 1972 and worked till December 1984 in Madhya Pradesh. Later I took transfer to Tamilnadu to work there in the Bank in various capacities until 2001.Thereafter; I came down to Bangalore to settle down.
It took almost 7 years for me to transform those dreams in to a reality when finally I decided to embark on a 15days journey down the memory lane. Plan was prepared in such a way that without any loss of time I am able to cover all the 9 places in Madhya Pradesh within 15 days.
My journey started on 21st February’08 by train to reach Nagpur next day morning. The nearest place from here to M.P. was Chindwara but I am going to narrate my experience in a chronological order of my schooling.
I do not remember any thing about my first 5 years after birth during which my parents stayed in places like Durg, Vardha, Nagpur & Betul. I have therefore omitted these places to revisit now.
HOSHANGABAD (1956-57):
24.02.08- I am visiting this place after 52 years where I had my first schooling i.e. First standard, during 1956-57. On arrival, the first thing was to visit PWD circuit house area where we used to stay and father’s office was situated. To my surprise, on going there I could identify the office as well the old house. Nothing much has changed. Just behind the Circuit house was Narmada river bank where my father used to take us for learning swimming by tying a tin box of Dalda Ghee on our back to save us from drowning.
I could not locate my school due to loss of memory than as I was just a boy of may be 5 or 6 years. Visited Narmada River Ghat where new temples have come up now.
MULTAI (1957-59):
23.02.08- As soon as my bus stopped at the Multai Bus stand, my excitement got doubled as every thing was same as I had visualized in my mind about the place. Father’s office and our house were just behind the bus stand. There was a big vacant ground in front of our house but now several houses have come up but still I managed to identify our house. At present, Sub Divisional Magistrate Mr. Tiwari stays in that house. When I introduced myself to him and told him about the purpose of my journey, he was very happy to show me the house from inside. In fact he asked me why I have not brought my wife and children on this historic voyage. I showed him the photograph of the same house taken during 1957-59 which more or less remain the same except a garden in front of the house which was not there.
From here, I started walking towards my school and took the same path which I used to traverse along the Tapti river tank in the heart of the town. I missed the lane in which my school was situated but could locate when I sought direction from a shopkeeper. The school looked the same and was rather in a poor state. It was here, I studied class IInd to IV. Straight away I went inside the hall where my class III used to sit on the floor. The principal and teachers were very happy to meet me. They said that I am the first student of their school who has bothered to visit again after a gap of 51 years. To my utter astonishment, within 10 minutes a teacher brought a register from the office room to show me the old record of those years wherein my name and marks obtained were recorded. On seeing the old record of 1957, I could not believe but yet, it was like stumbling upon a gold mine! I profusely thanked the Head Master Sri K.C.Pawar and the staff for showing me the record.
Thereafter I walked up to a theatre where we used to go to watch movies. The theatre has also not changed. This town remains the same old sleepy Multai as was in 1957-59.
CHINDWARA (1959-60):
22.02.08- When the bus reached Chindwara bus stand, I could not recognize. The bus stand has completely changed with a big shopping complex around now. As soon as I came out of the bus stand, I saw a big board on my left reading ‘Police Lines, Chindwara’.I knew now that I was standing at the right place since my house was situated just behind the Police Line and that I used to go to school via a short cut from this very police line. I engaged a cycle rickshaw to reach my old house and I did not find any difficulty in giving direction to the rickshaw puller even after a lapse of 49 years. The house was a big British time bungalow with three big halls and a vast ground in front. I could not go inside the house as the present occupant was not in town. I remember, there was a grave of British dog which was very much there. After taking snaps from outside, I proceeded to visit my school where I studied class 5th. The school is very much there but the class room where I used to study stands demolished to give way for shops. I met the principal also but his response was lukewarm.
Unlike Multai, this place has developed in recent times because of political patronage and big show rooms and houses have come on the outskirts.
View photos at link
5.03.08- While going to Raigarh, I had a doubt in my mind whether I will be able to locate my school as I had totally forgotten its name as well as partially its location. Firstly I went to Kirodimal Polytechnic College, behind which our PWD quarters existed. Even though new colony has come up in the entire area now, I was able to recollect the location. I knew that to go to my school from here, I have to first cross the Polytechnic, than a bridge and a theatre comes beyond which the road somewhere leads to the school. I took the help of a student and asked him to name a few high schools in the vicinity and out came a name from him ‘Natwar High School’ and lo! That was the name I had forgotten. The next moment I was in Natwar School. I could not meet anybody as the X board exams were in progress. This school was very near to the railway station but nearly 6 Kms away from the house where we resided. I used to walk down the entire stretch of 6 kms to the school everyday in those days of 1961.
KANNOD (1961-62):
25.02.08- This small village is 100 Kms away from Indore and the road was so horrible that all the bones in my body got rattled! There was no electricity in the village than and we used to study in the light of lantern or patromax. There is just one road, on both side of which the town is situated. I went straight to PWD campus where we used to reside. Next to our house was that of sub divisional magistrate and he was the first person I met him on the road. He took me to his house and on knowing purpose of my visit commented that ‘he is coming across first time in his life a person like me who is revisiting all the schools and houses without expecting any fruit after so many years’. It was a compliment and I thanked him and visited my old house. The SDO Mr. Gupta took me around the house to get me a feel of those days of 1961.
My school was just a walking distance from the house where I used to study class VII. I went there early in the morning; school was to open in the afternoon so could not meet anybody in the school. There was no addition to the school building and looked the same as in 1961.
SAGAR (1962-65):
27.02.08- While coming from Indore by bus, I could see that the city has expanded and several new colonies have come up on the outskirts. Cantonment area was the same with little change.First, I met my old friend Hemant Godre who was with me in class VIII & IX. Now he is a notary Public and advocate in Sagar. Needless to say, we shared several moments of togetherness in those days. He provided me with motorbike to move around.
I went to Jain Higher Secondary school where I studied class VIII .The Present principal Sri K.A.Bhonsle had taught Hindi to me in the year 1962.Both were very happy to share our experiences. Here also, he showed me the office record of 1962 in which my name, date of birth and date of passing out of class VIII was recorded. It was a thrilling experience to see old records being still preserved. Next, went to Emmanuel Boys High School where I studied class IX & X up to 1965.I could talk to one of my Hindi teacher Mr. Ifrahim over phone because he lived far away. I also met another class met Rajan Thirumalai, whose father was Chairperson of this school. He is in real estate business now.
In the end, went to the area near Christian colony where we used to reside. The house is now converted in to PWD office and was in a bad shape. The ground in front of the house where we used to play is now occupied by office building. It has lost its old look completely. Most of the old theatres where we used to watch good old classic Hindi & English movies have also been closed down.
MANDLA (1965-66):
03.03.08- When I went to see our old house, the present occupant Executive engineer was sitting in the lawn. When I got introduced and told him the purpose of my journey, he was just amazed. He wanted me to confirm from “Limca book of records” if any body else has under taken such a task of visiting schools / colleges from first standard to the last! He was too happy to lead me into his house to show me every room. I told him that children’s slide next to the house was got constructed by my father. It is in a ruined condition now due to disuse. After visiting Narmada River behind the rest house, where a new bathing ghat and several temples have come up, went to my old school ‘Jagganath Higher Secondary School’ where I passed out class XI in the year 1966. The board examination was in progress. Here I got the address of one teacher Sri B.B. Shukla who was teaching Sanskrit than. He was overwhelmed to know that one of his old students is meeting him after a gap of 42 years. I informed him that I was a weak student in Sanskrit and used to get canning from him, he just laughed. He not only offered me lunch at his house but came personally to see me off at the bus stand. I went to another friend’s shop who was my non school friend Bhagwan Das Makhija.. We used to collect stamps and make pen friends as common hobby. I came to know that he died 5 years ago.
JABALPUR (1966-1971)
29.2.08 to 04.03.08- Jabalpur was my last destination with longest stay. Its here, I did my graduation as well as post graduation. I went to Saint Aloysius College from where I did Graduation (1966 to 1969). The principal Dr. Davis George of the college was so happy to meet me that he immediately called for a staff meeting to introduce me to the staff members. He also presented me their college latest souvenir. The old block where I used to study has become a part of the school and a new block of college has come up next to the old building. One of my classmates Sharat Saxena from this college is a famous film artist & villain in Bollywood films now.
Next, went to Government Science College where I completed my Post graduation (1969-71). I enquired from the principal Dr.AnupamaGanguli if the college is still publishing its magazine called “Jyothirmayi”? I was on the editorial board of this magazine in 70-71. She presented me with the latest issue of the said magazine duly autographed and took me round the Physics department.
I also visited Christ Church School where I was a teacher for 9 months on completion of post graduation. Visited the office of daily News paper “Desh Bandhu” where I worked as Advertisement Manager in 1971 for a short time to gain experience. Joined Allahabad Bank in November 1972 and remained in Jabalpur till December 1984 before taking transfer to South, i.e. Tamilnadu.
The house where we stayed for several years near bus stand now stands demolished.
Met old acquaintances of that area, friends like Samar Mukherjee, Narendra Nema and Ramji Verma, house owner’s son who is in Bhopal now. Met most of my old colleagues with whom I worked during the period 1972 to 1984 in the Bank as well as writer friends like Arun Misra, Ramesh Saini & Sriram Thakur Dada. It is here I was editing a quarterly Hindi Magazine “Vyangyam” along with two friends one of whom is no more and the magazine could not be sustained for more than 4 years due to lack of financial help.
As for as the growth of the city is concerned, the pace is slow. Roads in Civil Lines area looks broad with well laid footpaths. Many new big hotels and hospitals have come up but the traffic remains as chaotic as before.My journey down the memory lane came to an end when I boarded the train to Bangalore on 6.3.08 to reach Bangalore on the morning of 08.03.08.
I take this opportunity to thank and express my gratitude to School Head Masters Sri K.C.Pawar, Sri K.A.Bhonsle, college Principals Dr. Davis George, Dr.Anupama Ganguli, SDO Kannod, Executive Engineer, Mandla, Sub Divisional Magistrate of Multai and Kannod, all my friends & colleagues without whose support, warm response and cooperation this journey would not have been complete. I feel that my long cherished dream and life’s finest wish got fulfilled.
View photos at link


  1. It was a fascinating reading. Luis Bunnuel, the famous filmmaker had said that in childhood, you have a colorful magnifying glass fixed in your eyes. When you revisit old places, those gigantic images get smashed.
    Wonderful Mr. Ayyangar. Keep your spirit intact.
    Uday Prakash

  2. Dear Ramu,
    I have gone through the article many times and every time it fascinates me and takes me to good old days in memory lanes.
    With Best wishes,
    A K Verma
    Er.A.K VERMA
    Chartered Engineer{B.Tech., FIE, F.I.V.}

    B.10 Shahpura (1st Floor)
    Bhopal 462039
    (Madhya Pradesh)
    Mobile number:+91 94250 28600

    Landline number:+91-755-320 3064

  3. I was amazed to read this.
    what a great personality you are.
    Places like Multai,Betul i have seen.
    spent 5 years of my life in Betul.
    M.P. is such a beautiful place, now that i don't live there i get attracted to it more and more.

  4. Commendable feat sir, very very rarely someone ever does take this trip down the memory lane and am happy to have read this. gives me a big reason to think and walk down my own memory lane. :)

  5. Through Mail-
    My congratulations on your entry to Limca Book of Records. Your re-visit to various places in MP by cherishing your memoirs is very memorable. I found your venture very unique and deserves kudos. I could glance through all the photographs photos posted in the site, and enjoyed every one of them. I was sharing your achievements with my wife, who joins me sending her good wishes to you, in all your endeavours.
    Though I knew something about your literary flair, it is a news that you have and still contributing a lot in this area too. I wish your good work continues.
    With best wishes

  6. Congratulation!! don't know where I was lost that i missed this post :)

  7. Thanks for directing me to this article. Your blog has a great feel to it and I can feel the happy nostalgia coming out of your post :-)

  8. wonderful job and next to impossible for others to do like fact,since my birth i have lived in about 55 houses in different cities.i too have memories of those houses & places but can not dare to copy you. seeing your certificate of limca records i am become little jealous about you because if you can make a limca record than i can surely make a guineas record which meant for world record. now i am tempted and wish to follow you. please give me hints as how can i start my journey and what are aspects i should cover.i am really immpressed and belated congratulations to you for your unimaginable amazing feat. jai ho.