Memory Trigger 12. The Weighing Machine.

There was an all too brief period of great romance in my life in the early sixties of the last century, when I was in Madras and my great passion was in Hyderabad. She used to transit through Madras to her home by train and her great pastime on the platforms was to get a few of predictions from these weighing scales located on both railway station platforms just to amuse people like her. Alas for this Orpheus, Eurydice decided to go her way and left me to go my way for reasons that will be written about when another appropriate trigger comes along.

I don’t think that they are around anymore in railway stations. When I was a travelling salesman, just about all major railway stations had them and while one was not fastidious about one’s weight those days, one was most interested in the fortune that the print-out with the weight carried. Some really creative fortunes used to be on those cards and whenever one could afford to take a few repeats one did for the fun of it. You would get messages like these: “You will be happy and peaceful,” “You will meet a handsome stranger,” “Eat well and thrive” etc.

I was reminded of these machines, my old passion and my own travelling salesman days, when I read this fascinating story in the Indian Quarterly Magazine.

Do spend some time reading this remarkable story for the coincidences that the writer encountered and the history that unfolded.

My Favourite Vehicle.

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My favourite vehicle currently is an auto rickshaw. They are ubiquitous in Pune where I live and I can always get one just fifty meters away from my home. They take me to the most crowded parts of the city and I don’t have to worry about parking, or walking to my destination after parking. They are safe, agile, and very convenient. They are also quite economical to use. Although I can drive myself and have a valid driving licence, I find that it makes more sense to use these very convenient vehicles when I want to go out.

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I have owned or had been provided with / borrowed many vehicles during my fairly long adult life but the very first vehicle that I ever owned remains my all time favorite. It was bought second hand and was black and white but looked exactly like the image on the left. I had named it “My Love” and that was written inside the front panel. It is my favourite vehicle even today because it brings back a lot of very good memories of the time that I used it.

I used it in Hyderabad and Chennai for three and a half years and it never gave me any problem except for a few flat tires. I had used it to go on long out of town trips and as a young man with many interests, was quite the dashing figure. In Hyderabad particularly, my scooter was the only one of its kind and getting it serviced regularly gave me a friend in the proprietor of the authorised service station, who remains one till today.

If that vehicle is still alive in some collector’s garage, it could tell stories of some of my adventures of those very interesting times.

This week’s topic for the Friday LBC post was suggested by me and you may want to visit Shackman to see what he has to say about his favourite vehicle.

Travel Series III.

Lin, continuing my series on travel, here is something I wrote for the LBC three years ago. We had another blogger participating in the consortium called Paul then, who had suggested this topic. There is a stement there about my father in the present tense. He became past tense two weeks later!

The Oddest Place I’ve Slept In/On.

Flash back to 1961. I was a happy bachelor enjoying life at Hyderabad. To enable that life style I was also a wheeling and dealing salesman.

My late uncle PK, who was more of a father to me than my father ever was or is, was then in Bombay and had some work with Sirpur Paper Mills located in the backwoods of Telengana in Andhra Pradesh. Like he was wont to do, he decided that since he had to come so far anyway, he might as well come up to Hyderabad to meet up with his nephew and get him out of any scrapes if he had got into any. He sent a letter to me; those were the days when that was the preferred mode of communication as even trunk calls were difficult and to get me near a telephone would have been difficult; and requested, yes, requested, that I hire a taxi and come to Sirpur and meet him off a train from Bombay so that he could finish his work at Sirpur and return to Hyderabad with me in the taxi to spend a couple of days with me there.

Just to ensure that I met the train on time, which was early in the morning, I reached Sirpur the previous evening by around 6 pm. It was then that I discovered that there were no hotels or waiting room in the station and the entire town consisted of the station, a small restaurant and a police outpost. All serving people visiting the mills during the day time. I went up to the Station Master to ask his advise and he suggested that I sleep on a bench on the platform of the station.

I did not relish the idea as the single bench was occupied at that particular moment by an unsavoury looking character and so I went to the restaurant to seek advise. The Head Constable of the Police outpost was having some tea there and when I was talking with the owner of the restaurant over heard me and offered the hospitality of the outpost for the night to me. He added that there was a toilet too and that clinched the deal and I gratefully accepted his offer.

It was thus that I spent my first and not the only night in a police lock up. The cell was not locked as a courtesy to me, but it was an experience that I have never forgotten.

My uncle duly landed up the next morning and was flabbergasted with my story and could never stop teasing me on and off throughout his later life, about my going to jail for his sake.”

Baahubali: The Beginning.

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I don’t know of nor have heard of any of the cast, director, or any other team member involved in making this movie. It is a film made in Telugu but dubbed in Hindi, and other Indian languages but thankfully, not subtitled in the version in Hindi that I saw yesterday afternoon. All I knew about this movie was that it was breaking all box office records for the first few days and that the reviews were all giving it unusually consistent and high ratings.

For the first time since I started going to movies in multiplexes, I saw a hall almost full with viewers and everyone of them was glued to her/his seat and everyone also totally disappointed with the tame ending.  Everyone wanted the story to continue.

This movie is an extravaganza / spectacle in the league of famous hollywood spectacles and is comparable to them in every way. That it has been made here in India in Hyderabad is a matter of wonder for me and my partner in crime, Ramesh who too was as zapped as I was with it.  The two of us rarely agree fully on our reviews of films that we see together, but this was one such.

The story is pure myth but presented extremely well, the special effects, props, battle scenes, scale, photography, costumes, action etc are all on epic scale and totally mesmerising. My disappointment is that this was the beginning and the conclusion is scheduled for 2016 as shown on the screen at a critical point of the story and that was the tame ending that I mentioned earlier.

All in all, a movie worth seeing and I have no hesitation giving it[rating=6] rating.

The Climate In My Hometown.

l live in Pune, a city located to the East of Mumbai the more famous city, in the state of Maharashtra, which is located on the Western part of India. It is situated 560 metres (1,837 feet) above median sea level on the Deccan Plateau.

The climate here was balmy enough for the British to locate their largest Command Headquarters of the then British empire here.  It continues to be Free India’s too.

Pune has a hot semi-arid climate (BSh) bordering with tropical wet and dry (Aw) with average temperatures ranging between 20 to 28 °C (68 to 82 °F).

Pune experiences three seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter.

Typical summer months are from March to May, with maximum temperatures ranging from 30 to 38 °C (86 to 100 °F). The warmest month in Pune is April; although summer doesn’t end until May, the city often receives heavy thundershowers in May (and humidity remains high). Even during the hottest months, the nights are usually cool due to Pune’s high altitude. The highest temperature ever recorded was 42.3 °C (108.1 °F) on 30 April 1897.

The monsoon lasts from June to October, with moderate rainfall and temperatures ranging from 22 to 28 °C (72 to 82 °F). Most of the 722 mm (28.43 in) of annual rainfall in the city falls between June and September, and July is the wettest month of the year. Hailstorms are also common in this region.

Winter begins in November; November in particular is referred to as the Rosy Cold (literal translation) (Marathi: गुलाबी थंडी). The daytime temperature hovers around 28 °C (82 °F) while night temperature is below 10 °C (50 °F) for most of December and January, often dropping to 5 to 6 °C (41 to 43 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded was 1.7 °C (35 °F) on 17 January 1935.

I was born in what was then Bombay and  have many relatives and friends there. After marriage too, I was posted there on three separate occasions when living was much easier and less stressful than how it is now.

My late wife was from Hyderabad and we always drove to Hyderabad from Mumbai on holidays and had to pass through Pune and always admired the city and its laid back style besides its climate.  We wanted to retire to Pune as a compromise between Bombay and Hyderabad and that is exactly what we did eventually.

I have now lived in Pune for 25 years and would not like to live anywhere else and the single most important reason for it, is its climate.

This topic was also suggested by me, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Secunderabad Railway Station.

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Raman and Sudarsan,  family friends from my teenage days, now live in Secunderabad. They have recently been posting some old photographs from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Facebook and this is one such photograph taken in 1928.  The station is very much different now, but when this story takes place, it was not too different.

Secunderabad station had a special place in my life and let me tell you why.

Despite being North of Hyderabad, all trains from anywhere in India, terminating at Hyderabad would first go to Secunderabad and then to Hyderabad and would halt their for up to twenty minutes while some engine exchange took place.  A bit of a nuisance really, and once I settled down in the Northern parts of India, if we went by train, we would get off at Secunderabad and take a taxi or an auto rickshaw to go to Hyderabad where my late wife Urmeela’s family lived and continue to till today.  That would save about an hour’s time spent in the train at the Secunderabad station, the time taken to go to Hyderabad and from there to her home.

In November 1968, I was travelling from Chennai to Hyderabad by train to get married. Urmeela had come to the Secunderabad station to surprise and receive  me.  Since I was not expecting anybody to receive me at Secunderabad,  I had decided to go to Hyderabad in the same train, as I was to stay in a hotel near the station there till the marriage.  When the train halted at Secunderabad and all the passengers had alighted, I found a shoe shine boy to polish my shoes and sat back to relax and read inside the compartment.

Urmeela missed seeing me anywhere and decided that I had changed my mind about the marriage and had given her the slip.  She went back home and was inconsolable with the entire household in panic as all arrangements had been made for the wedding in the evening.

Just picture the scene.  Those were days when there were no telephone connections  and I in any case was living off a suitcase as a travelling trainee.  The family did n0t know how or who to contact and there was a pall of gloom.

After checking into the hotel at Hyderabad and showering and changing, I got myself an auto rickshaw and reached Urmeela’s home around 11.00 in the morning and there was stunned silence but great joy in seeing me.  Urmeela was quite furious and till I calmed her down was ready to call off the wedding for having put her through the experience earlier.

Till the day she died, the one joke that would lighten up her mood was her husband’s tryst with a shoeshine boy at the Secunderabad railway station on his wedding day!