Reminiscences of Bangalore City in the 1940's ...... recounted by a Resident of South Parade

The only vehicle of transportation used by the majority of people those days were the man-pulled rickshaws and Victoria's (horse drawn four wheeled carriages) for longer distances. Only the rich had cars, and the few taxis were used by tourists and visitors who came frequently to Bangalore. It was a Clean City with gardens all over. Everyone lived in a Cottage or Bungalow that invariably had a garden around. It was then that Bangalore could be called the "Garden City" unlike the mounds of Garbage one finds on every road, street and lane of today. It was a Military Cantonment and although the Other Ranks of the Army were inclined to be boisterous under the influence of alcohol towards the end of the day, the British Military Police that patrolled the streets for the greater part of the day, immediately picked up any Ranker that misbehaved and discipline was restored in a short while with the effect of the short end of their batons. Courtesy was the order of the day and made living easy and harmonious for everyone. The heart of the city in those days was the so called MacIver Town, the area around South Parade, St. Mark's Road, Brigade Road and Cubbon Road.

Each Town had it's own Park, and apparently Coles Park was one of the big ones as it flanked Promenade Road and St. John's Church Road. This area came under the Military Administration and was extremely well maintained unlike the nightmare that it is today. There was a Bangalore Military Officers Mess on Promenade Road that was well maintained and had some fabulous trophies in silver. The Mayo Hall on South Parade was built in honour of the Governor-General of India Lord Mayo who was later assassinated in the Andaman Islands. It was inaugurated with great fanfare by the British Resident in the year 1904. The Mayo Hall was the venue for all important public gatherings, exhibitions and housed several public offices and nine Law Courts. It also was the Municipal Office for the Cantonment. The Parade Ground on South Parade was surrounded by a track maintained by the Military for Horse Riding.

Funnel's Restaurant (where the Deccan Herald Office stands today) was a very popular Restaurant with Other Rankers and always very crowded and noisy. Occasionally a few of the men got into a brawl and it ended through the window onto the pavement!

The other well known places on South Parade were Dias Music Saloon, Barton's, Spencer's & Co., and Chellaram Silk House.

Dias Music Saloon was started by a Goan, Jose Mariano Dias in 1927. Every instrument for Western Music and Musical Scores were available at Dias. There were pianos for sale and hire and pianos were sold at Rs. 250/- to Rs.650/- for the best ones!! (Today you cannot pick up a good second hand piano for less than a lakh or Rupees!!). Dias Saloon was a place which no music lover could resist and often Army Officers, who were music professionals before the War, would step into his shop and play on his instruments. Mr. Dias was a pleasant person who welcomed music lovers and allowed them to use his instruments.

Chellarams (where Simco glassware stands today), was the house for the best and most fabulous sarees and silks. It catered for many of the Princely tastes and Artists. The resident had witnessed persons like Uday Shankar, Ram Gopal, Vyjantimala and reputed exponents of Indian dancing and Princes from Indore and Hyderabad shopping at Chellaram's.

Barton's where Barton Court stands today, was the house of silver masters of sterling quality. P.A. Barton was an Englishman who established his Firm of silversmiths using local craftsmen. It was patronised by a large number of Indian Princes and the British rulers and military personnel to furnish their Messes with silverware. Their exclusive and superior clientele encouraged the owners to maintain it's quality which earned then the reputation of "Bartonplate". Their master craftsmen have been working for Barton's for more than two generations.

Spencer & Co. also started by an Englishman, Mr. Oakshot. It was the most sophisticated and only Departmental Store in the true sense. It was a store where one could buy anything from literally a "pin to an elephant", as the saying goes, under one roof. Spencer's prided itself on quality, good service, which extended to after-sales commitment, and reasonable prices. The tradition of quality and good service dates back to 1864. Spencer's was not just an outlet for sale of groceries, cosmetics and other goods. Spencer's had their own factories where strict quality control was observed. It was this feature that made Spencer's brand product popular and always in great demand. Courtesy was a tradition that made shopping at Spencer's a pleasure.

The West End Hotel was another proof of the efficiency of Spencer's who owned the Hotel. It was a 1st. Class Hotel run according to British Standards of god wholesome food and al that goes with class living as Hotels go. The charges in those days was Rs.12/- per person per day inclusive of food and service. Next in order was the Central Hotel, also in High Style and good cuisine for a charge of Rs.10/- per room per person. It boggles the mind to think that just in 50 years time, Bangalore has changed for the worse in every respect.

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Some of the Goans who earned high respect for the Goan Community one cannot forget Dr. F. daCosta, the first Indian F.R.C.S. who was the Chief Medical Officer and Surgeon of St. Martha's Hospital. St. Martha's Hospital was one of the best hospitals of Bangalore and it's vast grounds, small cottages for Rest Cure for old people and those convalescing after a long illness. The greenery around and the birds singing, contributed enormously, a perfect setting for a speedy recovery. Another well known Goan in Bangalore was Carlos Costa, the father of George and Anthony daCosta of "DaCosta & DaCosta" firm of Solicitors and Lawyers. Carlos Costa was a lover of nature and flowers in particular. Gardening was his hobby and his fantastic contributions to the famous Flower Shows in the Glass House at Lalbagh got him prizes at almost ever Show in which he participated. The two grandsons of Dr. F.d'Costa, Peter Sinai ( son of Dagmar Lynn) and Christopher Lynn ( son of Olga Lynn) have both enhanced the name of the Karnataka Goans in the field of Administration. Peter Sinai distinguished himself in the Foreign Service and Christopher Lynn enjoyed enviable positions in I.A.S. cadres. The ladies, Dagmar Lynn and Olga Lynn are very well known figures in the social field well connected with many social organizations. Eric daCosta is a well known figure amoung the leading Economists of India.

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The Bangalore Musical Association (B.M.A.) had a Choral Group of the best singers of the time. The B.M.A. invariably presented two big Oratorio Concerts for X'mas and Easter, and two other minor Concerts in the course of the year. Works such as Handel's "Messiah", Hayden's "Creation", Bach's Cantatas and so on was the repertoire of the B.M.A. All these Concerts were free of any charge for the public education and education. Many foreigners in the audience accustomed to similar shows at Albert Hall in London and other famous Concert Halls on the Continent, often came to compliment the Singers after the show. Their appreciation was genuine and many of the officers of the army who were professional singers in Westminister Abbey and the B.B.C. joined the B.M.A. and participated in the Concerts during their brief postings in Bangalore.
Susan Heredia is the wife of Late Fredrick Joseph Heredia (17 Jan 2004).

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The "Good Old Bangalore" had it's own distinctive culture of "High thinking simple living". It was not only a Pensioners' Paradise, but it was a paradise for young students who cared to cultivate their intellect and acquire a culture based on values....

Susan Heredia

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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26