Pages from my dairy, traveling in Seventies

Much of our knowledge of Indian history comes from the valuable accounts of travelers and pilgrims who criss-crossed our country through land routes. In their writings on their observation and experience of a country, they have left various facets and facts about the past that new traveler finds very useful, as a historical data. And may be unimaginable in today’s world.

This post is not a travelogue in the normal accepted sense. But a valuable historical data found in couple of LOG BOOKS, maintained by the lady, head of a young family who were keen ghumakkars ,almost 50 years ago.
It’s like a treasure found in the old crooner wrecked on a deserted island years later.

At least I believe it to be so. I leave it to you judge the value of this treasure.

It was in 1965 that I along with my wife and two young sons, 6 year and 1 year,came back to Bombay to start my working life. First in a commercial concern (Rallis India) and then in advertising agencies—mostly, almost 25 year in an agency known as OBM (now OGLIVY & BENSON). Bombay it was considered to be life of high tension and full of ups&downs.

Gold Advice from my older cousin

My cousin,Ratan Batra had a big house near the Shivaji Park beach and the rent that he was paying was Rs 25 per month for a three bedroom house. Today his son still lives there.

He was a qualified fine Artist, and was the first man to start an advertising agency in Bombay, called Ratan Bharati at Illaco House near Kala Ghoda.My elder brother Narinder lived with him for 5 years while he was doing his Art course from JJSchool of Arts in early 40s.

The first time we met Ratan Bhaji, he said ”Kaku (my pet name), welcome to Bombay. But remember, try to get out of Bombay over the week-ends and holidays, even to the nearby places. which are so many. This will not only keep you free of tensions but add 10 years to your life.

We took that advice to heart and never forgot to get out of Bombay over the weekends. All by ourselves and sometimes with friends. And that’s where our “ghumakkary” started much before the birth of “”

My wife with two young boys, started driving out of Bombay. Almost, if not every, but every alternative week end. We became members of WIAA (Western India Automobile Association of Bombay) and started enjoying the drive to nearby hills, beaches and villages . It used to be heavenly, especially, during the monsoon, to drive away during the week ends.

In our white Herald bought from Madras.That’s the time we got into the habit of keeping log books of our travel. And any other relevant information of interest of that time. Normally this used to be passed back to WIAA for them to keep records, but some records were left with ourselves.

That was circa 60sand70s!


Today, 2017, more than 50 years later, my wife dug out— on the instigation of our granddaughter, god knows from where—two well-thumbed up dairies which she had been keeping with her all these years..More like Data bank that she had collected to plan and spend weekends and annual holidays.And her expenses on some household purchases.

It is the pages, from that dairies of decades ago that show the valuable travel information and life style of old pilgrims like us.

Just for information and to lend credibility to this piece, my wife had (in those days) used the diary published by Tata Oil Mills, (Tomco – A Tata caompany) which was one of my client at OBM.I wonder if today’s young people know that Tata used to make and market soaps and detergents.They were known for their products like Jai and GoldMist soaps, and 555 washing powder Bar

These annual dairies always had the theme of Indian Historical places. The pages, scanned from these dairies, would give you the glimpse of Life & Times gone by, that we will never see again. We hope you enjoy going back in time and see the wonderful country of ours, of those days, with us.

Here are the old pages, in no particular order to give you the feel of “No boundries”. The first one is of course the Diary that became a log book.

Remember, while looking at this collection of informatics (mostly classified advertisements,) that WE-SETHIS visited almost each and every place mentioned in here. The only exceptions were Kashmir and Darjeeling.

This is the Tata’s Dairy- OUR LOG BOOK

Tata Tomco Diary 1977


This is for Week Ends.

Weekends 2


For Longer stay.Look at the prices.




Longer Stays, Andaman at INR 975 for 7 days

Those were the days that one had to do all kinds of tricks with the cars on long drives. It was always customary to break ones journey at Khapoli before climbing the Ghats for Panchgani, Metheran or Mahabaleshwar.

There were number of tea stalls and dhabas.And each stall owner had his own young boys who were always ready with buckets of water(There were quite a few Hand pumps there) Remember that those were the days of old generation cars that got heated up, and needed to be cooled before climbing the ghats.

The moment the car owners parked their vehicles in front of any stall to have a breakfast/tea or cold drinks. The young boys would immediately open the radiator (after the bonnet had been unhooked) and let the hot water wheeze up and cool the car.Then they will fill it up the radiator with fresh water from the pumps. Owners ready to rev up for ghats.

The next stop—like just before climbing to any hill –is always a small temple on the road side—you just drop a coin, fold your hand in prayer and you are past the Ghats and reach your destination.It used to be an experience that one misses now while driving ones modern vehicle.


Pahalgam, Kashmir 1981


Khandala Chikkis

Khandala was known for its CHIKKIS,And it was expected of every one coming back to Bombay from Mahableshwar or Panchgani to Stop at Khandal to buy chikkis that were expected by everyone back at home.

MAPRO at Mahableshwar was,then a small manufacturing company making squashes of local fruits like strawberries,mulberries and grapefruit. Fresh and real fruit products in bottles.

Just to keep your mind in perspective, about the prices of rooms, cottages in holiday resorts those days, please see below the pages of our weekly shopping and costs. You will then realize (Hopefully) the times we oldies lived in.:-

TWO KINGFISHER BEERS…Rs 11! CINEMA TICKETS FOR “KORA KAGAZ”movie in Bandra theatre RS6.00 for 2 tickets.

1974 Prices


Apart from these fantastic holiday offers (that my wife kept handy these ads for our trips) the Bombay life had its own charm with street foods. A kilo of mutton Biryani for Rs55! with Chicken Rs 65.And onions cut up in Dehi come free. Most of the advertising agencies, while having office get together used to call for wholesale birayni from here. Busybee,who later on started his own afternoon paper (after leaving Mid-Day) was a well known and popular street food writer of our days.

Read this “Nobody eats in returants anymore.And nobody cooks at home anymore” True it was.

BusyBee Midday 1981


That was more than 50 years ago. You can imagine the size of salaries then, can you ?


Our habit of keeping Log Books, started then still continues even today. Our travels during this millennium, after retirement, are still with us.


All this week-ending and annual holidaying was when we were young. Much before the concept of ghumakkary or its originator was even born And the feel of being young that keeps one going.

Read Hafeez Jullundhry

havā bhī ḳhush-gavār hai guloñ pe bhī nikhār hai
tarannum-e-hazār hai bahār pur-bahār hai
vo kaalī kaalī badliyāñ ufuq pe ho ga.iiñ ………..
a haath rok sāqiyā pilā.e jā pilā.e jā abhī to maiñ javān huN


  • Patrick Jones says:

    Priceless! Really fascinated by the double digit phone number, life was so simple then. Thanks a lot Sethi sir, for the trip down memory lane.

  • Sandip Bhaskar says:

    Pure Gold Sethi sir!!!!
    Love all your writings here and ‘India of the Past’.

  • Sethiji,
    It is the Ghumakkar in you and in your family which is clearly manifested here! Deeply impressed!

    Thank you for showing us something which we cant imagine to see as on today!
    Cant wait to read another post from you, soon!


    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Are you sure? you want another Post?For real?T
      hanks to you Editors for not Blue-Penciling it.
      Nandan and you are very kind to the old Mariner.

  • sriyanka chatterjee says:

    Sir, you have shared a treasure with us. Thank you for sharing your valuable memoirs and taking us to the Bombay and India of 60s and 70s. A seven days’ Andaman tour for 950 rs only!!! I couldn’t have even imagined it if I hadn’t seen the newspaper cutout pasted in your wife’s immensely valuable diary Sometimes I feel the bygone era s were much better because of the simple life and it’s associated joys that people used to enjoy then. My grandmother has kept her old film magazines which I love to devour
    from time to time to get a taste of the beautiful life that existed then. There was an element of romance in life in those days. I also want to convey my heartfelt respect to your ghumakkari spirit. I am keen to read more about old-gold treasures through your write-ups.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      I am very certain that I had posted the “reply”to your comment,but it seems to have disappeared or got deleted. Yes some of the joys of old time and simple life have gone ,but not forgotten by some of us.Your grandmothers film magazine reminds me that I was a fan of Humphery Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. And i still have Seven of those old films.with me–old video cassets..
      Well,you have to move with the times if you do not want to be seen as an old silly ling . Cheers!words,hag.very your grand children and their smart phone friends. Thanks for very cheering words,

  • Auro M says:

    Great article.
    Log book collection is real precious – enlivens the memory of an entire generation.
    The bills / paper clips are so very interesting.
    Looking forward…….

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Thanks for appreciation. I had actually thought this piece to be of no interest to any one
      but decided to send it to Nandan.–just in case he takes fancy to it. well he seems to have found some worth for it.
      thanks to you and Nandan for pat on the back.

  • Jaishree says:

    You questioned about ‘use’? It is a heritage for us. My kids wonder when I say that pencil cost us not more than 5 paisa in my school days, that my father’s starting salary was Rs. 250/-. It is a heritage for my travel addicted family. Thanks for sharing such priceless heirloom with us.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      My apologies. I thought no one would be interested in rumblings of old memorabilia.
      Thanks for your stiff pat at back. I really appreciate it. I wish I could feed you more of nostaligia. Regards

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Sethi Sahaeb, Baithna hai kaabhi aapke saath, If you haven’t see this movie called, “Khosla Ka Ghosla’ then probably you may not be aware of this popular dialogue.

    Simply amazing.

    I know we have already done a few rounds of photos, but can you please again send me a few photos in a better size. The photo of Diary (I want to tweet this to Ratan Tata Sir), the article of Busybee and more.

    The world is same, just the medium of expression have moved from a log-book to a blog-site. Thank you Sethi Saheb. Please pass on my gratitude to Mam and a Shabashi to the grand-daughter for the instigation.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      I have replied to you via emails along with some more photos.I hope they serve your purpose,otherwise just order once more.I have,in my email given some idea of Tata at that time. Do read before you tweet to …Busybee Is another story.
      Nandan,thanksto you and all editors for posting it.

  • wondergirl89 says:

    Sir I am simply lacking the right word to express my fondness for your write up…I cannot say that I am getting nostalgic, no that’s not for I neither came across such 2 digit phone number nor a kg mutton biriyani for 55 or 7 day-Andaman package for 975…

    What struck my mind after going through your post is something completely unmatching a concept which I don’t think is a subject of Ghumakkar but still would like to share…It was only yesterday that I called up a tuition class to know their fees for a cousin of mine and the amount read 20,000 for accounts which was 12k just a few years back when I opted for…

    I know that’s a complete irrelevant point out here but somewhere what I feel deep down within is that everything has stretched beyond in today’s world, be the 10 digit mobile number or a 3-digit for a plate(nor kg) of mutton biriyani or 5-6 digit package for Andamans… wonder income have also increased incredibly but have our simplicity expanded or is just running loose off our hands…. Donno may be its me who’s thinking more …


    And Ma’am truly portrayed the role of the Head of the family (as you mentioned) by treasuring the jewels.. Kudos to your grand daughter too !!

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Somebody is gonna gulp a lot of Beer today. :-)

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      wondergirl,i love your rejoinder, do not forget the number of digits in your AADHAR CARD,PAN CARD,and GST. Thats the life we live in where you pay Rs120 for a kilo of Tomatoes
      I tell you when my younger son,5 year old in 1970, was admitted to school in Bandra,Bombay(St, Stanaslaus) his fee was Rs7
      Thanks for wholehearted appreciation.

  • Venkat says:

    This post is indeed a treasure trove, Sethi Sir ! We at Ghumakkar just can’t thank you enough !

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Its thanks to Nandan,because i had thought that this post not suitable for ghumakkar. Thanks really for your appreciation.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @jatinder_sethi:disqus – Sir, I have updated the two pictures viz first of TOMCO Diary and of BusyBee. Have also tweeted the link to Rata Tata Sir, lets see what unfolds.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Well lets wait and see. Ratan is a great PR man and may reply,even though he was not at all involved with the workings of TOMCO.My dealings then were a very nice handsome Parsi gentleman Feroze Sharaf(with knowlrdge of perfect Urdu) and sometimes(for approval of Radio Spots) with the head MR. Darbari Seth..
      Good luck/

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