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 “ghumakkar.com”
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!
LOST TREASURE UNEARTHED
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
This is for Week Ends.
For Longer stay.Look at the prices.
OLD STYLE CARS-AUTOMOBILES
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.
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.
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.
WELL WELL WELL!!!
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