Chamarajpet at 125

Apparently, it would be 125 years since Chamarajpet was carved out from the “outskirts” of the petes, in 1892. I find it odd because the St. Joseph’s Church, right at the border of Chamarajpet has been standing for more than 150 years. But then that would’ve served the Cottonpet, Akkipet and Chikpet areas. Chamarajpet would’ve come up later – a perfect rectangle of 5 main roads and 9 cross roads, with a conservancy lane stretching between each main road for all the 9 roads. Each plot of land extending from the main road to the conservancy lane. Long and winded plots, with one house for the landlord and surrounded by tenants living in one bedroom houses.

But how do you make sense of History for an area? Can you look back that long and see all that has remained? Or do you make sense of the change that has happened and measure all that has been lost? It would be like a big old house – some additions made, some old parts destroyed, but mostly an overwriting of memories. Would those who live there know about those who lived earlier, 50 years back? Would it even be the same family? Continue reading “Chamarajpet at 125”


Karnataka Bedding House

We stood there quietly, me and my brother, as Amma and Maami negotiated with the guys in the shop. The shop had bales and bales of cotton strewn all over the 10ftX10ft area and housed three or four guys, in various stages of labour. After much bargaining from our side and patronizing from their side, we took home a pillow. It was grey with Yellow-golden lines criss-crossing each other at right angles and turning black where they met. That night me and my brother fought for rights to use the new pillow.

The place Karnataka Bedding House, nestled on 3rd Cross, next to the conservancy lane between 1st and 2nd Main Roads, of Chamarajpet. It required visits at times as the cotton pillows and beds ended up with the cotton moving away from where the body rested and needed to be spread even. We’d watch with fascination as one of their workers would put a bed on the footpath and slam it all over with a rod. This meant that if a stick was at hand at night we tried the same, slamming our freshly unrolled beds, evoking much anger in the elders.

Sometimes the cotton went old and beds had to be mixed or combined. These involved multiple visits, carrying the beds once, and then following up repeatedly. “Two more days” he’d promise before we had to tag along with Appa who always used to give them a tongue-lashing. He always seemed to have the right anger and the right words to go after them. Growing up looked very daunting – to have those words, use them and get things done from people who never worked otherwise. The beds turned up in a few days – thick, taut and squarish, grid-like to hold the cotton where they had to be. As always me and my brother fought for rights to the bed – the new pillow, a negotiation point. When one of us was shipped off to some cousins’ place, the other got full access to both and promptly bragged on return.
Continue reading “Karnataka Bedding House”