One February evening in Bangalore, two men who, between them, have been on this planet 195 years, got together to remember their salad days ( or in their case, milk days). Another 90-year-old joined them for a few minutes on the phone from Pune) Sheshagiri aka our Appa, who turned 95 in March. Dasanna the centenarian, and Tulupule, the youngest at 90 something. All of them alumni of the National Dairy Research Institute, Audugodi. When the NDRI celebrated its platinum jubilee in 2000, (these three, and the late Subba Rao, marked the golden jubilee of their class of 1949. The NDRI was born in 1923, as the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry and Dairying. The year our Appa was born!
In 2000, the four, who were in their seventies, checked into the hostel at their old Alma Mater , and reminisced about their days on the campus, 50 years ago! Appa and Subba Rao wrote a nostalgic piece in the Platinum Jubilee souvenir. He called it “Chewing The Cud! (Reminiscences of Two Golden Oldies- Batch of 1949)
We recently revisited “Chewing The Cud” which was written 18 years ago, and we realized it now has vintage! So, shall we say this post is a nod to age, vintage and anecdotage!
After completing their course, Dasanna and Sheshagiri joined the Karnataka State Cooperative Department as Dairy Officers. It was their job to teach the modern way to do dairying to farmers in the rural areas. Subba Rao served in the Animal Husbandry Department. Tulupule joined the National Dairy Development Board and worked witih the great Verghese Kurien,for a while. It is not too long ago that Appa was still telling of Mr Tulupule’s little trips out of Pune to give consultation to needy dairy enterpreneurs!
Here is the article, from which it is clear that much fun was had, much learning was done, and when the milk curdled, it was all good! And there was absolutely no provocation to say “Don’t have a cow!”
While writing this post I couldn’t help thinking how dairying and life in general, was so uncomplicated in those days. I think Appa will have much to say about the Cattle breeds that are vanishing, and about. Jallikattu , and traditions that had much meaning and significance in those days, if I pester him enough.
In 2000, during the Platinum Jubilee, I wrote an article in The Hindu about Gandhiji’s stay at NDRI. Dr Iya, Appa’s teacher, visited our home, and so did his three mates. Appa is eagerly awaiting this post, which has been long overdue.
Mr Dasanna, who is turning 100 in August, is a freedom fighter and a great elder who will be featured in a separate post.
Chewing The Cud!
(Reminiscences of Two Golden Oldies- Batch of 1949)
A.R. Sheshagiri and S.N.Subba Rao
In the beginning of November 1947, we entered with great pride, the portals of IDRI for the first time. Fifty years ago in 1949, it was with great pride that , we came of the institute as technical members of the Dairy fraternity, qualifying as we did in the first batch produced by free India. As students, we took part in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the institute. We were indeed fortunate to be around when along with the golden jubilee of our passing out from there, we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of our Alma Mater as well!
The heart-warming welcome we the new comers received from the senior residents of the hostel who hailed from different regions of India is still fresh in our minds. Amidst this air of friendliness and solicitude, our initial feeling of strangeness in our new surroundings soon vanished, and we were made to feel comfortable and at ease. The hostel premises were neat and comfortable and had a pastoral charm of its own. In addition to the IDD students there were also post graduate students and short course trainees residing at the hostel. Some of the IDD students were fresh from the colleges. Many were already in service or in business and a few were deputed by the government of different states.
In the beginning food posed a major problem for the students, coming as we did from diferent areas and having varied food habits and preferences. Broadly speaking, North Indians wanted mainly wheat and for the South Indians rice was staple! The cuisine also differed. There were already three messes working- one non-vegetarian, one vegetarian catering to the northerners and a third one managed by the Bengali and Assamese students. To top it all, we southerners added the fourth dimension to the existing mess situation! For some time we enjoyed our favourite rice dishes with sambhar and rasam.
Soon there was a direction from the Centre that this kind of regional bias was against the spirit of national integration and there should be only two sections- vegetarian and non-vegetarian. This was immediately implemented. Mess secretaries were chosen, committees to advise on the menu were formed, and a happy formula was evolved to the satisfaction of all. We felt at that time that “nutrition” being one of the subjects of the IDD course, was largely responsible for the smooth selection of menus! During the menu committee meetings, words like palatibility, succulent, roughages, digestive coefficient, starch and protein content were freely usedto make the point. Such practical application of the theory would have certainly delighted our teachers!
At the commencement of the course, the subjects were introduced, batches were formed and a timetable was drawn up. Code of uniforms and behaviour were explained. Khaki shorts , shirt and cap for cattleyard and agriculture, white shorts, shirt and cap for dairy technology. If anybody was not in the proper uniform, he would not be allowed to attend the class! ow we were all se t to become dairymen!
It was impressed on the students that this dairy course was a practical course. “You have to learn everything by yourself through hard work, practical experience and observation”. Students were divided into batches and practicals started very early in the morning. Each batch used to work in the cattleyard, farm section, Dairy Technology section or Engineering section for ne week, by rotation. In the afternoon section, batches would work in Dairy BActeriology, or Dairy Chemistry laboratories. And as you might have guessed, our favorite language of communication was Dairy English!
Naturally, our dairy training started at the cattleyard. The best way to learn about the cows was to attend to them personally. We washed the cows, rubbed them with kafai and groomed them with curry comb. We attended to their feeding and finally, to the milking. Milking was a delicate operation needing special attention and was allotted a separate timing, which started rather early- at three in the morning! Our “gurus” were the gowalas- the permanent cattleyard attendants.
They showed us how to tie the legs of the cow with one swing of the rope and untie them one pull of the rope end. The Institute possessed a large herd of high-yielding milch cows. They were docile, well-trained very patient and cooperated very well with their novice classmates! “Jill Shed” the model milking byre, was the best classroom for the practical dairy husbandry.
The Dairy Technology section was the favourite of all. Butter making and cheese making practicals offered full of scope for developing our individual skills and ability in the dairy techniques. As part of the training, we cleaned the equipment and the premises spick and span, even polishing the brass bolts and door knobs with Brasso! We took in our stride the various agricultural operations, ploughing, plating grassroots, cutting grass and irrigating the plots. During the engineering practicals, we chiseled and filed iron and wood blocks. Indeed a dairyman had to be a man of many parts!
The most interesting part of our curriculum was the study tours we went on. These tours, apart from being a source of education and entertainment, certainly helped in broadening our vision of dairying in India. In our first year, we toured Kangayam Cattle FArm at Palaykotta, Thirupur, Coimbatore, Ooty, Coonoor, and MAdurai. During the second year, we toured north India, visiting Delhi, Lucknow, Izatnagar, Hissar and Karnal. The north Indian tour was alway organised to coincide with the all India Cattle Show at Delhi which offered an opportunity to make a comparative study of various breeds of cattle in India at one place.
The unforgettable event during our training was the celebration of the Silver Jubilee 0f the IDRI in 1948. The main function was presided over by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. Dr. Kothawala, a prominent figure in India dairying and Dr. Khurody, the Milk Comissioner of Bombay graced the occasion. As part of the cultural show, a drama specially scripted for the event was enacted by thr tudents under the able direction of Dr S.C.Ray and Dr. K.K.Iya. The drama was well appreciated by the audience. There were also sports events and competitions. Jubilee celebrations were a grand success and as events in the institute’s long history have borne out, the forerunner to many more jubilees!
We enjoyed our dairy course, and benefitted greatly from it. It not only shaped our careers but also gave direction and purpose to our lies. There was the lighter side to it also, like “Yeh kya cheese hai?” addressed to our brothers from the north during practicals! Making fun of the foibles of our Maharashtrian classmates, we had a taste of humour with “tasting” the milk when the activity referred to was in fact, nothing more than testing the milk at the lab! For us, our hostel had become a mini India!
By the end of two years, we learnt a great truth- how vast any subject can be if one aspires to be an expert! To the team of dedicated scientists and teachers like Dr Sen, the director of the institute, Dr Dastur, Dr Ray, Dr Iya, Dr BAsu, Dr Ananthakrishnan, Mr Rangaswamy andMr Lazarus, we owe them our Diplomas in Dairying. They were ably assisted by all the staff of the institute and we remember taking staff assistance for the simplest things like the rope trick while milking the cows, to complications in the chemistry laboratory.
The two years spent in the Indian Dairy Research Institute were the best period of our lives together. The memories of the happy days at the institute still forms the “CUD”to ruminate over in our twilight years!