A Cross Section Of My Gloomy Life In Davanagere


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A cross section of my gloomy life in Davanagere 

 I secured a medical seat in JJM Medical College at Davanagere, Karnataka, India. I was prepared for the tough and disciplined life of a medical student for the next five years.In August 1967, I travelled by train to go to Davanagere.My father had arranged for my accommodation with a merchant, Savanna Shetty, at Davangere and I arrived at the address in Mandipet in a horse carriage . The room was on the first floor without any furniture, windows but there was a bed on the floor. To go to the toilet I have to go downstairs in the common facility. That night was very miserable, the next day morning I contacted the college authorities to get a hostel room. Unfortunately, the authorities could not help me as the college had not yet finished the construction of a hostel. They directed me to a private lodging called PJ Extension and I was given accommodation in a double room. The rent was high in that lodging set up, and I have to squeeze other expenses to live within my meagre budget. 

My roommate was a temperamental person from Rajasthan state called Vasanth. He was a hero worshipper of certain Bollywood actor and will go wild if someone tells against that film star. In the evenings he used to drink small amount of brandy daily, telling me that it was only a medicine! In the medical college administrative block, I met Nambishan from Thrissur, Kerala State. He was not keen on dissecting cadavers going to the anatomy theatre. His house in Thrissur was a  block away from mine, and his father and maternal uncle were running successful businesses at Thrissur. As years go by, he did not make any progress, but  informed his parents otherwise. Everyday he will sit in a nearby bakery of Joseph and chat away the time.After three years, his suspicious uncle came to Davanagere and got crestfallen to learn the true state of affairs. That was the end of the medical college career of Nambishan. There was another character called John who never entered the premises of medical college, or passed any examinations, but continued paying fees. He lived lavishly,squandered away the hard earned money of his professional father. I have been told that, after twelve years or so, he set up a student mess in Davangere and was popular among Keralite medical students. Another character Anthappan who was junior to me was brought by his father. His uncivilised mannerisms and degrading talking were legendary and abhorrent , and he will involve in any antisocial activities if he is instigated. Once he got caught by police and was cautioned.  There are a lot of other nasty characters in JJM Medical College, where rich parents banish their sons in the disguise of medical students. To show one’s adventurous and daring behaviour, a minor group of mischievous students involve in criminal activities.  These  include stealing copper wire from government depot, tamper with electricity meter, stealing  wandering pigs, killing and eating them, throwing  iron bar vertically through street cables creating blackouts by short circuit, slapping unwary passengers standing at the open carriage door when the train departs and picks up speed at Davangere station. I have heard stories of sadistic pleasure of other miscreant students in the form of torturing animals like donkeys, and dissecting stray dogs under anaesthesia. Some other thugs  attack and terrorise decent hard working students. Sharing with others such criminal antisocial behaviour was the past time of those college absconders.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Davangere was more of a traditional city, compared with Thrissur without adequate cultural and social events, fewer good non vegetarian restaurants and public transport. The gap between the rich and the poor was very huge and in villages bonded labour was common. Often there will be no running water in the hostel, as such hygiene is compromised. Unlike in Kerala, I have not seen a torrential rain in Davangere and one cannot use umbrella as it was very windy most time. Social life  at Thrissur was far better and enjoyable which  persuaded me to go to Thrissur more often. If I get at least ten days in a row through holidays or student strikes, I take the trouble travelling 380 miles to go to Thrissur. I shall write about other specific incidents in Davanagere life in the future blogs.



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