Here is a small trip down the memory lane.For many of the Junior Officers who resided in the NDDB campus at Anand in the early 1970’s,the ubiquitous table pictured below is sure to bring about nostalgia.
These handcrafted tables were on sale during the evening hours just outside the Baroda railway station. And the price? A mere Rs.5!Carting a couple of them to Anand was no hassle either. There used to be a Baroda- Ahmedabad passenger train leaving the station at 6 PM, reaching Anand around 7 PM. However, transporting them to the campus was more cumbersome than carting them from Baroda to Anand! If memory serves me right,autorickshaws were either rare or yet to make its appearance in the visibility of the Anand station.
Initially, I had picked up one table and paid Rs.5.However,the next year when we picked up another unit , we had to pay Rs.7.But ,at such prices one does not complain.
The one pictured here is still in perfect shape and serves me well. And believe me, during the past 40 odd years, I have carted the guy to Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Cochin in trucks packed like sardines. Sadly,I lost its identical twin in 2000,while transiting from Madras to Cochin.
The second photograph of the three cute looking coffee mugs too have another fascinating story to tell. They were also picked up from Baroda sometime in 1977.Remember, during those days Anand was still a one horse town.
It was a case of the proverbial love at first sight! I first saw it on Professor Michael Halse’s office table. And over the next few weeks, I realised that it was a regular presence on his table. I am sure that the learned Professor must have noticed my envious glances at the mug. But he chose to neglect it, and I felt too uncomfortable to ask him where he purchased it.
However , a few days later,I checked with his Secretary Jagadish Mehta and learned that it was purchased from a crockery shop in Baroda. Other than that he could not tell me anything more. Though disappointed, there was hardly anything that I could do about it.
A couple of months passed by.And then Hey Presto ! One afternoon I found myself in the Office Library ( then located in the hostel building). I noticed librarian Jyotiben Patel holding a copy of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India. And the outside back cover carried a full-page colour advertisement of the same coffee mugs with the accompanying jug.
Sadly, the advertisement carried only the name of the manufacturer-Standard Potteries and not that of the distributors in Gujarat.
However,the disappointment did not last long .During our next visit to Baroda for some small shopping,I stumbled upon the object of my desire in a largish ceramic shop in the Mandvi area!
Though we picked up 6 mugs and the accompanying jug, sadly only tthree survive today. But,as the saying goes,one has to be grateful for small mercies!
Even after four decades, I continue to use them every day. And every time I see the mugs which I have lovingly named as ‘ Mike’s Mugs’, fond memories of the late Professor flashes through my mind.