History & Culture

Memories of Coimbatore - Coimbatore, cricket and court cases

Tales from the pavilion Players heading to the ground for a Ranji trophy match held in 1964 at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University grounds Photo: Special Arrangement  

I remember Coimbatore as a city where life moved at a leisurely pace. There were no townships in Vadavalli, Ganapathy or Saravanampatti. They were mainly agricultural lands beyond the municipal limits. The city did not have activities beyond Thadagam Road on the west and Saibaba Colony was the most developed area in the North. R.S. Puram, Ramnagar and Race Course were residential paradises. Singanallur, Kuniamuthur and Avarampalayam were just hamlets back then.

Road-side tales

The roads were traffic free and there were only a handful of cars. Why, there was even a bus (No.6) which used to fly through the now-congested Kalingarayar Street and Sivasamy Road to reach Jail road!

During my college days, a guy who owned a two-wheeler was considered a hero! Vespas and Lambrettas were popular, as were Bullet and Java bikes. If one booked a vehicle when he was, say, 18, it would be delivered to him by the time he got married!

English movies were screened at Rainbow or Srinivasa theatre. We would watch films a year after they were released in bigger cities. I remember watching ‘Ten Commandments' . The dialogues had a background score of the loud chugging of the trains that passed behind the theatre! In the late 60s, only after Central theatre was constructed did we enjoy the luxury of air-conditioners. Jaffer's ice creams were an added attraction. Action movies and James Bond thrillers were screened at Rainbow theatre.

Naaz was the favoured haunt for Hindi-film lovers. My sisters and their friends used to go to Naaz mainly for the melodies of Rafi, Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle.

Cultural activities in the city were rare. The music season was mainly held during Rama Navami. Most concerts in Binny Subbarao's compound used to begin at seven in the evening and extend up to midnight. My mother and other women banked heavily on the ‘Jutka vandi' to get them safely back home.

Childhood cricket was confined to tennis ball matches in the front yards of houses. Later, we pitched stumps in Sastri Maidan and played with cork balls. Subsequently, we graduated to proper matting wickets and cricket balls. Apart from a leg guard and a pair of gloves, we had no other protective gear on us.

A few older cricket enthusiasts would supervise the cricket. While one had to pay a small subscription to be part of a team, many rarely paid. There were no sponsorships. Only private clubs and a couple of educational institutions took part in league cricket matches organised by the District Cricket Association.

Cricket matches were also played in Park grounds. The captain of the losing team was expected to sign the score sheet in acceptance of defeat. Inevitably, most losing team captains slipped away!

Till the advent of television, going to Madras and watching cricket test matches used to be a ritual. This was how one could tell a real cricket enthusiast apart.

While playing in Forest College, one could hear an old tree creaking. It was that quiet. We would also hear the clock strike every half hour.

Our seniors in school cycled to Marudamalai for adventure. College-goers spent evenings either in India Coffee House over coffee and cigarettes or at Lucky Café (on Avanashi Road) over tea and music played on the jukebox.

The most posh hotel used to be Woodlands on Arts College Road.

There were barely 150-200 lawyers in Coimbatore in the mid-70s. When the inflow during any year touched double figures, it was a record. We had very few courts till the 1980s. There used to be two munsif courts, three sub-courts, two district courts, one labour court and four or five magistrates. Disposal of cases was fairly satisfactory, since we had an efficient judiciary and a responsible bar.

Coimbatore has produced some outstanding civil, criminal and corporate lawyers. Coimbatore courts have witnessed some very important criminal cases such as the Sulur Subbarao murder case and the Rajan murder case. On the civil front, the Kozhumam adoption case was a landmark case. These cases are still spoken of, by the legal fraternity in the city.

Coimbatoreans were warm, respectful and hospitable. We grew up soaking in the city's culture. Now, there is a slow and steady decline, culturally. We have to ensure that our city continues to maintain its glorious past.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 10:23:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/memories-of-coimbatore-coimbatore-cricket-and-court-cases/article2104254.ece

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