Sunday, June 19, 2016

Vatarada Manegalu- Malleshwaram

People who lived in the 50s, 60s and 70s in Bangalore  know Vatarada Manegalu. These are a group of small houses built in one 'compound' and the families living here share water and electricity bills(I think.) Now in 2016, most of these 'Vatarada manegalu' have been demolished and storied flats have been built in their place.
But I did see this remaining Vatarada mane in Malleshwaram and photographed it in May 2016. I am sure it will disappear sometime soon. Many Kannada novels, movies and short stories have captured the social drama and life of the families who live in these homes. I remember an Anant Nag movie which was about the families living in a Vatara. As a child  I did live in two  Vatarada Mane, both of which were  in Malleshwaram. I remember both of the houses as being really small.
 One house was like a railway compartment with rooms in a row i.e. a bedroom, a drawing room, a kitchen a bathroom and a toilet. One enters the house through the front door into the drawing room. The bedroom and kitchen were on either side of the drawing room and both  rooms had doors opening to the drawing room;  The bathroom and toilet were the next two rooms in this row(after the kitchen) but one had to step out of the house (through the front door in the drawing room) to access the bathroom and toilet.  
 There was a big garden in the front with a well and lovely guava trees and other plants and trees which I cannot recall. There were three such houses in this Vatara.
I remember we had firewood  to heat water for bath in the bathroom in the 70s; we then changed to an immersion coil kept in a bucket of water (and we had to be careful not to get electrocuted by touching the bucket when the coil was switched on!). The next in the evolution of heating water for bath was  a huge brass vessel ('An-de') with an electric coil welded inside  a few inches above the bottom of the vessel. The latest means of heating water  in this evolution is the hot-water geyser on the wall.

The toilet has evolved from Indian type to 'western commode' in our new home in another part of the city.

I have lived through many stages of evolution in the kitchen department. I have cooked on wood burning stove (simple alignment of three to six bricks and wood placed between the bricks and the vessel placed on the bricks) in my village. I have seen my parents and grandparents cook on kerosene stoves(Kerosene was a precious product bought cheaply at the government run ration depot or we paid more for it when we bought it by the litre on the streets from a vendor who had kerosene in  a huge drum on a cart ). We next had coil electric stove and my dad finally agreed to get a gas stove after 2000! He believed for several years that gas stoves are dangerous and we will all die in an explosion. In Canada I see a range of new electric stoves which are covered with glass completely!
Vessels  have evolved from aluminium and steel and copper to microwavable porcelain and glass.

I don't recall much about the other Vatara house . But I do recall my dad telling about my grandmother watering her beloved plants and the neighbours complaining about the water bill!
Vatara mane  are soon becoming a thing of the past and the new generations don't know of the sociological dynamics of living in these homes!
 The 4th photograph shows the use of firewood for cooking  in Bangalore(in the Vatarada mane in Malleshwaram) in 2016! Truly, several generations of technology co-exist simultaneously in India even to this with coal, firewood, electricity, gas, solar heating, gobar gas.

See for a 'little-bit more' information about Vataras.

Below are photos of another set of buildings in Malleshwaram...I think they too may be Vatara homes but not 100% sure.


Below are photos of two windows in a 125 year old house in Mysore. I want to show how thick the walls were built in those days. This house is not built with cement but mortar i.e. a combination of lime and mud.

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