ITI Colony. ITI Quarters.
A thousand genies journeyed from there. A billion stories have already been told.
Genies are still dreaming of a million more stories to share. Narratives Galore.
They are our own Dreamtime Stories. There is only one singular theme binding them together – ITI Colony.
Doorvaninagar, Bengaluru-560 016 is where the Indian Telephone Industries Limited company is situated. The giant manufacturer of telecommunications was a well-nourished seed of the British Raj. When it was birthed in 1948 the proud independent sovereign state of India was looking towards industrialisation. The then supporting pillars were secularism, democratic principles and socialism.
ITI factory, as we all called it, gathered a good sample of workers from around the country. A well-planned township with sweet Kaveri river water supply, electricity, excellent drainage and sewage system and neat, straight, long lanes was created to settle the employees with their families. The younglings attended ITI Vidya Mandir school that offered primary education in three languages – Kannada, English and Tamil. High School offered education in English and Kannada medium of instruction. Different community associations were assigned with the job of nurturing talents and causes in science, music, arts, languages and religion. Everything that was typical of a ‘big’ English village was created in that little Township – temple, bank, post office, bicycle garage, café, vegetable & grocery shops, childcare center, park, hospital and the big school with various sports grounds. Of course, they all played cricket; but, hockey, football and desi games also were alive.
A Mini-India lived in that ITI Colony. Telugu-vaallu, Bengali-dada, Hindi-bhai, Kannada-anna & akka, Kerala-kutti, Tamil-annai… They were not just worker ants. They brought cultural capital with them to illuminate the Colony with bright little Sunshines and Angel Faces.
Sometimes I thought the term ‘Colony’ was too colonial; ‘Quarters’ was too regimental; ‘Township’ was too small and strange, confining in its meaning. Dooravani Nagara was the right place-name. My dilemma was often reflected in the address column on application forms, the light cream-coloured Post Cards and Inland Letters that we used, to write to others living away from us.
The younglings, those little Sunshines and Angel Faces, born year after year, used only one place-name – ITI Colony.
So it was. So it is. Even now.
An IT professional gushes about Ganesha habba at the temple from New Jersy, USA on her WhatsApp group. A classmate from Sydney, Australia is proud to share the photographic evidence of home-grown wonder vegetable Choko. A medical consultant living in England is sharing his karaoke music video. Many are inviting everybody to their children’s weddings in Bengaluru. Some are trying hard to trace those missing or forgotten girls and boys.
It is indeed so amazing to witness the ITI colony narratives. The Sunshines and Angel Faces – now mums and dads (some are even grandparents), business bosses, consultants and flourishing families – have carried it all within their heads, hearts and souls. All these days, months, years and decades. Not a single girl or boy has forgotten the good old days of ‘our ITI Colony.’ ITI Colony streets, our school, ITI circle hotel, ITI Karnataka Sangha and a hundred other memorabilia have nestled in their hearts. For ever and ever.
After all, we did find our magic carpet – our ITI Colony days – thanks to WhatsApp.
‘Namma ITI’ Colony stories are unearthed every day and night. They are whispered across the globe. Crossing different time zones, the oceans, continents and the mountain ranges. The stories are flying everywhere, flapping their wings like the Canada geese.
The genies are all sitting on that magic carpet. Reflections, analysis, interpretations, sharing and discoveries are unfolding.
A new light is shining on those childhood / teenage memories and experiences. Liberating feelings. There is healing. There is a Voice. An exploration of Self.
A powerful meaning-meaning process.
Whoever knew it was going to be so rejuvenating!