Lifescapes

A Personal History
Rajeswari Chatterjee

Chapter 6. The Mad Horses
of Casetta

When I was about four years old, and my cousin was about three years old , during my visits with my mother to Bangalore City to spend some time with her mother and sister, Vijaya and I used to play a lot of games together. There were three older cousins of my mother: Sharade, a girl about thirteen or fourteen years old; Mamu, a boy about the same age as Sharade; and Mamu's younger brother, Papanna, who was about eight years old. They used to play with us younger children nicely, and both Vijaya and I used to love them very much. Once in a while, they used to play pranks with us

My grandmother had a horse-drawn carriage called a governer's cart, which used to take her daily to Mahila Seva Samaja, where she was the Honorary Secretary. It was driven by a coachman. The horse was quite strong, and he was fed huge amounts of boiled lentils and fresh grass every day. He was sometimes a very mischievous horse, and used to go round and round the roads of Bangalore. One day when he was at home, he was in a very mischievous mood, and the coachman could not control him in the garden surrounding the house. The name of the house was Casetta and it was situated on Shankarmutt Road. Seeing this, the three older cousins of my mother, Sharade, Mamu, and Papanna, made Vijaya and me sit side by side on an outside sill of a window opening out into the open veranda, so that we could watch the horse going running round and round in the garden. The three older children climbed a mango tree to watch the fun. The horse became wild and entered the veranda and put his head near the two of us who were sitting on the window sill. Both of us screamed like anything, and some older person from the family, maybe my uncle who was Vijaya's father, came out of the house, and carried both of us safely into the house.

Later on my grandmother had another horse-drawn carriage, called a Tonga, at the time when Vijaya, my younger sister Seetha, and I were going to the university colleges in Bangalore. I was going to the science college called Central College, and Vijaya and Seetha were going to the women's college, Maharani's College, in the early forties. The two colleges were next door to each other, and Shivaprasad, all of them were travelling by train from Bangalore to Gulbarga. One gentleman, sitting on the opposite seat, was staring at Vijaya for a long time.

Then, finally, he took courage to say to Vijaya, " Madam, are you the person who used to go to Maharani's College in the tonga drawn by the mad horse?" It seems he was a student going to Central College at that time.

the three of us went in the tonga every day, up and down. This horse was also a highly spirited horse, which used to go round at a place called "Mysore Bank Circle" just before we reached the gates of Central College.

Many years later, maybe in the sixties, when Vijaya was married and was living in Gulbarga, a small town about two hundred miles north of Bangalore, with her husband Srikantia and two little boys Shriram and
 

A Note on "Casetta":

It seems that the word Casetta means a "small house" in Italian, and my grandmother's father, who built the house, gave that name to the house. He was very friendly with several European Christian missionaries, and one of them probably suggested the name to him. It was called Sanna Mane in Kannada by most of our relatives. This means "Small house."

Now the house is gone, and a big apartment building has come up, and the builder has given the name "Hillcrest." There is no hill crest in that location. It makes us feel sad, who have lived there for many years, that the old name Casetta has not been retained.

To Chapter 7