Memories of Childhood, growing up near sugarcane fields

My father is 82  and we have been asking him to share with us his childhood memories. Those days  were very different  and it is really nice to listen to him. He has been sending us some of his special moments. He grew up in a town called Hospet in the northern part of our state, Karnataka.

He writes,

Hospet is now a major industrial centre of Karnataka. It has Iron & Steel Factories and iron mines.  The river Tungabhadra flows very close to Hospet and there is a large dam across it near the town. But, when I was a child there was only a sugar factory there,called India Sugars & Refineries. Two old irrigation canals were flowing in the middle of  Hospet. These helped farmers to grow sugarcane in fields between Hospet town in the south and Tungabhadra river in the north.  They  produced large amounts of jaggery in their fields; they also supplied sugarcane to the factory.  The cane was hard and difficult  to eat, but suitable to make jaggery & sugar.

The sugarcane was carried to the factories in open bullock carts. The road they took  passed in front of our house.  The cane season was from November to May. We, children eagerly waited for this season.  Outside our house, there were two granite benches and we children  used to sleep there. The bullocks pulling carts and the bells tied to them made a lot of noise while moving. When the carts came near our house, we went to  the drivers  and requested  them to give us a few sugarcanes. Most of them agreed.  We pulled out one or two canes.  Some of the carts were without any driver, but simply followed their leader.  Assuming the drivers’ permission, we did not hesitate to pull out one or two canes! I do not know if you have ever eaten sugarcane. Try.  It is one of the greatest pleasures of life. 

Many farmers used to make jaggery in their fields for their consumption and for the local market. They used a big iron vessel called ‘kopparige’ in Kannada,  It was about 2.5 metres in diameter. A sugarcane crusher operated by bullocks was used to extract the juice. After sufficient juice was collected it was poured into the kopparige and placed on fire. The juice boils to form a paste. The thickened juice was then poured into specially prepared receptacles in the ground which were about 1.5 metres square and 25 cm deep.  Mats made of  dried palm leaves were placed in these holes, covering them fully. The paste starts drys slowly.A cream starts forming on its surface. We used to visit these farmers and they would take a sugarcane and roll it on the surface of the jaggery which would stick to it . We relished eating these newly made sweet stuff.     It was one of the greatest moments of our life.


These photos were taken near sugarcane fields in Aurangabad i 2011     




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