Song of the Road

Memories of Childhood, Fun and excitement of hobbies

I think hobbies are a very important , fun and precious part of our lives. There are those  hobbies which are the usual ones like collecting stamps or coins and then there are many unusual ones.

My father writes about his hobbies and all that he had to do. This was sometime in early 1940s.
“When I was young, collecting stamps and pictures
on the match boxes became a craze with me.  These were
pasted on used note books.  It was then the time for me
to show my collections to my sisters and friends.

Smoking cigarettes and bidis was quite common then.
Matchsticks from match boxes were used to light them up.
After the matchbox became empty, it was thrown on the
roadside.  When, in the evenings, I walked on these
roads, I could  easily collect these matchboxes.  The
pictures pasted on the boxes were taken out from the
boxes without any difficulty.

Stamps were difficult to collect.  The High School,
where my father was the Headmaster, got a large number
of letters and parcels daily.  The covers were thrown
into  wastepaper boxes after their contents were
removed.  A search of these boxes in the evenings
yielded a big harvest of stamps, both Indian and

After the match box covers and stamps had been
collected, my problem started.  Used notebooks were
available.  But the problem was getting enough gum for

Hospet was then a part of Bellary district and
Madras Presidency.  On the east of Hospet, we had a
road connecting us to Bellary and which continued to
the west till the end of the district.  Perpendicular
to this road, there was a major road connecting it to
the sugar factory and then to the river.  This road
crossed the two irrigation canals passing through
Hospet..  It was also close to our house.

There were many shade-giving trees  on both sides
of the road.  They were mainly neem, banyan and tamarind
trees.  If there were open scars on the trunks of
or you accidentally made some scars on the trees
gum used to slowly ooze out of the trees.  I walked
along the roadside for collecting the gum from the
trunks on the trees.  One walk up and down the road was
enough to give me gum a week.

After bringing this gum to the house, I used
to crush it with stones and put it in a bottle.  Then,
I poured some water in the bottle.  After a week. you
will be surprised  that I got wonderful gum in the

Using this gum, I pasted the stamps and matchbox
pictures on the notebooks.  This gave me a lot of
pleasure as I showed them to my sisters and friends.


( The photo is of my father among cashew trees behind their home. )