I stayed in Ramanthapur since childhood; we lived for about eight years in one house when I was very young. It was behind the Satyanarayana Swamy Temple.
This house had a compound and with a wooden wicket gate. There was a row of three rooms at the far end with Mangalore tiles for the roof. They are prepared from hard laterite clay and provide insulation from the scorching sun and excellent ventilation. Next to the gate in the northeast corner, there was an open well. In front of the house, there were lots of plants. In those days, toilets were always farthest from the living space. Nowadays they are attached to the living/bedrooms. As per the Vastu, east facing houses were considered good. Vasthu is a traditional science of space and energy. Therefore all the houses in this row were east facing. It was convenient to see the neighbors and have a conversation across the compound wall.
Third house from our house there lived a family. We called it the house of Doctoramma (Doctor+Mother). A spiritual lady, her husband was a medical doctor. So she has got the prefix Doctor. They had two sons and two daughters. Her children were very disciplined. Son’s heads were always found shaved. She was strict and does not want her sons to see any girls and also not get attracted to them. She does yoga regularly. Doctoramma was very compassionate for others too. She regularly read Bhagavad Gita and also preached it. My mother became a kind of follower. In her influence, my mother and elder sister both turned vegetarians. So my younger sister and I also turned to vegetarian food. There was a tin bath tub in their house. If some one got the fever, she used to let them lay in the bath tub with cold water up to the neck. Once my mother had a very high fever, and she was also treated similarly.
My mother recollects that, when I was around five years old, one day I was sitting on the parapet of the open well with legs hanging inside. It was the rainy season the water-table was very high. This is due to the seepage of water from the nearby water tank called Chinna Cheruvu; then it was also up to the full tank level. My mother’s friend Mrs. Saroja saw me sitting on the wall of the well. She approached my mom and told her my precarious position. Therefore asked my mom to pull me from behind. While approaching, also asked her not to shout, or else due to fear I might jump into the well. My mother walked gingerly from behind and pulled me backward by holding my shirt. She says my life was saved. Otherwise, I would have fallen in the well.
Another day, while I was studying in a school. I did not return home in time. My mother searched every house and asked every passerby while searching many places. Finally, she found my cloths on the bank of the water tank. I was then trying to swim with friends in the shallow waters of water tank. She took a very thin stick in her hand and called me to come out of the water. Once I was out of the water tank, she started beating me all the way home about 100 meters away. I began running to the home, crying aloud and without any cloths.
In those days my fathers earning was just enough. Once it occurred to my mother that, she could shave my head with the shaving blade of my father. Instead of taking me to a barber shop for cutting to save money. She always saw my dad shaving and thought it is so simple. She never had a practice of shaving, so it was uneven, and at some places, I was bleeding. Ms. Saroja my mom’s friend saw this and advised my mother to take me to a barbers shop for completing the shaving without much damage. I was taken to the barbers shop nearby and got my head shaved completely. Sometimes poverty leads to innovation.
During Ganesh Chaturthi, there was a traditional belief that if one gets scolding from others, it is good. Someone told me to break the tiles of our neighbor’s house by throwing stones on their roof. This was one of the easiest methods to get scoldings from the neighbors. I picked up some rocks and threw them on our neighbor’s roof; it had Mangalore tiles. I broke a few. They came out and started giving all sorts of galis (scoldings). Although I was outside, they did not expect me doing that. I slowly went into the house fully satisfied with the scoldings. Probably, as the Ganesh Chaturthi happens during the rainy season and to create additional work opportunity for the potters making tiles, this was made a tradition.
Behind our house, there was an open space. Lots of white quartz stones were there. The white quartz stones were very sharp. The pieces of stones tarnished with red soil, some curious patterns appeared when observed. The patterns looked like trees, images of gods, animals, etc. Myself, my elder sister and with few other friends often used to go and collect these curious white quartz stones. By breaking the bigger rocks we always explored to discover more and more curious figures. Probably this curiosity of the stones got introduced at an early age attracted me towards pursuing the Geology subject, later in my life.
The responsibilities at this age were nil. Life shapes up and the first impressions of ones interests surface at this age. The impressions last longer in life as they happened at an early age.