|Smt Shantabai Savur|
Sushilakka was born on 8 March 1928; I went to see her a few days after her 89th birthday. When she saw the box she was overwhelmed with emotion and kissed the photo, gazed at it lovingly, and could not speak for a while. Then she told me that the photograph had been taken in Masulipatnam when her father, an officer of the government’s revenue service, had been posted there.
It was 1938, and a ‘famous’ photographer from Baroda visited Masulipatnam. The Collector, the Chief of Police, and many of the other important people of Masulipatnam sat for family photographs and portraits. Naturally my grandfather did too, and this is a portrait of him and his family taken then.
|Bhavani Shankar Rao Savur (1900-1961) and Smt Shantabai|
Bab (Ramanand), Gopal (later Dr Gopal Rao Savur),
Sushila (later Mrs Tirkannad Sushila Amrit Rao
Gul (later Mrs Gul Raghuvir Dhareshwar)
Sushilakka could not remember the name of the photographer but promised to think and phone to tell me later, when she remembered. She did tell me that years later, in the 1960s, she was living in Baroda with her husband and two young children and her father wrote to her, reminding her about the photographer and suggesting that she pay him a visit, which she did. She and her family received a courteous welcome and he remembered her well. In fact, he even mentioned her mother’s perfect profile and spoke of it admiringly all those years later.
I was moved by the story, and eager to find out more. It turned out that Masulipatnam is a place of historical importance, a trading port on the east coast of India used by the Dutch, the British and French. This engraving is from wiki: “View of Masulipatam. Anonymous. From Philip Baldaeus, A True and Exact Description of the most Celebrated East-India Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel”.
Masulipatinam is still a port and fishing harbour, but it is now called Machalipatnam. It is still famous for the Kalamkari block-prints on textile. A blogger, NP Prasad, writes that this was the place from where the Golconda diamonds were exported for centuries, along with other interesting facts about the place when he/she visited. Read more here. There are also photographs of the place, which make it look very interesting, on this link. They made me want to find a way to ask my grandfather about the place he lived in in 1938, the people he knew, the work he did, and his ideas about various things and his aspirations for his life.