Written by Ramesh Nair (1982)
1977 was probably a memorable year in many ways – the Janata Party swept to power in India, Morarji Desai declared urine therapy was good for you in more ways than others, Gawaskar and Vishwanath were the king's of Indian cricket, the 'Kissa Kursi Ka' case embroiled Sanjay Gandhi, 'The Rajan Case' was a sensational event (he was a REC Calicut student who disappeared after the police got hold of him) and Yes – I joined Lovedale on February 13th.
The 1st week in school was important as one made important choices about the arts and chose between band, indian music, sculpture, art, carpentry, weaving etc (ABMDP) and considering my not so agile mind- I followed in the footsteps of my brother and chose weaving.
There were a few of us from 7B who took weaving – Muthu for sure but the others fail me right now. Muthu was a talented weaver who would have made the carpet weavers from Iran proud but in this case, the only thing that mattered to the honorable Mr Dhanagopal was the ability to keep the shuttle going back and forth between the warps. Nothing could have been more disappointing to him than dropping the shuttle on the floor while concentrating on using the foot treadles (1-2, 1-3, 2-4….) and the rhythmic pull on the handle that sent the shuttle like a guided missile but in this case creating a towel or a serviette and not destroying the target.
Alternately, one could be assigned to hold yarn placed between one's outstretched arms while the thread was spun into balls of thread and then onto a spindle. The net result of this weaving exercise was the creation of serviettes, towels, and finally in 8th grade with the introduction of the punch card weaving machine – bed covers.
To be engrossed in one's work year after year in that musty and damp room (we had to take our shoes off) might have seemed like a chore to us, but it was a man's calling and he was Mr Dhanagopal. His day of glory was once a year during the exhibition that accompanied Founders – parents gladly bought their children's products and 'Dhana' as he was fondly called, should have been proud that his products were useful to society.
Thank you for knocking me on my head when I dropped the shuttle, it hurt at that time but reminded me that with a little more effort even I could churn out towels and other useful products.
In Peace, Mr. Dhanagopal.