The influence and profile of royal families was still substantial when Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar was in school. But for Prof C Sarvamangala Bai, who taught him during his PUC days at Maharaja’s College here, Wadiyar was just another average, well-behaved, if naughty teenager.
Prof Bai had just begun her teaching profession when Wadiyar was a student in the late 1960s and was not aware that he was from the royal family. “He had the prefix ‘Sri Sri’ in the attendance register. But I used to call out his attendance by his surname. Even after I came to know about his background, I continued to call him Wadiyar and he used to accept it with all humility,” she remembers.
Prof Bai revealed Wadiyar had no hang-ups about his pedigree and mixed with other students very well. “Given his height and build, Wadiyar had to sit in the last bench in class and was very talkative,” she said.
One incident Prof Bai holds dear to her heart was the way Wadiyar and his friends responded when she angrily threw a piece of chalk at them for talking in class. The chalk fell on Wadiyar. “The next day, I went to college wearing a white saree. After going to Wadiyar’s class, I was told by other teachers that my saree had been sprayed with blue ink,” she recollected. However, Prof Bai did not lose her temper and told the class that red ink was better suited to a white saree than blue! The students promptly apologised.
After several years, Prof Bai recalled Wadiyar’s mischief when he was invited to the college for a function. Befittingly, Wadiyar had then said he had great respect and love for his teachers and named Prof Bai as one of them.
Cynosure of all Eyes
Students used to look on with awe as Wadiyar arrived at Maharaja’s College in a long car as such vehicles were rare then. However, he never parked the car in the college portico despite being allowed to do so. Instead, it was parked on a road leading to the Vice-chancellor’s bungalow
When he joined Maharaja’s College, two palace servants used to carry a big wooden chair for Wadiyar to use. But after a few days, he refused it. However, the chair never returned to the palace and has since remained in the principal’s chambers where it called the ‘Wadiyar Chair’ to this day
Wadiyar used to invite his teachers for Dasara Utsav by giving them passes