In 1940s, Why Many Were Born Before 10 June !

“What is your son’s birth date?” the clerk at the primary school asked my uncle who took me there for admissions in 1950. My uncle was caught unaware.  He never expected to face this question for getting me admitted to school!

I was born at home with the help of Akkamma, an experienced daima (mid-wife) who was devoted to our family for pre and post natal needs. There was no system of celebrating ‘Happy Birthdays’ during those days!  So, parents never bothered to remember the actual birth date of their child!

If I had to check with my Mother for anyone’s birthday in the family, she would quote an incident which happened a few days prior or after the specific birth.  I really appreciate their memories. The deliveries very rarely  in hospitals.  They were mostly at home with the help of daima.   Hence there were no official records. Only a lucky few could afford to wear a wristwatch at that time.  Therefore even the accuracy of the exact time was questionable.

Then how come we all have birth dates? Oh, and even the exact time of birth! In this entire loop, at least in my case, there was one individual who played an important role in determining my actual birth date.

In business communities, the 6 feet long red colour cloth bound bahi-khaatas (books of accounts) were maintained by the family muneems (accountants).  Whenever there was a new arrival in the family, he made a note at the top of that day’s journal “wife of Mr. so-and-so delivered a baby boy/girl at such-and-such time.”

The time noted was as given by the family members.  That became the basis for preparing janam and lagna kundalis (birth and marriage horoscopes) by the Pandits (priests). These were usually prepared years later, as and when the necessity arose.  Else there was no need to remember the birth date.

Therefore, when most unexpectedly the guardian of a child is asked for a birth date, one does not expect to get an answer on the spot.  Even if the guardian knew, there are some other internal and external limitations which needed to be considered.

There were no pre-KG or KG classes then.  For admission to the 1st standard in a primary school, the student had to complete 5 years of age as on 10th June of the year of admission.  If someone was born on 11th June or later, he would lose one year in school as that year was not counted for admission age of 5 years.

And there were other factors too!  An auspicious day was selected for getting admission to school. There was a belief that once you go for a good cause, it was inauspicious to return without having completed the job.  Hence, once you were at the school for admission, there was reluctance to go back home to find the actual birth date.

Even if he wanted to, he would have to trace the books of accounts of five years back, look through each and every day’s notes around the approximate date of birth. A tedious task indeed.

Further, parents considered it an honour to have their child admitted to a school.  It didn’t matter if the age was a couple of months short; the repercussions in the future were not considered seriously in those days.

The school authorities were interested in as many admissions as possible, so that they coult earn enough.   A date which proves completion of 5 years would do.  The parents were conveniently advised to give a date between 1st and 9th of June (of 5 years back) so that the child could be considered as having completed 5 years of age!

Not surprisingly, a good part of the population at that time was born just before 10th June!

Written By: Badri Baldawa

Edited By : Meeta Kabra

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Will Power Assures Success

Lower Spondylitis, three cervical slips and dislocation of a toe-joint were the health related issues I faced in 2008. Alongside I had syncope and chronic high blood pressure.  In normal course, with these issues, one might vehemently oppose the idea of even going for a simple walk.

I, however, wanted to trek to Mt. Everest base camp.  Age 64 years.  My spine questioned its importance, “how can you ignore me and put me under such strain?” The toe protested “after all it is me who’ll ensure you to do the trek. If I am not well, how will you trek?”  To me they sounded like kids making excuses to escape from home work.

But I was very clear.  Come what may, I have to go. I wasn’t convinced that these were adequate reasons to not to go or to postpone the Everest Trek, even by a day.  I had to convince my so-called problems.  To my cervical spine, I said “I will not strain you. I won’t carry baggage on my shoulders; I’ll have a porter to carry the weight”.  To the lower spine, I extended a carrot stick, “Don’t you worry.  I have a nice, imported waist-belt to support you; you would love its company”.

For the toe I had, “I will take you to an orthopedic doctor, feed you with appropriate energy so that you won’t feel the pain, atleast for a few weeks.”

The Doctor advised me to postpone the trek by a fortnight to give some provisional treatment.  When I refused and asked for a better option, he came up with a solution. He’d inject a medicine and within a week the toe would be good for the next 8 weeks at least.

Looking at my firm attitude, my good-old companions from birth, neck, spine and toe were convinced and happily made my trek to Everest possible.

We are faced with similar problems in other fields too, in day-to-day life.  If we permit them to dominate, they restrict our success.  If we have the will power to dominate these problems, success is assured.

Written: Badri Baldawa

Edited: Meeta Kabra

The Puff

My family owned a tobacco business for a few years when I was a child.  All the adult men in our family had to smoke to assess the quality of the tobacco.  The youngsters, particularly from the family of my uncles, were not prohibited from smoking. If they had to be a part of the business, they had to know the taste of the tobacco.

Smoking, however, never interested me.  As a child, I thought smoking was bad for youngsters and may be good for older people who earn out of it. I didn’t smoke and my dad didn’t want me to smoke ever.

Around the mid 1950s, on one specific occasion, curiosity got the better of me – I wanted to know what a smoke tastes like.  I chose a time when my dad’s office was empty.  I closed both doors to the office.  To ensure that no one detects me, I crept under the office table, and put a beedi in my mouth, filmy style.

I tried to copy Dilip Kumar, N T Ramarao or Nageswar Rao, the then Hindi and Telugu famous movie actors. I lit the beedi, and took my first puff.  Oh no! I started coughing immediately. The cough just would not stop.

My dad was in the quality inspection room located just behind the office room.  He sent our senior supervisor Girijappa to figure what was wrong with me.  Girijappa rushed, looked at me, understood what I was upto. He said it is not unusual and that it happens when you smoke for the first time.  That was the only puff I had in my life.  I hated the concept thereafter.

I thank that puff for keeping me away from smoking forever.

Written: Badri Baldawa                                Edited: Meeta Kabra

How Lies Boomrang:


The year was 1972-73.

Pushpa and I were married for about 10 years or so and lived at Ruwi, Sultanate of Oman. Pushpa was down with cold, cough, and fever. She was in no mood to go to the clinic to get the medication prescribed. Now, the corporate doctor on duty, Dr Samuel,  gave prescriptions only after examining the patient.  She would never budge from this principle.

A brilliant brainwave struck! Why not go to the Doctor and present myself to her as the patient. I could act out all the symptoms that Pushpa had and the doctor would prescribe/provide the medicines which Pushpa can have.

I acted convincingly.

Doctor said, “Loosen your waist belt and lie face down”. I had to do what she asked me to do, even if I didn’t understand why. She came up and injected the medicines, “Go, you will be alright today. You don’t need any other medicines.”


Edited by Meeta Kabra