My Tirupati History.    'My' Village of  Thumulagunta 1982 - 2015

Every morning and evening I walked with my camera and binoculars, usually amongst the fields around the SV University guest house. One morning a friendly boy invited me to his village for Tiffen where I had a wonderful herb omellette cooked by his grandmother on a stick fire, sitting on the mud floor of a hut. This was my first experience of the wonderful hospitality of this village. I later became a sort of village photographer with many friends amongst the children there. Most houses were thatched and the 'roads' were mud (as seen in this picture). This gradually changed over the years. In fact this was just a part of the larger village of Thumulagunta, 'my' part being Mallipalli. My friends there became an important part of my life in Tirupati.
To reach the village I walked up the road over the rail crossing and turned down the tiny track/road to the village. Later this became a 4 lane road.

As the children became teenagers they adopted me for their entertainment and became good friends. Five years after leaving many of them remain friends on Facebook.
More pictures of them appear in my main annual sets of pictures.

1982 1984 1992 1993 2001 2002
2003 2004 2005 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
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................... The road from Thumulagunta - now a 4 lane highway Most homes had thatched roofs. The cow dung is drying for fuel
  One of the few 'pucca' houses at that time  
  One of the few drinking water places. Before plastic water pots were available He was very keen for a photo with his buffalo
TOP School                                                                   Loading an ox cart with? One photo sir
  Must look his best for photo Very enthusiastic to have their picture taken at the village pump
  The village is amongst the trees. Planting rice
  I asked the boy "Do you eat these?" "No sir, they are for the dirty christians
  In the surrounding fields  
  I think the load is rice  
  These villagers came running up waving their knives and shouting but it was only for a photo sir. They would not let me through on the path until i took their photo
  1992 Thumulagunta (Mallepalli). These were taken on my trip at invitation of a friend. I am a bit confused with dates. I was taken to one of the few 'pucca' houses. A boy was sent to get coffe and a biscuit. I then had a long photo shoot with all the family after the ladies changed into their best saris.
  My friend's house. At the end of the road is the small village temple. Beyond that is the main track to Thumulagunta Next to the village
  My friend is on the right. Ashamed that I cannot remember his name My special photoshoot
TOP They taught me to trust the wonderful hospitality of the villagers.  
  1992     I think these are the small village beyond Mallepalli on the Upparapalli Road
  The village was lttle changed in the eight years since last visit  
  Doing the washing in a stream On the way home. The boy on the right is playing with my binoculars - a favourite sport
  Plouhing the paddy field.   The oxen never seem overfed. Nearby brickfield with its gardians
  Always the Tirumula hills in the background Rice
  The village temple  
  Road to the village  
TOP More irresistible photoshoots
  Ploughing Rice planting again
  Preparing the paddies Building road near the village
  My village friends working in the dairy farm on the way home Village temple
  Always a happy event lining up for a photo
  The friends I made here previously. He is now married.
    Washing at the stream Very proud water carrier
  On the road near the village
TOP Very important. They invited me to the village and started my annual visits. Venkataramana and Balaji Three smiling girls who went serious when i agreed to take photo.
.................. 2002  
  Some village ladies run this stall by the junction of the road and track into village. Plus one drunk husband. They thought I might like to buy her.
  Paddies at edge of village The usual photoshoot. I got to know some of them better over the years
TOP Balaji and Venkataramana Eventually they became good friends, especially Balaji
  2003   This was the first year I had a digital camera so able to take many more pictures. The process was very popular as they could be looked at and then more were demanded. Balaji invited me to have tea at his parents' house and the tradition of going up on the roof was started.
  Balaji's neighbour's house, viewed from his roof. By this time most houses were brick and concrete Balaji (in blue jeans) on his roof
  The boy drove the cow to have its photo taken. The little girl ran in to put on her party dress Venkat's grandmother
  The road makers are preparing. The man is plaiting leaves

Proud or protesting?

  Venka with granny and dog My work as duty photographer
TOP I think this is the precursor of the small temple by the small road into the village This is a chicken shed on the track to the main village; the pariah kite was a great bonus
  The village amongst the trees  
  Balaji with the slightly crazy man; for years he was making these strange signs at my camera Balaji and Venkat with Venkat's mother. The boy in front is Mounish, later to become a friend
TOP Always difficult to encourage the girls to smile. I think they were used to being ignore
  A corner of the village I got to know well
  With Balaji I think this is Balaji's father. Mounish is 3rd from left
  This became a traditional photocall on the roof of Balaji's home The tall boy is (I think) Barath's brother. 2nd from left is Mounish
  Very keen to have this nice photo taken Bobby, a village favourite for many years Venkataramana
.................... ..
TOP On the track from the main village into Mallepalli. One of my favourite walks  
  2007  This was a special visit with Liz who was very popular with everyone. Most pictures are of children in the village, many later becoming friends
  With Balajji, the first stop for all my visits They always want the cow to be in the picture
  Liz, almost hidden with villagers A gang of my budding disciples
  Chaos of organising photo Barath (cute name Balu) after organising photo of his kite
  I think this is Balaji's grandmother (Balu sneaked in) Barath and Sai who was always quiet and shy
  Sorry don't know names   Showing off their phones
  Bharath's brother, Sai, ??, Barath Liz with Balaji and his brother
  Peering in to Balaji's house to see the strange white creatures
TOP Hello Goodbye

................... 2008   These pictures include some of surrounding fields  
  Such a peaceful place Milking time
  Sai Prasad Balaji's grandmother at her 'shop' by the house


  Suman and Balaji in the setting sun The new food mixer Early picture of Madhu. later a disciple
  Balaji and Venkat at start of village track Biggest smile in the middle is Bharath. Bobby is in blue shirt
  Usual entertainment

Badminton team

TOP Bharath, Mounish, ? and Bobby Beautiful but I have no name for her I was always asked to take photos of newer member of the village.

................... 2009  
  My welcome The rough ground that remained a playground. Balaji with sister and attendant Bharath (of course)
  Playing with fire View of neighbour's house from Balaji's roof
  ?, Ganesh, Bharath, ?, Sai  
  Sai and Mounish - showing encroaching new flats Success - Mournful Mounish laughing Sorry forget name With Suman
    Sorry no name                          Suman                                Mounish, Bharath, Ganesh
  The track from Thumulagunta is now a road Bicycles and bikes have started to be more common. Mounish is on left.
  Hosepipes have made washing a bit easier (I'm told) Every year there are more new buildings. This is view from Balaji's roof.
  Shop is opening up. Another newish house
  Honey Shree Mounish and Bobby on Balaji's bike
  Balaji at back (left) In front: ? Balachandran (Bablu(, Mounish, Honey Shree Madhu, Bobby and Jogesh
  Bobby and Mounish Suman, Mounish, Madhu and Honey Shree


2011   This was the year I was so frequently invited to go to the village I took many pictures - especially of the demandong boys.
  My welcome. Bharath, Bobby, Bablu, Madhu and Mounish. They became a special gang of friends New residential block beyond the 'playground'.
  My 'home': Balaji's house with his father at entrance I can only identify Bobby and Balu
  With Balaji and family and friends on his roof. Bharath (Balu) looking, as always, at camera The new houses. Balu demanding attention. Boy in pink shirt is the, always shy, Daya.
  The usual fight to get me to take their photos. The two on the right are Bobby and Bablu. Jogesh has now arrived (always with his doll) and Bablu on the right.
  Balaji bullied them all into this sulky group. I think this is Balaji's grandmother and sister with Mounish playing the money on the wall at the right.
  Sorry only know names on left - Jogesh and Balu One of the boys' fathers back from cutting sugarcane
  Balaji's sister (I think) with village water tank in the background Balachandran (Bablu) shyly pleased to have my attention.
  Edwin (a biochemistry student and good friend)                  Teaching how to use binoculars Bharath (Balu)
  Mounish, x, Bobby I don't know what this game is. My disciple Balu mastering binoculars Madhu, Bobby and Bablu
  Balaji's mother Balaji's father and sister

                                                                                                       Portraits of my future friends


TOP Dinesh Bobby Mounish ? Said to be "wicked boy sir" Balu Bablu

.................... 2012  
  Balaji's father at his home Balaji and his sister
  The goat is minding the office I don't know the game
  Bobby on top with Daya to his left. They are outside the house (now empty) I visited in 1982/1984 A picture of the bicycle was wanted. Prudvi (wicked boy) is front left; Bobby and Daya top right.
  Honey shree with her goat. Balu with arm in sling with his mother. Jogesh is waving at front.
  Some of my village ladies  
  Kalyan, ? Balu, Bobby and Honey Shree Barath's mother at the entrance to the uncle's house where i spent much time with them all
  In the larger part of Thumulagunta Thumulagunta ladies
  Balu being Balu Thumulagunta (main) from the park which later became my usual Sunday village visit
  I had known the mother since small girl Honey Shree reacting to Suman's claim that she is his girlfriend
  Balaji's father Balaji with sister
  Always keen for her photo Balu's mother
  Honey Shree writin (on Madhu's back) name of the village bad boy Prudvi Prudvi
  Balu, Kalyan and Dinesh Bobby
  Prudvi                                                                                  Balu Damaged Balu
  Balu's dream A very happy girl.

................... 2013
  An especially flowery year Balu's uncle's house where he mainly lived and where I loved to be welcomed by them all
  Balu's elderly relation Balu's mother on right in the couryard of uncle's house
  Courtyard of Balu's home (uncle's house) Ladies working, men playing cards. Note the green plastic water pot taking over from aluminium pots
  He was very pleased when I said he was a very rare and great man doing his own washing With Balaji
  Balu with brother Ganesh and father on the 'playground'. Sai on Republic day
  Balu with camera, Dinesh with binoculars and paisley-patterned lady On Balu's roof. He became very competent with the camera
  Bobby and Mounish with background fight Balu and Mounish. Typically Balu has no chappels (sandals)
  Wicked boy sir - Prudvi Bobby just back from school
  Manoj, Jogesh, Bablu, Honey Shree and friends Mounish in centre with this year's baby
  I had just told them they were beautiful  
  Mounish in his favourite place Explaing the small camera
  My happy ladies  
  The village temple by the entrance road Madhu, Balu's cousin, Balu, Manoj
  Bobby Mounish Balu Honey Shree
TOP Sunday afternoon at the park. The park was between the main village of Thumulagunta and Mallipalli.   It was a favourite place to take me as entertainment.
    The girls were never as relaxed as the boys
  Badri and Sai They all wanted pictures with the flowers
  Fighting to see photos. This pavement was all around the top of the encircling embankment. Smile from Badri, never from the girls
  These scuptures were for poses  
TOP A rare nice smile Flowery Balu

.................. 2014  As I got to know the village boys better I was taken there very often so more photos. It was sometimes a chore but it was a privilege to be adopted by them
  Balaji's grandparents at his home - always my first stop With Balaji's sister and others
  Meeting up with old friends. My loyal friend Madhu, and dogs, chickens and someone gone off with binoculars The ladies' gam
  Balu's uncle at his house My usual place in the house
  Balu showing the family a video of me and Hugh playing duets The video was passed around village; here with Bobby and others
  Her special dress With Balu's sister (left) and mother (right) and cousin
  On the roof. See distant new blocks of flats Balu's mother, cleaning teeth, with friends going off to work
  In the kitchen
  Balu's father (right) is building them their own house  
  With parents and sister Morning grooming
  Stopped for photo on entrance to village - the big 'playground' is on left Perhaps a record
  The temple at the edge of the village with Kalyan who helped clean it (I think) Venkataramana, one of the little boys who first invited me to the village - with Balaji
  Village buffalo in the 'playground Balu, cousin, Kalyan and Madhu looking at a girl on balcony in distant flats: "not for us sir - wrong caste"
  Bobby and Suman at Balaji's home Mounish the baby minder
TOP Balu, the bird photographer near the encroaching flats Balu's picture of Brahminy Minas. I had failed to get a picture of these for some years
  Thumulagunta park. I was usually taken here on Sunday afternoons. This visit we also went to the new Hanuman temple in the main part of Thumulagunta. The boys dress well for posing for photos
  Temple entrance Sai wanting a picture with the 'story'.
  The local brickworks by the park  
  Madhu Bobby
    The bougainvillea flowers mark the surrounding path. The flats are those encroching on Mallipalli
  With Sai and Balu Bobby become photographer
  Bobby's photo of Balu Sai
  Mounish, Madhu, Kalyan Monkey Balu
  Madhu Jogesh
  A few more portraits  
  Badri, Kalyan, Balu, Dayaka and Manoj Madhu, Manoj, Balu, Bablu and Sai
  Dinesh Bobby Kalyan Manoj
TOP Mounish on roof of guesthouse in my stolen hat The last word of course with Bharath (Balu)

.................... 2015   My last visit to India.   The village boys frequently visited the guest house and then took me back to Mallipalli, 'my' part of thumulagunta
The first pictures below are general pictures of the village. Followed by pictures of my friends at the park and at the guesthouse
  The temple at village entrance, showing further encroachment of new flats With Balaji, my first friend in Thumulagunta
  The low buildings used to be the only ones on the track between the two parts of the village Encroachment from the side of the village
  The main water tap. Shame about the ubiquitous litter. Evening milking lit by evening sun.
  Balu's mother. Note my picture just above her head. The back of the house of Balu's uncle, where he lived.
  Washing up More washing up
  My friends watching video of Hugh and me. Cousin (? and Harsha), Balachandra, Bobby, Balu, ? and Jogesh Honey Shree working while the boys play (that's life)
  Balu, Mother, sister, uncle and aunt Showing her new dress. Then Booby insisted I try it
TOP Top of 2015
  Sunday at the park. Our traditional trip. The boys always demand photos of themselves and often insist on posing with me. Sorry!  They also wanted pictures wearing glasses
  The main village of Thumulagunta With Balu and villages of Thumulagunta
  Bobby, Madhu, Jogesh, Balachandran (Bablu), Manoj and Ganesh (Balu's brother) Bablu, Bobby, Balu and Jogesh
  Swinging Bablu Always more elegant Krishna
  Madhu fighting a croc Bobby at rest (rare)
  With Dinesh Jogesh, choosing a flowery photoshoot
  With Bablu Madhu Jogesh Bablu
  Bobby Ganesh Jogesh again Balu
TOP Top of 2015
  Thumulagunta friends at the guest house.  I was part of the entertainment, others being computer, ipad and chocolate. The flat roof opposite my room was garden, workplace and chat room
  Balu. His usual opening words: "Hello Chrish - passwaord sir" Bablu playing games on my ipad.
  Krishna's birthday force-feeding cake Paying proper respect
  Foot massage from Prudvi 3 newish friends: ?, Krishna, Prudvi
  Dayakar Wearing my Department farewell gifts Balu, Kalyan and Daya Pensive Madhu
  Madhu, Guest house boy, Daya, Bablu, Balu Unsure, Prudvi, Balu, Daya, Kalyan
TOP Farewell pictures with Balu and Moin (ex-student best friend)
  Top of 2015