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Kola Sahebar Club added colour to urban life


GUWAHATI, Jan 7 � An Anglo-Indian Club used to add colour to the urban life of Guwahati in the 1940s and 1950s. This club was called Kola Sahebar Club by the common Guwahatians, while its formal name was the Telegraph Institute Club.

According to noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika, this club was located on the western part of the present day Central Telegraph Office, in front of the Girls' Common Room and Chemistry Department of Cotton College.

Majority of the members of this club were Anglo-Indians, which made it a club of the black Sahibs (Kola Sahebs) for the common Guwahatians.

The club had a sprawling campus and it had its own lawn tennis court, badminton court and a ballroom.

On the advent of the Christmas or the New Year, the club was beautifully decorated and illuminated. Fire works were displayed on its compound on such occasions.

Majority of the club members were also Telegraph Department employees.

The club organised the first All Assam Himatsingka Cup Badminton Championship on an all Assam basis in the 1950s and this was the first badminton tournament of its type in the State.

The club made significant contributions towards popularizing cricket in Guwahati. One of its members Late Blankely was one of the renowned all-round cricketers of the State. He represented Assam in the 1950s in the Ranji trophy.

P Guha was the pioneer in popularizing badminton in the State and he was associated with the Telegraph Institute Club's venture to organise the All Assam Badminton championship, Hazarika said.

Hazarika recollected his association with some of the Anglo-Indians of Guwahati. He reminisced his last meeting with Mr Colin, an Anglo-Indian youth of his age in the 1950s. Colin told Hazarika that his family was moving to New Zealand. Colin was a cigarette company employee and in his childhood he used to stay on the Central Telegraph Office compound with his parents. However, he was not connected with the Telegraph Institute Club.

But, Late Donald Paul, another Anglo-Indian whom Hazarika knew well, was connected with the Telegraph Institute Club. He was actively connected with the Guwahati Sports Association as its Hockey Secretary for several years. He was a great admirer of R G Baruah.

He was the caretaker of the Navagraha War Cemetery and he married a Khasi woman who was a nurse by profession. The couple had no issue. Paul died sometime in the 1980s. Perhaps, his wife left for Meghalaya soon after his death, Hazarika said.

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