Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Dr. SD Karve – Life Sketch – Part 1

 Dr. SD Karve – My Paternal Grandfather

 A Life Sketch by Vikram Karve



In the early 1970’s – my paternal grandfather (Shankar Dhondo Karve) and grandmother (Revati Shankar Karve) – permanently relocated from Mombasa, Kenya – and – came to live with us in Pune.


I clearly remember one incident.


I was studying for my B.Tech. (Engineering) and had come home for my holidays.


One evening my grandfather called me.


He said that some his friends were visiting – he gave me some money and asked me to get a bottle of whisky.


“Do you drink...?” he asked me.


“No…” I said – truthfully.


“That’s good…” he said, “You should indulge in “vices” only after you start earning your own money – as a student you must live a life of “thrift and frugality” …”


(He was right – you understand the value of money only when you have to earn it)


As a successful doctor – Dr. SD Karve enjoyed a very high standard of living in Mombasa, Kenya.


Once – he visited a friend in Deccan Gymkhana (around 5 kms away from our house) – and – his friend was aghast to learn that Dr. SD Karve had travelled by the humble PMT bus (instead of a Taxi or an Auto-Rickshaw - which he could easily afford).


(Dr. SD Karve was born in 1894 and must have been in his 80’s when this incident took place)


He told his friend that he felt quite fit enough to travel by bus – and – in fact – he could have walked down too.


His friend ensured that he was dropped home by in his car.


A few years later my grandfather and grandmother shifted to the bungalow of his youngest brother BD Karve – where he had built a room (outhouse) adjoining the bungalow.


They lived there till both of them passed away to their heavenly abode in 1983 – they passed away a few months apart.


Actually – I was much closer to our maternal grandparents who lived in Pune – rather than our paternal grandparents who lived across the seas in Mombasa (Kenya) – and visited us once in 2/3 years when they came to India by passenger ship (later by aircraft) on vacations.


Believe it or not – but we never visited our grandparents in Mombasa.


My parents had planned a family visit to Mombasa in November 1962 – passports were ready – tickets for the sea voyage were booked – but in October 1962 – war broke out with China – leave of all Defence Personnel was cancelled – and my father (an Air Force Officer) was sent on duty to the North East.


So – the visit to Mombasa was cancelled – and somehow – the family visit to Kenya never materialised again.


Thus – sadly – we were never able to see my grandfather’s house in Kenya – though he did visit us in India a few times – before permanently relocating to Pune.



Dr. SD Karve – son of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve – was born in 1894.


He completed his MBBS from Grant Medical College, Mumbai and joined the Indian Medical Service (IMS) was a military medical service in British India…




To Be Continued…



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