One of the most popular personalities among the old Mysore citizens was one V N Narasimha Iyengar. He was also known as mīsè (mustachioed) Narasimha Iyengar. The reason was: Narasimha Iyengar was the one who started the tradition of growing a moustache, which was not prevalent among the Śrīvaiṣṇava brāhmaṇas. He was from the Hebbār Śrīvaiṣṇava community. In the era of British Commissioners, the few who could reach better positions, owing to their educational capability, were largely Hebbār Śrīvaiṣṇavas.
Abode of Snacks
Both of us were walking on the 3rd cross road of Basavanagudi. We heard someone singing when we came near a house. We stood there for a second and listened to the song. We do not know whose house it was. As I was looking around to ask someone, Murthy knocked on the door. Someone opened the door and asked
“Aren’t you Srirangapatna Subbarao’s son?”
I have passed two examinations in my life. One is the Lower Secondary in Kannada. That was probably in 1898–99. At that time, there was no English [medium] school in our town. The second examination I cleared was the Lower Secondary in English, which was was probably in 1900. That is altogether a different story.
When I was young, I aspired to become a paṭela (village headman, chief of a town). Not because the position would provide a lot of money. But because a paṭela is a free man; he need not wait for someone else’s orders. The respect of people for a village headman is immense; all the villagers obey his command.
In addition to these two attractions, there was another. A headman did not have the burden of schooling; no plight of exams and results.