September 25, 2006
As a child of 8 I would sit for hours before my favourite time pass, the aquarium. At my age this was inevitable as the swift movements of these tiny colourful swimmers enchanted me. I would peep to get the best view of the new comers into the water zones made by two aquariums and a concrete tank where my brother would breed fish.
However it took me 19 years from that day to trace one of the pioneers who popularized aquarium fishes in the State.
Even at the age of 78 and carrying the after effects of a paralytic attack, Rameshchandra Harway continues his passion for keeping and breeding fish.
I was nostalgic as I stepped into the around 45-cent land of Harway which has a small house in the centre. A little Eden Garden that I called it, had neatly stacked aquariums with variety of fish. The garden, which once displayed an array of plants and several bee boxes, today has lost its charm. Harway’s ill-health has considerably reduced him partially confining him to the bed.
But his memory never fails him. “I was 16 when I came to Mangalore from Byndoor in 1947 and I met my guru Pailoor Lakshminarayan Rao. It was this great man who gave me some Guppies which I reared in a small bowl,” recalled Harway from his bed.
Sunil Harway, nephew of Ramesh
The teacher-pupil duo had an inseparable bond. Together they took aquarium fish rearing to new heights in Karnataka.
Pailor brought fishes from Mumbai and thus Harway would get them too. But this enthusiast even reached Ceylon to see the varieties of fish. Harway returned with the gold fish and few Black Angels.
The Englishmen were his first customers. “Unlike the Indians who were not aware of the hobby of fish rearing in aquariums, the Europeans and planters developed this elite hobby,” said Harway whose fame spread like wild fire. Visitors from Thailand, Ceylon, Philippines, apart from Indians and a host of ministers and top leaders was a common sight at the Harway’s nursery.
Harway who was staying in his uncle’s house near Chitra Talkies took a land near Mannagudde on lease. On this patch of green land, he had fish, plants and honey bees reared.
“His passion for fishes made him manufacture aquariums. While he had no one to guide him, he found out his own way of making aquariums (tanks) with concrete. He gradually innovated it with glass which he fitted into a rectangular frame made of concrete,” explained his nephew Sunil Harway whose life has been touched by the sincere work of his uncle.
Such was his sincerity that he would never sell any fish with disease. Rather he would teach his young customers (children) the symptoms of disease in fish and ways to identify them.
Such was Harway’s his zeal for rose plants, that he developed a rose garden just by learning from his guru and from the books that he gave him. The Uno Rose Garden which he christened has the pride of being the only in the entire nation to offer six month guarantee for roses.
“Without even asking how the rose plant died, uncle would replace it with a new one free of charges,” Sunil to daijiworld.
Harway had a strong patronage from Christian individuals and institutions. Fr Michael, Fr Noronha, sisters of apostolic Carmel (St Agnes) a few names that he recollected.
By popularizing aquarium fish rearing through exhibitions, the Pailoor and Harway duo became trendsetters. College students and school children frequent the Harway Nursery.
His knowledge on naturopathy, acupressure, urine Therapy, Yoga and pranayama made him a home physician. Harway refused any allopathic treatment when his body had major burns injuries from molten bitumen which splashed on him while making an aquarium.
Majority of his life has been with plants, fishes, birds and honey bees. A powerhouse of energy, Harway even at the age of 68 would get into the well to clean it up. However he developed Kidney stones which led to viral infection. His aversion to allopathy made him resort to his self medication.
Pailoor in 1958 gave him love birds which he reared in a huge cage. He had nothing less than 500 love birds, but as he was incurring huge expenses each day to maintain them, he gave them to several institutes.
He was the only person in India who had a Sappota tree which varieted leaves.
Now at the ripe age of his life Harway is still determined to carry on with his business. A man who worked tirelessly and was driven by an untamed passion found neither recognition nor award.
Harway’ years of struggle today is hidden behind the attractive aquarium found in most houses and commercial institutes.
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