Fifty years in Mangaluru - By Prof Sunney Tharappan

By Prof Sunney Tharappan

Jul 18: On July 6, 1970, I had a tryst with Mangaluru, it was Mangalore then, a place unknown to me till then. I came for a short stay of one year, Mangalore conquered me and I stayed back for the last fifty years - to sharpen my intelligence, to develop my personality, to socialise my moorings with others, to school my mind, to self-regulate my emotions and above all, to promote my concern for other beings. I applied for the post of faculty in the Department of English of St Aloysius College, the pioneering institution then, among the eight colleges that existed in Mangalore in those days. Keralite in origin, post-graduation from Vikram University, Bhopal, a failure in Civil Service Examinations, I carried with me a set of certificates from different institutions which satisfied the principal.

To introduce Mangalore, the best is to quote from what I wrote a quarter of a century earlier. For some publication of the Department of Tourism, Dakshina Kannada, Shalini Goel, IAS, the then Chief Secretary of the Zilla Panchayat, sent me a couple of pages for correction. I called her on phone and mentioned to her that what she had sent was beyond correction. It was then that, rather reluctantly, she asked me whether I could write a piece as she had just a day to send the matter for printing. I wrote a piece on the city, which was included in the publication. I quote below a portion of what I wrote then which gives any reader a glimpse of this dear place Mangaluru.

Tagore Park

Situated in the plains within the secure embrace of the Nethravathi and Gurpur rivers, built on several hills like Bavutagudda and Kadrigudda, godly bejewelled by traditional temples like Mangaladevi at Bolar, Sharavu Mahaganapathi at Hampankatta and Manjunatheshwara at Kadri, made divine, sharp in contrast in styles of structure, with several other places of worship like the Chapel of St. Aloysius at Light House Hill, the Church of the Lady of Miracles, Milagres at Hampankatta or the Juma Masjid at Bunder, Mangaluru offers her guests many a resplendent charm.

From the hills one watches with serene pleasure the white foam layers of the waves that precede the friendship of the clouds and the spray at the farther skyline on the one side and on the other, layers of hillocks that tower one above the other. The tile-roofed houses that are shaded by the pliant arches of the coconut palms tell all about the exotic fragrance of curing cashews and coffee beans as they get mixed with the mundane smell of baking tiles. The tender coconuts arranged beside the footpath beam their smiles at every passer-by, the packed cashews in the shop racks and the dried arecanuts in bags at the markets are spectacles of local products that can compete only with the green openness of the paddy fields from where the local songs are heard and to which the Kambalas belong for their authentic and unique sporting.

Gokarnanatheshwara Temple

The pleasant and peace-loving people of Mangaluru, the courage of Moghaveeras, who battle dare-devil with the sea, the firm resolve that is integrated into the Bunts, the skilled business deals of the Muslims, the legacy of craftsmanship of the Koragas, the charitable nature of the Christians, the simplicity of the Poojaris, the entrepreneurship of the Konkanas, the intelligence of the Brahmins, the Tulu, the Konkani, the Mapila Malayalam, the Urdu, the Bovi and the Kannada; are all intertwined into the culture, lifestyles and heritage of the people of Mangaluru.

The city is so peaceful that a feminine charm securely passes through the streets even at night, without any fear of male disrespect; there is an atmosphere that does not resound the war cries with drawn daggers of the criminals, the hallmarks of developing cities; the Baank, the Bells and the Bhajans arouse the mood of brotherhood towards acceptance, the Byla and the Yakshagana synchronise with the Waltz and the Fox-trot towards a blend of the east and the west and it is a heaven where one enjoys the aroma of Kai Holige, Kane Masala, Ari Pather Erchi Curry, Dhali Thovai, Kori Roti or Sanna Sorpotel as Mangalorean hospitality rules supreme.

Milagres Church

Now, after fifty years of stay in Mangaluru, I asked myself what attracted me most to stay back in and lay my life in the middle of it. The foremost that came to my mind is the qualities of the people of the place. Despite their hailing from different communities, they lived peacefully together. They interacted with each other with mutual respect and Mangaluru rarely saw communal riots. The cultural bonds were the symbol of promotion of each other’s community. The quarter century of teaching that I did at my institution, till I left to become the Honorary Director of College for Leadership and HRD gave me different perspectives of the qualities of the youth which represented the culture of their parents.

There are manifold reasons for me to get connected to the people of Mangaluru and learn plenty from them. Establishment of Olavina Halli Rehabilitation Project in the mid seventies or a Snake Park at Kadri in the mid-eighties, work as secretary of South Canara College Teachers’ Association, orgnising activities under the Youth Hostels’ Association, membership of the Senate of Mangalore University by getting elected from the Graduates Constituency, membership of various committees formed by the district administration and membership of Karnataka Knowledge Commission for two terms, I have had manifold opportunities to get connected to the lives of the people of Mangaluru and enrich myself towards greater humane and human attitudes by mixing with the currents and crosscurrents of life and living that encircle us from time to time.

Zeenath Baksh Masjid, Bunder

If someone asks me, where would I like to live if I have a rebirth and what would I like to do, I have no doubt about my answer. Undoubtedly, I don’t believe in rebirth; all the same, if I am born again, I would like to live in Mangaluru and be with the people of Mangaluru. I don’t want to be born in Mangaluru because I would not then be in a situation to be introduced to the qualities and values of the place, be surprised and delighted. Hence, I want to be born elsewhere and come to stay in Mangaluru and discover its greatness. As far as answering what I would do in my next birth, the answer is honestly simple. I would like to be a teacher again, may be, with a difference that it should be at a primary school in Mangaluru.

Half a century is plenty of time to know something new and let me wish I will have plenty more to discover and make them coalesce with what I already have collected. After all, life is interesting when one is interested.


Prof Sunney Tharappan taught English language and literature for more than two decades. He is now director of College for Leadership and HRD, Mangaluru. He trains and writes and lives in Mangaluru.



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  • Prof.Sureshnath, St.Aloysius college, Mangaluru, Bejai, Anegundi

    Mon, Jul 20 2020

    Sunney sir is not just a teacher/professor; he is an institution by himself, with a commitment to empower people. He carried a belief that every fellow human being has some essential goodness in him or her. He has taught me to accept people as they are. Every person is a product of his environment, a product of his processing. By providing situation, skills, competency one can be made to performance better. He taught me the difference between being successful and being effective.
    He is a role model to many. He is also my role model, friend, philosopher, guide, mentor from the days i have joined St Aloysius College. He taught me to think and convinced me that a person is the product of once own thinking. People can change simply by changing their thinking style.
    He taught me the art of influencing people intellectually by changing the content of mind ie a mind shift called Metanoia. He has helped me to internalize the difference between a human being and being humane.
    He is a true leader, he not only led people, not only brought a paradigm shift in the thinking processes in his believers, not only clarified the value systems in each one of us, not only made us sensitive to the social problems but also taught us that follower ship is also leadership. We have learnt a lot from his speech as well from his silence. His action has motivated many of his followers to be the leaders.
    Sir, your stay in Mangalore and your contribution in the growth of all your students is a gift we are going to cherish/nourish lifelong. We are ever great full to you for accepting the offer letter from the St Aloysius College Management in-spite of many other choices you had those days.
    sir ,i thank you once again on behalf of all your students ,friends for all the good things what we have got from you on your fiftieth year stay in Mangalore, wish you many more constructive, productive, interactive, informative as well happy, healthy, peaceful life in the years to come.

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  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangaluru / Melbourne

    Mon, Jul 20 2020

    During my time in St. Aloysius College, the English Department was a plethora of talent. Mr. Victor - the HOD, Mr. Subramanya, Mr. Macedo, Dr. Lourdusamy apart from Mr Sunney were a bunch of teachers par excellence who went above and beyond their profession. Since I was pretty close to them all, I can reveal most of them started off to be 'in there' only for a ‘short duration’ but spent a lifetime, just like Prof. Sunney did.

    I had Prof. Sunney Tharappan as my English teacher for a year. Moreover, I was involved in SOFA (Student Orators’ Forum of Action), an inter-collegiate public speaking forum that used to meet in different Colleges in the city every Saturday which was Prof. Sunney’s brainchild. Though, I was a bit disappointed that he did not select me as its President the following year, he was good enough to invite me personally to continue attending it for the second year and reap the benefits. Many inspirational and motivational talks on personality development were organised by him and I had the privilege to attend a few of them.

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  • chitrakumar, mangaluru

    Mon, Jul 20 2020

    hi. good morning

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  • Ramesh N Shetty, Manjeshwar, Kasaragod

    Mon, Jul 20 2020

    Prof. Sunney Tarappan was English teacher for me in 1983 when I was in PUC Science. He was teaching English only those students who were little bright in English knowledge. Most of the students like me, who were coming from kannada medium were not getting luck to get taught by him. So I was lucky enough to get taught English by him and his teaching was highly excellent. He was teaching English grammar very well. In the class we were calling him as foreign professor because he was not uttering a single kannada word in the class.
    Professor has beautifully written an article about beauty of Mangalore city. His article may attract many people to visit Mangalore
    I pray God to cast his blessings on him to live healthy and happy

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  • Vivian Pinto, Bijai

    Sun, Jul 19 2020

    How to contact Prof Sunney T?

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  • Dr Sandhya R Nambiar, Udupi

    Sun, Jul 19 2020

    Prof Sunny Tharappan was not just an inspiration to his students but also to many of us teachers who joined the profession with much zeal and commitment. Prof Sunny indeed struck us as a teacher with a difference ! Remembering you Sir. Wishing you many more happy and fruitful years to come.
    Dr Sandhya R Nambiar, Udupi

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  • Joseph, Mangalore/Bristol,UK

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    I still remember prof sunny
    He was always teaching English to those who are very well in English
    As I came from Kannada medium
    I didn't get opportunity to be with his class
    I was taught by Dr lourdswamy.a very good lecturer for those who are slow in English
    But I heard that his English was high
    Anyway nice article sir
    Nice to hear from you that you love Mangalore

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  • Kuppaswamy R Belle, Mangalore/ Hosur

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    The Bhavute Gudde/ Light House Hill/Tagore Park used to be a land mark in Mangalore just a decade ago. Beautiful sunset on Arabian Sea used be watched here by the toddler to senior citizens over a plate of yummy Charmuri or behlpuri or a glass of fresh sugarcane juice. But alas, the Mangalore Town Planners have had no consideration for this outstanding environment by allowing high rise building coming up totally blocking the view and making the heritage park redundant. Very surprised that the Mangalore citizens have made no hue and cry on this and allowed the land sharks to dictate.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ashoka Rao, Mangaluru / Bengaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Sir, your words and opinions cannot be more true. Mirroring your thoughts, Mangalore was , is and will be my idea of paradise.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Derek Pais, Balmatta / Boston MA

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Vividly remember Prof. Sunney during our PUC days in 1976 to 1978 with his beard and his usual wear of a white kurta with black trousers .

    We had to walk from the science block all the way up to the main block for his class and then back to the science block. Not sure if that block still exists now, as I have not been that side of the college for over three decades, though , see online photos of the development since our good old days, on the web.

    Wishing you a long life, God bless and a big Thank you from all of us for your hard work and dedication in the line of teaching as well as involving in other social interactions to uplift our beloved good old MANGALORE!

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  • Sureshramana Mayya, Manipal

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    A great teacher who made many teachers like me to love our teaching profession...

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chrysostom Fernandes, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Right article on Mangalore by a right person. A great teacher of the time who had the capacity to transform an ordinary student into an extraordinary. Thank you sir.

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  • venkatesh, Bangalore

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Awesomely written Sir. Great wordings and well described about Mangalore. It was a treat to read it :-)

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jrome, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    One of the best and well respected teachers - i could remember from my student days in SAC during 1970-1973.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Derrick Serrao, Mangalore/Abu Dhabi

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Congratulations Prof.Sunny. I was one of your student when you joined St.Aloysius. Though I was not in touch with you ever since I left the institute, I have been reading about your contributions and now after fifty years or so you have thrilled us with your wonderful views and memories of Mangalore. Thank you and wishing you a happy, peaceful and healthy retired life.

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    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Prof Sunney Tharappan ensured that he etched his place in the beautiful city of Mangalore as soon as he landed from Kerala. There was no looking back for the clever Keralite at all once he started enjoying everything good in the city. 'My home is here' he said as he relished the numerous delicacies and delightful surroundings as he went around looking for his favourite job of teaching at the prestigious St. Aloysius College.

    Personally, I do not know Professor Sunney much although I had heard about him during my time in Mangalore. At that time, I was involved with the Rotary Club of the port city in Panambur and I had the opportunity of inviting him to conduct a quiz contest which was a great success.

    It is nice to know about his involvement in the city's growth and wish him good luck in all his endeavours. DENZIL FERNANDES, BANGALORE

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  • Ronnie, Kinnigoli/Canada

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    That is a beautiful summary of Mangalore and it makes me to book my next trip to Mangalore as soon as possible. I do remember your lectures during 1979-1981 especially Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The one scene from that story still is in mind that scene is the murder of king Duncan. Prof. Sunney had beard and used wear white kurta and black pants always during my college days. I do remember his love for reptiles too. I am glad to know that you love Mangalore. I wish you all the best.

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  • Hansel Ralph Furtado, Barkur/Mlore/Bombay

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    I was a student under Mathew Ninan for English in St Aloysius in late seventies.Sunny Tharappan was there too for other streams of B com and BA. He was a great teacher too loke Mathew Ninan. After my college , I met him at Barkur convent where he had come for some work. All the best to Sunny sir. May your tribe increase. You brought my memories back too, of Aloysius days and great city M lore.

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  • GURKA, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Indeed MANGALURU has a several names given by the communities living inside or outside of city !

    that shows how they lived in a harmony and loved the city which has a unique history !

    but now the scenario has changed and peaceful climate is polarized due to few political agendas.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • dk sheety, mangalore/Oman

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    He is a teacher ( Professor) par excellence, and Gyani of highest order in his craft as teacher, leader, influencer, organizer & a great inspirer.
    As head of English depart at my prestigious alma mater he brought greater recognition to his department amongst all other educational institutions in South Canara and beyond.

    Great human being and very talented lecturer, known for his melodramatic style of that encaptivated his audiences- Students for decades at St.Aloysius.
    I wish him all the very best and his service will remain in the heart and minds of his wards/students.
    You have inspired generations of students and I can vouch English spoken by aloysians is far cosmopolitan and widely appreciated in those days, it had less tinge of kannda/tulu/Konkani/byari languages in it. It was more acceptable.

    I did attend his lectures and interacted with him on many projects at college and I must say I was very impressed with his personality and charisma.
    Wish once again happy retirement, happy life filled with good health, peace and equanimity, there is no other guru dakshina worthy to my guru at my St.Aloysius, Namaste Guruji.

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  • Ravi Rajan, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Sentiments are beautifully expressed. Nice of you.

    More over, last I saw you before 43 years while you taught us English classes.

    A photo of yours could have brought much joy to your students and added texture to your write-up :)

    DisAgree [1] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chandra, Surathkal

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Nice feel to read this article

    Sad is that the se view from tagore Park is lost due to city center. We fought against this but politics, money and power finally won

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  • mohan sequeira, mangaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    No wonder such an articulate article is written by none other than the gentleman who taught me English language subject in 1982 and 83 when I was studying first and second puc in St Aloysius College.

    Still remember the way he used to dramatically explain the English plays.

    Salute and Namaste to you Sir. I am really lucky to have studied in a great institution like St. Aloysius from fifth standard to second PUC. Those were the years which shaped up my personality.

    Wish you good health and happy life ahead Sir

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  • Rasik, Bangalore

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    It was really nice Prof.Sunney reading all and good of Mangalore-
    Summing up fifty years in a precise manner covering all communities /highlights /Capturing essence of Mangalore - Brilliant!
    I was your student and suddenly all good memories have come back in a Flash-

    DisAgree [2] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • j.anata, Mangaluru / Bengaluru

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Very well written by Prof Sunney Tharappan, aptly describing our city in the various hues and colours he has seen and grown up on. Feel proud to be a Mangalorean!

    DisAgree [2] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Prof Sunney Tharappan
    I have traveled all over the world & I can confidently say "There is no place like Mangaluru" ...

    DisAgree [11] Agree [37] Reply Report Abuse

  • Prashanth, Mangalore. Bangalore

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Thanks for nice article sir. Remembered my grand old days in Mangalore for 25 years

    DisAgree [3] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nelson Sequeira, Valencia Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 18 2020

    Prashan nelson here your classmate.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

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Title: Fifty years in Mangaluru - <i>By Prof Sunney Tharappan</i>

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