Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sankey and a letter

I have always wanted to write about Richard Hieram Sankey - he of Sankey Tank fame - someone who seemed to me to be an epitome of industry. In a few short years, he built so many of our most beautiful buildings, including the lovely St. Andrews Church and the stately Mayo Hall. And of course, he was responsible for Cubbon Park. Who in Bangalore has not communed with Nature when wandering the winding paths that lead through its bamboo thickets, or listening to the trill of a magpie robin on one of its many trees. What impressed me about him was that he was not just a regular PWD engineer whose job it was to build edifices. That he did, but he was also clearly so passionate about a great many
other things. Look at his paintings and it is immediately obvious that he was a keen observer of Nature. In fact, he was one of the first to raise his voice against indiscriminate tree clearing in Coorg. While involved in work on building roads and bridges there, the ever-observant Sankey realised that tree felling led to flooding. He also collected fossils and shells. Sankey's first wife, Sophie Mary, was the daughter of the noted malachologist William Benson. Was Sankey interested in shells even before he met Sophie, I wonder...

Nothing quite compares to the high that appreciation brings. A day after my article on Sankey appeared in Deccan Herald, the main paper carried a letter from a reader who liked the article. I confess I couldn't stop smiling all day!