Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unforgettable moments - Part 6 - Girija in my life

25 11 09

Unforgettable moments - Part 6 – Girija in my life

I am recording here my unforgettable moments of five different days as these days are interrelated and integral part of my life.

1) 19th Sep 1974. It was on this day that I proposed to Girija. Till then, though I used to go their house, I would never talk to Girija , as she was always busy with her studies. But after seeing her manners and behaviour, I knew she would be an ideal wife .

On that day, I took the courage and asked her whether she would marry me. She was taken aback as she did not expect such a question from me. Not knowing what to say, she just said that she would convey it to her elder sister Ramana ( who was like her mother) . I came back disappointed, not getting a positive reply.

Her sister Ramana , who was not at home when I asked Girija, came to know about this from Girija. Ramana talked to me the next day and told me that she had no objection and that she would talk to her father in a day or two and if he also agrees, then she said that I could talk to my parents.

As for Girija, Ramana told me that she(Girija) had no opinion of herself and that she would agree for the marriage if the elders in both the families had no objection.

After three days, Ramana told me that her father too had no objection. I then immediately wrote a long letter of about 8 pages to our parents giving details about Girija’s family and why I wanted to marry her. In the end, I had made it very clear to them that it was only my wish and assured them that if they did not want me to marry her, I would stand by their decision and that I would not go against their wishes.

Within a week or so, I went to Cuddalore and had a frank discussion with our mother and father. Though amma was disappointed , after my talking to her, she seemed to agree with my viewpoint. Appa did not show his disappointment openly , but I know he would also have been disappointed as any parent would have felt.

Soon afterwards, they came to Chennai and ‘ saw ‘ Girija. After they saw and talked to her, I could feel that their fears ( on how she would be ), had come down a lot and they were convinced that Girija would make a good daughter in law. They then finalized the marriage after discussions with Girija’s father.

( Later , after the marriage, and after “knowing” Girija fully well, amma and appa were more than happy that they got such a wonderful daughter in law and they told me so in no uncertain words. I also felt very happy that Girija stood up to the expectation of my parents. )

2, ) 12th Dec 1975 . It was on this day that Girija and I got married at Thirukkazhukundram , a place ,about 50 Km’s from Chennai. The marriage was held at this place because Girija’s Mama was living here and he took the major responsibility of conducting Girija’s Marriage.

On 11th dec, our family travelled from Cuddalore to Chengalpet in a train and from there took a bus to Thirukkazhukundram. Immediately after lunch, many from the family went to the nearby Mahabalipuram and returned just before the Janvasam started .

On 12th Dec , the muhurtham was after 12 noon and I remember almost all our relatives and friends who had come for the marriage went to see the two eagles that used to come there daily at exactly 1130 am to take the prasadam from a saint.

The marriage went off well , attended by many of our relatives and about 50 colleagues of mine. We returned to Cuddalore on 13th Dec , by bus upto Chengalpet and then by train.

This being the most glorious moment of my life , I thanked God for His blessings and making Girija my wife.

3) 30th Oct 1976 . The day our first darling Sudha was born.

Earlier, when Girija was into her third month’s pregnancy, she had bleeding and when we consulted her doctor, she told us that it was an abortion and to avoid further complications, the Dr decided that Girija would have a D&C the next day morning. We were disappointed but prepared ourselves for the next day’s operation.

Ramana was then working in a clinic in Mylapore and on that evening, she told the lady doctor ( under whom she was working.) about Girija’s proposed operation. That Dr then told Ramana that her athai – Dr Subbulakshmi – was an experienced Gynecologist and advised that we take a second opinion from her immediately. Ramana came back from Mylapore and took me and Girija to Dr Subbulakshmi at Besant Nagar.

After prelimnary checks, the Dr asked us to come to her Hospital at Royapuram the next day morning for some tests. After the tests at Hospital, she confirmed that the baby was fine and that Girija would have a normal delivery. She lashed out at the earlier Dr for her poor diagnosis and assured me that she would take care of Girija till the delivery.

It is still a mystery as to why she had that heavy bleeding , though Dr Subbulakshmi did not rule out the possibility of conception of twins and the abortion of the second baby.

By God’s grace, everything went alright since then and on 29th Oct, Girija developed pain at about 7 pm. We admitted her in the nearby Kosha Hospital at Triplicane ( the famous Govt Hospital for women and children ) . Girija’s mami’s sister was a senior nurse in the delivery ward there and hence admission there.

I was waiting the whole night in the corridors of the delivery ward and at 450 am on 30th Oct , our first darling Sudha was born. Girija’s mami’s sister showed me the baby at 500 am ( normally in Govt Hospitals in those days, they don't show the baby so soon.) I thanked God and Dr Subbulakshmi for giving us a beautiful daughter. Another moment to cherish in our life

4 ) 9th June 1980 – The day our second darling Suba was born.

This time the pregnancy period went off smoothly under the care of the same doctor Dr Subbulakshmi . On 9th June , I had gone to a marriage in the morning. Soon after I returned at about 12 30 pm., Girija started having pain. We admitted her in the same ( Kosha ) hospital .

( This hospital named Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for women and Children , got the nick name Kosha Hospital because most of the women visiting the hospital were wearing Kosha ( purdha ), as Triplicane has a vast population of Muslims. )

Our second darling Suba was born at 910 pm on the same day. As in the case of Sudha, Girija's mami's sister showed me the baby within ten minutes of birth and I thanked once again the God for His blessings. Another happy moment in our life.

5. 25th Nov 07

Aval Parandhu Ponale; Ennai Marundhu ponale …….

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unforgettable moments - Part 5

When I was working at Ashok Leyland Ennore, we, the staff of Parts Office, used to go on pilgrimage tours every year. In 1976, we,about 25 staff and another 35 family members ( mostly women and children,), went in a chartered bus to Guruvayur, Coimbatore, Palani and Madurai. As per plan, we were to reach Madurai on the last leg of our journey, on a particular day at about 8 pm. On our request, the Parts Manager of our dealer TVS at Madurai, had kindly agreed to make arrangements for our stay on that night and for taking us to the temples the next day.

After good darshans at Guruvayur, Coimbatore and Palani as per plan, we left for Madurai, but unfortunately, the bus broke down immediately after we left Palani. We informed TVS Madurai that we were likely to be delayed , but we did not expect that it would be over 5 hours delay. When the bus was repaired, it was 10 pm and as it was already very late, we finished our dinner on the way and reached Madurai by about 1 am.

When we reached the place where our stay had been arranged, we were stunned to see 4/5 officials of TVS and the catering staff, waiting for us with dinner !. As soon as they saw our bus, they spread the Vazhai ilai for all of us and as we got down from the bus, they guided us to the dining hall straight. On seeing that the officials had been waiting for us without sleep, none of us had the guts to tell them that we had finished the dinner. We all silently sat and had the second dinner of the night. Most of us ate with tears in our eyes.

TVS had arranged comfortable beds for all of us to sleep and we had a short nap for about 4 hours. When we got up at 530am, steaming coffee/ tea/ milk was waiting for us. When we got ready for the temple visit by 7 am.,delicious breakfast of idly, Vada, Pongal etc was served. Though none of us felt hungry ,again, we all ate silently in order not to offend them. Next on the list was Poo. Girija and the other ladies ( about 25 ) were thrilled to get 100 muzhams of Malligai Poo ( You know Madurai is known for Malli ).

We were then taken to all the temples where we got VIP treatment, thanks to TVS. When we returned to our place of stay at about 1 pm., it was once again the time for a grand lunch.

After lunch, when we got into our bus to leave for Chennai at about 2 pm., we saw three big baskets in the bus. Two baskets had packed food for our dinner on the way and the third basket had 100 muzhams of Malligai Poo !!.

We all , esp the ladies, could not control the tears on seeing ( perhaps for the first time ) such great Virundhombal. After thanking the TVS officials profusely, we left Madurai with an unforgettable experience of hospitality, the memeories of which will be cherished by all of us throughout our life.

Three cheers to TVS


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Homes That Shaped My Life - Part 3 ( Concluding Part )

7th Oct 2009

For earlier blog on this topic,click here.

Read on for the concluding Part

11. 9 , Dacres Lane, Calcutta

When I was transferred to Cal, I was quite new to that place and hence I had requested one of my dealer friends to locate a suitable accommodation and he had fixed up this flat.

The advantage of this place was that it was in the heart of the city. And as it was very near to Rajbhavan, there was no power cut here. (In those days, there used to be power cuts for over 12 hrs a day in all the parts of Calcutta).
The disadvantage was that it was a business place and there were only a very few families in that area and almost all of them were north Indians/ Bengalis. So Girija had a difficult time as she had to manage the two children and the house all by herself and that too without knowing Hindi and Bengali.
Since it was a recession time, I had double the work at the office to get orders and collect money from the customers. As I was in charge of the Eastern region, comprising West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and North Eastern States, I had to tour a lot. Hence I decided to send back Girija and children to Madras after about two months of our stay there. Girija and children were with Babu and Raja at Triplicane for about 6 months and when the work pressure came down for me, I took them back to Calcutta.

Mama Pillai Jaggu was at Calcutta then. Thro him, we got the acquaintance of Jaggu’s co brother, Mr. M V Viswanathan, ( who incidentally continues to be in touch with us even today ) . Mr. Viswanathan’s wife became a very close friend of Girija and this family helped us a lot during our stay there. I admitted Sudha in South Point School, which was a well-known school in Calcutta. This school was near the house of Mr. Viswanathan, but it was about 10 km’s from our house.

Girija used to take both the children by Tram in the morning leaving the house by 830 am, and after leaving Sudha in the school, she will go to Mr Viswanathan’s house, spend three hours there, pick up Sudha by 12 noon and then travel back with the two children to our home. She also used to purchase groceries etc there and carry them home.

All these, she used to do without any murmur and I could only sympathise with her as my working time prevented me from doing any sort of help to her. But we used to forget the sufferings in the talks and pranks of Sudha and Suba.

In order to overcome the problems, we shifted to Lake Gardens, a predominantly residential location with lots of Tamil families, in Nov 1982.

The stay in Dacres lane was really a turbulent one in our life and I would like to forget those miserable days.

12. 58/14 Prince Anwar Shah Road, Lake Gardens, Calcutta.

This house was a very welcome change for Girija and me too. Reasons?

It was in a residential locality. It was like a mini Chennai with lots of Tamilians around.. The house was next to a Ram Mandir and you could see the temple pragaram from the open terrace of our house ( We lived in the first floor which had a big open terrace ). The house owner was a Tamilian . Theirs was a big family of mother and seven sons, two of whom three were married at that time. The names of all the sons will end with Kumar ( Sukumar, Sunil Kumar, Sudhir Kumar etc ) _ Incidentally, this family is still in touch with us. Their two sons are at Chennai now . Last Year, I met all of them during the marriage of Sudhir Kumar’s son.-

Girija became friendly with this family in no time and they all liked her very much. They were also very fond of the kids Sudha and Suba . S&S also spent a lot of time in their house , playing with the three children in their house.

We used to go the temple almost everyday and met a lot of Tamilians there. The famous Lake , Lake Market , the shopping paradise Gariahat were all very nearby and we had a nice time in visiting these places. Sudha’s school was about five KM’s from there and we sent her to the school in the school bus which came very near to our house. In 1983 , we admitted Suba in a nearby school .

Though there used to be power cuts for five /six hours a day, the other advantages we had here made us forget about the discomforts of power cuts.

It was while we were in this house that we lost our dear mother. It was July 3rd 1983. The earliest train after I got the news was at 2pm. One of my friends helped me in getting the tickets and another friend came with us to the stn to help us. We left the home at 12 noon and it would normally take 30 mins to reach the stn if there is no traffic jam on the way. ( Calcutta was very notorious for traffic jams esp in the Howrah Bridge – near the Rly stn – in those days. ).

Unfortunately for us, we were caught in a very bad traffic jam when we were just two KM’s from the stn. With 4 big luggages and two children, it was impossible to walk the distance. After waiting for about 15 mins, we had no other go than to get down from the taxi and take alternate action.

For those of you who have not been to Calcutta, the Calcutta city is on one side of river Hoogli ( Ganges as known in Calcutta ) and the stn is on the other side of the river. While the famous Howrah bridge was the only road route connecting the stn and the city, there was boat service also across the river Ganges .

Fortunately, one of the boarding points of this boat service was at about ½ Km’s distance form where we were stranded and we had to walk this distance. With great difficulty, we managed this , caught the boat service , alighted at the Stn stop – which is just in front of the stn., - and reached the platform at 1 55 pm. We all literally ran and got into the train just one minute before the train departed ! Unforgettable.

I also remember the day - 25th June 1983 – when India won the world cup at Lords. The match started in the evening and went past midnight. As usual there was no power for most of the time but luckily, I had a transistor then . I heard the commentary from the beginning till the last ball and immediately afterwards, I enjoyed the fireworks ( sound ) that went on for about one hour in all parts of Calcutta.

It was October 1983. Girija started drinking water quite frequently and she also felt a bit weak. When we consulted a doctor, we got the shock news that she had diabetes. Diabetes at a such young age ? I could not even imagine. I could only cry to God silently as to why He had to make Girija suffer at that young age. But, Girija took it quite sportingly, I would say.

Our stay in this house was limited to about a year only as I was transferred in Nov 1983 to Pondicherry to take charge of the branch newly opened there.

Though we had initial problems when we shifted to Calcutta, we started liking the place after some time ( esp after moving to Lake Gardens ). It was a lively city and the people were generally nice people ( as long as you don’t hurt their ego !) The city had many charms and the education was good. It was perhaps the only city In India where women could go out without any fear even in midnight. So, we were not really interested in moving out of Calcutta but what to do . Kadamai Azhaithathaal, Piriya manamillamal antha oorai vittu Pondy Vanthom.

I came to Pondy in Nov and Girija came with children in Dec 83 after the final exam for Sudha was over. Since it was Margazhi by the time Girija reached , we stayed at Cuddalore for about 45 days and moved to our new Home at Pondy – 139 6th Cross st., Rainbow Nagar , by end of Jan 84.

13 . 139 , 6th Cross St., Rainbow Nagar , Pondicherry.

This was the first big house that we lived in (apart from ,of course , the Cuddalore home ) Two bed rooms, big hall, separate dining hall, a big kitchen etc., The land lord stayed upstairs and as usual we had a very cordial relationship with them. And needless to repeat, Girija became friendly with lots of families in the Rainbow Nagar in a very short time.

Pondy life was a simple quiet life. As my office was nearby, I normally left by 845 am and came back by 600 pm. Hence I had a lot of time to spend with the family. We got admission for Sudha in the well known St Joseph’s Cluny school and admitted Suba in a school at Rainbow Nagar itself. ( After two years, she was also admitted in Cluny ). They used to go to Cluny school by ricksha.

It was not even a month after we moved to Pondy. We got a call from Anna from Cuddalore that they were coming to Pondy with Rama’s newborn premature child to admit the him in the famous Jipmer hospital so that he could kept in the incubator there . I and Girija joined them at Pondy and went to the hospital . We were glad that we were there at that time to be of some help to anna till Santhosh was discharged after a few days.

Later anna was also hospitalized in the same hospital for a few days because of heart problem. Again, Girija used to visit the hospital frequently to take care of Anna and also to consult doctors on the progress of Anna’s health.

As Cuddalore was nearby, we made frequent visits to 17 Babu Rao St., to be with our father. Though he declined to be with us permanently, ( as he did not want to move out of his dear home and Pataleeswarar ), he came and stayed with us on a few occasions and this made us very happy.

Our Nana chittappa’s daughter Rajam akka was living with her family about two KM’s from our house and we were meeting frequently. Radha aththan ( Rajam akka’s husband and our athai’s son ) was a manager in a nearby Theatre and he was a well known figure in all the theatres in Pondy. Hence we had a standing offer of free tickets in any theatre , though we seldom used it. Pondy as many of you know had lots of theatres compared to its size and people from outside Pondy also would come to Pondy to see cinemas.

Girija’s sister Babu and her husband Raja used to come to Pondy at least once a month to spend the week end with S&S. In 1985, they had come to our house for Deepavali . We had very heavy rains at that time and they were forced to stay back in Pondy for a few more days since all the bus and train service to Chennai were suspended due to heavy floods enroute. We saw five cinemas- all new Deepavali releases- in five days !

I purchased my first two wheeler ( the great Silver Plus ) in April 1985 thro Raja. He came all the way from Chennai in the new vehicle and delivered it to me !. This vehicle was quite useful to me and it remained with me for the next 19 years. I had gone to Cuddalore in this vehicle on quite a few occasions and later on when I was in Delhi, we four used to go to Anna’s house (a distance of about 30 Km’s) in this Silver Plus. I had a great liking for this vehicle as it was serving me well without much of a problem.

It was in Pondy that I got my residential telephone provided by the Company ( Number- 7416 ) and this perk continued till I retired from AL in 2004. After I got the telephone, contacting relatives became that much easier.

When our father left for his Heavenly abode on 15th Sep 1986, I got the information within 10 mins and I was at Cuddalore within another two hours. It was a great loss for all of us .I felt as if I was orphaned with the loss of both mother ( three years back ) and father. But what to . That is life.

On the office front, things were going pretty smooth and I was also happy that I got a chance to set up an office of 20000 sq ft from scratch. It was also my first experience of managing a large workforce- About 15 workers and 8 Executives.
This assignment also gave me an opportunity to learn a lot of new things like training the staff ( 90% of the staff were new recruits ) , managing the accounts of a big office, labour relations, managing the statutory requirements like Shop and Establishment act, ESI coverage of the workmen, PF accounting, payment of Sales Tax and filing Sales Tax return , interaction with Govt offices, managing an inventory of about Rs 200 lacs, etc etc.

I think I managed these things well as could be seen from the reports of the Company’s auditors as well as the External Auditors. I also got a very special Performance rating and a cash award for the job well done.

We got our first Computer in Oct 1984 , on the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated. I alongwith our Systems software engineer, developed the various programs for the spare Parts operation.

But after three years, I had very little job at the office as everything got settled by that time and the office was running smoothly based on the systems introduced and without needing much of my intervention . Hence I felt bored and requested my General Manger to consider me for a higher responsibility. But I did not imagine that it would be a posting at Delhi !. Yes, I was transferred to Delhi in Sep 1988 to take charge of a bigger office there.

So my 5 years stay at Pondy ended on 1st Oct when we left for Chennai from where we flew to Delhi on 2nd Oct Morning.

14. H157, Ashok Vihar Phase 2, Delhi

Before going to Delhi, I had requested one of my colleagues at Delhi to look for a suitable house for me . He had short listed two houses for me and when I went to Delhi in Sep 88, I decided on this house, as the rent was cheaper , though the other house was a bit bigger. The house we took was on the first floor and was a 2BHK apartment. It was quite spacious and comfortable.

After we landed at Delhi on 2nd Oct , we stayed with Anna’s family for three/four days till our belongings reached Delhi by road. Anna and Manni came to Ashok Vihar to help us set up the house. This place is in North West Delhi ( nearer to my office ) while Anna’s family lived in South Delhi. Though the distance between our houses was about 30 Km’s it did not deter us from visiting each other. We used to go to their house on many week ends, and they, esp. the younger ones - Sridhar, Srikanth, Ravi , Usha , Bama – used to come to Ashok Vihar quite frequently. (Vasu was at Bombay then) We also used to have many get-togethers at their place and our place when Sridhar’s mama’s family also used to join us and we had great fun.

I cannot forget the days when we used to play Carrom till late in the night and only after repeated pleas by Girija that we might miss even the last bus to Ashok Vihar that we reluctantly closed our game . And I remember, the sleepy Sudha and Suba cursing me for making them wait for the bus and travel at that late hours ( by about 930 / 10 pm ! )

When we were here, Ravi got a job near our house. As he had to leave his house early in the morning, he could not take breakfast there. So, he used to come to our house straight, have breakfast and then go to his office.

There were only a few Tamilians in Ashok Vihar and we became friendlier with 6 families. We were all living very close (within a radius of about 2 KM’s ) with frequent visits to one another’s houses. The house owner was a Punjabi who had no children. The husband and wife liked us very much and they were very fond of Sudha and Suba . So, I had no problem in staying in that house till I was transferred to Chennai in June 1993.

Delhi stay provided us a chance to see a number of places of interest. Agra, Jaipur, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Vaishnava Devi temple are some of the important places we could go during our stay there.

The trips to Badrinath and VaishnaDevi temple were esp memorable. Some from anna's family ( I don't remember who all came ) and Vasu's mama's family accompanied us in the pilgrimage to Badrinath (via Haridwar and Rishikesh). We all went in a bus and the mountain roads to Badrinath were very steep and risky. When we neared Badrinath, we were thrilled to see the snow clad mountains at a touching distance. Badrinath was very cold , but we still managed to take bath and perform the puja ( tharpanam ) to our forefathers with just a dhoti and towel on our body. On all the seven days of this tour, the organiser of the trip took care of our boarding ( good homely brahmin food ) and lodging. We were quite comfortable.

The pilgrimage to VaishnavaDevi temple was equally thrilling and satisfying. We ( our family and most of anna's family ) went to Jammu by train and from there went to Katra by bus. From there it was a long walk, for about 14 Km's up the mountain to reach Vaishnadevi temple. In between, there is a place called Arth-quary where you have to cross a tunnel by crawling thro a very narrow passage. It was a breathtaking experience. Similarly, one has to crawl thro a tunnel to reach the shrine of VaishnavaDevi. You may not believe, we all, including the children, had a cold water bath ( the temp was 2 or 3 deg C. ),before we had the darshan of Mata. After the darshan, we walked down 14 Km's ( it takes about 5 hrs to go up and anpther 5 hrs to come down ), took rest in the night and boarded the train to Delhi the next afternoon.

We missed out some places like, Kasi, Dehradun, Simla, Golden Temple Jullandar etc due to some unavoidable reasons.

Girija had two operations while at Delhi , first for appendicitis in 1988 ( yes, within a month of our going there ) and the second one for removal of uterus. Sudha and Suba managed both the times admirably well with help from Anna’s family.Babu also came to Delhi to help us during the second operation.

We lost our dear anna while we were at Delhi. On 4th June 1989 , we went to their house in the morning as we got the news that Anna was not well. He was however alright throughout that day but suddenly his health deteriorated by about 9 pm. We rushed him to a hospital ,but he left us all in the early hours of 5th June in spite of the treatment given throughout the night.

Another sad thing to happen was the sudden brain fever that Vignesh ( son of Usha ) developed in Jan 1993 and his going to coma stage . (He was barely three years old then ) He did not recover till we left that place in June 1993. He was a very bright child and was the darling of all of us. ( He joined his Thatha in Heaven later ) . That was a blow not only to Usha and Gopal , but to all of us who were seeing his pranks and hearing his mazhalai.

When Vignesh started talking, he used to call me thatha , but I taught him to call me Anna ( as I thought that I was young and did not want to sound old !!). All others, including Girija used to tell him to call me thatha. Finally, perhaps to please all, he started calling me 'anna thatha'!!! . Later all other children at Delhi also used to call me anna thatha.

While we were at Delhi, I purchased a ground in Kovai Pudur , Coimbatore , alongwith Rajappa who purchased the adjacent ground, My thanks to Sundaresan, who took the initiative and trouble of locating the place, negotiating the price, doing the needful for legal scrutiny and registration . This ground continues to be an asset for me today.

Vasu / Raji got married in 1990 . About 25 of us traveled in the train together from Delhi to Chennai for the marriage . It was a highly entertaining journey. Nonstop Seettu Kutchey in one bay, songs in another bay and the management of food , norukku theeni etc in the third bay ! Oh, what a journey it was !

Sridhar / Chitra got married at Delhi itself in 1991. It was also a joyful occasion . I remember the part played by Girija in finalizing his marriage. ( Do you remember Sridhar / Chitra ? )

Sudha and Suba studied in a Tamil School at Delhi , run by the Delhi Tamil Educational Association ( DTEA in short ) . The school was about 10 KM’s from our house and they traveled by the school bus. which picked them up from very near to our house. They have to leave the house by 745 am and I used to wonder how they managed to travel during winter. Though they will wear a sweater over the shirt, both the legs would be exposed to the bitter cold as they would have only just a skirt and socks. ( I used to go to office with inner pant, normal pant, banian, shirt, sweater and Coat ! ) .

Incidentally, when we talk of winter, we were never used to such low degrees ( 1 , 2 etc ) and we had a terrible time during the first winter. But subsequently, we became used to it and in fact started enjoying the winter by 1992. Starting from beginning of Dec, the max temp would gradually come down from about 28 deg to about 12 deg by mid Jan. I used to joke to S&S that at this rate, one day the max temp will fall below the min temp !. You can bear very low min temp ( because it happens in the night when you are under a rajai ), but when the max temp comes below 15 deg, you start shivering ! ( because it happens in the day when you are in the office or traveling ) But , during winter it was a joy seeing TV programs with a thick rajai over you and the hot Verkadalai in your hand !!

Similarly in summer, it would be a hell outside but it was a heaven sitting in a room with cool breeze flowing from the aircooler . So , aircooler is a must and good asset in Delhi ,but you should have enough water in the house ( Water was not freely available at Delhi in those days and I think the situation has not changed much even today.)

Having gained the experience in a bigger office , it was only natural that I was considered for taking charge of the biggest parts office of AL at Ennore, Chennai, when the then in charge retired in 1993. To be frank, I did not want a transfer to Chennai , but my GM was very particular that I was the only person capable of handling that office and I had to give in. Sometimes, being efficient also works against you ! So , over to Chennai .

15. 13A, Luz Church Road , Mylapore, Chennai.

I got the transfer in April 1993. In early May . I alone came to Chennai to finalise the school for S&S and to look for a house near the school.

With the help of Raja and Babu, I contacted a few good schools in and around Mylapore and finally got the admission in the Lady Sivaswamy Kalalaya ,Mylapore , a CBSE school with the first batch in Plus 1 in that year.

Then started my house hunt. I decided that the house should be in Mylapore so that S&S would not have difficulty in going to the school. I would have seen atleast 50 houses in two/three days but , I did not like any of them.

I cannot forget one of the houses I saw in those three days. The broker told me that there was a house near Kapaleeswarar temple with 3 bedrooms, hall and a kitchen and the rent was Rs 3000. I was thrilled ,but at the same time apprehensive on how such a house could be available at such a cheap rent. Anyway, I decided to have a look at it and when I saw the house, I was shocked .
The house had all the rooms as told by the broker but the sizes of the bedrooms were 6’ x 6’ . The hall was of 8’X8’. And the kitchen measured 3’ x 6’. You can imagine the size of the toilet ! The whole portion was within four walls with no windows or any sort of ventilation. My run from there ended only when I reached Raja’s house ! I am still wondering how a portion can be built like that.

The next day, when I was talking to my GM and was telling him about my fruitless efforts in locating a suitable flat, he phoned up a broker known to him at Mylapore and enquired whether there was flat/ house available and the broker told him that there was a flat which might suit my needs. I immediately rushed to Mylapore and the broker took me to 13A, Luz Church Road. I liked the 2nd floor flat very much and had preliminary discussions with Mr Balu and his wife Meera who were residing in the ground floor and were the friends of the owner of the 2nd floor flat Mr Krishnan. On knowing the details about our family and my employment, Mr Balu was satisfied and he called his friend , the owner. The owner came there in about 15 mins and the deal was finalized in another 10 mins. So I got the flat at last. This house was located right at the busy Luz corner , next to Rex Fashions., on a side road.

We came to Chennai in early June . My office was at Ennore , about 22 km’s from Mylapore. All the managers were required to travel to the company in car only. The managers were utilizing the pool car system and 5 managers used to travel in one car and share the expenses . Fortunately for me, one of the managers residing in Mylapore got transferred to Hosur Plant and I joined in that car .

The car would pick me up at 645 am to reach the company before 7 30 am. In the morning it was alright but the disadvantage of the pool system is that we have to wait in the evening for all the five to finish their work . This invariably delayed our departure and we normally left only by 530 pm even though our working hours was over by 400 pm. Add to that the traffic jam of the evening peak hour, we returned home only by 645 or 700 pm.

The job at Ennore was challenging as it involved managing an unruly workforce of 150 workmen and 25 executives. On many days , I used to have very heated arguments with the union office bearers . But I managed to keep good relations with the workers and I had a comparatively peaceful time there when compared to my predecessors.

I was transferred to the Marketing head office at Nandanam in 1997. Since this office was only 4 KM’s from our house and as the office started only at 900 am., the life became much easier after I came to this office. In this office, I was given the responsibility of managing the 17 Parts offices all over India. This gave me an opportunity to visit our relatives in places like Hyderabad, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Hosur and Ahmedabad,

Mylapore being Mylapore, we had some wonderful time there. The fresh green vegetables , with more than 25/30 varieties at a very cheap rate in the nearby Thanni Thurai market made me visit that market quite frequently. It was a delight to purchase Veg and fruits here. In the evenings, we had a number of temples to visit, from Kapaleeswarar temple to the Navashakti Vinayagar opp to our house.

We are especially very fond of Navashakti Vinayagar who we believe is blessing us in all we do . After coming to Chennai, we go to this temple on 31st Dec night at about 10 pm every year, witness the special abishekham, see the Maha Aarthi and have the darshan of the great Vinayagar exactly at 1200 midnight when the new years begins, and then return home. I have visited this temple on all the new year days except one, in the past 16 years.

We used to eagerly wait for the festivals at Kapaleeswarar temple, and Navashakti Vinayagar temple when we used to visit these temples on all the days and also hear a lot of Kutcheries.

Girija and the downstairs Meera mami combined their evening walk with temple worship. They used to go to Vedanta Desikar Koil ( 2 km’s away ) on almost everyday and did 108 pradhakshanams of the Lord Chakkarathalwar.

Though Girija , S & S had started collecting Ganesh idols in various forms a few years back, it became a passion when we were in this house . The result ? We have today more than 150 Vinayagars in our house !.

Then there was the Nageswara Park nearby where I used to go for morning walk at 500 am. On many days, I used to go to beach road at 500 am and walked there for about 45 mins.

Myself, Girija and Suba joined a Yoga class which was conducted on the terrace of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in East Mada St and attended Yoga classes on four days a week for more than a year.

Needless to say, shopping in Mylapore has its own charm. From platform shops to big shops like Nalli Silks, Rex Fashion etc., we did not spare any shop there !.
After we came to Chennai, we wanted to buy a flat and our search ended when we bought the Rangarajapuram flat from Uma / Sundar in 1996. For obvious reasons, we could not stay there and we let it out till it was disposed off in 2007.

As our company was doing well in those times, we were taken to foreign locations for the annual conference . I visited Italy, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Lanka, Mauritius, Nepal , Dubai etc when I was in this house .

Mylapore being strategically located , it was very easy to go to any place , be it Railway stations, S& S school / college, relatives houses or the famous T Nagar shopping center Pondy Bazaar and Usman road., as there were buses connected to all the localities and the bus stops were just 100’ from our house !

Sudha did her Plus 1 and Plus 2 in Mylapore and after that did Bsc in Vaishnav College , Nungambakkam. In 1998, She joined MCA in Therasa University Kodaikanal. Suba was in 9th Std when we came here and she completed her BA in 2000 . She then joined MBA in the same college.

Arun who got employment in Hotel Ambassador Pallav , stayed with us for a few years in this house. Arvind also stayed with us for a few months when he got his first employment in Bluestar. They later shifted to Kilpauk.

Arun / Gayathri’s betrothal was held in the terrace of this house in Aug 2000 just before we vacated this house. About hundred persons attended that gala function.

Raja and Babu stayed in Alwarpet , about 2 KM’s from our house. So, there were frequent visits by both the families to each other’s house.

Quite unfortunately, Babu became unwell by mid 1999 and she became very weak. She was hospitalized by mid Dec 1999 due to severe headache. Before it could be diagnosed as meningitis , her condition worsened and she passed away on 11th Jan 2000. It was a big shock to all of us , esp to Girija who loved her sister very much.

We were concerned about Raja and we did not want him to stay alone. Since our house was not big enough to take him also, we started searching for a house with three bedrooms. It was then that Raja told us about his friend’s house at Tiruvanmiyur . The house had a ground floor portion of about 1000 sqft and a bath attached room of about 200 sq ft in the first floor. Raja talked to his friend whether it would be possible to construct another portion in the 1st floor. His friend agreed and we decided to move in there after the construction was over.

The construction started in April and got finished in Aug. Raja’s family friend Shobu’s family ( who were living in the ground floor portion at their Alwarpet house ) moved in to the ground floor portion at Tiruvanmiyur while we occupied the newly constructed 1st floor portion at 10, 10th East Street, Kamaraj nagar , Tiruvanmiyur effective 1st Sep 2000. Raja moved into the 200 sqft room in the 1st floor.

This arrangement ensured that he had his privacy while he could stay with us also. This is the reason why we had to move from Mylapore to Tiruvanmiyur.

Our stay at Mylapore was quite enjoyable and we were rather sad that we had to leave that place.

16. 10, 10th East Street, Kamaraj Nagar, Tiruvanmiyur

From 1 9 2000 till date – more than 9 years and still counting. This house takes the cake for our longest stay ( next only to 17 Babu Rao St., of course.) .

As I write about this house, mixed feelings go thro my mind. Even as I start this para, tears roll down my cheeks. But let me start with good things first.

The owner of the house asked us to perform the Grahapravesam , on their behalf and we did that before moving in here . Perhaps we would have been the only ones to have performed the Grahapravesam without being the owner of the house !

In the very next month, Arun / Gayathri’s marriage took place. The pre marriage functions were held in our house . ( As Rajappa was at Hyd then ) . It was great to have many of our relatives in our new house at that time.

In another two months, in Dec 2000, we celebrated our wedding silver Jubilee. It was a big get-together with about 100 of our relatives and friends turning up to greet us on that occasion.

I wanted to give Girija a rare Gift on that occasion. So I decided to take her on a holiday to Malaysia and Singapore. We four went to these places and spent 3 days in Kuala Lumpur and six days at Singapore, in early Feb 2001. It was an enjoyable tour and we could see many places of interest during our trip.

Then came the big moment. Sudha finished her MCA in 2001 and we started looking alliance for her. In Oct 2001, her marriage with Chandar was finalized and the betrothal was held on 28th Oct 2001 . As usual our relatives and close friends gathered in our house and we went to the function in a big convoy of Seven cars.

The marriage was held on 8th Feb 2002 at Rama Kalyana Mandapam , Nungambakkam. We would have seen at least 30/35 mandapams before we finalized this mandapam. In fact I wanted to have the marriage in Krishnaswamy Kalyana Mandapam , T Nagar , but it was booked till May and hence I had to look for another Mandapam.

We had a hectic time in the preparations for the marriage. We made it a point to invite all our relatives and friends residing at Chennai personally. This took us from Avadi to Tambaram, and from Royapuram to Virungambakkam !. Thanks to Raja and our friend Venkat, we could make it to all the houses in Raja’s car and my own friend the Silver Plus.

Since it was the first marriage in our house, we wanted to make it as grand as possible . A lot of planning, purchases, arrangements etc., made the marriage a memorable affair. Most of the credit should go to Girija who meticulously planned and executed all our wishes.

After marriage, Sudha and Chandar along with his parents moved to a house which was just five minutes walking distance from our house. We were very happy to have her so near to us . It was a God’s blessing.

Sudha was blessed with a baby boy, Dhanush, on 25th Nov 2002 and it brought more joy to us. Our first Peran is very much attached to us and we have had a lovely time in his company all these years. When he was 1 year old , I purchased a video camera and I could record his plays, pranks ,mazhalai and achievements from then on.

Suba completed her MBA in 2002. She went for a job temporarily for a few months. We finalized her marriage with Magesh in Oct 2003 , but the marriage was held on 27th Apr 2005 , after Magesh’s two elder brothers got married . Earlier on 27th Jan 2005, the formal betrothal function was held in a grand manner.

This time we could get the Krishnaswamy Kalyana Mandapam, T Nagar. I like this Mandapam very much because, it has a great look, and has many facilities like beautiful and spacious marriage main hall, good car parking place, lift , big AC rooms etc. I remember sleeping in the hall in many marriages Here, everybody could sleep in AC comfort inside the room .

For Suba’s marriage also, we personally invited all the relatives and friends in Chennai. This time, Sudha and Chandar accompanied me to most of the places. Raja and Venkat also helped me to visit a few places. Thanks to the experience we had during Sudha’s marriage, this time, marriage and other arrangements were more streamlined and less taxing.

Suba / Magesh Marriage went off smoothly and in a grand manner . Since she had to go to Pune to start her married life, we felt her absence very much, since she was of very great help to us esp., after Nov 2003 as, she took complete care of Girija, like a mother, after her heart attack.

But we were able to be together quite often as I and Girija made two visits to Pune and she came to Chennai for delivery in Feb 2006 . Our second Peran, Sughosh was born on 18th May 2006. We were immensely happy to have two Perans at our house at that time. 24 hrs were just not sufficient !

In Jan 2004, I purchased a Honda Activa two-wheeler and sold off the ever-reliable Silver Plus after it served me superbly for over 19 years.

I turned 60 on 19th Oct 2006 and the Shastiapthapoorthy was celebrated on 13th Nov 2006, my star birth day . Near and dear ones gathered in good numbers to grace this occasion too. Earlier I retired from the services of Ashok Leyland on 31st Oct 2004, when I attained the superannuation age of 58. I got a touching farewell from my colleagues at a function got up on the evening of the last day of my service.About 20 of them accompanied me from the office to home,after the function. Thus my service spanning over 38 years in Ashok Leyland ( the only company I have worked for ) came to an end.

During our stay in this house, Sudha/ Chandar and Suba/ Magesh purchased new flats and we were very glad to participate in the Grahapravesams. When Suba’s Grahapravesam was held in Nov 2007, we were particularly happy that we have seen all the happy moments in our daughters’ lives.

In Mar 2002, 7 ½ naattu Sani entered my Raasi . May be because of this or may be God thought we had had enough of happiness , He started testing us from the year 2003.

Girija started suffering from various ailments from Nov 2003 when she had the 1st heart attack. When we thought that she had come out of the worst , she suffered a second attack in Nov 2007 from which she did not revive and the light went out of my life on 25th Nov 2007 at 515 pm after keeping me bright for 32 years.

It was heartbreaking to see Girija lying at this house motionless as I had never before seen her lying idle for so many hours at a stretch. I did not know what to do. The life suddenly became meaningless to me. But the love of my daughters, sons in law and grandsons and also the constant moral and physical support of all the relatives and close friends, helped me to overcome the sorrow slowly.

Girija fulfilled all her responsibilities to the family, ensured that her two daughters were brought up nicely, gave them good education , got them married, helped them in their deliveries, played with the grandsons merrily, did the seer etc for the Grahapravesams of her daughters’ new flats and had shastiapthapoorthy, She was a source of great strength and support throughout my career. I must thank God for all these favours that He has bestowed on my family. I am sure He will keep Girija happy in His heaven.

Suba / Magesh became parents to a baby girl , Mahathi on 4th July, 2009. The birth of the Petthi ( has Girija come back ? ) was a welcome relief to me as it brought tears of joy in the eyes which had only tears of sorrow for quite sometime.

Girija was there to take care of Sudha and Suba and the newborns when Dhanush and Sughosh were born. This time it was Sudha who took up the responsibility of Girija’s role. Like a mother, she took complete care of Suba and the newborn with help from Ramana who had specially come from Ahmedabad .

And before the 7 ½ naattu Sani went out of my Raasi on 26th Sep 2009, I also developed heart problem and underwent Bypass surgery in Malar Hospital on 7th Aug 2009. I am presently recovering under mother Sudha / Chandar’s care. During these 7 ½ years Shani Baghavan has given me lots of good things too. I must thank Lord Shani Baghavan for all the blessings He has bestowed on me and my family.

The house is there,I continue to live there with Girija's ninaivugal. And it is the love and support of near and dear ones that keep me going.

Though I am concluding this now, I will write again on this topic in future, God willing.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The homes that shaped my life- Part 2

15th Sep 2009

For the first part of my blog on this topic, click here

Read on for the second part

6. Ramakrishna Home , Mylapore, Chennai 4

My next home was Ramakrishna Home where I stayed for three years - between 1962 and 1965- and studied LME. As I have already covered about this Home in one of my earlier blogs – Read it by clicking here - I am not repeating the same..

7. Ramaswami Tutorial College , Mylapore, Chennai 4

Wondering what I had to with a Tutorial College ? No, I did not study there. I only stayed there for sometime. When I joined Ashok Leyland in Jan 1966, my father arranged my stay here thro Ramamurthy athimber whose bro in law Mr Subramanyam was running this Tutorial College. He was kind enough to allow me to stay here till I could find a suitable accommodation . I stayed here for 25 days in Jan 1966. As this place was also in Mylapore,( in the same building of the famous Nalli Silks in Royapettah High Road , near Luz ) I was quite at home here in these 25 days. Only hitch was that I had to wake up at 4 30 am to catch the 6 am train from Central to be in the office by 7 15 am. This was only a prelude to years of waking up at 430 am. During my stay at Mylapore, I located and fixed up a room at Tiruvottiyur, which is very near to the AL factory . I moved here with my baggage on 1st Feb 1966.

8.Southern Welfare Association., 57, Sannadhi St., Tiruvottiyur , Chennai

This was my home for 14 months.. This was a bachelors’ lodge and was situated on the busy Sannadhi street , very near to the famous Vadivudai Amman Temple . As there used to be numerous festivals in this temple throughout the year, the Sannadhi street will be full of people on almost all the days.We normally used to spend the evenings just sitting in the balcony and watching the people on the street.

The railway station was also nearby, about 10 mins walking distance, and the train which would leave Central at 6 am would come to Tiruvottoyur at 645 am. Hence it was enough if I got up at 545 am . I thus saved more than an hour both in the morning and evening.

There was a good hotel nearby where we used to have coffee in the morning, tiffin in the evening and meals in the night. ( Rs 27 for 30 meals if you purchase the meals ticket book containing 30 tickets ) or Rs 1 per meal. Since my breakfast,and lunch were at AL at subsidized rate ( 14 paise for Tiffin, 28 paise for meals, 7 paise for tea and 7 paise for a packet of afternoon snacks ! ), my monthly food expenses would be over in Rs 70 / 80. The life was easy going when I was in this lodge, but it changed the moment I decided to pursue my higher studies ( AMIE ) by private study in late 1966.

I initially started studying the various subjects myself and cleared 4 papers ( out of 17 papers totally ). After some time, I found it difficult to study everything on my own, mainly due to the tough course material ( Suresh will vouch for it !) and also due to the tiredness after a day’s work at the factory . ( where I had to walk for about 4 km’s ,work standing for 3 hrs and study 4 hrs sitting everyday ). So , I used to skip reading quite regularly !

It was then I decided that I should join an evening coaching class which would force me to concentrate on my studies . One of my colleagues was also studying for AMIE and he was attending a coaching class at Triplicane. He was staying alone in a room in a house.

When he came to know of my plans, he offered to take me as his room mate and he arranged for my admission in the same evening coaching class. I was only too glad to accept his help and I moved over to Triplicane on 1st April 1967 to the unforgettable , 3 Swamy Pillai Street .

9. 3, Swamy Pillai Street, Triplicane Chennai 5

This house is unforgettable for many reasons. The most important reason was of course coming to know of Girija. We got married when I was in this house. It was naturally the best thing to happen in my life.

I passed AMIE while I was in this house. More of this later

I was made permanent in AL after my apprenticeship period while I was in this house. I was promoted to Executive cadre just after my marriage, again when I was in this house.

This was the first time that I came to live with so many families in a single house. There were a total of 7 families including the house owner and three bachelors ! The number of people living there would have been more than 35. So, galagalappukku Panjamillai . It was a unique experience indeed.

It was when I was in this house that I got typhoid and as I was alone, I got admitted in the Aynavaram ESI hospital and was there for about 20 days till recovery.

While I was in this house, I had a close shave with death. For more details on this, click here.

When the telegram bearing the sad news of demise of Srinivasan athimber reached me on June 10th 1970, all the 30+ residents of that house came to my room to share the grief and to console me. I cannot forget their kind words .

Thus truly, my stay in this house was unforgettable .

As said earlier, the main purpose of coming to Triplicane was to pursue my AMIE studies. Hence my life used to be hectic on 6 days a week. Get up at 445 am., leave the room by 5 20 am., reach Ratna Café by 525 am, enter the hotel when the gate is opened at 5 30 am., have a cup of steaming coffee, catch the bus to Central at 540 am and catch the train to Ennore by 6 am.

In the evening, catch the train at Ennore at 425 pm( the office would close at 4 pm ), reach Central stn at 5 20 pm., go straight to attend the coaching class between 6 pm. And 830 pm., on the way back have dinner at 9 pm., retire to sleep by 10 pm. Monday being the weekly holiday at AL used to be the only day when I would be free .

I studied in the coaching class for about two years but after that, the coaching center was closed as the lecturers left one by one and the students’ strength also came down. Then I had to study privately , on my own , for another two years before, I passed all the papers in 1971. Thus from a diploma holder , I became a Mechanical Engineer ( AMIE is equivalent to BE ) in 1971.

After I became a permanent employee in AL in 1970, I was provided company bus and life became easier after that. I had to catch the bus at 625 am and hence, I could afford some more sleep in the morning. In the evening, I would reach home by 515 pm., and there used to be a lot of time at my disposal esp after I finished AMIE.

I used to have a small friendship circle in those days . My room mate Paul ( the earlier room mate left AL and went to Bangalore for another job ), T V Krishnaswamy who studied LME with me and who was also staying at Triplicane as a bachelor , two of my colleagues, Venkatraman, and Chandramouli, and myself used to meet regularly in the evenings and spend time by chit chatting.

Later, we would reserve our table for dinner at the nearby Mithra Bhavan and wait for our turn which would normally be after three or four batches !
Whenever we wanted a change , we would go to another famous mess ‘ Sydhoji Mess’ ( where you will have to stand in a queue till your turn comes ) or take Poori/ Chappathi in the ‘Bombay Halwa House ‘ in the ‘Big street’.

Lot of cinema theatres around, the world famous Marina beach at a stone’s throw, ( the paatti Bajji on the sands of Marina was introduced only during this period ), Drama house membership ( two/ three programmes every month ) , varieties of hotels within a Km radius, Oh, the life was exciting really. No wonder, Triplicane aptly got the name ‘a bachelors’ paradise.’

My marriage was in Dec 1975 and since Margazhi month came immediately after my marriage, I moved into a new house alongwith Girija in the Thai month – in the 3rd week of Jan 1976.

10, 17, Soorappa Mudali St., Triplicane Chennai

This was the house where I started my life with Girija. Though I lived here for only 4 ½ years till June 1980, this period turned out to be another exciting one in my life. The initial excitement of the married life apart, I had a highly successful career at AL during this period when I got three promotions in the space of four years.(Thanks to the luck Girija brought with her. )

It was in this house that I and Girija were blessed with two gems- Sudha and Suba. The moment they came into our lives, the life had a different and sweet meaning to me and Girija.

I was also lucky to get admission in the 1st batch of Post Graduate course of Marketing Management introduced by the University of Madras . I attended the course in the evenings for two years and I passed the final exams in 1978, securing a first class .

I cannot forget the helping hand of Girija in my studies esp., during the exam times when I used to study till early morning . She would also be awake and would be offering me hot coffee at regular intervals ! This is in addition to taking care of household jobs and the one year old Sudha . But for her , I could not have concentrated on my studies.

It was during our stay in this house that we had the very rare honour of celebrating the Sathabhishekam of our parents at Cuddalore in May 1979. What an occasion it was ! The whole family had gathered there and the celebrations that took place will not be forgotton by any of us. Thank you appa and amma for having giving us this opportunity.

I must thank Girija’s athimber Raja for capturing the joyful moments in his camera. The photos taken by him on the occasion are a treasure and are worth a million. The happiness in everybody’s face and the joy of children around our appa and amma are a treat to watch even today.

It was in this house that I purchased my first TV – a black and white Solidaire . There would be a big gathering of neighbours to watch the Oliyum oliyum on Fridays, and the cinemas on Sundays !

In a short period of 4 ½ years, this house brought us a lot of good things , but the only sad note was that Girija lost her father in 1978 due to sudden illness. He was a simple and pious man and loved his daughters . When he sings Thirupugazh, ( Yes, he was a good singer ) you can go on hearing him for a long time.

As I was transferred to Calcutta in June 1980, we shifted to that place in Aug 1980, when Suba was barely two months old !

To be continued....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bypass Surgery- A first hand account

24th Aug 09

By Pass Surgery

You want to know how it will be to go thro Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery ( CABG ), commonly known as By Pass Surgery ? Here is a first hand account .

It was 915 am – 6th Aug 09 - Malar Hospital , Adyar. The Angiogram result showed that I had three blocks in the main arteries and one in a branch. After the Consultant Cardiologist Dr Ravi Kumar who did the Angiogram - consulted his senior surgeon – the well known Dr K R Balakrishnan- , it was decided to have CABG on 7th Aug 09. by about 2 pm. So the preparations began …..

Pre Operation

In order to ascertain that I was fit for the operation, various tests were conducted starting from the evening of 6th Aug. Blood was tested for all parameters, BP and pulse were tested at periodic intervals, Blood clotting time was measured. And the hair was removed from all over my body , both the hands, both the legs, chest, stomach and back. ( This was to help easy insertion of tubes, stitching and taping.)

The next day- the D day- , I was told to finish my breakfast at 7 am and after that nothing – not even water – was to be taken. By 10 am, some more tests were conducted- Chest X Ray, ECG, Echo tests etc. All these reports were seen by the Anaesthetist and after clearance from him, the ‘goahead’ was given for the operation.

This was perhaps an easier phase when all you may have is mental tension. But I tried to make the situation less painful by looking cheerful , talking to people, and joking with relatives and friends who were around me. I hope this helped me a lot to remain cool.


I was moved to the operation theatre at 1 15 pm . Immediately after, I was placed on the operation table and some needles were fixed at my neck. Anaesthesia was then given to me and I went to unconscious state. I did not feel any pain and I don’t know what happened to me after that. CABG was done at four places to bypass all the blocks . Nerve for a length of about two feet has been taken from my left leg ( from upper thigh to toe ) for use in the four bypass paths. Dr K R Balakrishnan did the operation with a team of four doctors.

This was perhaps the easiest phase, though the most important one, as I did not feel any pain !

Post operation ICU 1st Day

I was later told that the operation was over by about 5 pm and I was moved to ICU by about 7 pm. I became conscious that night though I don’t remember the exact time. I started feeling the pain and I could find a no of tubes fitted to various parts of my body. I could not move
this way or that way. It was paining and boring as I could not sleep for more than one hour at a stretch. It was a difficult phase but I did not know that a more difficult phase was awaiting me.

Post Operation ICU 2nd and 3rd day.

I continued to be in ICU on 9th and 10th Aug. On 10th Aug, most of the tubes were removed , drips was stopped and solid food was given. But the pain continued and a new problem started. That was coughing. Dr said that flum will form in the lungs and the only way to take out that is to cough and spit it out. I was told to press a small pillow or towel against the chest whenever cough comes so that the pain is lessened. From 9th for more than a week, I suffered a lot due to this cough . This , in my opinion, is the most difficult phase in the recovery mode.

Post operation 4th day

After solid food was started , I was wondering as to how I was going to manage toilet necessity. On 10th night, I was helped with a bed pan by the ward boy. On 11th morning, all the tubes were removed and I was assisted by the ward boys to walk and slowly I managed to go to toilet on my own. Physiotherapy exercises for breathing were given from 9th onwards and walking exercise was started on 11th. Pain started reducing from 11th onwards .

Post operation 5th day to 8th day.

I was moved to the room on 11th by about 1230 pm. It was a relief that I could have my close ones by my side and this helped a lot in recovering faster. I was recovering well except of course the cough which was giving a lot of pain in my chest. Even if I talk a word or two, cough used to come and I used to suffer for the next half an hour or so. Hence I stopped talking .

Because of the pain esp due to the chest wounds, I found it very diffucult to sleep. I could not lie in one posture for more than one or two hours and many a times, I had to sit up. This constant changing of positions caused a lot of pain and discomfort too. But I slowly came out of this phase also.

As I was otherwise alright, I was discharged from the hospital on 14th.

Recovery at Home 9th day onwards.

I started feeling much better in home atmosphere . The Dr had said that I could walk up the first floor . So I myself walked up slowly . I continued to have persistent cough till 17th Aug and because of that, some water started oozing out of the stitched portion in the chest. I went to the hospital on 15th and again on 19th for redressing the wounds. For the last three days, the cough has stopped to a very great extent and this has given me much relief. Since coming home, I am able to sleep well also.

The wounds at Chest and leg are slowly healing. Dr has advised that for a few more days , water should not touch the wounds and therefore I continue to have only towel bath everyday.

The stitches at chest and leg are absorbable type and hence they will be left as such .

Though people say that Bypass surgery is common and one can come home in 8/9 days, it is still painful and I would not want even my enemy to go thro this .

It may take about three to four months for full recovery. I am now walking for about 15 mins in the morning and about 15 mins in the evening within the house. I will shortly start walking in the street.

I am on normal diet now.

I will write again on further progress.

The total hospital expenses came to Rs 2,22,000. ( Rs 20000 for angiogram and Rs 202000 for CABG ). The insurance company paid Rs 2,17,000 and the balance Rs 5000 was borne by me.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Homes That Shaped My Life

22nd July 2009.

In the 62 years of my life, I have lived in many places, many houses. As I look back at these places, a lot of memories - many pleasant and some unpleasant flash across my mind. Here I am, sharing these memories with you.

The homes that shaped my life.

1. 3rd Cross st., North Maravaneri Extn ., Salem

This was my first home after I was born in Oct 1946. This was the house of my dear mama who took care of our mother during the delivery. As my first home, this has a special place in my memory.

2. Cuddalore Pudupalayam Main Road

After a few months at Salem, we came to Cuddalore and lived in the above house for about 3/4 years. I vaguely remember my playing in the sands of nearby Rajagopalaswamy temple and also in the opposite house where one of our relatives ( Bragatha ) lived.

3. Uppu thaneer Veedu ( Salt Water House ), Pudupalayam

This house was known as Salt Water house because, the well water of that house used to be fully salty and not fit for any use. I remember the elder members of my family bringing water in Kudams from nearby and sometimes far away places. And solely because of this reason, we moved to another house in Mosque St., after a very brief stay in the above house.

4. Mosque St., Pudupalayam

This is the house where I spent about 2/3 years(Age 4 to 6 ). There are lots of faint memories about this house.

I started going to school from this house only. But I remember that I used to 'cut' the school for more than 3/4 days a week, as I was prone to frequent sickness and was suffering from breathing problem. Thanks to Dr Ganesa Iyer, who gave me injections continuously for more than a month ( injection vadu innamum en Shoulder-il irukkirathu ! ) , I got completely cured of the chronic problem.

There was a mosque nearby to our house and during Moharram everyyear, there used to be a very big festival in that Mosque that included the " Thee Midhippu". It was held right in front of our house. We all used to eagerly await this day ,when the fire will be started early in the morning with lots of Viragu in a large pit specially dug for this purpose and by the time, the Thee Midhippu started in the late evening, there would be very hot thanal for an area of about 6' X 20'. And hundreds of devotees would walk thro the Neruppu. Unforgettable .

Our periappa's house was just three houses away and one of our cousins Raghava Anna also lived very nearby. That Manni ( Janaki manni ) had a very high regard of our mother ,( like most of our other relatives ) and hence had a soft corner for all of us young kids. We spent a lot of time in our Periappa's house and anna's house. Here I must mention that our Periappa was a thorough gentleman and a very kind and soft spoken person. We always felt at ease in his company and he used to tell us a lot of stories. Though they were also very poor at that time with only Periappa's meagre salary to support the family, I remember having shared many a meals in their house.

This house also did not have good drinking water and we used to fetch drinking water from the water tank at the Gadilam River banks .This used to be about 1.5 Km's from the house and I remember walking the distance or going in a cycle along with the elders of the family. The Kamala Pharmacy from where we used to purchase medicines, Appa's dearest friend Gopala Iyengar's house in the Riverside Road where we used to frequent to play are some of the other memories I carry from my life at this house.

The railway station, bus stand, Pataleeswarar temple, Anjaneyar temple etc were all in the other side of the river. And whenever we had to go any of these places, we had to cross the river. Though there was a bridge across the river, we preferred walking across the river since there used to be only knee deep water most of the days . As a small child, it was a thrilling experience for me to walk in the water for about 100/150' holding an elder's hand.

After our father purchased a house in Tiruppapuliyur, we moved over to that house in late 1953. What a house it turned out to be !! We cannot forget it as it was a part and parcel of our life

5. 17, Babu Rao St., Tiruppapuliyur

We shifted to this house in 1953 and till it was sold in 1994, it played a very important and memorable role in all our lives. I lived in this house full time till June 1962. After that, this was a home away home to me ,like it was to many of my brothers and sisters. Ask any of my brothers and sisters, each one will have many precious memories of this house. It was in this house that many happy celebrations took place. Shastiapthapoorthy of our parents, Shastiapthapoorthy of our eldest brother –anna -, marriages of our sisters Padma, Saroja, and Savithri took place. The marriages of Anna, Sundaresan, Rajappa, myself, Jayaraman and Mangalam took place when we were residing in this house. Scores of Upanayanams, Seemanthams, Valaigappus, Births of Children, Punyahavachanams, Ayush homams also took place in this house. To crown them all, it was in this house that we all had the rare fortune and honour of celebrating our parents’ Sathabhishekam in 1979.

And this house also witnessed a few deaths including those of our dear parents.

The family strength that was just 12 when we moved in here, grew to 66 when this house was sold to another person in mid 90’s. That will amply show the contribution of this house. When we (me, my brothers and sisters ) grew up and had to move out for studies, jobs or married life, our parents continued to live here and this gave us all a chance to assemble here on various occasions . And what a jolly time we had when we all assembled. No other family in Babu Rao St or for that matter in the whole of Tirupapuliyur would have had so many members of the family ( including the kids) bringing such a joy to the family on such get-togethers.

We all have shared our joys and sorrows in this house. We have seen the family prosper many a fold while we were in this house.

I completed my whole high school studies from this house. I remember rushing to school in the morning, coming back home for lunch and returning to school all within 30 mins so that we will have about 30 mins to play before the school reopens for the afternoon session, playing in the Pataleeswarar temple outer pragaram ,playing in Babu Rao St, hitting fours and sixers on neighbours’ windows inviting their ( esp the Ceylon Mami’s ) wrath, Oh, what a golden time it was.

I remember the early mornings ( 430 am to 600am ) when I used to go to Veda classes where I learnt a no of slokams- Rudram, Chamakam, Sri suktham, Purusha suktham, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Venkatesa Suprabatham etc etc. I remember helping our amma in getting the water from the road tap to the house, I remember the beautiful bath we had in our Kinaru, And I also remember the long walks we had , to use the toilet !!

As our house was very close to the Pataleeswarar temple, we had the opportunity of worshipping in the temple quite frequently. Pataleeswarar, Brahannayaki amman, and Pidari amman were all very close to our hearts and no auspicious occasion used to be held in our house without first worshipping at this temple. And who can forget the annual Vaikasi Festival in this temple when the whole Tirupapuliyur used to wear a festive look . The Naga vahanam day ( when there would be mega fire works), Theru adaichhan on the 5th day, the colorful Velli Ratham on the 6th Day, Pushpa pallakku on the 9th day were the most important festival days ( as far as I was concerned )

Anjaneyar temple on the banks of River Gadilam is another temple which was very dear to all of us. The Milagu Vadai, Sakkarai Pongal and Kesari were some of the delicious Neivedyams at this temple and even when you think of these , naakkil jalam oorum !!

Those days , the river Gadilam used to be full of water during the rainy season and many years, there will be floods extending up to the bus stand ( which is about 100 meters from the river ). It was a thrilling experience to walk over the bridge when the river was full , but during floods, we will watch the water from a safe distance only !

During the summer vacations, the river will be 75% dry and I along with my friends used to spend the evenings in the river sand discussing the world matters ( read Cinema matters ! ) . On the way back home, we used to spend some time in the railway station till the Janatha Express comes there ( at 8 PM )

Babu Rao St in those days was full of young boys when I was in the school and the whole street would be busy with various teams playing a lot of games, mainly Cricket. We also used to conduct Cricket matches between Babu Rao st team and Tiruvendhipuram team . Some matches will be in Babu Rao St ( or in the school playground )and some in Tiruvendhipuram.

Oh, as I recollect my early days at Tirupapuliyur, more and more thoughts flash across my mind.

I remember correcting the SSLC public exam answer sheets on behalf of my teacher, ( the very same year I wrote the SSLC exams). I remember getting a pat from my maths teacher for solving a problem even before the other students were half way thro. I also remember taking part in a Hindi Pechhu Potti and securing a first prize ( That it was perhaps my only speech in a competition is another matter ! ) when I was about 10 yrs old.

As the house was in a dilapidated condition and since there was nobody to take care of the house ( as all had to move out of Tpr ) , we decided to sell the house after a lot of hesitation and on the day it was sold in 1994, tears rolled out of my eyes. And thus ended my 42 years of priceless relationship with the house or should I call it 'the temple'?

Wait for my next blog to read about the other houses where I lived.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Audio Cassettes

Last week, when we were rearranging the things in the rooms of our house, I came across a box which was full of Audio Cassettes ( AC in short ). This took me to some good old memories.

Those days- I am talking about 30/35 years back - collecting AC was a craze among many people. And we were no exceptions. The types of AC's were -Slokams ( Vishnu sahasranamam, Venkatesa Suprapadam for eg ), Bakthi Paadalgal ( Murugan Paadal, Iyyappan Paadal, Vinayaka stuthi etc ) , Carnatic Vocals ( MS, MLV, Madurai Mani Iyer to name a few,)Carnatic instrumental( Kunnakkudi, Kadari, Gayathri, Mandolin Srinivas etc), Dramas( SV Sekar, Kaathidi Ramamurthy, Poornam Visvanathan, Mouli, Crazy Mohan, et ), discourses ( balakrishna Sastrigal, Kripananda Variar etc ),the cinema Songs ( in various permutation and combinations ),Childrens Rhymes, and personal recordings of voices of family members etc.

And how do you collect them ? It was really an interesting hobby,though at times it pinched your pocket.

choice 1 is buying. The AC's used to cost Rs 30/35 and during Music festivals days, we used to get 10% discount. I remember, I and Girija used to regularly visit the Annual AC mela in Dec at TTK road (near Naradha Gana Sabha) . We used to buy 20/25 Ac's every year.

Choice 2 was recording from a friend or relative . For this, we used to buy blank Cassettes and then do the recording as and when possible. For this purpose, we used to carry blank cassettes whenever we go to a relative's place!. The blank ones used to come in 3 types, 60 mins duration, 90 mins duration and 120 mins duration. Since the price difference between a 120 min AC and 60 min AC was only about 20%, I initially thought that 120 mins AC's are cheap considering that we get double the time compared to a 60 min AC. Accordingly, I used to buy a no of 120 min AC's. Only later on, I came to know that the 120 min AC's put a heavy load on the Tape recorder and when the tape recorder has to pull the tape of 120 min AC's, it puts a high strain on the AC's too. Consequently, the life of both AC's and tape recorder gets shortened. After that, buying 60 min AC's became a standard practice.This method of taking copies from friends/relatives was widely followed by many and of course, many of our collection falls in this category.

Choice 3 - Giving a blank tape to a shop and ask them to record what we want. This worked out cheaper as the AC's bought ready-made from the shops used to have only a very limited songs - say 4 or 5 each side. When you get it recorded from a shop. you get 9/10 songs each side . Another advantage in this practice is that the shop will keep a huge collection of AC's and it is very easy to get any song that you want. I remember Suba has collected so many AC's this way.

Choice 4- Record the AC from radio ( Tv's had not invaded the homes those days.) Or, record while the children talk.( I still have AC with Sudha/ Suba's voices recorded in 1985 at Pondy ). This will serve as a very good memory.

Choice 5 - Get a AC from a friend/relative and conveniently forget to return ! ( I have lost a few AC's this way !! )

The first Tape recorder I had was a Japan made National Tape recorder which was purchased from Singapore, thanks to one of my friends who went there in 1978. With this Tape recorder, I have recorded many many AC's . The treasure among them are the AC's containing the voices of our mother, the young age Sudha/Suba, and the Ammavasya tharpanam recited by our great Venkatrama Sastrigal.

There were a number of brands for the blank AC's . But the two brands that I remember easily are TDK and Sony. I have purchased hundreds of blank AC's ( mainly from Burma Bazaar) for me and for relatives / friends. I have even gifted a set of 5 / 10 Blank AC's during the marriages of some of my friends.

Though we used to collect a no of AC's in all the above ways, I doubt whether we use these AC's to that extent. Girija was using this in the kitchen for many years when she used to play the slokams in the mornings while cooking.She was also fond of old songs which she used to hear when she gets some leisure time amidst her busy schedules. . But generally, most of us would heard some AC's 20/25 times, some others for 10/15 times. Many Ac's would have been used for less than 10 times . After some time, most of the AC's would not have been touched for many months !! Due to dust and normal wear and tear, the tapes would become not usable after a few years , but we will not dare to throw them away even after that. What do you say ?

Any guess on the AC that I have used maximum number of times ? It is the Ammavasya Tharpanam AC which I would have used atleast 200 times since it was recorded 20 years back !!!

With the advent of CD's, MP3 technology, internet etc, the AC's have now became a costly proposal and it is naturally going towards a slow death. No wonder , the tape recorders are also fast disappearing from the market. But we will definitely cherish those years when we meticulously searched here and there for the songs we wanted and had a big grin when we at last succeeded.


Unforgettable Moments Part 4

It was in November 1996 that I, alongwith four of my colleagues went to Italy and London on a week's business cum sightseeing trip.

We first went to Rome on 2nd Nov and spent the day going around Rome , On 3rd morning, we went to Vatican , the headquaeters of Roman Catholics. We were told that the Pope ( Pope John Paul II at that time ) would address the public once a week from atop the Vatican church , and only during that time, one can have a glimpse of Pope ( from a distance of about 50 meters - the distance between the ground level and the window from where the Pope would deliver His address )

As that day was not a speech day , we cursed our ill luck and were going around inside the huge and beautiful Vatican church marvelling at the amazing paintings and the wonderful architecture.

Then all of a sudden, some staff of the church came to us ( we, the visitors, were about 50 in that hall at that time ) and asked us to stand aside . We were also requested to remain there and keep silence for a few minutes. We could easily guess that a VIP was going to come that way and even as we were wondering who would be this VIP,there appeared the Majestic Pope John Paul II alongwith some priests and as He slowly walked past us, I could have a clear view of Him for more than 30 seconds .I was thrilled that the Pope was only about 3' feet from me when He crossed me. As He walked, He blessed us all.

Later on we came to know that The Pope had wanted to visit a room on the other side to look at some records and that such visits by The Pope are very rare. We were indeed very fortunate that He decided to visit that room on that day and that too when we were there.

I consider this a wonderfully lucky moment which I cannot forget in my life.



Dhanush has recently joined in Skating coaching class. The class is conducted at Besant Nagar beach on all days , but Dhanush goes there only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I went there on last friday to see how Dhanush is skating. I went there with a plan of spending about 15 mins only but I ended up being there for more than an hour. The reason ?

There were about 100 children practising skating and their age would have been between 3 and 14 years. ( Most of them below 8, I guess). It was really amazing to see such a young generation skate with ease and grace. The skating surface was in eliptical form of about 100 meters long and I clocked a young student- about 5 yrs old- racing four rounds in 1 min. That works out to 24 km's per hour! What a speed at such a young age! The mind became very light after seeing the skating and I have decided to go there as frequently as possible.

If you have stress or worries, straight away head to a nearby skating coaching place and spend about an hour there . I guarentee you will return home a stressfree person.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Precious memories, tears unseen

25th Jan 2009

Precious memories, tears unseen.

Dear Girija,This is your second Birthday away from home. A smile for all, a heart of gold, the very best this world could hold, never selfish, always kind, These are the memories you left behind. Thinking of you,Girija,is easy, We do it every day, But missing you is a heartache, That never goes away. You have gone where we cannot see you, And your voice we cannot hear, Yet, it seems you walk beside us, never absent, always near. Happy Birthday Girija.Sadly missed by your loving daughters, sons in law, the lovely grandkids and of course, your dear Sugavanam/Krishnan