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....