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.




Srini said...

Dear Chittappa

It is a Great writing containing emotional attachments, happiness, ups and downs everything.

No words to state the initiative you had taken and written such a long posting. Certainly will trigger others also to record, as you told.

You are well known to Delhi Children as "Anna Thatha". Everyone calls you by this name only even today. Try to add the story why this name came to you given by Vignesh !!

Post -- simply superb !!!


Vasudevan Sundaresan said...

Dear Chittappa,

What a marathon effort!! I literally lived with you right from calcutta to till date in about 30 min of reading.

I happened to come to your pondy house, Luz church road and Tiruvanmiyur, though I could not do so at Calcutta & Delhi.

This mammoth effort is simply outstanding laced with so many events in such coherant manner.

Thank you chittappa


Baskar said...

Dear SC,

It's really wonderful write-up. You narrated very well of your each and every part of your life. This is not your concluded part... I wish you the part will continue with very long life and we always seek your blessings.

One time I also entered on your busy life which I cannot forget in my life. In 1990, I got job at Ashok Vihar community center as a computer job work. We stayed at R.K.Puram, I have to reach office by 9.00 am so I have to leave the house by 7.00 am and I have to catch two buses to reach Ashok Vihar. On this early! morning I could not take any breakfast, I only taking கஞ்சி (which still I am taking) in the morning hours. I still remember you and chitti had requested me to take the breakfast at your home.. but you & chitti saw me there is something un-comfortable on my face. Amma suddenly told to both of you.. i.e... he always required parruppu sadham in the breakfast. இரண்டு பேரும் என்னை அழைத்து அரவணைத்து, உனக்கு வேண்டியது அங்கு கிடைக்கும் அதனால் கவலைபடாமல் வந்து சாப்பிட்டு விட்டு அலுவலகம் செல்லுமாரு அன்புடன் கேட்டு கொண்டிர்கள்.

And I started to came to your house and had very good paruppu sadham with subzi prepared by chitti specially for me. yes its really special for me only. நான் இதை என் வாழ்நாளில் மறக்கமுடியாத பருப்பு சாத உண்மை கதை.

with love,

Prakash said...

dear mama,
that was an excellent piece of writing, filled with all emotions. it must have taken such a long time to complete the write up.

just one word to sum up- superb!!!


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