• Share
  • Email
  • Embed
  • Like
  • Save
  • Private Content
Golden Moments
 

Golden Moments

on

  • 4,322 views

On the occasion of the Golden Wedding Anniversary of our parents, we published a book and presented it to them. Called, "Golden Moments", it captures the recollections from the extended family

On the occasion of the Golden Wedding Anniversary of our parents, we published a book and presented it to them. Called, "Golden Moments", it captures the recollections from the extended family

Statistics

Views

Total Views
4,322
Views on SlideShare
4,318
Embed Views
4

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
58
Comments
0

3 Embeds 4

http://www.lmodules.com 2
http://www.apurva.com 1
http://www.docshut.com 1

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via SlideShare as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Golden Moments Golden Moments Document Transcript

    • Golden Moments
 Celebrating the Golden Wedding Anniversary of K.N.Krishnamoorthy and Sharada Krishnamoorthy
 

 

    • 



















































































































 
 
 
 #
1
KNK
as
a
Child 
 #
2
Four
Generations!
 
 2

    • 



















































































































 
 
 
 This book is fondly dedicated to the memory of the late parents of K.N.Krishnamoorthy and Sharada Krishnamoorthy. # 4 Ponnamal & N. Ramasubramoni # 3 Dr. K.N. Swamy 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 3

    • 



















































































































 
 
 Family Tree by Sanjana Srikanth 
 
 
 4

    • 



















































































































 
 








KNK Thatha & Charummai/ Pati by Suvedh 
 
 5

    • 



















































































































 
 
 K.N. Krishnamoorthy, or KNK as he is affectionately called is certainly a gentleman to be reckoned with. He is best known for organizing events such as weddings, air shows or Thiruppugazh gatherings with a huge attendances, and even trips either with family or with friends. He uses his sharp wit to pinpoint flaws in plans, and then provides quick solutions to change flawed processes and make them work. He is often put in charge of running events, and takes on these herculean tasks with an easy aplomb. To receive a compliment from him (a rare occurrence!) is a major feat. He had (and still has) very little patience with any incompetence. If he felt that something could be done by a certain time, then it should. His unfailing sense of ‘doing the right thing’ has kept him on top of things. Always an early riser, he has a boundless energy and self confidence that help portray him as someone to look up to, and indeed he is a person who is well known and respected throughout the DRDO/MIT community, the RT Nagar Cultural group, as well as the Thiruppugazh community. Here’s a toast to a man who is a force! 
 6

    • 



















































































































 
 Sharada Krishnamoorthy or Charu as she is affectionately referred to is a spiritual and creative person. She epitomizes that old adage, “behind every successful man there is a woman”. She has unfailingly done whatever is needed to support her husband in his various endeavors. She is often guileless, and is surprised when people don’t act the way she would. She has herself shown a formidable skill for organizing events all the way from teaching classes to arranging Ragaranjani katcheris to major events such as Rukmini Kalyanams. She hasn’t stopped learning and creating. She has even mastered that dastardly machine – the computer, has learned to send emails, search for information on the web, make CDs of MP3s, and has learned to blog and more, and I’m sure will be tweeting very soon! More importantly, she knows what she doesn’t know, and is not afraid to learn about new technology! Despite her uncooperative health, she often forges ahead to get things done, where she leaves people that are perfectly healthy in the dust. Her creative energy and her penchant to include everybody make her a well- respected and loved person. This is a tribute to a beautiful woman inside and out. 
 7

    • 



















































































































 
 Their journey began on April 27th 1959. They settled down in Bangalore and moved from one house to another in Vyalikkaval. Here they are at their 1st. Main Road home. 
 8

    • 



















































































































 
 They had their hands full with four children. Before long, they invested their life savings into constructing a home in Mattadahally (later renamed to R.T. Nagar) 
 9

    • 



















































































































 
 Both herald from large, nuclear families. Since they are the eldest in their respective families, there were numerous occasions for family gatherings. At Dr. K.N. Swamy’s 60th birthday (shastiapdapoorthy) in Karungulam Seated (L to R): Dr.N.Venkatasubramanian, KN. Krishnamoorthy, (Late)Ambichamy chithappa, (Late)Chithi Pati, Sujatha, (Late)Dr.KN.Swamy, (Late)RSS Vasan, Dr.N.Padhmanabhan, Dr.N.Meenakshisundaram, Ashok, (Late)Mani Mama 1st Row (L to R): (Late)Ponnamal, Sharada Moorthy, Lalitha, Rama, (Late)Ramakrishnan, Meenakshi, Shanta Vasan, Dr.N. Rajam, Jaya Sundaram, Parvatham mami, Meera 2nd Row (L to R): Lakshmanan, ??, Shivakumar, Prakash, Chitra, Sundar, Mohan, Rajesh, Kutti Maman 
 10

    • 



















































































































 
 On Sharada Moorthy’s side, the family lived in Trivandrum: Sowmini Ramakrishnan, (Late) N.Ramasubramoni, Sharada Moorthy, (Late) Ponnamal, Lalitha Krishnamurthy, (Late) S.Ramakrishnan, KN Krishnamoorthy, S. Krishnamurthy 
 11

    • 



















































































































 
 For the remainder of this book, there are recollections/ reminiscences/ anecdotes from the immediate and extended family: 









Prakash Delivered by the Postman I was six years old when Sujatha was born. While Rajesh, Mohan and I were born in Trivandrum, Sujatha was born in Bangalore. Ponnamamai (pAti) came to Bangalore to help Amma with the delivery. I remember having a completely different diet before and after the delivery. Suddenly, we were eating a lot of "keerai" (spinach) and "pavakkai" (bitter gourd). After Amma was gone from home for a few days (during which time pAti got us ready for school), suddenly there was a little baby in the house. The first thing I noticed was that the baby had a distinct blue mark on her hand. I decided that it was a postal stamp and told everyone at school that there was a baby in our house delivered by the Postman! Cuts, Falls and Bruises Being a parent of three children, I certainly relate to the fact that something or the other happens all the time. As a parent, one needs to be resilient and patient. Appa and Amma certainly had these skills - they must have, else they could not have kept their sanity! 
 12

    • 



















































































































 
 Rajesh was particularly prone to "accidents". I still vividly remember the time when we were living on the second floor on 6th Main Road in Vyalikaval. The landlord, Venkoba Rao, lived on the ground floor. There was an overhanging balcony that led from the bedroom of our house, which was above the entryway to the house below. Needless to say, there were no ledges on that balcony. We had come back from school and were playing, of all places, on that balcony - despite Amma's protests to the contrary. Mohan threw a ball to Rajesh and in an attempt to catch it, he fell all the way down on to the road below! There was blood all over. Luckily Appa had just come back from work. He calmly took a wailing Rajesh on his Lambretta scooter to Dr. Sidenur's clinic on 2nd Main Road. I had gone along - while Amma was taking care of a distraught Mohan and Sujatha at home. I must have been to Dr. Sidenur's clinic umpteen times. I distinctly remember the antiseptic odor of the place -- the odor mainly emanated from the "Compounder's" room but permeated right through the clinic! It was a husband/wife team. Both were doctors and they ran their clinic out of their home. He calmly stitched the dangling portion back onto Rajesh's lip. My job was to hold down a flailing, wailing Rajesh. No local anesthesia, no complex procedures. 
 13

    • 



















































































































 
 On another occasion, Mohan was tripped and bumped his forehead against a rusted clasp that holds water pipes to the wall. (These pipes would run along the base of the house and the clasps would hold them in place) By this time we had moved to 1st Main Road in Vyalikaval and the closest doctor was Dr. Krishnaswamy. Here it was a father-son team that ran the clinic out of their home. The son, Dr. Rajaraman was a better tabla player than a doctor. He would beat to the tune of his father's flute. The son was a dentist and the only thing in common between his tabla playing and dentistry was that when faced with the prospect of listening to his tabla, having ones teeth pulled out when not under anesthesia seemed a better option! There was never a dull moment! Nothing but the best I did my Elementary and High School at St. Joseph's Boys' High School in Bangalore. At the time, it was considered to be one of the premier schools in Bangalore. I was fortunate enough to do well in my class. This also meant that the expectations on me were high. We used to get "report cards" at the end of each school term. The marks from the tests were transcribed by hand into the report card by the school clerk - the old, irascible Mr.Iyer . I was known as "K.N. Prakash" at school. Now, there was another "N.K. Prakash" in my class. This guy would even (gasp!) "fail" tests. Mr. Iyer had a tendency to put N.K. Prakash's scores on my report card. He even had the temerity to underline the failed subjects in red. The first time this happened, I remember trembling while taking the report card home for signature. I recall going straight to my friend Gopal's house from the bus stand. His mother said, "Don't worry. I'll take you home and explain to your father that this report card is in error." "Periyanna"/"Periambi" As you will see mentioned by other raconteur's later, we always looked forward to our regular summer sojourns to Trivandrum and Karungulam. Appa would get LTC's from the Government and we would use those to take "Island Express" from Bangalore to Trivandrum. I vividly remember all of us pressing our faces against the bars on the train window and arrive at our destination with soot-covered faces! Given the large extended family, there would always be some occasion or the other. With Appa and Amma being 
 14

    • 



















































































































 
 the oldest on their side of the family, they would be given the "seat of honor" at these functions. It was such joy to have 25-30 people at home. The women would be busy in the kitchen. The men would be busy making plans and doing the logistics for the event. That left us kids to play. We would run around the house with gay abandon. It was a time to laugh, a time to play with cousins that we were meeting after months, years. We did not have a care in the world, no "penance" to pay. We would sneak into the "paaul" (pantry) and steal some sweets that were prepared for the occasion. The only person who would even notice us was "Periyappa". (He was actually Amma's periyappa. However, everyone called him "Periyappa".) He had a nose for catching children doing "mischief". He was very firm and very stern. No one dared to work against his wishes. He was consulted for all decisions and had the final word. In Karungulam, given that thatha (Dr. K.N.Swamy) was paralyzed, Appa was the one consulted. He was referred as "Periyanna" by his kin and cousins and as "Periambi" by the rest of the village. The respect that "Periyanna" commanded was amazing to witness. Even behind his back, people would not dare do anything that he would not approve. 
 15

    • 



















































































































 
 Seated (L to R): Dr. N. Meenakshisundaram, (Late) Dr. K.N.Swamy, K.N.Krishnamoorthy Standing (L to R): Dr. N.Venkatasubramanian, Dr.N.Padhmanabhan I remember the time during Ambi chithappa's wedding when he railed after the person serving food in an aluminum bucket. I don't think that person ever touched an aluminum bucket in his life after that day! 
 16

    • 



















































































































 
 The biggest honor in the village was to carry the lord on your shoulders. It was not easy and required a lot of coordination - a single misstep by the lead person could be disastrous and even fatal. The men would all smear sandalwood on their chests and would be asked to "take their positions". Inevitably, Appa would be the lead person taking charge of the proceedings. Later, when we grew up, we followed suit and went bare-chested to the temple and even carried the lord on our shoulders! Here is a picture of Prakash, Rajesh, Mohan and Sundar in Karungulam. 
 17

    • 



















































































































 
 Wafting smells and sounds Growing up, we never needed an alarm clock or radio. Every morning, we would be woken up to the wafting smells from the kitchen and Amma would sing her Lalitha Sahasranamam and Soundarya Lahiri shlokams. To date, when I listen to any song in Bageshree, I think I am waking up to Amma's shlokam in Vyalikaval! It was quite a challenge to cook for six people, get us all dressed and ready for school. Yet, Amma would do that singing her shlokams every morning. There are some famous cooking incidents that come to mind. Amma was quite possessive of her kitchen (like any other woman) - even when relatives came home to stay for extended periods. Once chithi pati (Karungulam thatha's chithi) was staying with us and she was cooking because Amma was unwell. She used the Catherine hair oil (the label of that green bottle and label is still etched in my memory) for cooking and the potato curry ended up tasting strange! Yet she would refuse to admit that she has made a mistake! Deepavali in Bangalore Deepavali was the festival that we always looked forward to the most. Not just because it was a holiday, we would get new clothes and there was festivity in the air. We would all be woken up for our pre-dawn oil bath. Amma would already be up and about. We would 
 18

    • 



















































































































 
 get anointed with the oil, and then scraped with chika podi (Rajesh would say "chika podi thEkAdEngO"), dressed in the new clothes, eat the specially made Deepavali marundu and finally be ready for the "pattAs". There would be brass vilakkus (lamps) lit across the front wall. Friends would start streaming in from around 7:30 am and we would exchange sweets. Appa and Amma's friends We would constantly have visitors at our home in Vyalikaval. Given that there was no TV and we rarely went out, "socializing" was the most popular form of entertainment. In fact, we would have someone join us for brunch almost every Sunday. I certainly miss that nowadays - where there is no time to socialize! It would be hard to recall all of Appa and Amma's friends - but some of them definitely stand out: Jayaram mama - He was one smart guy. He had an elitist attitude. The most distinctive feature in his face was his bulging tonsil and bulbous nose. He was a poet. I still remember his neat hand written poems on various topics. We had a variation of "Humpty Dumpty" - which ended with "Jayaram mama thin and Chhabra mama stout". Chhabra mama - He had a cherubic face and constantly smelled of cigarette smoke. Kota mama - He had an infectious laugh and would talk in a loud voice. Appa's famous joke is once Kota mama was talking on the phone (in Bangalore) to his boss in Delhi. A person passing by his office asked Kota mama's secretary why he was talking so loudly. She said, "Sir is talking to his Boss in Delhi." The person responded, "Why does he not use the telephone?" Somasundaram mama - He would not speak much. His brilliance was evident from his demeanor. Somehow, whenever we saw him (or he was mentioned in conversation), we would all break into singing, "Somasundara madana mohana jai jai panduranga" :) His son, Sriram Somasundaram completed his P.hD. from Case Western and is currently a Staff Scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 
 19

    • 



















































































































 
 Bhattacharya mama - Yet another brilliant engineer. He and his wife spoke with think Bangla accents. They were our only Bengali friends. Their son, Himanshu Shekar Bhattacharya (aka "Bapa"), was Mohan's classmate. Much to Mohan's chagrin, he would always finish at the top of his class and his mother would make it a point of bragging about Bapa's accomplishments whenever she visited our home. Once, Appa and Amma had to go somewhere on a Sunday morning and they had agreed to look after us. I still remember aunty yelling out to remind me, "Prohosh. Remember, ten phorty phie ah". Chaturvedi mama - He was one of the folks (along with Appa) who went to France for training. My most distinct memory of him was in the CASSA office picnics, he would be the most boisterous. He would sing loudly and take the effort to engage with the kids. Natarajan mama – He was a friend, philosopher and guide for all of us. His prowess in astrology led to our consulting him for most activities. When I joined BITS, Pilani Appa could not come to enroll me. It was Natarajan mama who came as his proxy. Krishnaswamy mama – If there was one person that we could turn to for help for just about anything, that was Krishnaswamy mama. In fact, among all of the friends mentioned so far, he and his children are the ones that we continue to maintain regular contact. Govindan mama – We came to know Govindan mama and Nalini mami when they started building their house in R.T. Nagar. Now that we are all away from Bangalore, our greatest solace is that they are close to Appa and Amma and can help them in a time of need. Ranganathan mama – Rangu mama and Leela mami were our neighbors in 1st Main Road. Leela mami and Amma were such close friends that on any given day, either Leela mami would be at our house or Amma would be at Leela mami’s house. In a sense, they became part of our family and we would share our trials and tribulations with each other. 
 20

    • 



















































































































 
 Rukmini mami – Rukmini mami was the only family that we had in Bangalore. She was Appa’s cousin. Her son Prakash Krishnaswamy was a role model for all of us – with his penchant for Western Music and Hindi speaking friends! Mami would regale us with stories when we were young. If Appa and Amma had to travel to attend to pressing family responsibilities, Rukmini mami would come to stay with us during the time they were away. During such sojourns, she would tell us stories, make sure we were all well loved and looked after. Although her worldly experience made her more than an elder stateswoman, she was always a friend, a mentor and an advisor – almost an equal. She commanded respect, love and adulation not from her age or her experience but from the way she carried herself - with dignity, with pride and with a lot of love. 
 21

    • 



















































































































 
 Jayanthi 
 
 My introduction to this family began very reluctantly on my part – I was being compelled by my parents to go “visit” with these people during a rushed day trip to Delhi a day before I was supposed to leave for Ohio – back to my mice and my experiments. After all, I hadn’t even met the guy and here he was already calling the shots, insisting that I be “seen” by his parents! Anyway, I went, gnashing teeth (with a terrible cold to boot) and all. We met at the Hyatt Regency hotel and the one thing I remember most was that I was most taken with the grandmother (who sympathized with me struggling with my cold and wished I could have gone to their house to have hot milagu rasam!) The parents, I treated with disinterest, telling them that my specific immediate goal was to finish my research work. The rest, as they say, is history. Where to begin? When Prakash and I met, one of the vital things we discussed was how important family was to each one of us. I think that was one of the major “selling” points for the both of us. I knew that I would “get along” with almost anybody that matched my personality. But what I got was a big bonus – I could relate to this new family because they were warm people and quite like what I was used to families being. Amma, with her kindness, gentle manner, and understanding was ready to be of help no matter what her health was. She is the heart of the family. Appa, with his discipline, 
 22

    • 



















































































































 
 organization and the “right” way of how things are done kept this family running and is the mind of the group. There probably are innumerable occasions when both Amma and Appa have contributed to make our lives easier to deal with. I did manage to spend quite a bit of time with them when they moved from Delhi to Bangalore and helped them unpack and set up the RT Nagar house. This was probably the time that I got to know them. Every visit since has only made the bonds tighter; highlights include celebrating Akshay’s ayushyahomam (you had to be there to see/feel their pride in their grandson!), the sashtiabdapoorthy trip (when Akshay was down with chickenpox); their visit when the twins were born (I think they would have easily logged hundreds of hours of singing just to get them to go to sleep!); Amma’s visit to join us to celebrate the twins’ first birthday; our pilgrimage tour (with my broken foot!) to Karungulam and Tiruchendur; our Mysore trip; their trips to Fremont; and the list goes on…. I think the best testimony to these two people is in their family. By instilling in their children the right values, the moral ethic, the compassion and sense of responsibility that I see in Prakash on a day-to-day basis, and in Mohan, Rajesh, and Sujatha from what I hear of and from them would have to be things that they learnt by example from their childhood. Their generosity with the time they lavish on people and causes around them are laudable. I have seen that same generous spirit in Amma and Appa. Appa continuing to work (be it the Thiruppugazh involvement or his consulting work) well after his retirement from a busy demanding, successful career is another trait that is praiseworthy. Amma’s pride in her music, her compassion for the less fortunate, her piety, her pride in her children and grandchildren, her desire to cosset her family, her patience with her grandchildren irrespective of her own health is amazing. I can only hope that some of these attributes have passed to the next generation! So, congratulations! Here’s wishing them many more years of healthy, peaceful, and happy marriage. 
 23

    • 



















































































































 
 Mohan What drink will you have? A few years ago, when Amma visited Melbourne, we went to Paddy and Padma's farmhouse. Our friends, Raju and Meena were also there. We got there a bit late. Raju, Paddy and Padma were drinking red wine. Meena was drinking white wine. As she poured out a glass of red for me, Meena asked Amma, "What would you like to drink?" (pointing to an assortment of bottled juices on the table)! Amma said, "Please do not give me red wine. I actually prefer white!" That story has grown "eyes and ears" and, some 10 years on, is still doing the rounds in Melbourne! Odd-and-Even numbers: A few years back when, I was living in 7 Wanda Street, Mulgrave, Amma visited Melbourne. One day, after an evening walk, she got a bit lost. She walked on the side of the road opposite to our home and could not find "7 Wanda Street" between "6 Wanda Street" and "8 Wanda Street". I ran after her as she had over-shot our house. I then pointed out to her that she would find "7 Wanda Street" on the opposite side of the road! It then struck her and she blurted out. "Oh that's nice! One side of the road has even 
 24

    • 



















































































































 
 numbers and the other side has... ummm! ummmm! urrrrr! uneven numbers!" S for Sharada: This one was in England. Amma had rung an airline company to re-confirm an airline ticket. The sales agent must have asked her for her name and Amma said "Sharada Krishnamoorthy". Possibly stunned by the intrinsic simplicity of the name and the fact that it somehow sounded slightly different to Meg Smith, the agent may have asked Amma to spell her name. Amma: Well first name is SHARADA Agent: Can you spell that please? Is that F? Amma: No no. S... S for... S for... S for Sharada! Black but Nice: This one was in England too. Amma had just returned from USA after visiting Prakash. We picked her up from Heathrow airport. On our way back from the airport, we asked her whether her flight was comfortable. She said she was fine and that the flight was fine. She said, "Actually I was sitting next to this friendly woman. She was black..... but she was nice!" So much for PC! Movie Stories: We were not allowed to go to movies as we were growing up. I won't blame Appa and Amma for this! After all Rajesh had a nose that was either permanently running or bleeding! I had a wheezing problem on tap! Sujatha would always cry loudly and launch into a Bharatanatyam dance if a mosquito even said "hello" to her! And Prakash.... was Prakash! So who would want to drag 4 kids with an assortment of issues and problems to the movies! However, within days of seeing it, Amma made sure that she told us the story of every movie that she would go to see with Appa. I remember gathering around the wrought-iron Usha sewing machine as she stitched a garment and recounted the story of the movie she would have just seen for us! I still remember the stories of movies like "Pattikada Pattanama", "Thanga Padakkam", "Manmatha Leelai", "Anand", "Andaz", etc. The most difficult story for her was "Apporva Ragangal". When I think back, I must say she skirted around the "tricky" moments of that story with remarkable 
 25

    • 



















































































































 
 aplomb! Often the stories would take their own course! For example, if she were to tell her version of "Sholay" to us, Amitabh Bachchan may not have died in the end! And certainly, in her recounting of "Sholay", Dharmendra and Hema Malini would not "fall in love"! But these stories would make our day as we grew up despite the fact that more often than not, the session would end in a disaster as Rajesh would have miraculously jammed his leg or hand (or both) against the spinning wheel (or the foot pad) of the wrought-iron Usha sewing machine! He would cry! Sujatha would cry -- she always did! Prakash would do a "Duh", roll his eyes and wander off into the sunset. And I'd just sit there wondering "what the..."! But those story sessions were certainly fun. Although at surface level it may appear that these may demonstrate that Amma takes one foot out just so that she can put the other one in, that is not my assessment of her at all. What this actually demonstrates in my view is a child-like, untainted innocence that is at the core of her being. She worries not what people will think of her and would rather assume goodness in everyone around her. Although she did have friends that she had named "Mundukanni" and "Ottakuchi", the wine story and the "black but nice" story demonstrate that all she wants to do is "fit in" and that she does not really have a hate-bone in her body. More power to her! Rukmini Mami and the cups: Raising 4 kids can't have been easy especially when two of them (the pretend-dancer and the nose-bleed dude) were somewhat troublesome, one who was always in a "Duh Zone" and one who was, for some reason, called either a oomakottan or mochakottai -- I could never figure that one out! Anyway, it made it hard for Appa and Amma to visit their relatives, attend a poonal or wedding or just go on holidays! On the rare occasions that they did go out of Bangalore for a few few weeks or so, we would have either Rukmini mami or Paati (aka, Kopokoi, Kopatussssss, Kops) stay with us. On one such occasion, Rukmini mami had an extended stay with us of over a month or so. It was fun because Rukmini mami would always have a story to say to put us to bed every night. We were also introduced to a pre-bed-time cup of hot milk with pepper and turmeric. Rukmini mami somehow did not like the stainless steel cups in our 
 26

    • 



















































































































 
 home. She felt that the cups -- which were carefully machined in Trivandrum -- were too big and, as a result, had a rather high centre of gravity. She concluded that the way to resolve this was to flatten the somewhat rounded bottom on these cups! So, one evening, she took it on herself to grab a stone and proceeded to bang in the bottoms of each of the stainless steel cups. All 30 of them were banged in and "disfigured". Even as she did it, I remember thinking to myself, "Oh oh! This ain't looking good. This may be the last of the bed-time stories and pre-bed-time hot cup of milk with pepper and turmeric"! It was! Amma came back, saw the flattened cups and proceeded to attempt flattening our respective backsides for not intervening in the said act of Rukmini mami. Balaji stores I remember this incident involving Appa from when I was in Class-6 I think. It was the last day of school and I had received a whole stack of new books for Class-7 the following year. I got them all home and realized that my brand new "Chemistry practical exercise book" was in tatters. A rat appeared to have had the corner of that book for breakfast! Later that evening on Appa's return we would all sit around the new books and do the "book binding exercise" with that awful smelling brown paper roll. Appa hadn't arrived from work yet and I was dreading the moment he would set eyes on the tattered practical note book! Lest he thrash the daylights out of me for having accepted a torn book, I quickly trudged off to Balaji Stores on 2nd Main Road. I told "Mr Balaji" that I had purchased the book from there and did not realize that it was torn! "Mr Balaji" believed me and kindly offered me a replacement. Feeling rather smug about my rather devious exchange, I returned home! My jaw hit the floor as Appa opened the door! He saw the book in my hand and asked where I had gone. I saw the world flash past my eyes. I told him. He asked me to go to Balaji stores, apologize to "Mr Balaji" and get my tattered book back! I did. That incident also taught me an incredibly valuable lesson at a young age. Pocket money 
 27

    • 



















































































































 
 This incident was again around the Class-6 vintage. I was in Baldwin Boys' High School by then. This was a "posh public" school. Rich kids went there. Kids like Jayesh Lakhani, Sanjay Udani, and Sudarshan Chari would arrive from places like Palace Orchards, Kumara Park Extension and Indira Nagar would get dropped by car driven by chauffers in white hats and starched uniforms. And here I was, driven by Aslam in a dirty brown uniform on bus 17B from Vyalikkaval. I had envy! Serious envy! It was further fueled by the fact that the rich kids would splurge on chikkies, oily curry puffs and rich cakes at the school canteen. They had "pocket money" you see! So, I gathered my courage one day and asked Appa, "Could I receive 'pocket money' from next week onwards?" Appa looked at me as though I was a deranged Martian! I still remember that look. It wasn't one of anger, but one of sheer incredulousness. He calmly said, "The problem with school trousers these days is that they have pockets. If we snip the pockets off your trousers, you won't need 'pocket money" will you now?" Another valuable lesson there for me. I told myself that I had to be thankful for what I had -- which was really a lot. Moreover, I still had a pocket, even if it had nothing in it! I also learned to learn to live within my means. 
 28

    • 



















































































































 
 



















Girija Persistence: Last year when I was in Bangalore, Amma insisted that I get something for myself. I was really reluctant to do that mainly because I did not want her to strain herself shopping with me -- Mo will attest to the fact that I am a fastidious and painful shopper who'd easily spend 10 hours shopping and still come back without even a hair clip! Nevertheless, she insisted that she took me out shopping and that I buy something of my choice! And so we went from shop to shop hoping I would buy a saree at least. Unfortunately, the planets were not aligned that day! Although I did see some reasonable sarees, I just did not find anything I liked! We had to return home. Amma was extremely dejected and despairing. She was also quite sad that I did not pick up anything in spite of the fact that there were many nice things we saw. On my part, I just did not want to buy something just for the sake of buying it. I wanted to ensure that I would wear what we got and that that would make me thank Amma every time I wore it. But what I remember most about Amma was her persistence. She was just not willing to give up that evening. Time was running out too. With just 2 hours left before I had to leave for Cantonment Station to catch the train to Chennai, Amma asked that we try one last store. This was a "designer" saree store. And there I did find something that I liked. It is one of my favourite sarees; a hand-painted saree. It was exactly what I was looking for and every time I wear it, I think of Amma's kindness, her persistence as well as her tenacity. We got home just couple hours before I was to board the train back to Madras that evening. 
 29

    • 



















































































































 
 Wedding Reception: Everyone knows that Appa is quite finicky when it comes to organizing transport, especially for train drop-offs and pickups. He would often (no, on reflection, change "often" to "always") organize a car pick-up way ahead of when we would have to leave. Often we would get to Cantonment station just as the Bangalore Mail was pulling into the station; but on its way to Bangalore City and not from Bangalore City! The result would be an uncomfortable one and a half hour wait at a horribly smelly and ill-lit Cantonment Station where one could be pre-occupied with any combination of the following activities: (a) slapping mosquitoes against ones hand, (b) slapping mosquitoes against a random passer-by's hand, (c) contemplate purchasing a coffee that has just enough sugar in it to convince oneself that one is not consuming hot water, (d) purchase a magazine from a news-stand that one would not be able to read in the dark of that station anyway, (e) walk aimlessly to the other side of the station and walk back! Anyway, there was this one occasion when I had to attend a cousin's wedding reception in Jayanagar or some such place. The reception was to start at 7.30pm and I was aiming to get there only at 8pm. So I rang the local cab company and asked for a cab to pick me up at 7pm! Appa overheard this conversation, rang them a few minutes later and changed it to a 5pm pickup, saying that it could take me some 2 and a half hours to get to Jayanagar -- he did not want me to be late! Moreover, it was pouring down with rain that evening and he said that the trek to Jayanagar would take even longer! I tried all sorts of delay tactics! But that did not work. In fact, it got worse! At 4pm I wasn't yet "ready" and the cab had not yet arrived. Fair enough. We had all agreed on a 5pm departure! But then Appa started to get quite tense! He asked that I get ready immediately! And so there I was... ready at 4.15pm for a 7.30pm reception. The bride and groom were probably asleep at the time. But hey! I was ready looking for mosquitoes to pass by! At about the same time, Appa stormed out of the house, went straight to the cab company and dragged the driver by his ears back home! The cab, which needed to arrive only at 7pm, but was booked for 5pm, was at our doorstep at 4.30pm! Precisely 5 minutes later, I was in said car, ostensibly because I "was ready anyway"! 
 30

    • 



















































































































 
 I was out of the house at 4.35pm and in the cab. I asked the driver to head out to Mekhri Circle, asked him to drive up and down that road that leads to Yeshwanthapur and then returned home! I then actually spent half an hour in the cab just outside our R. T. Nagar home! I could not get back into the house because Appa and Amma had left for a bajanai! I spent the half hour reading a magazine -- possibly purchased at Cantonment Station the previous night! Then, out of pity for the cab driver, I asked that we start driving towards Jayanagar. I instructed the cab driver to drive slowly! I also asked the cab driver to chose the worst routes that would grab all possible traffic jams. I was collecting traffic jams like Ria, Madhuri and Sanjana would collect sea-shells on a sea-shore! The cab driver must have thought that I was cuckoo that evening. Every time I said to him, please make another round of this lovely Kempe Gowda Circle, he looked at me as though I was from another planet! I must have driven to Mysore and back that evening! The wedding reception was at 7.30pm. After all my delay tactics, the best I managed to do was to get to the hall at 7.00pm. The bride and groom had not even arrived. Indeed, they only arrived at 8pm! Yet, every time I think of this story, I can only think of Appa's concern as well as his attention to detail, his assiduousness and his meticulousness. Proud of You: There are several things that I am proud of when I think of Amma and Appa. But, in my book, there are two things that stand out: (a) Amma and Technology, (b) Appa and event organization skills. It can't be easy to live in a technology-rich world that is moving at such a fast pace of change. But none of this appears to faze Amma. She takes to the generation dominated by eMail, mobile phone, mp3's, iPod, Chat, Wiki, social- networking and much more, like a duck to water. Kudos to Amma for this. Despite his bouts of extreme tension during such gigs -- which frankly worry me -- I think that Appa was made for event organization and event management. It is not often that you get a person who cuts across all elements from visioning of an event, to strategic planning of the event to attention to detail. He has it all -- and in spades! He would be a boon to any event planner in the world. I am forever in awe of his passion for this as well as his ability to pull things off with aplomb. 
 31

    • 



















































































































 
 Rajesh Bal Vihar Growing up I can certainly state that attending Bal Vihar every Saturday was not my favorite activity. Every Saturday we would head over to the house where we would be introduced to Bhajans, Shloka’s, readings from the Bhagavad Gita. It did feel like a chore rather than something that we would benefit from. How wrong I was…I am so glad that Amma forced us to go to those classes…I have that much more of an appreciation of the Gita as a result. It looked like a stork The only time we had seen an airplane was when it was up in the sky heading over the city. In 1970, Appa was heading over to France for an extended duration as part of a delegation that was going to work at Mécanique Avion TRAction or MATRA. We got a chance to go to the airport to see him off. He was flying to Bombay (now Mumbai) before heading over to France. The next day all I could talked about in class was the airplane that I had seen that Appa had boarded…I got in to trouble because, Dinesh Kumar, did not share my enthusiasm…he ratted me to Flora the teacher…I could not get over the fact that the airplane looked like a stork with the black windows of the cockpit that resembled the beak of a stork…it was a Indian Airlines Caravelle. Value of money If there is something that I have learnt from both Appa and Amma, it is about respecting and valuing hard earned money. I have seen how careful both of you are with your hard 
 32

    • 



















































































































 
 earned money. I have learnt from you not to be frivolous or laissez-faire with my spending! I am sure this trait is a frustrating point for many people around me as I am not a spendthrift. However, building a good foundation for self-sufficiency is a key trait that I have learnt from both Appa and Amma. The lost Diamond There was a mad panic when we realized that there was a stone missing in Amma’s nose ring. It was late in the evening and suddenly we realized that there was a diamond missing in the nose ring. Out came the stories about how the ring was made and how sentimental it was and how expensive it was. Everyone at home started asking about the last steps, the tracing of movements all things that Sherlock Holmes would be proud of. Every nook and cranny of the house was scanned…finally the diamond was found by Sujatha…it was in the carpet in the corridor. Needless to say the carpet was unceremoniously dumped after that and Sujatha was hailed as the hero! All’s well that ends well…Amma was absolutely relieved! Grown men do not cry! Growing up we had regular trips to Trivandrum. The trips in the summer were filled with excitement. Meeting with Lalitha Chitti, Murali, Thatha, Pati, Periappa and Perimmai made the trips very eventful. Memories of those trips are permanently etched in our collective memories. On one such trip, to Trivandrum (I think it was for Lalitha Chiti’s wedding) was eventful. Everyone had gone over to hear the “story telling” master Santhana Gopalachari. He was legendary. He was narrating the Ramayana and on this day the story was the episode relating to the abduction of Sita. The story was intense, emotion filled and the narrator had got so much into the story that he was weeping uncontrollably. I bolted home convinced that he was done for the day. I was trying to explain to Amma and Pati (Ponnama Ammai) why I was home early and that the rest of the folks should be back home soon. Both of them patiently explained that the outburst was perfectly normal and that grown men do cry!! Is it a duck? After Appa returned from France, one fixture in the front room was a clock. It had numbers for the hour and the minute display and every minute/hour the top half of the 
 33

    • 



















































































































 
 number would drop to reveal the bottom half of the next number. A fascinating contraption. Growing up, we never got to stay up beyond 9 or at the latest 9:30. I often wondered what happened after 23:59. I had no occasion to observe this and touching the clock was never in question. One day we had to go to the railway station to pick up Padhu Chittappa and family (they were heading into Bangalore for the poonal of Prakash/Mohan). The train was delayed and we got home at 11:45 pm. I got to stay up late to observe the clock go past 23:59 and say the magical 0:00. The funny thing with the clock was that one of the sleeves was missing on the minute hand. After 03 would flip you would see the bottom half of 05 as the bottom half of 04 was missing. It was an intriguing sight of the triangle of the 04 and the curved bottom of 05. A weird duck like object. It was also interesting that despite the heavily motorized nature of the clock that name that all of us had for the clock was odd…we simply called it “Digital” The Arch We used to live on 5th main road in Vyalikkaval on the 2nd floor of Venkoba Rao’s house. The house had an arch above the gate at the base of the steps which was not doubt meant for plants that creep over the arch. Needless to say that there were no plants over the arch and the arch was a magnet for kids. Dangerous at it was I loved balancing over the arch and flirting with danger. However one day I slipped and fell down! Hard! Amma had to pick me up and rush to Dr Seshadri and eventually to K C General As 
 34

    • 



















































































































 
 Appa was still at work Jayaram mama (who used to live in the room above (3rd floor) helped as we went to the hospital and got my mouth fixed (4 stitches…that was painful). This was certainly not the first time that Amma had to run around dealing with the problems of one of the kids…How she put up with all the shenanigans has never ceased to amaze me!! Radio Our Radio was an interesting device. It was assembled by Appa and had some interesting valves, transformers and other interesting objects. Progressively, bits and pieces kept falling off but the radio amazingly worked. One day the knobs fell off and hence we had to resort to getting rid of the chassis. The only way to operate it as a result was to tweak the stubs of the rod to tune/change the volume. One could move the lever in the device to tune it as well. One day I was operating the device to tune it and Mohan was operating the knob to tune it aw well except we were intending to go in opposite directions (me to All India Radio and Mohan to Vividh Bharati (I presume). There was only one possible outcome…the tuner broke. There would now be no way of finding out which frequency we were listening to! Both Mohan and I were in a mad panic. Instead of heading out to play, that evening we hid under the bed hoping that Appa would not find out when he returned home from work…we were not so lucky! The news every morning Every morning we got into the habit of listening to the news first in Hindi and then in English at 8:00am. Just before we headed off to school (and Appa to his office). This was a routine for a very long time. Initially I was convinced that there was someone inside the radio because of the way the announcement came through (we are talking 1967/1968 here). The news used to always start with, This is All India Radio, the news read by …I for the longest time was convinced that the voice actually said…”This is John in the Radio” Amma and Appa did very little to dispel the myth. Every morning It is a routine that still lives with me to this day. Every morning without fail Appa would wake up and digest (no make that devour) the newspaper for at least 45 minutes before doing anything else. Being informed about the world around him was just the way he 
 35

    • 



















































































































 
 operated. I cannot recall a single exception to this rule. This is a habit that I have picked up and has become part of my daily routine. I am sure that people around me must be wondering what this guy does waking up at 5 am in the morning! I used to read the newspaper on the train on my way into work but for the last 12 years I have been driving in to work in Canada. I do feel that I am a better person as a result of being better informed! A package from Delhi Initially on 5th main road, we used to live above Chandrasekhar’s house. On one occasion, Appa had gone to Delhi on a trip. All I remember was that he was meant to come back home late one night. The next morning, Prakash said that Appa had returned late night with a surprise. When I came out of the room I saw a now Moda in the room and asked him if that was the surprise. No, “go into the bedroom and see, It is a baby”. For the longest time, I lived in the belief that Sujatha was someone that Appa had got from Delhi as a gift for Amma! A conspiracy We had to buy milk from the Bangalore dairy milk booth every morning. Appa or Amma would wake one of us up at around the time that the van was off loading the mike at Fernando’s shop. One of us had to go and pick up the milk from the spot outside Popular store. Without fail every time I was awoken, I was convinced that I was that target of a conspiracy. As invariably, whenever I was awoken to get the milk, my response was, “not my turn”. Needless to say these protests fell on deaf ears! Rush to the front door Every evening when the gate at the 7/17 Vyalikkaval house was opened, we know that it announced the arrival of Appa back from work. The squeak was inimitable. There would be a mad rush between Mohan and I to get the front door opened. It was a competition and every day someone got to win and claim bragging rights. This day was no different. I was in the kitchen (sneaking a combination of sugar and Ghee…affectionately called manAngatTi…don’t ask why) and Mohan was in the study room. When the gate squeaked, there was a mad rush. As I went past the hall and the front door was in sight, I was already claiming victory! Just as I passed the threshold of 
 36

    • 



















































































































 
 the hall into the front room, I felt the smile getting even wider when BANG! Mohan’s head was lodged firmly in the cheek! He did not stop…and went on to claim victory by opening the door. Appa had to rush the kid again to hospital…stitches again. The artist It was incredible the talents that Amma possessed. She was a singer, a painter, a Veena player (a south Indian sitar hero) and teacher pretty much picked up things very quickly became proficient at it in a short period of time…many of the fads were passing phases. Beads, wire baskets, croquet, Jute weaving knitting. If she put her mind to it, she was able to quickly figure out the basics and soon become ultra efficient at it. The key was she was always willing to disseminate the information to a few folks around her and motivate many around her to get to her level of proficiency rapidly. I once remember seeing a cotton filled rabbit that she had made, stitched on to a cloth (which was framed). It looked so real that I was convinced that initially it was an actual rabbit! Watching my first game of Cricket The date was Jan 7th 1973. It was a Sunday. The game was MCC VS. South Zone. The game was being played at the newly created M Chinaswamy stadium. This was my first game of Cricket that I was seeing live…seeing many of the legends that I had only heard of. Bangalore seldom got to host many games involving international players. I was seeing the likes of Pautadi, G R Vishwanath, Venkatraghavan, Chandrasekhar, Abid Ali, Dennis Amiss, Tony Lewis and Alan Knott. I remember on that day that we went to the game, Pautadi got a century(and declared) and Alan Knot hit a brisk 156. It was a strange experience for me as when people shouted fielded, I was not sure what was happening…was that out? A terrific introduction to the game of Cricket live for me, it gave me an appreciation and affection (some say obsession) for the game that I share till this day! 
 37

    • 



















































































































 
 
 38

    • 



















































































































 
 










Aarti When I first met Amma some 16 years ago, I was not exactly calm and collected! After all, she was going to size me up and hope that her son knew what he was doing! Well, whether or not he knew what he was doing, I was so pleasantly surprised and relieved that all I got in that first meeting with her was her unconditional love and kindness. At that point, Appa did not know that Amma was meeting me and that was our little secret! It was a very special and important moment for me. It was a time when I needed that acceptance and trust. It was also a time when I realized that I really had nothing to worry about. I completely understand that every person has some things that he or she feels very strongly about, so much so, that compromise is not in their dictionary. I am a prime example and have many such quirks that I hold very close to my heart finding it difficult to settle for anything less. I have to admit that I had many pre-conceived notions about Appa before I first met him. I was introduced to him the very first time in September 1992 just before my engagement with Rajesh. Everyone knows it was not a smooth ride till then and I will not make any bones about it. But I have to say, when I was first introduced to Appa, I was stunned by his warmth and the fact that he went out of his way to make me feel absolutely comfortable, so much so that I felt rather foolish, and guilty for expecting the worst! I will always remember that day and the days that followed till our engagement and after, with much fondness. He welcomed my family into his with 
 39

    • 



















































































































 
 open arms and gave my parents the confidence and reassurance that their daughter was going into a family that would accept her as their own. Every marriage has its fair share of ups and downs. I am sure 50 years have seen a lot of that in Appa’s and Amma’s lives. Rajesh and Mohan have regaled me with stories from their childhood, the tough times and more importantly the fun and happy times that they all cherish. Appa and Amma have raised four absolutely wonderful children and they are obviously so because of the values, guidance and love that they have received from their parents. I applaud them for their patience, perseverance and all the sacrifices that they have made to ensure that their children got the best that they could give them in life. Nakul, Ria, Rajesh and I are so looking forward to this reunion in July! It will be THE most memorable event in our lives. I hope Amma and Appa have an absolute blast free of worries and intense event planning! It is time for us to take over and give back to them more than what they have given us, if that is indeed possible! Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary, Amma and Appa! 
 40

    • 



















































































































 
 Sujatha Karungulam Days One of my earliest childhood memories are in my father’s village, Karungulam. I remember we had made a trip when I was probably about three yrs old. This was one of several trips made to the village. I remember being awed by what seemed to be a huge house with lots of people in it. I remember the padis we had to climb to go up to the temple. I remember all sorts of aromas coming from the kitchen. Amma was a whirlwind in the kitchen directing all the traffic and activities. She was just at ease being part of the group as she was leading the group with the daunting task of feeding several mouthfuls several times a day over several days. It is remarkable that people made it a point to get together with their siblings and family, and spent their precious time in each other’s company. Most of my early summers seemed to be days filled with family even after Karungulam thatha moved to Madras. These trips were certainly not without the squabbles, however, but I DO remember most of all just listening to all the adults gabbing along and making everyone laugh. It was wild and raucous. I was small enough where Mani Chittappa and Padhu Chittappa would pick me up and throw me to each other! I can clearly remember Appa’s penchant to take photographs up at the Temple (a trait he passed on to the next generation!). We had to sit still for him in various combinations of people in various poses. He made sure everyone from the oldest to the youngest was included. Everyone looked at Appa with somber regard and followed his direction to the T. I also remember going to the Athankarai and hoping the river wouldn’t take me along with it. My brothers, having no fear of the water at all, were 
 41

    • 



















































































































 
 carefree and swam in the water without fear. I probably played with my cousins who were closest to me in age, Ashok and Meera, although I don’t remember exactly what we played. We did spend a lot of time on those steps leading to the temple both during the day and at night! The garudasevai days bustled with activity (and several photo ops!). The grandiose flower arrangements and the fervent chanting was mesmerizing. The Deeparadhanais were the highlight with flashes of brilliant color blinding the eyes. Phoren Return Appa went to France for almost a year when I was about five. I have very little recollection of how we passed the time while he was gone. It seemed to be interminable. I remember being corrected to say, “my father has gone abroad” as opposed to “my father has gone to foreign’, and that was it. When Appa came back, there were lots of goodies. There was a huge doll (it seemed big at that time as it was probably about 3 or 4 feet tall). Amma took the doll and showed it to me and then promptly locked it in the hall cupboard. The same thing happened to the police car and the motorbike with the remote control that my brothers received. Those got locked up too. These toys were to be seen and not played with. In fact, they were kept so carefully that I have a suspicion some of them STILL exist! Ask Sundar, and he'd recount his favorite car with great gusto ("It was a yellow car with blue stripes on the bonnet. It had humvee-style wheels. Appa would proudly set it on the center table and switch it on! It had a lever near the front- wheels that would release detecting edge of the table, upon which the car would reverse and set off in a different direction")! There was also a chemistry set that Prakash received. His set was allowed to come out and we were allowed to reverently watch while he played with it. Being the ‘Golden Son’ surely had its perks ;-). The prettiest thing Appa brought (besides the gorgeous chiffon saris and various materials for Amma) was a gondola that played music when keyed, and had a couple dancing to the melody. This occasionally got removed from the shrine in the cupboard and was displayed for visitors. I remember watching it with yearning wishing I were on the boat dancing whenever the key got turned. One of the most memorable things that used to happen after Appa’s return from France was the photo watching sessions. He had all his pictures converted to slides, and would load them into the slide projector and we’d have slide 
 42

    • 



















































































































 
 shows with the picture projected onto the wall while he explained the sights and sounds of Europe. It was as if we saw the whole place with him. He had a good balance of places as well as people. His camera was also put to good use when he took pictures of all of us in our school uniforms and in dressed up clothes – some smiling and some not!. I remember one particular striking photo taken at Cubbon Park with us and with Lila Mami, Renganathan Mama, and Maya and with beautiful bougainvilleas in the background. Those were good times indeed. Escape to Trivandrum I was quite privileged to be the one to accompany Amma on a trip to Trivandrum. This was when I was in 1st Standard. I’m not sure if all the required paper work was filled out at Stella Maris School but when I got back, Ms. Fatima (my class teacher at that time) was quite puzzled as to where I had gone. One of my classmates blurted out that I had gone to Mysore, and although I denied it, that story just stuck. We spent quite a while in 2nd Puthen Street. Kunju Chitthi was also there with Priya. All the boys were missing. It was a conspiracy to keep them out (not that Priya or I complained!) I do remember picking out golu dolls for the house. I remember being amazed by the number of golu dolls that were packed for each family. We got a beautiful Saraswati doll although I really wanted a Krishna that was dressed as a cowherd. I also remember all the ladies making a lot of things, including Appalams. Not knowing that Appalam maavu (dough) was quite pungent, I believe I blurted out (to Amma’s chagrin) “Amma, nee kushu pottaiya?” at the nascent aroma. Ponamammai had a blast repeating and embellishing that story to no end! Murali was still around and she was left in charge of keeping Priya and I occupied most of the time, which only added to the fun. That was one Holiday that I still remember and relish. The day the Sky fell Our neighbors ran a school called “Nandanavana” and held Sai Bhajanais every Saturday night. These Bhajanais were quite well attended, and were heard throughout the street. The clashing cymbals incited a lot of people into usually joining in the fervor. This was a time we were all growing up in the 7/17 house. It would be an understatement to state merely that Mohan and Rajesh fought a lot. As close as they were (and are), their epic 
 43

    • 



















































































































 
 arguments often ended in brawls. Their wrestling was so appalling that Amma had to tell me to let her know the minute they started battling with dire threats to them on the consequences of such actions. Of course being given an important job of telling on my brothers was one I HAD to take seriously. They did indeed have another clash that ended up in what seemed to be a boxing match. I, in all my wisdom and glee that Mohan and Rajesh would now get into trouble, immediately went to Amma and told on them. I expected her to rush to them to stop the fight. Instead, …“THWACK”. I got whacked! I got whacked HARD! Not being prepared for this, I let out a yowl of indignant fury and then immediately started wailing. You see, it happened to be a Saturday night. It also happened to be the very night that Amma had decided to record the Sai Bhajanais on the new tape recorder … The Nazia Tapes Rajesh and Mohan, needless to say, loved to tease. They still do. Our neighbor (after the odious Nandanavana school closed down) re-acquired his house and then renovated it, and moved in. They rented their upstairs to a nice family with 2 boys the same age as Mo and Raj. Both sets boys happened to own the same LP Nazia Hassan album with “Disco Diwane” and other songs (which we all sang to with much gusto then but now allude to with typical adult horror at our taste in music). It didn’t take very long to realize that Mr. Doraiswamy Iyengar hated the song. It got on his last nerves. So of course, being good samaritans, Mohan and Rajesh played the music at the loudest volume. Then, as soon as it got over, the boys next door would play it over again at the loudest volume… and so on back and forth until Amma got wind of what they did…. I don’t think the LP has surfaced again. To compete or die trying Ms.Anantam, my Sanskrit teacher was famous for running competitions. These involved memorizing and reciting slokas from all over. When I was little, I hated the stage or having to do anything in front of a whole bunch of people (strangers or not). Of course I was told that I would participate. I learned what I needed to, but choked when it was my turn. I had a terrible case of stage fright. When I go home, Amma got to know that I didn’t perform on stage. I got quite a beating! 
 44

    • 



















































































































 
 The Delhi/Musoorie Trip One summer, Appa was invited to attend a conference at the Hill Station called Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas. His organizational fervor kicked into high gear, and he made it into a full-fledged trip starting from Delhi, moving through Rishkesh and Haridwar and ending up in Mussoorie . Delhi was, to put it bluntly, scorching hot. The withering heat was debilitating to even the strongest person. Steam would rise out of the sidewalk. Appa had an agenda, and by golly we were going to stick to it. We took a tour of Delhi, and climbed up the interminable steps of the Qutb-Minar at which point I don’t think anyone in the group cared about the history but rather getting the tour over and done with. I was parched and asked for something to drink – but instead a kind neighbor offered a cucumber saying that would be better. The dastardly cucumber decided it didn’t like my stomach and immediately decided to come out… the wrong way. Poor Amma had to go find a way to clean up the tourist bus, while Appa yelled at anyone and everyone responsible for giving me the cucumber in the first place. Of course, the stop at Rishikesh and Haridwar and had the requisite snanam in the Ganges. Rishikesh was very pretty with the town built around the fast flowing river. There were some adventures in restaurants and a few mishaps (some green faces) which got Appa to a quick boiling point. Haridwar was quite polluted even then, and the river flowed quite fast to my consternation. Taking a dip in it still causes me to shudder. My favorite part of the Delhi/Mussoorie trip was indeed Mussoorie . The weather was beautiful. We got to immerse ourselves in the gorgeous beauty of the Himalayas. During the daytime, all the kids were out playing various games. We made some good friends. There were parties in the evening, which were quite enjoyable. However, the family stuck together and came away from the whole trip with lots of memories that could be relived. Of all the trips we made as a family, this has been my most memorable. In fact, it might have been the only trip with all four kids! I got to be lucky to accompany Amma and Appa on several trips – but this was one trip where everyone was included. Saharsranamams Sahasradinams Appa’s organizing talent came to the forefront during the Vishnu Saharsanamam days. 
 45

    • 



















































































































 
 The daily chanting went on for 40 nights at a designated person’s house, and then there was a culmination ceremony on the last day. We held this at our house for a few sessions. The TTD Kalyanamandapam people had also agreed to hold this at one of the rooms. Unfortunately, half way through one of the sessions, they had an issue and informed the group that they couldn’t hold the session there anymore. Appa immediately stepped up and saved the day by offering to finish off the session in our house. If Appa set his mind to it, the impossible became mundanely possible. He learned whatever it was he needed, and saw to it that even the littlest details weren’t overlooked. He also got to have sessions held at the Mysore Maharaja’s daughter’s house. Amma, of course made it all possible by doing the necessary background work to make it all successful. Thanks to their interest in the Vishnu Sahasranamam, I don’t feel lost whenever I hear it, and am able to confidently join in. Globie danced Has it been mentioned that Mohan and Rajesh teased a lot? Well it permeated through to music and dance lessons. My poor music teacher was relegated to the misnomer “Globie” due to the unfortunate shape of his rather immense cranium. He was a good singer, but came quite infrequently. So my infrequent music lessons were alas quite frequently interrupted. My dance lessons didn’t fare that well either. I fear Rajesh and Mohan will have to demonstrate their “Thaiyya Thai” to compellingly reveal the reason behind that. Their relentless teasing was not the only reason I lost out on continuing dance, but it helped in bringing on the rapid demise of that art in the house. I wish I had continued. However, what I take from this is Amma's attitude. While I'm sure she was disappointed, she didn't let it show. She just continued taking me to dance performances whenever possible. She also continued to take me to pattu katcheris (especially the rama navami katcheris at Sheshadripuram college) to help me maintain my interest in music and dance. Thiruppugazh is for ladies only Appa was not always the Thiruppugazh icon that he is today. A young teacher called Venkatraman used to teach classes. Amma offered to have the classes held in our house. So once a week, people would come to our house, and then lessons would be held. Appa 
 46

    • 



















































































































 
 would be relegated to sitting on his scooter in the portico until the class ended. This didn’t stop him from mocking the whole concept. He’d have us rolling on the floor laughing by imitating one particular singer, and would burst into a loud and raucous Umbartharu Thenu Mani, Kashi vaakiiii yennnnnnnnnnnnnn. He did this much to Amma’s consternation. Some of the songs must have permeated through – because if you look at him now you’d think he was born singing Thiruppugazh songs! I wonder whom the joke is on now! Bootlegged goods: Appa once went on an official trip to Delhi. This was when we were still living in our Vyalikkaval house. It was just a usual trip, and nothing big happened, except when he returned… He had taken a suitcase that was exactly the same as what someone else on that same flight had. He didn’t notice anything amiss until he started unpacking. We all heard a startled shout form him. Instead of his clothes, he found unopened brand new electronics goods. It turned out that his suitcase was inadvertently mixed up with another person’s bag. Luckily, Appa’s tag was on his bag, and the other person was able to track Appa and exchange bags! Kuruvi Kadai Amma was a huge help for me when Sanjana was born. One of the things she would do is tell Sanjana stories. As a baby, Sanjana would just stare for hours at her Charummai while she was told story after story. I believe Charummai/Charu Pati managed to tell all her grandkids the Kuruvi Kadai. All her grandkids love the songs Kannum Pooti Urangu and Chinna Chinna Padam Vaithu Kanna Nee Vaa. Sanjana still likes when someone sings a song to her right before she goes to sleep. Now that they are older, she makes it a point to find new jokes. Her grandsons all seem to have an extra gene for humor that snuck in. So she tells her jokes and has them cracking up. What a legacy! Around the world in 80 days Appa and Amma made a rare long trip. They rarely seem to venture out of Bangalore to visit, and so this trip was quite unique in the sense that they went around the world and visited all their kids before they went back to India. They were able to pull it off by visiting Oz, and then CA, Toronto and Houston. They have visited a couple of times 
 47

    • 



















































































































 
 since. The songmaker Amma was and still is a resolute songwriter. Not only does she sing songs written by other authors (Meenakshi Sutha, Arunagirinathar), she has also composed quite a few songs. Her big burst of inspiration hit when she came to help for Suvedh’s childbirth. She composed and set music to about five different songs in as many days. Her creative juices still flow and have hopefully permeated through to the grandkids. Retirement? What does that mean! KNK is actually officially retired... since 2002. You wouldn’t know it, because he still keeps working. Perhaps he does it to keep himself occupied. The question is, does the work call him back? Or is HE pulled back. It seems that he is still quite in demand, especially for his ability to get things done and organize everybody. He has continued strong well past retirement. He is so dedicated to his work; he even went back to work barely three weeks after his bypass surgery. The rare compliment! Appa rarely compliments people. When he does pay you a compliment though it is so sincere that the sun shines and you feel good about yourself for days. I remember yet another of Anantham's art competitions. While my friends were all drawing complex mythological figures and Gods and Godesses, I was at a loss. Apparently Amma's drawing talent did NOT show itself even remotely in my genes. So I drew a Sun up on top of the page, and a pot with a flower growing out of it at the bottom of the page. I was 6 or 7 years old. I was surprised to receive a third prize award for this paltry drawing. Appa was looking through the drawings, and looked at mine and said, "This one makes the most sense. I like it!". It was enough to make me happy for days! What does CASSA stand for? Appa worked at CASSA for a long time while we were all in Bangalore. Part of his duties included keeping up the morale of the office by arranging yearly "CASSA Days". He would organize shows and games so well that we would all look forward to this day every year. One year he had arranged for a shadow puppet show. I loved it. Another year, he gave my dance teacher a chance to show off her students, and I danced with my 
 48

    • 



















































































































 
 friends Gita and Janaki. Another year, he had arranged a complex game that involved working with a partner and "flying" around the world just using mere poster boards! He would come up with these games, and execute them to perfection. One year, the game was a quiz. There were prizes at the end. Prakash did so well that he was one of the last two standing. The last question Appa asked was "What does CASSA stand for". Prakash knew the answer. His clear voice rang out amongst all the participants with "Center for Aeronautical Systems Studies and Analyses". The look of pride on Appa's face was priceless! I'm sure Appa would have been even prouder if he had heard "VaImanikiya Prakriya Adhayayan tatha Visleshen Kendra" Oh Canada! Appa and Amma made a visit to the US after he retired the first time. Their intent was to visit Prakash and then us (in Hudson, Ohio) and then while in Ohio to make a quick foray into Canada to visit Rajesh. Unfortunately, Appa was quite busy tying up loose ends that he did not get a Canadian Visa. The plan was for us to take them to Buffalo, apply for the Visa, receive it, and then drive on to Mississauga. We left quite early in the morning because we wanted to make it to the consulate at Buffalo before they opened so that we could be one of the first few served. We got there in record time with Srikanth at the wheel. The visa process involved obtaining a number, waiting for your number to be called, then submitting your application, and then waiting further instruction. All of this went smooth, until the point of submitting the application. Appa had filled out "Retired Civil Servant" in the form under "Occupation". Being the Honest Abe that he is, he did not see any flags when the person behind the window started asking him questions: Lady: "What did you do before you retired". Appa: "I was a director of a Lab" Lady: "What Lab" Appa: "ADRDE" Lady: "What does that stand for" (yup - ya'll know what's coming!) Appa: "Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment".... this was post 9/11....OUCH! The Canadian Embassy didn't veto his application but stated that they would have to send 
 49

    • 



















































































































 
 his Application for a vetting in India, a process that would take 2 weeks. The Srikanth family returned to Houston, and Rajesh visited us instead. Amma sings with a Maestro and meets another Maestro Our stay in England brought with it several opportunities that we might not have otherwise had in India. We were all required to participate in Republic Day ceremonies at the Embassy. Usually Amma led the National Anthem. One year, she did not get to lead the National Anthem, and she was not at all put out. She was thrilled! Lata Mangeshkar was visiting, and was asked to lead the National Anthem. Amma, along with a few other Embassy members, got to sing along with her on stage as we looked upon the Indian Flag. On yet another occassion, we (Amma and I) were walking from Oxford Street back to the tube station where we would then take a ride home. We passed all sorts of people and then suddenly Amma stopped and exclaimed "How nice to meet you!". I looked at who she was talking to, and discovered it was Asha Bhonsle. We had quite a nice conversation. I realized then that Amma had managed to spot her while walking towards the tube station and maintaining a conversation with me, and all I was able to do was hang on! Rajesh and the hospital Rajesh had an affinity for doctors and hospitals. So much so that it was unusual for him NOT to visit to the doctor to stitch/patch up some part of his body, at least once a quarter - or so it seemed. One episode however was scarier than the rest. Rajesh was usually the one picked to run the quick errands such as "go get one bucket of sambhar from Rajesh hotel" (when we had a sudden and unexpected influx of guests) or "go get bread from Iyengar Bakery". These were all stores just a block away from home, and so there was usually no cause for concern. One time, he was returning home from the bakery, and was bitten by a mad woman! She had tried to steal the bread from him, and he had bravely (or foolishly?) resisted - hence the bite. He came home quite disheveled and distraught. On seeing him, the whole house seemed to be in a state of shock. Luckily, Appa hadn't left for the office yet. He calmly took Rajesh to the hospital this time while the rest of us remained flabbergasted and uncertain as to what to do. He also made the rest of us go to school and carry on with our day. When we returned home, we found that Rajesh was 
 50

    • 



















































































































 
 going to be OK after a treatment that included 7 rabies shots 7 days in a row. Although I remember avoiding that section of Vyalikkaval 2nd Main Road for a long time after that incident, it was watching Appa's unflinching composure in the face of adversity that stuck with me. 
 51

    • 



















































































































 
 Srikanth First Meeting My first meeting with mama was when I went “Ponnu Parkkal” at the Woodlands hotel in Madras. There was mama, Sujatha, Priya and Priya’s folks. Mama spent the entire time trying to question me while I spent the entire time trying to catch Sujatha’s attention. Sujatha was busy talking to Priya about god knows what, while I hardly heard a word of what mama was saying. A lot of mumbling and nodding was what mama probably received from me while Sujatha did her best to ignore me. I first met mami when she came down from Delhi for our 1st registered marriage. She gave me her wonderful smile and told me she was very happy. First Road Trip with the In Laws After the wedding mama suggested that we go to Karungalam. Little did I know that both parents had colluded and had arranged for an elaborate temple visit trip that involved several days of visiting numerous temples. All I know was that I probably needed about 2 shirts for the entire journey and that too just for the journey in between temples. I think I spent the entire time bare chested going from one temple to the other at all kinds of hours. I think I was templed out for a couple of decades to come. Maybe that’s the reason, my automatic response to 
 52

    • 



















































































































 
 any temple visits is to “just say no” first and then reconsider. Mami, Please know that I am kidding. When I say I don’t want to go, it doesn’t mean everyone needs to change his or her plans. I am looking forward to remaining asleep while the rest of you get up at 3:00 or 4:00 AM and get your fill of the temples. Singing Lullabies Both Sanjana & Suvedh, when they were younger, would love to have mami sing to them before going to sleep. They would demand one song after the other and mami would patiently sing these until they fell asleep. I remember going on long car trips when mama & mami visited us and we would hear demands of songs from the back seats and mami will be literally singing to their tunes. All these had a downside however. After they left, the kids would want ME to sing the same songs. Me being musically challenged would come with, “these songs are only for charumai to sing”. From time to time, they still demand that Mami should come here and sing a few of them. To say the least, they enjoyed Mami’s company when they were young and still do. Change of Plan We had visited California after Madhuri and Rohan were born. We wanted to take advantage of our visit by taking a side trip to Yosemite. Mami was busy helping with the twins and declined to join us. Mama was happy to join us as he wanted to see the sights. The original plan (at least according to Sujatha and I) was to go there, look around the whole day, spend the night and leave late morning for the trip back. We had probably not talked to mama about our plans or else he had other plans. The day went well and towards evening, Sanjana started to feel tired. Sujatha was pregnant with Suvedh at that time and was feeling a bit weary. She needed to rest. We went over to the lodge to book rooms. Mama, however, had decided that we were returning to Prakash’s house. He had made the decision and that was that. By this time, the car and I were running on fumes and every gas station was shut for the night. To make the long 
 53

    • 



















































































































 
 story short, we finally lucked across an open gas station, and drove back. Mama to his credit kept awake the whole way talking to me to prevent me from falling asleep. I came away from this trip with a new find for me. When mama makes up his mind, nothing is going to sway him. You may not agree with him, but you know where he stands in his decisions. Raising Children Mama and Mami have both been great pillars for us to lean on. Raising children is no mean feat, and they have done it with energy to spare. Not only that, they’ve helped each of their children through the major changes in their own lives. They are willing and eager to help anyone in need to the point of being precariously mindless of their own health and condition. This is a trait I can definitely see in Sujatha as well as her brothers. Mama and Mami, Here’s wishing you many more golden moments in your life. 
 54

    • 



















































































































 
 Akshay The Watch Last year when I was in India, KNK thatha gave me an Omega watch. Although I really liked it, I thought it was too expensive to be on my wrist for more than a couple hours at a time, so I carefully put it away in my backpack. However, KNK thatha insisted I wear it, telling me how durable it is. Lesson learned: If you get something useful, use it. It is a complete waste to carefully put it away and never see it again. Strangely, there is a twist: I was wearing aforementioned Omega watch at a Speech and Debate tournament when it got scratched badly. It is now in safe storage in my spare backpack. Interpret this how you will. Art Critic Last summer I learned photoshop from my cousin Sharadh anna. I proudly created a dazzling space scene, complete with planets, a sun; and the Millennium Falcon. When I showed it to KNK thatha, he brought me out of my artificially self-induced (read: fake) moment of self-pride by pointing out that the picture, while nice looking and everything, meant absolutely nothing in a metaphorical sense. Sure, one could say, "What nice colors, Akshay!", but beyond this the picture was worthless. Lesson learned: do stuff that 
 55

    • 



















































































































 
 means something. Shanti Sagar aka "Same restaurant" Ever since I was very little we have been visiting Shanti Sagar Restaurant, a stone's throw from the RT Nagar house. I used to call it "Same restaurant", ostensibly because we went to the same restaurant every time we visited Bangalore! KNK thatha and Charu pati always make it a point to take us there whenever we visit. Amusement Park Once, KNK thatha and Charu pati took us to an amusement park, with roller coasters, bright lights, merry-go-rounds, etc. in Bangalore I refused to go on any of the rides, but I don't remember anything else about that amusement park... Now, of course, I would refuse to go on those same rides due to the lack of thrill. Go figure. Lesson learned: Try new things. 
 56

    • 



















































































































 
 Sanjana Amusement Park The last time we went to India KNK Thatha and Charumai took us to an amusement park. At first we looked around and couldn’t find the kid rides and were about to go when one of the park attendants told us all the children’s rides were in the back of the park. As we got there we were amazed to see a variety of fun looking rides just waiting for us to ride them. KNK Thatha and Charumai patiently took us around the park waiting for each and every ride to finish. After a wonderful day at the amusement park they took two happy kids home that always remembered that day as one of the best days of their lives that their grandparents had spent with them. 
 57

    • 



















































































































 
 Talent Shows Every time our family gets together we have a talent show. In Virginia Akshay, Rohan, Madhuri, Suvedh, and I sang the “American the Beautiful,” while Nakul and Ria sang the Canadian national anthem. Suvedh also sang peter pan songs and everyone had a blast. Another time Madhuri and I danced and Akshay told jokes. In India we all sang and danced. When our family spends time together we all have a blast and wonderful memories to share for the years to come. 
 58

    • 



















































































































 
 











Nakul This is to my beloved grandparents, KNK thatha and Charu Pati. Living away from people you love is a hard thing, but it is something that many, many people have to cope with. I know that we all want to meet more often, but the distance between us lays boundaries on those opportunities. That’s why whenever we are about to have a family reunion, I feel excitement right away, because I feel great, surrounded by people I love. I remember all the amazing memories we share, but out of all of them, my favorite is definitely the Yellowstone trip (but I never did find yogi bear). The exhilarating hikes, the beautiful scenery, all of the pictures are so nostalgic, as if I’m actually there. I miss you so much, and I’m really looking forward to not just seeing you again, but the whole side of the family! I wonder how everyone has changed, how everyone acts now, it’s all so exciting! I first met KNK Thatha and Charu Pati when 
 59

    • 



















































































































 
 I turned a year old. They came for my first birthday party. I don’t remember much of that visit of theirs but since then, we’ve gone to India to meet them, they have visited us, we’ve met at various locations, and all of those times were highlights of my life. All so memorable, they make me smile just thinking about it, imagine what would happen experiencing that again. Now I realize that in the past my greatest regret was not spending enough time with everyone, most of the time was spent with Akshay, Rohan, and Suvedh. I should have spent much more time with everyone else. That is why I can’t wait until I leave Canada to go to India, and have a big family reunion, being surrounded by people I love and care about in a beautiful country. Hey, did I mention that we had a class project where we all had to assemble groups and present the history, climate, culture, agriculture and major river systems of a country of choice? Well, I paired up with my friend, and I started to think, hey, I’m going to India this summer, why not learn a little more about it? So we chose India for our project, and I got an A! . 
 60

    • 



















































































































 
 Madhuri We spent a lot of time with Charu pati and KNK thatha whenever they visited us or during our visits to Bangalore. Charu pati has always been very nice to me and so has KNK thatha. Charu pati has taught us a lot of songs (shyamale meenakshi being the most popular one!) and she always makes delicious food (such as the delectable mango mousse she taught Amma how to make). We also usually have a singing session whenever we are in Bangalore, which we thoroughly enjoy. I think of Charu pati as a gentle person. KNK thatha is nice too, but he likes to tease us. When we were kids he used to teach us rhymes and read us books in an exaggerated Indian accent that use to make us roll on the floor with laughter. The “tok tok” story Did you know that KNK thatha always uses a spoon when he eats Chaadam? So, when he’s eating food, we can always tell by the “tok tok” sound that he makes when he is mixing the chaadam on the steel plates. We found it very funny, but Amma always scolds us not to make noise when we eat. We sometimes bang our spoons on the plate and tell Amma that we are KNK thatha, so she shouldn’t tell us to stop! Now, every time we hear the “tok tok” sound we think of KNK thatha! 
 61

    • 



















































































































 
 Stories Charu pati always liked to tell stories. We all enjoyed them very much. When she came to California she would start one story and then when we asked her questions about that one, she would start another and it would go on and on every night. Sometimes she would tell us stories about different gods, from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, or tales from her various trips. She never hesitated to poke fun at herself. We always had a good time hearing the different stories she told us. “Watch it!” When KNK Thatha had come home from work, he would always go to the swing and sit on it. Rohan and I would follow him, sit on either side, and start reaching across to play hand games. When KNK Thatha had a scab from a wound on his 
 62

    • 



















































































































 
 forehead, he would protectively cover his scab, and say, “Watch it!” each time we would come close to his forehead. We enjoyed spending time with him, sometimes doing nothing but just sitting out there with him. Pullaiyar Kovil Every time we go to RT Nagar, we always go for a walk and visit the Pullaiyar Kovil with Charu pati. She would always buy flowers for me from the lady sitting outside the temple. We would also visit the Hanuman temple. It's like a tradition to go to these two temples every time we visit Bangalore. I wish Charu pati and KNK thatha would be able to visit us in California next time. Here’s wishing them a very, very happy anniversary! 
 63

    • 



















































































































 
 Rohan Mr. Putter And Tabby: Ahhhh...... Mr Putter and Tabby was a very good children’s book that I used to like until I was 5-7 years old. It is about a man named Mr. Putter trying to do little things with his cat, Tabby. My favorite story was the one where Mr. Puttter buys a trumpet. I would bring this book to India during our Summer holiday. KNK thatha would read the whole book to me in superb Indian accent. Madhuri and I would laugh our heads off. We were laughing because of the way would say, “Mr. Putter and Tabby went to the store to buy a trumpet.” ABC's: The ABC's are one of the first things that I learned. Everyone who knows the English language knows that the alphabet song goes like “ABCDEFGHI....... WXYZ now you know your ABC's next time won't you sing with me.” When I was young and had just finished learning my alphabet (I was around 2-3 years old) we went to India. When we got to Bangalore, I immediately sang the ABC's to KNK Thatha. Whenever I sang it, he would say it would have to be sung like this: “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP LMNOPQRSTUVWXY Zed. XY Zed, sugar and bread, if you don't like it better go to bed.” 
 64

    • 



















































































































 
 Songs: Charu Pati has taught me many Carnatic songs and slokams. One of my favorite songs is Shyamalai Meenaxi. I loved this song because it kept on going on and on, and Amma gets really annoyed. Whenever Charu Pati asked us to sing a song, I would always volunteer to sing that, but she would always say, "No, Sing something else." Anyhow, she has taught me many of the songs that I know. Conclusion: KNK Thatha and Charu Pati have taught me many things, and I am grateful for that. I always love eating Charu Pati's food. Once again, thank you, KNK Thatha and Charu Pati, for all of the wonderful things you have taught me throughout the years and for being who you are! 
 65

    • 



















































































































 
 Suvedh Charummai the game player Whenever we go to India or Charummai and KNK Thatha come to visit us, they both play games with us. Especially Charummai. She taught us to play a game – in America it’s called Mancala, and in India it sounds like pallan- gooy. You may know of it and how to play it, but for those of you who don’t know - it is where you move shells around little holes and steal your opponents’ shells. At the end of the game, who ever has more shells wins. It’s mainly a game based on strategy, and was probably my early introduction to my favorite strategy based game, chess. She even got us hundreds of little red seeds that we used to use as counting beads, Mancala shells, and many other things. I took those beads for my school’s 100th day celebration in Kindergarten. This was one of the things that led to my love for math. She also taught us another game, cat’s cradle. She used special needles to make a thick string for each of us so that the string wouldn’t break. I lost my string, but Sanjana still has hers. KNK Thatha the admirer/admired: 
 66

    • 



















































































































 
 KNK Thatha loves all his grandkids, but I feel like I have a special connection with him. I remember one time, when KNK Thatha and Charummai were at our house in Hudson (Ohio) and both Sanjana and me were really young (me being 4 yrs old and Sanjana being 7). All of us were in the basement (including Amma and Appa). Amma had made a puppet theatre for us. Sanjana kept on putting up these wonderful puppet shows. We watched, and KNK Thatha said “Yes, Yes, Good job.” Then it was my turn. I did these cute (cute ONLY because of my age!!!) little puppet shows where all I did was pick up a frog and make some frog-like noise. KNK Thatha said “Oh how Wonderful, Wonderful, Amazing! Encore, Encore!” He also often took my side when Sanjana and me were fighting. Of course he may have been doing this just because I was younger than her and he didn’t want me to get upset, but I loved it anyway. I really hope he still treats me the same way in India than he did in Hudson, even though I highly doubt that that’s going to happen. I am sure KNK Thatha loves all his grandkids the same. He is certainly admired by me for his job in working with and designing airplanes (he inspired my room’s plane theme). 
 67

    • 



















































































































 
 





















Ria 
 Being so far away from India, it has been difficult for me to spend time with you as much as I would have liked to. When you visited us here I was very little and the memories of those (my first birthday and the Virginia trip) are only through pictures. So this time I promise I will spend as much time as I can with you. What I most remember of both of you is your love and affection, and Charu pati’s yummy food. 
 68

    • 



















































































































 
 Sowmini Ramakrishnan As children, we used to listen to Radio Ceylon. We wanted our name to be announced in the neyar viruppam program. So, we wrote requesting a few songs, and had our names "Sharada" and "Rugmini" in bold capital letters. Not knowing how everything works, we wrote it up in an "inland letter" and mailed it with great excitement. The letter was promptly returned by the post office since the addressee was outside India. The letter fell into the hands of Appa, and he scolded us for our childishness and stupidity! He also felt very bad that we had wasted one "inland letter". I think that was the only time we ever got scolded by Appa! During our holidays, we sisters used to enact plays. The Story, dialogue and direction were by Sharada. Lalitha and I used to collect make-up materials, snacks to keep us from starving, etc. We also used to call ourselves Nalini, Madhubala, etc. - film stars of that era! And Sharada used to land-up in trouble with Thatha (Periappa) who would disapprove of our "wasting" time in such a manner. Lalitha and I would escape his wrath. Sharada being the eldest would face all the scolding! Sharada and I learnt music, both vocal and veena, together. I used to hate writing the notes during class. Sharada would meticulously write all notations for both herself and me! Interestingly, that custom continues even today! 
 69

    • 



















































































































 
 There were always a lot of cousins and many relatives at home as we grew up. People used to come, spend time with us - always very enjoyable, and go. But the first time I felt a void was when Sharada got married and left to live with Athimber. It was only then that I truly missed someone. Sharada really makes the better half of a really nice couple. She is very talented in a variety of arts - music, drawing/painting, cooking - you name it, and she has done well in all of those. Her friend circle is vast today, just as it was while we grew up. That surely proves once and for all that she's a nice person to grow up with, have around and share thoughts and feelings. I pray to God that she and Athimber will have many many more happy years ahead! 
 70

    • 



















































































































 
 Lalitha and S. Krishnamurthy Introduction to Athimber In Feb 1959, athimber had come to Trivandrum with his father and sister Shanta. Sharada was slightly plump with long hair and athimber was very thin like a dried drumstick. Kunju and I would tease him saying that he is very thin but periamma scolded us saying that he will look beautiful when he earns more. Sharada was very upset initially. Later she was convinced by appa - saying that he was from a nice family. Kunju and I regretted saying such things about him and we are really fortunate to have someone like him. Visits to Trivandrum After Sharada's wedding we used to wait for her to come with athimber during summer for holidays. He used to take us to Hindi movies regularly. Once when he had come to Trivandrum he had got a new job and had to take a passport photo of himself. I took him to a shop to take the photo. He told the shop owner that he wanted the photo next day morning and the man said "Nala ravelle varu" (come and collect tomorrow). Athimber got very upset and told him that he wanted the photo in the morning and not in the night  Trip to UK In Sept. 1985 we had gone to UK to visit Sharada and athimber. I was surprised to see athimber came into the flight to receive us. When I asked him how he managed to come in he told me that Margaret Thatcher gave him special permission to come in to receive 
 71

    • 



















































































































 
 Lalithammbal. This incident is fresh in my memory and gives me joy every time I think about it. Sharada and athimber took us to see lots of places around London. We had a great time here with Mohan, Rajesh and Sujatha. Cricket Trouble In 2008, on the 3rd day of his heart bypass surgery we were all sitting in the hospital and watched cricket on TV. When India lost a wicket athimber got very upset and started ranting. Sharada and I got very worried and we switched off the TV! He was bolder than all of us and recovered really well from the surgery. I admire his will power. Looking after my parents I am very grateful for the way Sharada and athimber looked after my parents. He was like a son to my dad. I remember that Appa would not do anything without asking athimber. They conducted my father’s 80th birthday celebration in a grand manner. 
 72

    • 



















































































































 
 Sundar, Radhika and Aditi My Earliest Recollection I underwent tonsillitis back in '71 or '72. Periappa underwent some surgery on his ear on the same day, and at the same hospital in Egmore. The day before the surgery, he explained to me that the doctor would cut his ear off, rectify it, and stick it back. With a twinkle in his eyes, he then asked me, "So do you know what the doctor will do to you?" The Letter Exchange Back in the days of snail mail, there was one letter I wrote to Periappa. He too responded within a few days - a joy for me that someone actually took time to send out a letter exclusively to a 12 year old! But that was the first and last we exchanged. You see, I wrote to him in French, he responded in French, and I don't think either of us understood what the other wrote. Environment Friendly? Through the mid and late '70s, I frequently spent my summer holidays in Bangalore. It was always fun, and something I looked forward to. Except for one thing. For some strange reason, Periappa would insist that we all have our bath before 7:30am. In the earlier days the water would be heated in a “boiler” that used dried coconut husk as fuel and in the later days by an electric immersion rod. Either way, it would not go on after 7:30am. Perhaps Periappa was doing his bit for global warming a full 4 decades before it hit public conscience at large? Break-in Attempt! During one of my summer holidays spent at Vyalikkaval, I had my earliest brush with crime. The house had three doors: one facing the front, one on the side, and another at the 
 73

    • 



















































































































 
 back. One day, Periappa had left for work, Periamma had cooked brunch for us kids, and she was leaving on some errand too. There was mixed excitement - it was just us kids at home! The norm apparently was to somehow hide the fact from the big bad world outside that there were kids at home alone. Accordingly, Periamma locked the front door from outside with a padlock visible for all the baddies. The side door, as I recall, used to be permanently locked. We kids bolted the back door from inside. About 30 mins later, there were loud sounds from the side door. We were terrified. Someone was attempting to break-in, assuming the house was empty! After a few minutes, we gathered our wits and sneaked out through the back door to confront the criminals. If Enid Blyton's Famous Five could do it, so could we. There were 2 boys, maybe in their late teens, attempting to break the padlock with a heavy stone. Seeing us, they ran away. What a triumph! That evening, we kids were all over recounting the events to Periamma and Periappa. Periamma was very worried, but also very proud of us. Periappa examined the side door, exclaimed "Tccha!", and went right back to his newspaper. If they had broken in... Placed against the permanently locked side-door on a table was a radio built by Periappa during his college days. Complete with valves, vacuum tubes, and wires running all over. There was no cover, and the innards were visible. It was fascinating to see it come alive when one tuned to VividhBharathi or Akashavani. The knobs seemed to somehow directly connect to the source of the sound. And the colors of the valves used to bring life to the audio. But the sight of it, if viewed suddenly, could be quite frightening. Leading me to wonder if the thieves would have beaten a hasty retreat, even if they managed to break in! Entertainment at Chennai Central Preparations for Sujatha's engagement were on. I had just completed a semester at the University of Mysore and was home in Madras. The northeast monsoon was in full swing. And Periappa wanted to go to the railway station to receive some package from someone arriving by the Grand Trunk Express. As can be expected (and despite my strong protests), Periappa and I were at the Central a full hour and a half before the train arrived, wet and miserable. Perhaps with a view to 
 74

    • 



















































































































 
 assuage my feelings, he counted the number of bogies on Mayiladuthurai Express, which was on a neighboring platform and exclaimed, "Unbelievable! inda train-ukku ippO 18 bogies pOdarAn!" Mosque Street Hanuman kOvil No, this isn't about the funnily named temple in Mandaivelli. Again set during Sujatha's engagement (or wedding?). Periamma wanted me to take her to this temple in the neighborhood. At the temple, we were together all the time. But what she noticed that I had not, stunned me. She gave a vivid description of the idol's eye-lashes and toe-nails as we were leaving the temple with a "evvalavu azhaga irukku illayA?". I recall going back in with her to see it once again. From my early childhood, I had always admired the artistic talent Periamma possessed, and this was another instance of that. "No drama, please!" In the Early 90's, I was working with the DRDO in Hyderabad. During a party in the Officer's Mess. Periappa, then Director ADRDE, was in Hyderabad too, and at the party. I was chatting with him. A colleague of mine came by and unhelpfully handed me a peg of whisky. I ignored him. He barked at me asking me to take it fast. I acted the hurt, good-boy teetotaler to my friend's utter shock. Periappa had caught up by then and was rolling with laughter. He saved me from further blushes with a "ParavA illai-dA. No drama, please!". [Aditi] Tiruppugazh Golden Jubilee Last year, we celebrated the golden jubilee of Tiruppugazh Anbargal. For many months preceding that, I had heard Amma, Appa and Kunji talk about how much Thatha was involved in organizing this event. I even feared that because of his by-pass surgery earlier that year, the event might be cancelled! Anyway, I was really glad nothing of that kind happened. During the event, we kids got a special program for ourselves. Thatha even made sure the mikes were all placed properly to adjust for our heights. After we finished singing, he was lavish in praise, saying that we had sung better than the elders. I felt so proud! [Radhi] Sensitive Periamma I remember the time when Thatha was hospitalized at MS Ramaiah. Periamma and I used 
 75

    • 



















































































































 
 to talk to the doctors, go to the various labs to collect reports, etc. I hadn’t spent too much time with her (or for that matter, anyone else in Sundar’s family) before that. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised that she should divulge her inner fears. We spent many hours talking about many things, and I got to understand the family so much better during those days. Not the best of times, but it is under trying circumstances that the best in people comes out, and her caring attitude for everyone showed up bright and clear to me during those days. [Radhi] Creative and Artistic Periamma Another aspect of Periamma that I like the most is her artistic talent. From the time I was engaged till date, any gift from Periamma will have a picture of Ganesha or some flowers or a kolam drawn by her on the wrapper. These add-ons are more memorable as they add a personal touch to the gift. I really appreciate Periamma for her creativity and the “stamp” she leaves behind on everything she’s involved with. [Radhi] Transcendental Devotion Where does she get the energy? The mere mention of a temple, however remote, Periamma would show interest in visiting it! The sheer will power that enables her to draw from a bottomless well of strength always has me in awe. I was lucky, personally, to have accompanied her on some memorable temple trips. [Radhi] Affectionate Periappa Around the time of Periappa’s bypass surgery, I would visit him on the way back from work on alternate days. He would always ask Periamma to prepare coffee for me despite my protests, insisting how tired I look after a day’s work, and preparing me for the drive back home in Bangalore’s traffic! If I happened to miss meeting him on the odd day, he would call and ask me why I hadn’t come. The subtle display of his affection is something I shall cherish forever. Apart, of course, from the methodical manner in which he planned his own surgery! [Radhi and Sundar] We were very lucky to have spent the actual golden anniversary day with Periamma and Periappa at R T Nagar. We are privileged to be a part of the family that includes such wonderful people. Radhi and I have personally gained immensely from our association with them. Professional advice from Periappa and all the support he has lent us both during our DRDO days, through the period we moved to Bangalore, as well as more 
 76

    • 



















































































































 
 recently through Radhi's entrepreneurial adventure are big sources of strength for us. [Amma, Aditi, Radhi and Sundar] We are lucky to have you in our family, deeply value our relationship, and shall always cherish having you as the elders in our family supporting us through thick and thin. Thanks for everything, Periamma and Periappa! We wish you a very happy golden anniversary celebration, and many more happy returns. 
 77

    • 



















































































































 
 Priya & Balaji My 1st grade teacher One of my earliest memories of Periammai was how proud she felt when my 1st grade teacher showed her a note I'd written on "My Family" which talked about "my four brothers and a sister". To this day, I can still feel the hug I received, and being bewildered wondering what caused all that hilarity! The innovative cook I always admired Periammai for being very creative in the kitchen. During the summer holidays I spent at Vyalikkaval, I looked forward to her foaming-up the morning milk and serving it to us, as “ice-cream” milk, and I would happily slurp down all the norai! The nurse When Periammai underwent her heart surgery, I was proud for having secured the onerous responsibility of being her helper. I used to spend a lot of time with her, doing my homework, etc., sitting by her bedside. During later stages of her recovery, I helped her with her bath and do her exercises. I vividly remember how the two of us would giggle endlessly at her inability to blow a balloon (which was a part of the exercises she was asked to do to help hasten her recovery). A teenager always! Periammai visited us once while we were staying at an apartment in the 3rd floor. She 
 78

    • 



















































































































 
 used to have difficulty climbing the stairs. I joked that we should cheat our brains by climbing up facing backwards. As I started showing her how, Periammai also joined in the fun and followed my act. Just then the door of one of our neighbors opened, and we were "caught in the act" with them starting at us with a "which madhouse have these two escaped from" look! We spent the next 3 hours laughing about this incident! My pAttu teacher Periammai taught me a lot of songs. I relished all of them, and relished especially the way she pointed out the nuances of some of the ragams. Two of my favorite songs were taught by her - kshanameva ganye and neelavAnam thanil. I'm glad it was you, Periappa I have a great admiration for Periappa's sense of humor, and always used to look forward to talking to him, and being around with him in family gatherings. Yet, the one incident, which will always be fresh in my memory, was Periappa calling me to convey Appa's demise. He was compassionate in the manner in which he conveyed the news, a calming force when I cried, and helped me get a handle on my thoughts and actions. It is so easy to convey happy news; Close to impossible to convey sad news. Yet, the manner in which he talked to me helped me digest the immensity of the tragedy. I shall always be grateful for that. I would not have liked to hear this news from anyone else. Thanks Periappa! And thanks also for all the support you lent Amma, Sundar and Radhi through that really tough period. I really appreciate it. 
 79

    • 



















































































































 
 Sundar and Anu Krishnamurthy Marriages are made in Trains The story that I have heard from Pati was that Sharada Periamma had exchanged Amma’s horoscope with Malathi Krishnan (my cousin) a fellow passenger that eventually led to parents wedding in 1968. I wonder where I would be if Periamma had not undertaken that train journey. Surely marriages are not always made in heaven. Early recollection of Summer Vacation as a Family I still can remember our summer vacations that we would spend as a family at the Vyalikkaval house. Being the youngest of the cousins, I would always get special attention from Sharada Periamma. She would make sure I had a seat at the Carrom Table. She also introduced me to boys of my age (I still can recall Hari) to ensure that the elder cousins did not always bully me. Pati pouring ‘Ghee’ or ‘Naie’ on my head instead of my plate is something that is still fresh in my mind. Trip to Delhi Summer of 1981 is when I had spent my summer vacation in Delhi (R.K.Puram, Sector 13, O Block). Periappa and Periamma made my trip a special. We went to Agra, Mathura and did lots of sight seeing in Delhi. Periamma would make all my favorite dishes especially starting my day with Tomato Juice for breakfast and ending with Carrot Halwa with Ice cream. I guess the highlight of my trip is meeting Mrs Indira Gandhi (then Prime Minister of 
 80

    • 



















































































































 
 India) at AIIMS, we (Periamma, Sujatha and I) were at AIIMS for Sujatha’s dental check-up. Imagine having the Prime Minister tapping your cheek when we greeted her ‘Good Morning’. Making a fast buck I had been to Delhi immediately after my final semester engineering (1991) to spend some time with Periamma, Periappa, Thata & Patti. At that time Periamma and Periappa were relocating from Delhi to Bangalore. One day while helping Periamma in packing, we stumbled upon 4 or 5 bottles of Scotch and Gin. I guess these were Periappa’s collection from UK and he had possibly forgotten its existence. Now Periamma was short of cash to fund the ‘Bhajanais’ that she had organized. We then stumbled upon an idea of making a quick buck by selling these bottles. It is never a sin to sell liquor for something more spiritual (not sure if all would agree!) Periappa My Role Model As a teenager I had a few role models and would always look at them for inspiration and guidance. I have always admired Periappa for his professionalism, his wit & sense of humor, his passion and commitment to DRDO, the Power that he commanded while at DRDO and his association with world leaders such as Dr. Kalam, Dr. P.C.Alexander, to name a few. He is someone on top of my mind if I have to seek any advice or find a solution to my problems. The Planner and The Perfectionist Who can forget Sujatha’s wedding, Thata’s 80th Birthday or my engagement at RT Nagar. The reason why they are special is the meticulous planning by Periappa and flawless execution with a touch of style by Periamma. The many memorable family events that I remember in the last 20 years would not have been possible without their painstaking effort & love. 
 81

    • 



















































































































 
 Mahalaxmi and Stefan Spanier Trip to Delhi Amma and I visited Delhi in summer ‘91. It was my first trip to Delhi and Periamma made it memorable. She had a huge collection of BBC series and movies (these were pre- cable TV days in India) that she had recorded while she in England and she let me watch them, sometimes late into the night! Now that was a treat. When pati or amma would scold me for watching so much TV she would support me and let me watch some more. I wanted to visit Agra and amma was not very interested, so I asked Periamma and she promptly ordered her younger sister to take me and booked a bus trip for us to go to Agra and Mathura. She managed to convince one of Mohan’s friends to show me all the tourist sites of Delhi, by offering him one of her special dishes and the poor guy agreed. She took me shopping with a pre-condition to not speak a word in Hindi as that would give away that I am not from Delhi - may be her subtle way of saying that my Hindi was not very good. Visit to Houston for Thanksgiving Periamma had come to Sujatha’s house when Suvedh was born and I had visited them during Thanksgiving. Even though she was very busy, she still made all my favorite foods and would ask me every day what I would like to eat for dinner and lunch. When I got back to Colorado I felt very home sick, as I had to start eating my own cooking. My Wedding Periappa always has words of wisdom and I am thankful for his support in helping amma 
 82

    • 



















































































































 
 and appa accept a German mappalai. When Stefan first met them at Prakash’s house in 2001, he along with periamma was very welcoming and made Stefan feel a part of the family. During that visit Prakash showed Stefan pictures of south-Indian weddings and explained Kashi yatra and oonjal to him. As we had an Arya Samaj wedding that did not have those, periamma organized a Kashi yatra for Stefan. She also had a print out that translated the meaning of wedding vows in English and presented it to Stefan and his mom. From the whole wedding ceremony, my in-laws and my husband remember the Kashi yatra very well. 
 83

    • 



















































































































 
 Drs. Saraswathy & N. Padhmanabhan June 24th 1975 is a date that is always etched in my memory - not just because Padhu & I tied the knot on June 22nd. Like any newly married girl, I was tense, tongue tied, and felt extremely uncomfortable in the midst of the jovial, always humorous, joke cracking Narayanaswamy family that I had just become a part of and could not follow what on earth they were laughing at! I cried internally to think I had to be a part of this family - forever leaving a home where I was nurtured with love & luxury! Only one soul understood my panic & willingly came to my rescue! This was none other than Sharada manni! She suggested that instead of going straight to Chennai with the whole lot, Padhu & I could accompany her back to Bangalore and spend a couple of days there as a sort of honeymoon [which would surely give me a respite!] I was totally happy with this and anxiously awaited Padhu’s & patti’s ok! Manni managed to convince Padhu somehow - even though he objected saying he had neither a pass nor any train reservations! I could easily speak to my father. He had never said no to me! He got us 3 tickets by express bus from Trissur to Bangalore. So we left after seeing off all the others by train to Chennai! Ahhh, those 3 days we spent at Bangalore is something that I will cherish forever! I’m sure manni won’t remember - because it is just run of the mill stuff for her - but it sure made a huge difference in my life! A bedroom all decorated with flowers & fragrant incense, comfy mattresses & blankets & above all soothing melodious music played by manni on the veena after she lovingly shooed us into the bedroom. Need I add the delectable dishes she served with love. She made Padhu take me to a couple of movies and to Lal Bagh & Cubbon Park. He even bought me a simple sari on her advice! Soon enough the day came for us to leave for Chennai. By now I knew a bit about Padhu 
 84

    • 



















































































































 
 and his family. I was quite ready to take up my new life with this family. I can never forget this thoughtful, compassionate though simple act of Sharada manni, which made a world of difference to me. Padhu remembers an incident vividly too! It must have been a couple of months after Anna & Manni were married on their first visit to Chennai. The newlyweds planned to go to a movie just so that they could have some privacy. They even chose an English movie, “Chase a crooked shadow” so that there wouldn’t be a crowd. What would this inconsiderate boy do but insist on tagging along with them to the movie! Neither could they enjoy nor did he – because he hardly understood a word of the dialogue. He just laughed when the rest of the crowd laughed so he wouldn’t look as foolish as he felt! There was this other incident where he had gone to manni’s home in Trivandrum on a holiday! Kunju, Lalitha & Padhu had a whale of a time teasing Sharada manni. On one occasion, she received a long awaited letter from anna. They snatched it from her and wouldn’t let her read it! While they may seem trivial, these incidents are forever green in Padhu’s memory. Above all is the inspiration we get from this couple – the oldest of the Narayanaswamy family. How much ever they struggled during their earlier days, they were always smiling - never losing courage and confidence! Through sheer will and hard work they rose to the top. They can now sit, relax & enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. The number of friends they have made and they keep up with is amazing too. I don’t think we can emulate that example! I pray hard to Swami that this devoted, loving couple that are indeed made for each other should live another two decades so we can celebrate their 75th Anniversary. 
 85

    • 



















































































































 
 
 86

    • 



















































































































 
 Conclusion The above are snapshots that provide a few data points on a rich family tapestry. Incidents like these served to build a sense of family, belonging and a comfortable sense of security. But the one thing that it does not talk to is the sacrifices that Appa and Amma made for their children and grand children. They had a clear vision for what they would like to see their children become and worked hard to achieve that. They ensured that we got love, the best home, inculcated the right values, good health care and excellent education despite the costs. We will all be eternally grateful for that. 
 87

    • 



















































































































 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 88

    • 



















































































































 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Thank You 
 
 
 89