It was in 1969 that my tryst with the Round Table started when I joined the Bombay Round Table No.6. I was hardly a couple of months old in the Club when one day the chairman of the Club called me and requested me to be present at the Club meeting the following day as the national President and Secretary of the Round Table India were making an official visit to the club. That was my first exposure to the legendary Krish Chitale (President) and Indu Chandhok (Secretary). While Krish impressed me as a committed, no nonsense and serious person, Indu came across as a `Jolly Good Fellow`. I did not realize then that it was the beginning of a long and enduring relationship with both these gentlemen.
The next time I met Indu was at the RTI AGM in Delhi in 1970, my first AGM which opened the doors of a number of new friends across the country for me and made me an AGM addict. Indu was the candidate of the Establishment for the post of Vice President of RTI who would have automatically become the President the following year. Standing against him was a reluctant R.Desikan from my Table, who had started his tabling career in Madras Mylapore Round Table No 3 to which Indu belonged. It was Bombay Vs Madras fight in which two good friends were pitched against each other. The Bombay team felt that in view of his soft corner for Indu ,Desikan might withdraw his nomination on the floor of the house at the AGM, before elections. My club had charged me and Ashok Dey ,another green tabler to sit behind Desi, holding on to his coat tails, to prevent him from getting up to make his intention known. Indu lost the elections by a narrow margin never to become the President of RTI and Desi won against the establishment but lost his popularity as a Tabler for ever. I have always felt guilty of indirectly being responsible for Indu losing the opportunity to become the President of RTI .
I also remember Indu for another reason. He was one of the three Round Table stalwarts ( Krish, Indu and Ramoo Ramanathan) from Madras who attended my wedding in Madras in 1972. Indu presented me with a Round Table India tie.
In 1974, I moved to Chennai and joined Madras West Round Table No.10. I got actively involved not only with the activities of my Table but also helping the other city Tables and RTI in the publicity efforts. Indu, who had already developed a soft corner for me entrusted my agency Grant Kenyon to handle the publicity of the Carex brand of auto spare parts which his company was selling. This brought me very close to Indu.
By this time Indu had turned square and become active as a forty oner. It is now history that he pioneered a lot of new ideas in 41 Clubs going on to become a popular President of both National Association of 41 Clubs of India and 41 International. He conceived the idea of the now popular YAP programme and was primarily responsible for making 41 India, a force to reckon with in the international forum. Along with Kishore as the Secretary of 41 International when he was the President, he gave us a memorable 41 international AGM in Madras.
Once I turned square I also became active in 41 India activities and was the Publicity convener for four terms. This also provided me an opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with Indu, who was already being proclaimed as the `Bheeshma Pitha Maha`of the 41 movement in India. Indu always claims that I was responsible for suggesting his name for the post of the President of 41 International at a truncated 41 India Board meeting in Kodaikanal. In retrospect I feel happy that I was responsible for correcting a wrong done to Indu in RTI, when I was indirectly responsible for his losing his election for the post of VP of RTI at the Delhi AGM in 1970.
A portly old man with a young heart Indu is a multifaceted personality. He is considered the father of the Motor Sports in India. He passed on his passion to his son Vicky and grand son Karun who is currently making waves in the International Motor Sports arena. An active Free Mason , he is the Past President of Rotary Club of Madras Central. He has been also very active in several other educational and community based social service organizations in Madras.
Belonging to a second generation Madrasi Punjabi family, Chandhoks are popular in the Madras social circles. A fantastic host, who loves attending parties and giving parties , Indu and Indira are well known among friends for some fantastic get togethers they have hosted in their lovely home in Nungambakkam, in Chennai. And in their family home in Kodaikanal. Indira is ever ready to host a party for 5 or 50 people at short notice-- to make her ever exuberant husband happy. I have always been a great admirer of this lovely couple.
Indu never comes across as a serious person even when he is discussing a serious subject. His ready wit in the form of one-liners and his sense of humour keep any discussion lively. His enormous enthusiasm and energy for anything that he handles is infectious. A great friend, ever helpful to any one in distress, Indu has endeared himself to a legion of friends both in India and abroad. He is as popular with children as he is with elders. My children discovered the child in Uncle Indu when they went on a private trekking trip with him in Kodaikanal years ago.
I am very proud to have Indu as my friend for the last 42 years! While wishing him Many Happy Returns on his 80th Birthday, I pray God that he continues to enjoy good health so that he is there to bless me on my `Sathabishekam` eleven years from now, when I would have also seen thousand moons!