Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three faces

We have heard of Super star Rajnikant playing triple roles in a film called `Moonru Mugangal` ( three faces)and thespian ShivajiGanesan playing the role of a father and twin sons ( one bad and one good guy) in the film `Deiva Magan`. He also played nine different roles in the film Navarathri. Not to mention `Ulaganayagan` Kamala Hasan performing a record 10 roles in a recent film Dasavatharam. We also know that every human being has to perform different roles – as a son, husband, father ,grand father, friend, etc. in his life time. This article is not about different  roles that an actor or a person performs in life but three different faces of the same person. Let me elaborate.

I was introduced to a person a couple of years ago at a party.  We got talking and I found out that we had  many common interests.  He came across as a gentle, soft spoken person with an eversmiling face.  As we were talking I saw  a number  of people passing by, patting him on the back and wishing him. He seemed to know everyone in the crowd.  He had a great sense of humour and the one line jokes  that he cracked  from time to time were making people around him laugh.  I was very impressed and felt happy that I had met a good human being with  a charming personality.

 In another context he  invited me  for a discussion to his office. On the appointed day I reached his office on time and as I entered his room he asked me to take a seat on a sofa in the room. He  requested me to bear with him  for a few minutes and  continued his discussion with the  staff members sitting in front of his table.

He  looked very angry and disturbed.  He was screaming and shouting at one of the staff.  When another staff member intervened on behalf of his colleague he barked at him using  foul language!  He did  not bother that an outsider was sitting in the same  room.  He quickly wrapped up the meeting and asked his colleagues to leave the room.  I could see them walking out of the room with sullen faces!

Obviously I was witnessing another avatar of my new friend, whom I thought was not even capable of getting angry based on the experience of my earlier interaction with him.

After the exit of the staff, he invited me to join him at his table.  He was now smiling and profusely apologized  for keeping me waiting.  He had  transformed  back to the  friendly soul I knew him to be!

On another occasion, I had an opportunity to suddenly drop in at his home. I was sure, I was going to meet a happy family.  It was not to be.  He was as rude with his family as he was with his staff. While he was shouting orders to his wife who was busy in the kitchen, he was admonishing his children for something they had done or not done!

When he tried to introduce me to his family, I found them indifferent.  There was palpable tension in the air.  I could not believe that this same person who was very popular among friends was held in contempt by his own family.

One day I was talking to a common friend who  happened to be very close to my new friend.  When I tried to express  my surprise at the contrasting profile of my  new friend  – one for the home and office and another for the public at large –Two faces of the same man- almost like the famous Dr. Jekyll  and Mr. Hyde characters.

My friend smiled and said that the gentleman concerned also had a ‘third face’– which was what he thought of himself- as a mature and  balanced person who did whatever he did in the best interests  of the people near and dear to him.

It  immediately  r reminded me of  another friend with three  faces. A  loving husband and  affectionate father to his  children, this friend was a very reserved person in public. Answering in monosyllables to any questions put to him. He will shun company and seemed happy to be by himself. However,  when  any one known to him was in trouble,  he would run around trying to help the person, using all his resources. He will not rest until the problem of the friend concerned was resolved. This transformation of the quiet guy into an aggressive personality has to be seen to be believed!

 I wonder  if every human being has three faces -what his acquaintances or family think of him, what he thinks of himself and what he really is!

Feedback welcome on 9840392082 or
If you like the article please share it with your contacts

Friday, January 3, 2014

A turbulent year - A new lease of life!

                  I am writing this piece on the last day of 2013, when the rest of the world will be planning to ring out the old and ring in the New Year!  While trying to do the same  I realized that  2013  has been both a  turbulent and  an eventful year in my life! A Year  filled with both sad and happy moments for me.  I thought I will share   those moments with my readers!
Let me start with the sad events so that I can end this piece on a happier  note!
To begin with I lost  Prabha my dear wife of 40 years to the deadly crab which had started eating into her lungs,   on 5th January this year. Though we all knew that she had limited time in this world when we discovered that she was suffering from cancer  seven months earlier , it was still a tremendous loss for the whole family. While I was reconciling to live a life without my life partner,  I had a couple of nasty falls  at home which I survived with minor bruises. And two  accidents  on two successive days– one in which  I was thrown off balance by the spring door of the dickey of the Volvo Bus in which I was travelling  from Poona to Mumbai and another  involving the car in which I was travelling in Mumbai , where I had gone for my book launch in November. While the car was badly damaged I survived both the accidents without even a bruise!
When  I was  hoping that I have had enough of the bad tidings for 2013, God thought   otherwise! I suffered a heart attack in the early hours of 18th December to discover later that I had two blocks- one 95% and another 60 %. On the advice of the doctor, the family agreed to get an angioplasty done to clear the 95% block and place a stent to ensure that I return to normal life fast.( They  left the other block untouched hoping to clear  it with medicines ). I am now eligible to become a member of the `Stent`Club`! My friend Indu Chandhok of the Motor Sports fame refers to people who have had by-pass surgery as members of the `Zippers club`- because they all have a vertical zipper like scar on their chests after the operation. Fortunately the members of the `Stent` club have nothing to show off!
I spent a week in the Hospital- two days in the ICU and five  days in a private room.(I promise you an interesting article on my experiences as a patient  in the hospital later)
When I was discharged  I was told to take complete rest, atleast for a week. But it was not to be. Because immediately after my return home, we got busy with the ritutals connected with  Prabha`s first death anniversary &  my plans for  a dream  event on 29th December, where we had decided to celebrate Prabha`s  memory, and all that she stood for, rather than mourning her absence. Though I had done all the meticulous planning for the event  and handed over charge of executing the event to my family members, the tension and anxiety continued, causing anxious moments to my near and dear ones.  Now that the programme is over,  all my tensions are behind me and  having rested well for 36 hours I feel  reasonably  recharged  and hope to be back in action in the next ten days. But with the proviso that I must keep my distance from  fried stuff in any form- be it the  `Murukkus & Thattais ` from Grand Sweets  (which I used to start munching from early mornings) or the variety of starters that go with a dinner at a restaurant/Club or at   parties - like the bondas, bajjies, samosas & fried cocktail idlies not to mention the French fries, cheese kurkures etc. I am yet to get a clearance from my doctor about having the two  `Chotas` of my favourite drink that used to cheer me up three evenings  a week!
Now let me share with you some good tidings in my life during the outgoing year. You may be aware of some of them. But still let me record them  for posterity.  My second book titled `Don`t Flirt with Rural Marketing` - the Handbook on Rural Marketing based on my experience of dealing with rural marketing for nearly 40 years came  off the Press in early October this year and was formally launched in Mumbai on 11th November  at the Cross Word book stall in Kemp`s corner. The Chennai launch happened on 6th December under the auspices of Advertising Club Madras. The Delhi launch is scheduled for 17th Januray,2014 as a part of the Flame Awards function of Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI) of which I was a founder President for four years.
The good news is that based on the extensive  media and word of mouth publicity, the book is selling well. The publisher tells me that he has already placed orders for a reprint .
As you all know since the publication of my autobiography,`Courage My Companion` I started writing articles on a variety of topics and circulating them among my friends and relatives and also uploading them on my blog.  A few have been published by local media. Encouraged by the positive response to my style of writing and goaded by a few friends, I decided to bring out a book containing 70 of my articles. The book tiltled `This & That…Then & Now` , my  third  book in four years, is just  off  the Press and is awaiting a formal launch sometime soon.  I must thank my Publisher Srinivasamurthy of Productivity & Quality Publishing  for  publishing   all my three books.
After all the ups & downs I am happy that the year has ended well for me, with the grand function that the family put  up to commemorate Prabha` memory, on 29th December. A dream event for which I was planning since Prabha`s demise.
Friends who visited me,  days or weeks after Prabha`s demise , used to console me - `Don`t worry- time is a great healer. You will slowly get over the grief & learn to forget  her & get used to a life without a wife!`
While I had no choice but to live without the company of my dear wife  during the last one year, I decided that I will not forget,  easily, a person who had been an integral part of my life. A person  whom I had begun to love deeply , in the last couple of decades!
While I do miss her very badly, (especially during the last ten days recovering from a heart attack, lying alone on my bed), I decided to take up activities which will perpetuate her memory and provide an inspiration to talented women. Women  who don’t have family support or the resources to bring out their talents in the open-and  give them the message  that age is no barrier for pursuing their  creative passions,  because Prabha was an outstanding example of such a person.  Essentially a shy, introverted  and highly domesticated person in her early years  she  blossomed into   an accomplished writer, social activist and much more -after the age of 37. In many ways she was a role model for women.  I am sure many such women with self or family imposed limitations  are languishing in our society and I want them  to come out  of their shells to pursue their passions and live a fulfilling life.
When I set about  thinking  of what I could do to help such women in my own small way I conceived the idea of starting Prabha Rajan Talent Foundation,(PRTF for short),  an informal non registered body without a bank account , depending solely on contributions from the Rajan family.  The basic   objective of PRTF is to encourage  young women from poor families in developing their talents in the  area of creative writing  or drawing.
In the first year of its operations PRTF has  supported  five budding female writers by co-sponsoring the printing of their books   published by Manimekalai Prasuram, a leading Publishing House in Chennai. A Prabha Rajan memorial short story competition in Tamil was conducted by Kalaimagal, the 80 year old Tamil monthly known for its literary excellence.  Another Essay contest in Prabha`s memory was conducted by Ladies Special- a popular ladies monthly in Tamil. Cash Prizes for the  three winners in both  the competitions  sponsored by PRTF were distributed to the winners at the Function on 29th December.
A  deserving girl student from  St.Raphael school  received  a Scholarship for undergoing training in Computer Graphics & animation at my Rotary Club meeting. Many more such ideas to encourage talented, young and deserving girls are in the pipeline.
As you all know Prabha was an accomplished writer of short stories in Tamil.  She has two books –collection of her stories- Kadambam & Thayumanaval to her credit. Unfortunately her own children & grand children cannot read Tamil and appreciate Prabha`s enormous talent for writing. To correct this situation and also to reach Prabha`s stories  to a larger audience I decided to bring out a book containing her select short stories in English. I am grateful to Dr.Geetha  Jayaram, a family friend, who  volunteered to  translate the stories into English. And she has done it very well. Manimekalai Prasuram, who published Thayumanaval in a record time have also  brought out the English book titled `Shyama and other stories` in record time thanks to Ravi Tamilvanan. The book was  officially released on 29th December before  an enlightened audience of 200 people, by well known dignitaries, at TAG Centre, Chennai, owned by my dear friend and ever helpful R.T.Chari. `Shyama` happened to be the third book by Prabha in three years. Six books in all from Rajan family in four years! Could that be a record for a family?
The most heartening part of the function on 29th December, was the scintillating performance of my twelve year old grand daughter Utthara, singing Carnatic music for 45 minutes accompanied by another teenager Mridangist, Subramanian.  Her lovely voice and  the range she displayed coupled with the confidence with which she gave the performance stole the hearts of the audience. As I mentioned in my speech at the function ( which was read out by my brother Seshadri, as I felt I did not have the stamina), I pray God that Uthara continues to work hard to be able to give enthralling performances in all the leading Sabhas of the city, in the future! She made the whole family proud that evening!
Let me sign  off this rather long article  on that Happy note. Since God has given me a new lease of life, you will continue to receive my thoughts on a variety of  topics, until how long,  I don`t know!
I take this opportunity to  wish every one of you, my dear readers, a very Happy & Prosperous New Year!
All the Best & God Bless!