A Lifelong journalist and editor who has made the introduction of speakers into an art- S.R.Madhu has atlast come out with his first book. Titled `Windows to the World`, it has a selection of his famous circulars about the speakers at the weekly meetings of Rotary Club of Madras South (RCMS) . He has been organising these meetings for the last 18years as the Club`s Programme committee chairman and enticing members and their guests with the circular.
While Madhu is famous for his introduction of speakers, I had the privilege of introducing Madhu to RCMS twenty years ago. I have had a ringside view of the tremendous time & efforts he puts in to identify a good speaker, gets their biodata and talks to them about the topic to be covered, does his own reasearch on the topic before he shoots of a circular to the members each of which is a master piece in effective communication. Since a copy of these circulars also go to the speakers, it is not uncommon for many speakers to start their talk with a note of thanks to Madhu for the introduction but also complain in jest that Madhu has stolen the thunder out of their talk by covering several points from their presentation in the circulars.
While many Clubs complain about their inability to get good speakers, Madhu believes that “there is no dearth of good speakers in Chennai. This is a happening metro, it`s an intellectual capital, a film capital, a music capital. It has businessmen, economists, entrepreneurs, scientists lawyers, sportsmen, writers, singers, & dancers. It is a vibrant city politically, economically , socially. It has scores of achievers young & old. It has a little army of former IAS officers, plus thousands of youth with stars in their eyes and fire in the belly. Besides most of Chennai-ites are loquacious and they love to talk”
No wonder Madhu has been able to get excellent speakers week after week to address the Club.
Madhu`s book was first unveiled at an Installation meeting of Rotary Club of Madras South at which Natarajan Nagoji, a member of the RCMS was installed as the District Governor. Madhu credits Nagoji for motivating him to come out with the book. The book is an excellent reference book not only for Rotary and other Clubs who are looking for good speakers but is also in a way a mini directory of `whose who` in Chennai.
To give you an idea about the contents of the circulars let me give you a couple of excerpts from the book.
About Sandeep Narayan:
“ Sandeep is as fluent and mellifluous a speaker as he is a singer. The American upbringing is obvious but the emotional content is Indian- nay Tamil!. The Indian influence on Sandeep was enriched last year when he married Radhe, a beautiful Bharata Natyam dancer and daughter of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. Story-telling, public speaking, music. Sandeep excels in all three. Good reason for you to dump other priorities on Tuesday and listen to Sandeep Narayan”
About Dr.Anurdha Uberoi who gave a talk on Punjabis in Chennai;
`And Punjabis? Vibrant, Boisterous. Loud. They work hard, play hard, sing with zest and dance with energy. They live life king-size. The women? svelte, smart, slim ( till they get married), milk and roses complexion, articulate. They exude confidence & charm. Kushwant Singh put it better,” Punjab is known for lusty men and busty women`
Anuradha thinks that Chennai-ites are bit distant and reserved compared to the folks back at home. Make sure to give her a warm welcome.”
About Srikala Varma who spoke on `Know Your eyes`;
“You would not associate royalty with Opthalmology. And not Bharata Natyam training either. But Srikala is no common princes. You will agree when you meet and listen to her.”
As N.Ram says in his Foreword, `the book is a continuing essay in the science and art of communication`.
A Post Graduate diploma Holder in Journalism with a Gold medal from Rajendra Prasad College of Mass Communication , Mumbai, Madhu started his career with Times of India, Mumbai in 1964. After spending 15 years in mainstream journalism with TOI and American embassy in Mumbai & Delhi as deputy managing editor of the SPAN magazine, he switched over to development journalism when he joined the `Bay of Bengal` project of FAO- United Nations in India dealing with fisheries. As the International Information Officer of the project he wrote, edited and produced scores of reports, books, brochures and video films , creating a new benchmark in U.N. field journalism.
It has taken over 50 years for Madhu to come out with his first book. “ a book that gives an idea of the abundance and variety of the talents active in Chennai. A book that is also a tribute to Chennai”. I am glad to learn that he has a couple of more books in the pipeline.
The above article has appeared in the Madras Musings issue dt. 16-31,2016