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NANNA



As I am trying to create a website for my father’s centenary, I am wondering what my Nana was to me.


Surely, he was my HERO. He was everything that one expects of a dad.


Loving, caring and considerate.


When Nana was around everything happened. He was fond of fixing things.


Once our Mixer Grinder was not working. He decided to mend it. The whole house got busy. One was bringing the tool box, other ran to get a stool to place the jar on, another bringing the Mixer Grinder etc. After father’s handy work the Mixer Grinder did start working. But my mother had to clear the mess that the whole operation left behind!


Dad taught us swimming, badminton and other outdoor and indoor games too.


We were in Neyveli right from the starting of the mining activities. It was an open cast mine. The over burden had to be removed. There was a huge water reserve below the lignite layer. So, water had to be pumped round the clock to enable excavation of Lignite. This water was stored in a huge open tank which looked like a small lake. Here Nana taught us swimming! There was only one uniform depth in the tank which was like 25 odd feet. Many Sundays we would go there, swim and feast on idly and sambar my mother used to pack and bring.


Water also used to be taken out by boring artesian wells (well from which water flows under natural pressure without pumping)



Artesian Well


We used to stand under this water and enjoy the shower of water falling on us. Nana often took us here to shower and picnic. It was heavenly. Nana was fond of picnics. We used to picnic at the drop of a hat. But preparing for picnic used to be stressful for Amma because he wanted every single thing to be carried for the picnic including his tooth pick and newspaper.



Picnic


Nana took us everywhere and exposed us to a lot of mining and factory building activities. Some times when the targets were getting closer for completion of any factory, he used to visit the site late at night. We too used to go with him and observe all the activities taking place there.


One other time my brother Venu and me accompanied him to see the making of a huge tunnel reservoir for Kaveri water at Mettur dam.


Mettur Dam Tunnel Reservoir for water.


The engineers took us inside the tunnel and were explaining how they are packing the roof to avoid collapse of the roof. Venu and me were afraid the roof may fall on our head any minute and wanted to bolt from there. But Nana was having serious long discussions with the engineers!

I am grateful to Nana for exposing us to rich experiences.


We would find Nana mostly reading either Time Magazine or News Paper


Nana’s favorite chair


Sitting in his favorite reclining chair. That is the time I would go and show my report card. I was not a topper nor was I the worst performer. Still, I wanted a favorable time to show my report card. He would simply glance through and say, “Do better next time.”


I was studying in a Tamil medium school. Nana could clear my doubts only in two subjects - English & Math as he could not read or write Tamil. When I used to go for any clarifications in Math, he would start to explain from the very concept level. Though I enjoyed his teaching, due to lack of time, I avoided going for help.


We used to celebrate every festival with a lot of enthusiasm. One such festival was Ayudha Puja- the day we pay respects to all our tools which make our life live in comfort! Nana would order his cars to be cleaned and polished, his gun to be oiled a day prior to Ayudha Puja. Lot of puffed rice, roasted dal and jaggery was bought to give away to everyone. On the day of the Puja, we all will dress up nicely. We would line up all our things in a proper row. ISUZU car leading the line, then FIAT, scooter (which Nana never used), then bicycles, tool box and the big gun placed on its long wooden box. Nana would do puja then load the gun with just a single bullet and fire towards the sky. Then carefully record the count of used bullets in a diary.



Ayudha Puja


Once there was a terrible train accident where he was involved. River Yasanti was in spate and as the train was crossing a bridge, the bridge breached and last few bogies of the train fell into the river. This happened in the mid of night, 1954 about 75 km from Hyderabad.


Nana’s coach was shattered, Nana woke up to find himself surrounded by broken parts of the coach and passengers screaming and crying and some were dead. He found himself on a wooden plank, probably his berth. He held on to a rod nearby. All around him people were screaming to be rescued. When he tried to pull someone out of water, even a slight change in position was making his plank unstable. He simply stood on the plank steady without a movement for nearly six to seven hours till the break of dawn. Then he could see the rescue party pulling out people to the bank. But they missed Nana standing on the plank as it was right in the middle of broken rubbles. He had to keep shouting till the rescue team could spot him. Rescue team formed a human bridge and Nana walked out stepping on the shoulders of men who formed the bridge. He could find his suit case which got washed to the bank. He got his camera out and took pictures of the accident scene. We were all glued to the radio, the only communication those days. They were announcing the number of deaths which was increasing by the minute. But there was a ray of hope for us because the news reporter announced that all first-class passengers were safe. We were of course over joyed when Nana arrived home. We were awe stuck when we saw the photographs that he himself had taken. Every one appreciated his courage and the frame of mind to capture the accident site in which he was a victim!


Though we lived in large bungalows with handymen provided by the company, Nana encouraged us to do a lot of house hold chores. Many a time we cleaned cob-webs, made beds washed floors etc. It was my job to tidy his meticulously organized table. I had to take extra care to place all things like his huge collection of pens etc., exactly in their places and position, otherwise he would immediately notice any miss placed item. The chassis frame of our Herald car got rusted. Nana bought some paint and emery paper. Nana and myself scrubbed and painted the chassis. Amma objected to me getting into the pit to paint chassis. But Nana said it will be a good experience for me and it was.


He was a scientist and a research scholar. We used to help him to note down and record various observations for his experiments specially for converting fly ash to cement. We also helped him in noting down various observations when he was experimenting on a project to convert lignite into briquettes to be used both for domestic consumption and furnaces. It was a very rich and useful experience for me. This valuable experience helped in my teaching profession.


Then there was another incident during my admission to college. I applied in 5 best colleges in Madras (Now Chennai) and procured seat in all colleges. I wanted to go to SIET college where most of my friends were joining. But Nana said only Women’s Christian College is best for me because none of my old friends are going to be there. He said that I will learn to make new friends, and it will broaden my thinking. Of course, he was right. I made lots of friends and learned to speak in English which was a challenge.


None of my parents accompanied me on the first day of my college. Nana said I need to full fill all admission formalities all by myself. I was the only one standing in the que for paying admission fee who was not accompanied by anyone. Everyone had their parents, accompanying them. I felt like an orphan! But then thanks to Nana’s wisdom I did learn to be independent.

But loving Nana came to my college the very next day just to check that all is well.


I was 46 years old, mother of three, son on job, when I wrote my Master’s in Education exam. Exam center was St. Joseph’s college, Bangalore. I came and stayed with my parents during this period. My father eagerly supervised my studies. Every day of the exam he would drop and pick me up from the exam center even though our driver drove the car. I felt so young and happy that I was still his little loving daughter!

Nana cared for people. Many came to seek his advice. Nana used to give scholarships, give recommendations for getting seat in colleges and jobs. The list is long.


Nana took it upon himself to improve the environment and the status of the area in which he lived. The lush green RMV-II, Dollar colony owes its green cover to Nana. Nana was working in ESCAP then. He was in transfer of Technology. He was associated with Asian Institute of Rural Development activities at that time. He could get a lot of inputs from them and planted all trees which are on either side of the streets in the colony. We lived in Jamshedpur. Whenever I used to visit my parents, I will accompany Nana in his morning walks. We would inspect every sapling and make sure they were growing well. Today people are enjoying his contribution. My father loved yellow blossom. So he got trees which will give yellow flowers planted in the street where his house stood.



Yellow Trumpet Tree in front of his house.

“Ramadhamam” No 22, 2nd cross 3rd main, RMV-II, Bengaluru


Life always has good times and bad times. We sailed through our bad times with Nana’s support and guidance. Most devastating was the time when we lost two of our precious children Sudhir and Madhuri in a fire accident. Nana guided us through this difficult time and helped us to bear the loss and go on with our lives.




His grandchildren Sudhir and Madhuri


His love for Amma was unparalleled. He took her everywhere be it shopping, cultural programs or even official tours abroad. For every major decision he would consult Amma before proceeding. He helped write her bhajans on Lord Rama. She was losing her vision in both her eyes. As she formed lyrics in her mind, she would write them on blank sheets of paper placing a finger to guide her to the second line. Nana would sit with her and re write the lyrics. He would hold her hand and take her everywhere.


Whatever she asked for Nana made sure she got it. He even brought brooms from Delhi in his flight for Amma.


Though he could not sing he appreciated good music. He loved Bismillah Khan’s shehnai, V. Dore Swamy Iyengar’s veena and T. Chowdiah ‘s violin. He would easily distinguish various ragas.


He read a lot of books on all religions and probably was searching for the ultimate truth. He had some issue with his heart valve. He called us up – we were at Jamshedpur that time, before he left to the hospital. It was around 10.30pm. He said,” I have called for an ambulance, it will be coming any minute. Look after your mother,” and he left. Little did we know that it was the last time we would be talking to him. But his hearty laughter, his handsome personality and the values he inculcated in us will remain forever.


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