Saturday, 14 July 2018

Hemantha Kalam - 46 'Mrutyunjaya' has Compromised!

……..In Sanskrit, ‘Mrutyu’ is death and ‘Jaya’ is who conquered. So ‘Mrutyunjaya’ means he who has conquered / defied death……..

14th July, 2017 is a date none in our family could forget as it was on this date that our beloved father Late Venkateswara Rao Pamarty aka Pamarty V. Rao, passed away into eternity.

Exactly one year after, just when I sat to write this blog, I have received a WhatsApp group forward; of a quick video clip by Dada Vaswani, (who, incidentally, passed away on 12th July, 2018) answering a query “When a person dies why do we cry and remember him? When the person is alive we have no value for him. How should we change this attitude? Dada Vaswani answered in one word -‘Gratitude’

This blog is not only to mourn the demise of our father, who in our eyes has been a great personality – unsung - by default and design, but also to express my gratitude for making me what I am; myself. As this is a blog and cannot be written as a biography, I try to restrict myself to write some salient details of him and his calm struggles to survive.

Born in 1931, and the last of three surviving siblings, my dad had an uncomfortable childhood, so to say, as he had to frequently change his schools, as the schools he was studying in the villages of Andhra Pradesh those days, had only a few grades. This perhaps gave him the much needed virtue of adaptability and affability and the survival instinct – without hurting others.

Having lost his father when he was around 16 years of age, and having not much of financial back-up, he had to fend for himself doing odd jobs right from the age of 16. Just a matriculate, his first job was with the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Board. Next was in Bata. After working for a couple or more of years in Bata, on temporary basis, he was politely shown the door as he was quite puny due to under-nourishment and the company wanted their sales persons  to be robust. We are never sure whether this was a genuine policy of the company then, or a ruse / ploy used by his Manager, who perhaps wanted one of ‘his people’ in.

We are proud of the professionalism of our father who, though born into a chaste and revered family, never hesitated to hold the feet of customers while working in Bata. We are also proud that till the end he kept his knowledge of the shoes and sandals and many a time, while visiting Bata show rooms, he used to explain how things could have been better made, with very simple adjustments – to the awe and sometimes to the chagrin of the then current Bata employees.

Sometime during this time, he got married to our mother when he was about 19 and she, a mere 13. Both were acknowledged to be good looking. My father was very handsome and my mother quite beautiful. A few who look at me say that I have taken up mostly from my mother, and a bit after my father too. But I could never grow as tall as my father; neither in height nor in stature and I don’t think I would ever be either. When my father died, during the time of ‘Eulogy’ there were several guests suggesting that we should emulate our father and be like him. Sure, we can try to emulate him, but I swear none can be like our father. He was one unique man and there is not going to be another like him. Period!

Enamoured by the creative opportunities the film industry had, plagued by joblessness and saddled by the burden of raising a family, my father came to Madaraasu (Madras - now Chennai) in December 1955 with just Rs.2 in his pocket, to find his fortune there. He tried to survive by offering services in any field, but mostly related to cinema, as he nourished to become a director one day. He did go up to becoming an associate director for a couple of films, but over a period he did not like the life of people involved in the cinema that he advised all his four children not to have anything in  making a cinema / film. He himself quit from active film work.

But while struggling to survive, he sang playback as a chorus singer. He acted in ‘extra roles’ as they were called those days and which today are referred to as ‘Junior Artistes’. Some paid in cash and some in food coupons in select restaurants and some with ‘rubber’ cheques that bounced. In free times, he used to knit the guts (yes, real guts and not plastic as of today) onto badminton racquets, for almost a tuppence and never commensurate to his efforts and time. I am proud to say that I did acquire this art from my father.

During this time my mother was pregnant with their first offspring (myself) and eventually delivered. But my father who was staying in a bachelor’s room along with some seven more room mates and sharing a lunch for one, with the rest, that too only once a day, could neither come and see his first offspring nor could afford to bring his wife and kid to stay with him.

Having waited for quite sometime, one fine day, my mother landed herself and the child in Madaraasu and insisted on my father to find a place to live together. The struggle trebled for my father, but apparently so was his smile and joy on seeing me – A love and smile that he had for me till the last day of his and I am forever grateful to him for that affection, care and love.

Whether they had money to eat or not, both my parents ensured that I would not starve. Till date, fasting, is not my strong point.

He did not dream big and kept his wants limited. He just wanted to have a hunger and debt-free life, even if small, an own comfortable house and affordable education for his children. Even when he worked for the son of the Governor of Kerala, who went on to become a Vice President and eventually the President of this country and his son, for whom my father was working, a Member of Parliament from a constituency in Madhya Pradesh, my father never wanted to show off his proximity to power, never spread his weight around.

He never liked borrowing and tried to keep within his means. Slowly his hard work started paying and he could buy a small plot of land and construct two rooms of 240 sq feet with plastering only on the inside and asbestos sheets for the roof. Some five years after, he added about another 200 sq feet of two more rooms and after another 5-6 years he constructed about another 240 sq feet of a room. Despite being closest to powers of the country, he was happy to have this small house which is more or less than 700 sq feet till date. And he never visited Delhi, not even once, before he died.

And when the lady, for whom he was instrumental in becoming an actress and a renowned one at that, became the chief minister, not once did he show interest to meet her or curry favour from her. He simply remained himself. No frills or fringes! 

He could get into the special airplanes of the President of the country on several occasions (there were security arrangements alright but the threat of terrorism was unheard about in those days), but he himself flew only a couple of times in airplanes, just a couple of years before his demise and that too only when we insisted that he should really fly and experience flying. He never liked to travel in Air conditioned compartments in trains and always preferred travelling in the 3rd class now called 2nd class. While he used to get reserved travel facilities for his office colleagues, friends and their families, using his friendship with the railway authorities, he and his own family members had to travel only in the 3rd class and later 2nd class sleeper compartments with or without reserving them.

The greatest virtues he had were that he was always enthusiastic to learn new things, he himself being filled with ideas and solutions and generally a positive outlook.

He was multi-faceted and could do many things. He was very good at playing Carroms, Cards and Badminton. He could swim. He could sing very well and play rhythmic instruments. He could knit wire on to badminton racquests,chairs and sofas which he did even a few months before his demise. He could draw, paint, white wash.

The banister on the balcony of our house was done by him where he simply used a cement pipe carefully holed to hold the steel grill rods and filled the cement pipe with concrete so that the pipe will not break. All this, in one day; and just with the assistance of one helper. It’s a point of pride for us to show this piece of work to guests visiting our home.

Despite all these, his health was a matter of concern at frequent intervals. Only when he was on his death bed did a doctor surmise that he must have been suffering from some ‘Primary complex’ sort of an issue, right from his childhood, but which was never properly diagnosed.

He used to have gastric issues, digestive issues leading to issues like Jaundice. Yet, his disposition was always cheerful.

In July, 1971 he was electrocuted and despite people believing or not, he was stuck to a live wire for some 12-13 minutes and survived (for expanded reading on this,  please refer to

During 1979, he was diagnosed with 3rd level of Jaundice, but he survived.

In 1981, I took him on a first ride on my own scooter, when I was not fully conversant with the scooter. He did not blink an eye when I invited him for the ride. He only wanted to encourage. I hardly rode for a kilometer or more, when I raised the accelerator and the scooter shot of and rammed into an oncoming auto-rickshaw. My father was thrown onto the road and the front wheel of a bus stopped inches from his head. He survived.

In 2004, he had a heart stroke that required a by-pass surgical procedure not only to his heart but also to the carotid arteries taking blood to the brain and which was 93% blocked. The total surgery procedure took over 5 hours to be done. The surgeons gave us no guarantee. But he survived.

Sometime during 2007-2008 he had a stroke of Ischaemia, while brewing his coffee in the early morning and fell on to a burning gas stove that caused direct 3rd degree burning on the right side of his face, boiling milk poured on to his torso causing him 2nd degree burns and a bit of trickling of hot milk on to his lower parts causing 1st degree burns. A man who was tolerant to pain (a quality we are seeing today in my sister’s son) he cried out of unbearable pain he had due to the burns. He had to ward off mosquitoes and suffer the oozing burns for almost 6 months. Yet he survived.

In 2017, when he was hospitalised for the Iinterstitial Lung Disease (ILD) he had a massive heart and brain stroke and the entire hospital team attending on him, was a worried lot, as they could not venture on any surgical procedure due to his fragility and age. Yet when he was on ventilator for more than 4 days, even the physicians were skeptical of his recovery. He survived and could even talk in his normal voice after the ventilator was removed, which is considered as an interesting and a rare phenomenon, to say the least.

Whenever he was hospitalised, he became the darling of all the doctors, nurses and other staff that almost all looked after him as their own father or grand father depending on their age. After removing the ventilator, the nurses in the hospital took selfie photographs with him admiring him for his cooperation and ability to survive. He was a patient patient and very disciplined on his medical routine. He never missed his medicines and extremely organised, as he was with any activity he took interest in, concern to and associated with.

A person who lived simply, achieved steadily his simple dreams, lead a financial trouble-free retired life, kept himself engaged all the time and enjoying life as it came to him with that ‘enthusiastic twinkle’ in his eyes and a wonderful smile on his face, defied death on so many occasions,  finally compromised to death due to ILD which several physicians could not identify and by the time they did, it was too late. Perhaps he could have survived this too, but it appeared that he wanted to leave. What else can explain his doing ‘Praayopavesam’ (abstinence of all) in the final days – letting go.

I am grateful that I was touching his feet when he eased into the nether world and that I am his eldest son, bestowed with the privilege of doing his obsequies.

Yes, I miss you so much dad, as do every one in our family and in the colony, but I don’t need to remember you as you are not a memory. I am your remnant and you are in me, with me, for me, forever and ever till I meet you again. Loved you Dad and continue to love you.

I only hope that, as when you came to Madras when I was conceived, you are now gone to the netherworld to find a place for me, to beckon me soon and dad, I am ready to join you, again. Just take me. I am here and waiting.

But dad, one doubt! How would I be able to recognise you, among so many others,  when I am there? You have found so many solutions in life. Please Dad, take me and show me this solution too.

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Hemantha Kalam - 45 "Breaking Routine"

‘Ishaaron ko agar samjho
Raaz ko raaz rahane do…’
goes the song in the Hindi film ‘Dharma’.
It means (by a free translation) “if you understand the signs, you will leave things be.”

The problem is, my mischievous creative mind won't let it be!

In the South East Asian Countries, the floor on the ground in an apartment building is called ‘First Floor’ and the floor above the ‘Second Floor’ and so on. In India, the same would be referred to as ‘Ground Floor’ and ‘First Floor’ and so on respectively.

I rarely saw the ‘Sun rising’ in my life!

GOD is same to all!

Wife and daughter went out!

In India and perhaps in other countries, people offer flowers to their gods while praying.

I stay a few miles away from my mother's place.

Mrs. RS scheduled the first two business hours for an important meeting.

My aging mother was lamenting that someone is plucking all her flowers from the plants and bushes in our parental home, in the early hours, every morning even if she is waking up early to find out the ‘thief’

Mrs. RK and Mrs. RR are growing plants on the ground behind their apartments as they have a patch of land prepared for the purpose.

I had been a ‘late bird’ most of my life.

Attending the meeting organised by Mrs. RS is very important for me if I respect my bread and butter.

Mrs. RK and Mrs. RR stay in the ‘Ground Floor’ apartments in my complex.

My mom, in her home, is still struggling to identify the ‘flower thief’ and wishes to give a piece of her mind to him or her and find peace in that.

If I have to attend the meeting without being late, I have to break my routine of waking up late in the morning.

The hibiscus plant of Mrs. RK has burst with blossoms and some very attractive flower plants being nurtured by Mrs. RR competed with the hibiscus.

Finally I had put the alarm ringing to rest and woke up from my night's rest!

Now I see a person wearing a ‘Lungi’ (the Myanmar’s ‘Long Yi’ became the Lungi in India) emerges from one of the apartments behind our block.

I put the milk on the stove for my coffee.

The flowers are such a beauty!

Mr. K and Mr. R also help sometimes in nurturing their backyard gardens

Today, don’t see Mrs. RK or Mrs. RR anywhere around, yet.

Though stay in the same complex, never met the guy though had occasional glimpses of him.

All blame to be on Mrs. RS for arranging a meeting in the morning. J

Saw the guy from the apartment behind us wearing a shroud. Shrewd idea he must have thought but then it helped him in no way!

Started brushing my teeth.

I am in the first floor and above the apartment of Mrs. RK.

The guy looked this aside and that aside and started the operation.

Made the coffee and took the mug into the balcony.

I could see the guy intent on his 'business'

I was awestruck.

Operation in ‘our’ garden completed.

Almost all flowers from all the plants found their way onto his plate.

Mother still unable to find the ‘guy’ doing this in her home.

Not even one single flower left for the ‘GODs’ of Mrs. RK and Mrs. RR.

Remembered Mrs. RK chiding my daughter (when she was a kid – well ‘she’ here is my daughter) and explaining the virtue of leaving the flowers be on the plants and not to pluck them.

If only Mrs. RS did not schedule the meeting!

A smile spread on my face but hid well in my overgrowing and un-tended beard.

My father was lifting the barbed wire of the fence of our neighbour’s house.

Some very exotic flowers beckoning us.

I squeeze in. some 55 years ago.

My father’s ‘GODs’ were decorated well, well almost every day.

Ah confessions and confessions! Never afraid of them. :-)

Thank you Mrs. RS, for those ‘naughty’ fond memories.

The guy is returning home with the bounty of flowers, on his large plate. Touches fondly, his almost never used but just displayed ‘Toyota Altis’ or is it ‘Hyundai Verna’ whatever,  before vanishing into his apartment.

His ‘Gods’ should be happy today, like every day.

My mom is still trying to locate the ‘thief’ L

Karma returns! J

If only the ‘routine did not break’!

Yeah? Well, folks, what say you? Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Hemantha Kalam - 44 Gain'Full' - 2017!

In about an hour, the Christian year 2017 will be coming to an end and 2018 would be starting. So I was toying with a few ideas to write a blog which, for quite a long time, I haven’t written, as this year had been quiet eventful for me. I had suffered more losses this year than in any year after I started opening up to this world.

However, I have always been accused of being a ‘Devil’s Advocate’ as, by an innate gift, I can smell trouble before it can start and warn the consequences resulting in my being branded as a negative thinking and negative spreading man. So, for a change, I thought I shall write this blog of mine, only gainfully. My attempt is as below.

The whole of the year;

I ‘Gained’ at least an average of 200 ‘Good Morning’ messages every day on my ‘WhatsApp’ though I had to lose both my storage space on the mobile and at least one to two hours every day to remove these messages. Another ‘Gain say’ from this exercise is that I started receiving the ‘Good Morning’ messages mostly from people who never cared a tuppence for me in the normal day-to-day life. I also gained some messages from rank strangers.

I notice that Dr. Batra’s ‘Gained’ entry into my privacy, through at least two text messages on SMS, at an average, every week and sometimes days, assuring to take care of my balding head, while I was totally at a loss as to how I can let them know that I have not been bald in the first place and presently whatever balding is happening, most of it is due to my pulling hair in finding ways to prevent messages from Dr. Batra. I have to say that barring serious legal action, there does not appear to be a way around, as they seem to be ‘gainfully’ shameless in their efforts and the onslaught continues unabated. It is as if that Dr. Batra’s has decided to make the whole country bald first, before starting on whatever their treatment is all about.

I was ‘Gaining’ at least 3 calls every day from HDFC Bank and one from AXIS Bank offering me Credit Cards, Insurance and Personal Loans, and they were at a loss to deal with me as I have reached an age where they can offer me none. Yet, these banks have been ‘Gainfully’ employing someone or the other to keep calling me because they have my mobile number on their roster and all of us are at a loss to find a solution as to how to get rid of each other.

I also ‘Gain’ from intruding but tantalising Escort Service messages, which I am embarrassingly at a loss to find ways in hiding from the knowledge of my wife and more importantly from my growing daughters.

I 'Gain' at least a dozen calls offering me attractive offers on club memberships, appeals for supporting ailing patients, adopted children, blood donations and what not, leaving me many a time at a loss and distraught for genuinely being helpless.  

I see the continuous 'Gaining' of such calls and messages on a daily basis, in volleys, as I am continuously at a loss to know as to how these promo-senders and promo-callers are able to attack me despite my mobile phone number being listed under 'DO NOT DISTURB'.

I continue ‘Gaining’ any amount of moral tidbits and videos out of which, honestly, not more than 1% are interesting and the rest of all only result in loss of time in viewing, saving and erasing. While saving some of them to my desktop I surely 'Gain' the videos but lose space on the hard disk of my desk top computer. As a professional consultant who charges his clients by the hour, I am really at a loss to find out from whom I can ‘gain’ this losing time and the resultant loss in income.

On a daily basis I 'Gain' as a double whammy when posters send me messages separately and also post the same messages in groups too. I am at a loss to find ways of conveying to them and convincing them that they are making fools of themselves and myself in the bargain when I give no consent for that.

(As a result, I have for the past one week decided not to forward any messages on WhatsApp except to my immediate family members. Now I have to see if any outsiders 'Gain' entry to this elite club of 'my immediate family members')

I have ‘Gained’ considerable amount of head-ache in filing my monthly GST returns while losing at least 3-4 productive days in a month answering queries as to why I am spending, on whom and what I am spending my hard earned money upon (mind you I am in a democratic country) and whether the receiving parties are also registered under GST and if not why GST payable by them should not be covered by me etc., etc.

I have ‘Gained’ a short-term teaching assignment while I had to actually lose an opportunity to present my findings, in a paper I helped write on the ‘Small Scale Farmers in the Lower Mekong Region Countries’, at a World Bank forum, at that Mecca of all Indian Dreamers - Washington DC of the US of A. Yes, No less!

I have ‘Gained’ a couple of minor consultancies this year while I had to lose at least four important and major consultancies.

I have 'Gained' visiting two new countries, but lost opportunities to visit a couple of old ones that I had to visit for ‘gainful’ employment.

I have to confess that due to this, I have ‘Gained’ more free time though lost a good amount of possible income.

Recently, on a visit to Jaipur on business, I was forced to ‘gain’ the knowledge, with a considerable amount of loss of face, that Hindi could not have been my mother tongue or first or second or even third language, in school.

I have ‘Gained’ demand for a residential plot that I own and wanted to sell, but the prices fell thanks to the demonetisation last year and the fear of transparency in land dealings and tightening of various regulations, leading to losses from the expected ‘gains’.

I earnestly looked out to ‘Gain’ a good tenant for my apartment but still am at a loss to clinch a deal.

I continue ‘Gaining’ bondage with my 13 year old car (In fact, recently when the petrol lid cap door became rusted and fell off, I had to hold it by bonding with a double tape) as I am at a loss to find the wherewithal to buy a decent new car.

Talking about cars, I ‘Gained’ money and some intriguing experiences, by using the Ola and Uber cabs, especially the pool / share facilities, though I did have to lose considerable time in going around the city in circles, yet 'gaining' on learning of some hitherto unknown places that evaded and eluded me in all these years of my stay in Chennai and other places in India that I frequent.

I have ‘Gained’ wonderful memories to be retained of, as I have lost my father’s cousins ‘P. L. Narayana’ and ‘Ganduri Rajasurya’ (passed away today), my dear friends ‘C. Ravindranath’ (s/o the famous Telugu film actor late Nagabhushanam and my class mate since kindergarten) ‘G. Shashibhushan’, ‘Bandit Sisoukda’ - guys who helped me immensely, my favourite film actors, Vinod Khanna and Shashi Kapoor during the year.

This also has been a year where I have been blessed to ‘Gain’ an opportunity to serve my ailing father in his last days, only to lose him in the battle finally. This left me and others in our family tearful, yet ‘gainful’ to cherish the void and absence with his wonderful memories and the courage that he bestowed upon me by his way of upbringing, for continuing this life without his physical presence.

I notice that I am also ‘Gaining’ on my years and steadily losing my good health and that it augurs well to write a “positive blog” like this one before I am totally written off as a total loss or a negative person, forever. J

Now my dear friends and readers, please do tell me; has the year not been “Gain’Full’ – 2017”? At least, for me?

Yeah? Well, folks, what say you? Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Hemantha Kalam-43 "Vijayawada Wizardry"

I hail from the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh and within the district, while Machilipatnam has been the district Head Quarters or the capital, it is Vijayawada which has been more famous.

Though my parents ‘migrated’ to Madras, now Chennai of Tamil Nadu, some 6 decades ago, I have been visiting Vijayawada on and off, for meeting relatives or on business work and so on. My initial visits, in my earlier childhood, are not much worth mentioning excepting for some good personal memories.

However, in the past few years, I am awe struck every time I visit Vijayawada. Last week I was in Vijayawada for a day, to fulfill the obsequies of my recently deceased beloved father and noticed some interesting developments of Vijayawada. The roads are so good and clean that they are comparable to those in many developed countries. However, that the population cramming continues to happen is due to the national phenomenon. But thankfully, some of the old traditional remnants of Vijayawada like the small lanes which are tight even for a motor-cycle to pass through, like this one in Durgapuram, continue to exist.

A lane in Durgapuram, where even a motor-cycle needs to go in carefully.

In the afternoon, when my cousin took us out for lunch, I was in for more discoveries.

We went to a restaurant called ‘Sree Ramayya Mess, Caterers & Idly’ which looked to me like an out-patient (OP) ward in a hospital. My cousin reassured me that despite the looks of the restaurant, the taste of the food is great and can easily be the best in the town. The idly part of the name is apparently because throughout the day and night while the facility is open, idly is available there, he added.


 Sree Ramayya Mess, Caterers & Idly

The waiting hall in the restaurant with clear indications of prices of meals 

There are rooms with indications of prices for meals that start with Rs.100 for a simple meal to a Rs.200 for a gorgeous meal that includes rotis, a bottle of mineral water, sweets, curd and paan and what not. Once you choose which meal you wish to have or can afford, you go into that hall and appropriately offered meals would be served accordingly. No question of wasting time in checking any menu etc. The whole thing was working on factory precision. We chose the simple meal hall and after tasting the food, I had to doubt the taste of my cousin; as excepting the Gherkin Chutney, which was unusual and I liked it  a lot, nothing else was out of the world and not even earthly.

Then in the evening, we were going to the airport and the road to the airport was quite green and impressive. There is no comparison to the airport that I saw in November 2015 and what I saw now in July 2017. Though it is still petite, the airport is more slick and savvy.

 Vijayawada Airport in November, 2015

    Departure Foyer of Vijayawada Airport in November, 2015 

Departure foyer of Vijayawada Airport as found in July 2017

But what impressed me was the business savvy of a coffee kiosk within the departure foyer of the Vijayawada airport. After a few minutes of waiting in the chairs of the foyer, this girl with a genial smile on her face approached each and every waiting person and asked whether they would like to have coffee or tea or flavoured milk or even varieties of soups. We came early to the airport and to kill some time we had ordered for coffee. Within a few minutes, piping hot coffee was served at our seats. The taste and hygiene was fine and I found the price to be quite reasonable too.  

An hour or so later, we found our flight being delayed by a couple of hours and found ourselves ordering a cup of soup each with the same girl. Again good and piping hot soup was served.

I was clearly intrigued and so sauntered to the kiosk to inquire on what prompted them to offer this service. There I met Mr. Manne Venkata Lakshmoji, whose brain child was this proactive idea. He said that instead of waiting for the customers to come to his kiosk, lugging their luggage, by offering them the services at the convenience of not leaving their place or luggage, he ensures more business by enticing with both quality and convenience. Not only that; when he approaches the customers, they have only one choice - his offerings. But if the customers get up and walk, they may be distracted by other attractions and eventually get more choices from the other kiosks as well and thus there will be competition and business loss.

 Coffee Hub and its crew!

  Mr. Manne Venkata Lakshmoji, who owns the hub and the idea of taking service to the waiting people in the airport

I have been flying since mid-1980s and in several countries too. But what I experienced in the Vijayawada airport has been unique and pioneering. I am yet to come across this type of service, in any of the airports that I have visited so far.

Once we checked in and went inside the airport, after security checks, we found Hotel Fortune Murali Park was also offering snacks in a similar mode – served at our seats.

Presently in the outer foyer, Mr. Manne seems to be holding the fort but it would only be a matter of time when competition catches up and he would need to think, inventively, again.

But till that time, let us congratulate Mr. Manne for his pioneering work and wish him good luck!

Well, folks, what say you? Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Hemantha Kalam - 42 Share, Share and Save!

I am retired, but then I work for my living - with a difference! After working for over four decades at the disposal of time, I now have the luxury of working on my time. For my local outings, I drive my own car, but once the cab aggregators Ola and Uber downed their prices on cab rates, I am more inclined to be chauffeured than drive myself.

So on 14th April, 2017, the Tamil New Year day, I was on my way to Chennai City Centre and my business there was at 6.00 pm. Weary of parking issues on a holiday, I had requested for a ‘Shared-Cab’ at about 4.30 pm with ample time to spare and buffer any traffic issues. The mobile alert said that my cab is due in about five minutes. I locked my apartment and sauntered down to the gate to board the cab which arrived after a minute of my reaching the gate. It was already occupied by an elderly lady and lightly made up, buxom, girl in her early 20s or so.

I occupied my seat and the cab started on its trip. I noticed that the girl in the back seat was speaking to some person over her mobile phone and that she did not make any efforts of  keeping her voice low or concealing the contents of her conversation or her emotions. About a mile later, the elderly lady dropped off and only the two of us passengers and the cab driver continued on.

Now the girl’s conversation, started taking interesting turns with vivid description of how she was drunk the previous day and how she went on a sandwich job with two guys and how she enjoyed it. From her conversation, which we could not help from overhearing, it appeared that she is a supporting actress in south Indian films (earlier they were referred to as ‘extras’) and she is living a carefree life. She was criticizing the personal mannerisms of some well-known film stars and was giggling while narrating. The conversation that continued was erotic at the maximum and exciting at the minimum. I was not sure for whose benefit this conversation was taking place. Is this a new way of enticing and soliciting? Looks like, I have to learn some new tricks in packaging and marketing field.

Now, believe me, this conversation kept on non-stop for at least next 40 minutes till she got down, ostensibly to visit a ‘client’, at MRC Nagar (such an upmarket and posh area of Chennai, that after all my years of work, I doubt whether I would be able to even hire an apartment, let alone own one).    

After she got off, I had requested the cab driver to let all the window glasses down to allow the ‘energy’ created by her to be diluted by fresh air and asked him how could he drive with concentration while listening to such ‘lively life stories’. He said that comparing to what he experiences regularly what we have seen or heard is nothing. He said that it has become quite common to see, nowadays, especially during the night drives, girls, with or without escorts, being drunk or pretending-to-be-drunk, being scantily dressed or sometimes losing their clothes or sometime wearing clothes in the cab in a hurry and all sorts of rot happening in the back seats.

If despite such ‘attractions’ er distractions, the Chennai drivers are able to be heads above shoulders in cab related crimes, when compared with several other cities in the country, I have to salute their self-restraint and discipline. Apparently knowingly or unknowingly they follow a regional political party of Tamilnadu’s tenet ‘Kadamai’ (Duty), ‘Kanniyam’ (Integrity) and ‘Kattupaadu’ (Discipline)!

If all the drivers across the country are as self-restrained as the Chennai cab drivers, perhaps Ms. Kalyani Prasher would not have found material for her article ‘Sharing is Daring’ (9th May, 2017, The Hindu,, that has inspired this blog of mine now.

I was introduced to sharing a paid local conveyance in Kolkata in 1999 when I used to commute in shared auto-rickshaws (Tuk-Tuks in several countries) where from Tangra Crossing to Park Circus, I just needed to pay Rs.5/= There is no bargaining or any hassle with the driver or with the co-passengers. These autos used to travel from one point to another and always in the designated tracks only, like blinkered horses.

Later, the introduction of cheap priced car vans found ‘shared-autos’ of a different variety, across many cities in the country, which also have eased the burden of costs as well as the vagaries of travelling in a public transport. However, the greed of many of these shared-auto drivers saw that passengers were being packed like sardines on some busy routes, and that was when the ‘air-conditioned comfort’ of proper cabs by the aggregators stepped in.

I have to say that the term ‘air-conditioned comfort’ is a deceptive description and not applicable to all cabs, as many of the cabs plying on Chennai roads are vehicles made out by a highly respected and visible, century old traditional business house of India, but which have the most inefficient air-conditioners fitted on to the cabs. In summer it is ‘mid-day’s nightmare’ to be cooped up in such cars where even the AC kept at maximum hardly provides relief. Assuming that the cabs are not maintained well, the pity is that even new cars introduced into the trade hardly perform and provide any succour in the sweltering heat. Every time I see that I am drawing this model of the cab, I cringe, but can’t do much as I can be penalised for cancelling a cab and even if I do so, there is no guarantee that the next car could be of a different model. I wish that the aggregators would find a way of giving a choice of model of cars also, apart from the present Micro, Mini, Sedan, Prime and SUV, so that the passengers can choose a comfort suitable to their pocket.

Occasionally there are also some irritating factors, but thankfully not regularly, in hiring cabs from the aggregators. One of the aggregators seems to have tinkered with the Mobile App that nowadays the share-cabs need not necessarily pick passengers in the line of a particular route but can take detours upto 4-5 kms radius and sometimes, back and forth too. And then there are those drivers who wish to listen to atrocious and loud music which is an excuse for music – maybe I am getting old and out of fashion and that the youth prefer such incomprehensible, irritating sounds and noise as music. The new generation seems to have given an entire new definition to melody. And then you have drivers who keep their own private conversations on the mobile phone while driving

Except a rare driver who is irritated with himself, his passengers and his profession, that he takes it out on the roads by irresponsible honking and driving, most of the drivers are nice, polite and do their job well. Over hundreds of rides so far, I think I gave adverse ratings to only two or three drivers.

There are graduate drivers. I have been driven by engineering students who drive cabs part-time (talk of dignity of labour) to augment income for their studies and expenses and then there are also fully graduated engineers who could speak reasonably good English and who always refuse a tip. There are cab owners running small fleets, but who have attached their cars to the aggregators, who also drive to understand the pulse of the trade and the passengers’ new thinking.

In general, I like sharing a cab and shall continue to do so till the services are offered. But I have this lurking feeling that like ‘everything shall pass’ this mania of sharing-a-cab or even the cab aggregation may see a dip in the business soon due to two reasons.

If innovation is one, the other is the stress these drives are creating on the drivers and their lives. I am not a psychologist or a physician, but as an experienced person I can say that no driver can take the chaotic city traffic conditions for long and certainly more than two years. Sooner or later they would realise that driving from Kanyakumari to Kashmir could be easier and less strenuous.

This could create a dearth for experienced and city knowing drivers. As it is, many of the drivers in this business are migrating from the neighbouring districts and several of them know neither the city routes nor they are well-versed with the GPS maps provided by the Mobile Apps and in any case the GPS maps themselves are not updated with the latest traffic changes in the city.

Yet, I continue to like the facility and when I am in a hurry, I request a separate cab for myself but when I have time to be splurged, I go for a shared-cab all the way and try to enjoy the trip thoroughly. It works out cheaper, provides entertainment, gives me an opportunity to network and establish new profitable relations and most importantly affords me a view of Chennai that I have not or could not see so far. I am also sure that for writers such trips down the city roads would provide immense story ideas.

But most importantly, when more and more people start sharing the cabs and do not take their own vehicles they are helping the city de-choke, give out more parking space, reduce carbon emissions, save the environment, save personal stress and save money too.
So, if you are at the disposal of the time, request your own cab! But if time is at your disposal, Share a cab, Share experiences and Save the environment. It will be quite interesting. Trust me, I can swear by it. All you would need is positive inclination!

Well, folks, what do you think? Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hemantha Kalam - 41 4 Decades of 'Disrespect'?

I normally strive to stay away from controversies, any of them, even if remotely possible. But this time around, I thought I shall share my two cents of thoughts on this.

On the 30th November, 2016, the Supreme Court of India has ordered that all cinema halls in the country shall screen and play the national anthem before the start of the cinema and all members of the audience shall stand in respect during the playing of the national anthem. As is expected of the ‘Independent and Free’ country, there have been several reactions, for and against, from the people.

I have been witnessing quite some debates, reading news articles on the ‘after effects’ of the order on screening and playing the national anthem in cinema halls before the screening of the actual film / movie, and was just passing on.

But, yesterday, ‘What price peace in a movie hall’ a feature by former colleague dear Vaishna Roy, in The Hindu dated 18th February, 2017 ( urged me to say my piece and be done with it (hopefully?)! J

Well, there are several questions to start with.

When should the National Anthem be played, where and why?
Should one stand up when the national anthem is being played and why?
Will that be a measure of patriotism?
If somebody cannot stand up because of physical issues, how will the ‘voluntary moral police’ know of that?  

And blah…blah…blah….

Now to answer the above questions, in my humble opinion (IMHO), national anthems can be played before or after any gathering of people in the country, with maybe an exception to individual obituary related programmes. Respecting the national symbols and the anthem, again IMHO, is not to be an anathema. And how long is it going to take? The official duration of the Indian National Anthem is 52 seconds. Can’t those, who are able to, afford to stand up for those 52 seconds in respect of a country - your own country? To me, experience proved that they can’t, and to the chagrin many won’t (but then more about it will follow). Well, such standing up may not be counted as patriotism, but certainly be as a respect.

‘Why should we be forced to do this? We go to films for watching the film. This order forces us and we are tensed when forced’ a response of one cine-goer. Now one tends to ask; are we not watching lengthy commercials before and during the cinema, however repetitive or irritating and jarring to the ear that they maybe and are? Aren’t we? In fact ‘WE’ are paying for their thrusting their products and services (paid again, mind you) on ‘US’!

‘Nationalism doesn’t mean standing up for the national anthem, it means standing up for the country, for what’s right. So encourage that’ (!

Agreed! And as cinema halls do attract huge gatherings (well, depending on the marketing of the cinemas being screened at the time), would cinema halls not be a better place to re-start that? 

Now, why the words re-start?

If I remember right, all cinema halls in the country used to screen the Tricolour (of course, in those days in Black and White) and play the national anthem since 1962 after the Indo-China war ‘after’ the screening of the film / movie was over to inculcate nationalism and patriotism too perhaps. But I used to see, without a let up, the audience rushing, no, actually clambering and scrambling, out of the cinemas, sometimes even sacrificing the viewing of a most thrilling climax; just because they felt it a chore - to stand up in silence - for 52 seconds.

Having been brought up with quite a bit of nationalist values, this running away in the end of the screening was both annoying and disgusting to me. Annoying because those rushing out were disturbing those few who wanted to remain and disgusting because of the value they were attaching or rather not attaching to the National Flag and the Anthem. As a proud NCC alumni cadet (, and following the national anthem and symbols with reverence, this blatant running away from cinema halls was more deplorable

Sometime around 1975 the compulsory screening and playing of the national flag and the anthem respectively in the cinema halls was rescinded. Forty one years later the practice is being re-promulgated. So does this mean that for about 41 years, the citizens, that too the cinema-goers were disrespecting the flag and the national anthem? No, not exactly!

But again IMHO, if a government wants to inculcate national values and nationalism, in the growing generation and enhance in the existing generations, is it bad or wrong? You give a choice and people do not practice. When people do not learn and practice, there could be a danger of such values mis-interpreted or slowly fade away leaving a country of people with hardly any nationalistic values.

In fact, I can say that today, such a situation has already set in. If one listens to carefully, one realises that many people do not sing the anthem with the proper pronunciation or punctuation. I have heard many a time people inter changing the words ‘Utkala’ and ‘ucchala’ and most people sing ‘jalasidaranga’ than ‘jaladhi taranga’

So, rather than just make the standing for the national anthem compulsory, I feel the government should really concentrate on making the people realise the true meaning of the anthem and the importance attached to it and this should start in schools; and not at the child level, but at the teachers’ level. I can swear that most teachers do not understand the meaning of the importance of the national anthem themselves. This probably can ease several misconceptions among different sections of the people too.

Some of the objections are due to the language which cannot be properly uttered by some people using other and different languages. Maybe, if the anthem was just a musical theme, devoid of any words, this question might not have arisen but now that there has been an agreement on this anthem, at one point of time, let us learn this properly and practice and respect.

Let the people understand what nationalism is and what nationalistic values are. In our case, maybe there is an urgency to even develop federalist values, in the cause of welfare and sharing resources among all states.       

Well, folks, what do you think?

Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea).

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India