Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hemantha Kalam - 29 'Change is only Constant'

In many ways 2014 had been a year of surprises – sullen and sweet.

On the sullen side, there were several losses that included an indifferent career with equally indifferent income but escalating expenses.

On the personal front I had lost a few persons whose loss would always leave an unfulfilled void.

Dear Narasimhan maama passed away after a brief illness. Will I ever come across another fan of my writings and ‘English’, who always had a sparkle in his eyes and who always was not only fond of my daughters, who were ‘Tittu’ and Tittutoo’, for him, but also my parents and especially my dear dad who to him was a replica of ‘Malcolm Adiseshaiah’ the erstwhile Vice Chancellor of University of Madras?

Then the untimely (is it a time to die?) demise of the young international celebrity Mandolin U Shreenivas (, (,  who apparently succumbed to a liver ailment with which he was battling for some time. How much physical and psychological pain he must have been enduring behind that docile smile and eternal humility of his?

Mandolin U Shreenivas and his father were known to me personally and to my family, since he was about 10 years of age or so. I have seen him diligently practicing on his mandolin. I shall always cherish the time when his father asked me to tutor his son in English but which I could not take up for fear of my own fallible inconsistencies in the language.

Though he reached many summits in his career, his much written and spoken about humility was experienced by me every time I met him. Wherever and whenever I met him he used to pay obeisance with both hands with that unforgettable smile on his face. What did I ever do to him to deserve that respect, will always be an unanswered question.

The Ganesa Temple in our colony will miss his daily circumambulations and his devoted concerts during the Ganesa Festival. Maybe, he has been recalled by Lord Ganesa to be nearer to him in the heavenly abode than being merely present in his temple? His family stays just a couple of lanes away from our place but I am yet to find courage in visiting his family and condole / console the bereavement, as also has been the case with several other cases including the demise of Narasimhan maama and Ramanathan Iyer.

I, especially, owe one to Ramanathan Iyer who was briefly ill and succumbed. He was the one who had confidence in my photography (more than I myself had, I should say) and gave me an opportunity, the first one, to do industrial photography when he was associated with Goodlass Nerolac Paints in Chennai. They needed some photographs and transparencies (photo-slides) in a jiffy and I stood up to the challenge.

After submitting my bill for the services, he took one look at it and said without mincing words, that I was unfit to do any business on my own. I did, indeed, try once to do business after that advice, but as predicted, really did not make it up. And henceforth, I faithfully followed Mr. Iyer’s advice and kept away from any business ventures of my own. He was not much of a talker, but I was sure that he liked me.

Balu Mahendra (, who passed away in February, was not only residing close to my residence but was also close to my heart through his visual work. Many a time, I thought of approaching him to seek apprenticeship under his tutelage. But every time I made up my mind, he used to get involved in some legal case / issue and I used to be put away as I did not savour getting entangled in any of his problems or issues. But just a couple of years before his demise I did have occasion to meet him in person and talk to him. But by that time, my interest in the subject was no longer kindling. 

Another person whom I admired much but never met, though he too was residing quite nearer to our place, was ‘Meesai Murugesan’ originally known as Dr. I. S. Murugesan (, ( The bereavement by his demise was almost unsung. Here was a great person who invented so many music instruments from everyday materials like coconut shells etc., and ran a one-man band called ‘Apoorva Thala Vathiyangal’ (Never before rhythmic instruments). He also acted in over 100 Indian films. Popular for his huge handle-bar moustache, Meesai Murugesan’s was a persona nonpareil.

‘Koothapiran’ known as ‘Vanoli Anna’ (Brother on the Radio) (, was a person I sort of grew with. He was a dramatist and a master story teller and in his demise at an age of 83, the future children have lost an understanding and empathising ‘brother’

'Bapu' the doyen of the Telugu arts and film industry ( ), passed away to join his all time friend Mullapudi Venkataramana.

On the personal front I had lost my aunt, married to my maternal uncle for over 6 decades.

My favourtie city of ‘Visakhapatnam’ or ‘Vizag’ and “the city of destiny” was battered beyond recognition by the ‘Hudhud’ cyclone putting a spanner into the spokes of my plans of my life in the city.

While these have been some irreparable losses, all was not bad.

The sweeter side of the year was that my children kept doing reasonably well. My first daughter seems to be bent on filling her passport with a collection of Entry and Exit seals from different countries. My second daughter could get about three job offers even while in college. My parents and siblings are doing well.

There were friends so many and a few relatives who stood by me whenever and wherever I needed them, with trust and tolerance.

The indifferent jobs kept me rooted to home mostly and to spend more time with my wife so much in trying to ‘understand’ each other; after a married life of 26 years.

My car of over 11 years vintage is still carrying me and my family members to any destination, near and far, without much ado, though it suffers from ‘age related health issues’.

I could pursue my favourite work of researching and reading anything and everything.

I had gifted my daughters with slates when they were young and my first daughter repaid the debt by gifting me a Microsoft ‘Surface’ tablet which, I am sure unintentionally (?), was indeed of the  same size of a writing slate. I became a child again to play games and read books on it. She also had graciously left her ‘Kindle Fire’ at home and I could put quite a lot of free downloadable books onto it and could read them.

My faithful mobile phone of about 6 years died after frequent ailments, leaving me stranded without the knowledge of several contacts. But Facebook gave me several new contacts though various groups and I have been hitting off well on that score. I also could keep my overseas connections in good order.

But the biggest and gratifying fact is that I have fairly succeeded in ‘hunting’ and ‘re-locating’ several of my ‘lost’ school-time classmates. Guys like V. Someswara Rao and V. Umakanth (who notched his own points as a renowned Kannada film director) (, and gals like Varalakshmi Devi Koilaada were discovered almost after a gap of 42 years. While the hunt will continue in 2015 also, I have to say that 2014 had been very kind where I could connect with some three lost guys in one single day! The pleasure I derived out of it cannot be expressed in words and so I am not even attempting it. And we did have a couple of social meetings among some of our school friends who could make it.

I also could re-connect with some of my colleagues from earlier assignments.

I could continue writing this blog and as occasion provided, I could teach a bit here and there. And, I was recognised in the Photographic Society.

2014 taught me one interesting lesson though; I was always looking out to retire early from my professional life. But I have discovered that it is very difficult to laze around and kill time despite getting involved in quite a few multi-various activities.

Borrowing Robert Frost’s poem and tinkering with it a bit, I should say that

“The ‘hols’ were lovely and restful to sleep
But there are so many promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep”

Being 'Static' in life is not as interesting as 'Dynamism' or 'Change' is.
After all ‘Change is the only Constant’

Now, what do you think? You tell me! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyabaad (Bangla), 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) and Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino)

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy
Chennai, India

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