/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": Music's Bylanes IV - some Bric-à-Brac before Music

Monday, March 25, 2013

Music's Bylanes IV - some Bric-à-Brac before Music


" Narayan was always known for his terrific wit. But one thing stands in my memory. It was the time when he had lost his only daughter Hema and we had gone to pay condolence at his Chennai home. I was concerned as to how he would have taken her death. But the poignant words he uttered when he saw me, still rings in my ear and is a lesson for many in this world as to how to deal with life."

Narayan simply said, "Hema just jumped the queue," like a true philosopher.

- K. Srikantiah [ Courtesy: Treasure Trove of Katcheris by N Niranjan Nikam – Deccan Herald ]

In some ways, the photograph (below) is momentous – especially in the memory of a young man who was associated with it.

Families: R.K Narayan, R.K. Pattabhi and the Srikantiah’s

It came together during the days when India’s great matinee idol Dev Anand was negotiating the script of ‘The Guide’.

“Ah, you just missed him, he was here just now!” was Narayan’s remark to the young man who beamed wide with a certain hope.

Narayan was never happy with the outcome of the movie version of ‘The Guide’. It didn't fit in with his profile.

He had no use for the tinsel world of a Bombay or ‘Bollywood’, where the essence and spirit of a book’s theme could not be captured without resorting to gimmicks, without a foppery of dance and music and where essential characters were reduced into made-for-movie characterizations and styles. In this movie adaption, they had even gone to the lengths of introducing a tiger for some entertainment value.

He made his feelings known in one of his most sarcastic of jibes, to ‘Life’ magazine in the USA. There was for some time, a tension between Bollywood’s evergreen hero and India’s famous author in English.

The young man of whom we spoke , earlier, had for many a decade held on to an original copy of the publication from Life. But he seemed to have lost it, without even knowing how. It might have come in handy here, for a posting. The immaculate Mr. Srikantiah, too, seemed not to possess it any more. A serious search and query to Life Magazine Publications also went nowhere.

Memories of R.K.Narayan these days, remain at best, wistful.

The memorable times with him, or with a Semmangudi or K.V.Narayanaswamy have to be re-engineered. As always, we are inspired to lean on , Mr. Srikantiah, to take us to the very places where there were hours and hours of a walk, conducted in quietly animated discussions around the grounds of a beautiful Palace nestled at the foot of Chamundi Hills (it now serves as a grand hotel).

The Lalitha Mahal Palace
Courtesy: Commons.wikimwdia.org

R.K. Narayan, in essence, was but a very truthful man (besides any human quirks or stubborn perceptions he may have held onto). He wrote about life exactly as his conditioning's in India afforded themselves.

He wrote as much about the anxious feelings of a cobbler, pushed into his daily predicament with time and money, both of which stood poignantly still for him as he might narrate the insecurities of a ten year old who might suddenly find himself plucked out harshly by his elders from the bowels of blissful sleep, for the sake of a miserable and ‘yukki’ ‘oil bath’ just before the advent of a sun rise.

While Narayan was strong and well honed into craft with the English language, he rarely displayed that servitude so often found amongst educated Indians in quoting people always with a Western sounding name as being the final testimony to a perfect wisdom .

To him, his native India contained enough immortal characters for inspiration. Any remonstrance against human insensitivity that he exhibited, was directed to those that he saw in his daily surroundings, and he drew a characterization of them only through gentle quirks, satirical gaffes or in reviewing them as receptacles of human folly; just the way life in a simple town or village in India, would ebb on.

In view of this, one cannot be held guilty for sometimes gazing quizzically at India’s academics and its writers and journalists in English; especially from a far off land where one sees people rejoicing in their own empowerment. You wonder if a Bana or Kalidasa, the rows of Sangam poets, a Subramanya Bharathi, or aphorisms from ‘Neeti Chintamani’ have no merit? You wonder at the caliber of a present educational system, meant to mold its own future citizens, that would shun anything brilliant that their own forefathers might have afforded them?

To Narayan, his Malgudi or Mysore was a life made up in roots. Without recourse to any pretensions, he stood indeed tall. You might find him in a tie and jacket, but his personal relish lay, even in sophisticated Washington, or in New York, in the making of his own first cup of coffee; in the same manner of his grandmother’s sieving from a homespun cloth, or in the same stain less steel percolator , that connected him instantaneously to a home in Saraswathipuram, Yadavagiri or his magical Malgudi.

He has been long gone, but we salute him quietly in our hearts.

We also, sometimes, go up to the corner cupboard in Mr. Srikantiah’s house, where every book that Mr. Narayan wrote, rests autographed in his memory and made out to one of his truly great friends.


A dear friend and Yoga teacher , living in NJ, USA, Dr. Rajan Narayanswamy , recently sent us this photograph.

He warned us that this may be our last look at another place that we once held so close to our hearts – the Malleswaram ‘ market place’. He warned us that it, too, would be disappearing, soon, and you guessed the reason correctly! – to make way for another high rise.

Eh? Didn’t the modern citizens of Bengaluru want to wear a ‘chip’ on their shoulder - of being known as the new ‘Silicon Valley’?

Well, with the denuding of trees and vast outpourings from gas and concrete, we are getting close, at least to what a Los Angeles stands for - ‘road rages’, smog, pollution, browning and all else.

[We haven’t forgotten the Music - its coming – its just around the corner]