Monday, 18 August 2014

Its All about Money, Honey....

Childhood memories are so vivid and blissful! Especially there are some instances and incidents which remain with us and their memories are so bright and clear as if they happened just yesterday. Be it pleasant or otherwise, they will always remain with us, sometimes haunting  and yet most of the times making us nostalgic.

Like the first time I got my slippers. They were bright cotton candy pink
plastic slippers. They were very rough and used to make some sound when I walked, and boy was I proud of them!

Unlike these days when we buy booties for the just born, I must have been at least 5 or 6 years old when I had my first slippers. Come to think of it, when we could have easily afforded, why did the parents then delayed in making such purchases? Was it really money that mattered or the materialistic matters were intentionally delayed??

As far as I can remember, we had no dearth of money in maintaining a decent life, eating variety of foods and celebrating all the festivals. My father was a civil servant and was in a relatively good post. It is difficult to comprehend, but there were times when I remember eating everything I wanted and buying ribbons and toys and peppermints and generally feeling well off, but still there were times when I used to wish we could be rich and had more money. Like this time when I used to visit my friends and neighbors Manjula and Umas' house. In the mind of a 5 year old, they were considered to be rich. Why? Because, unlike us they could eat one orange each!  And the biggest royalty was they were eating Dates!

Yes, you read it right. While on Shivaratri day, we being Vaishnavites ate special food, they were Shivaites and fasted on that day. One Shivaratri, I saw them eating Dates and boy was I jealous! At that time Dates were beyond my reach and I would think, when I grow up and have lots of money, first thing I would buy would be loads and loads of Dates!

Even today you can win me over with a box of fresh soft Dates. Like this friend of my husband Prakash, Mr. Abdul Basheer other day gifted us a box full of fresh soft Dates straight from Mecca on Ramzan! While he was fasting, I was here feasting on Dates! The fresh Dates from Mecca were so soft and delicious, I was dragging myself forcibly away from the box every time I went to eat one. No one can eat just one!

And there is a great lesson we can learn from the Dates. When they are new, they are fresh and  juicy and a great treat, but with the passage of time, unlike any other fruit in the world, they don't get spoiled or don't degenerate, and their quality remains the same. Just like humans, they may wreathe with age, they may mellow but they retain their quality and sweetness. There is no need of any preservatives, in fact they turn out to be wonderful dry fruits!

Regarding our parents, had they minded, they could have afforded to get us more. But by not over spending and indulging, they were being more pragmatic in teaching us the value of money and not indulge in consumerism.
Anyways, those old habits die hard. Even now when things are easily affordable, I think twice and ponder whether I really need things and take care that I do not splurge money and seen to it that my children also appreciate the value of hard earned money.

When I was studying in PU college, it was a fashion and a craze to bring vanity bag to the college. It would cost all of twenty five rupees, an astronomical price for a bag to bring books to college! We were living in Gulbarga and one of my friends' father had bought one for her from Bangalore. Then I would plan, OK when I grow up and earn, with my third  salary, I would buy one such bag.

The first salary, ofcourse was reserved for Dates, the second was meant for buying books. Yes, that is right. That was another big dream. I badly wanted to finish my studies, start earning so that I could buy loads and loads of books and novels from the shop in front of my house.

All the three big dreams are more than fulfilled now but the fact remains that deep inside, the habits, the caution seeded by my father still holds its place in my mind. After my son started earning, one day while we were returning from some outing, he informed that it was Mothers' Day and offered to buy me some gifts and stopped the car in front of a clothes shop.

I went inside happily with his card, purchased to my heart's content and came out. As the situations would have it, owing to weight gain, I had stopped wearing Chudidars.But unfortunately my husband had earlier been hospitalised and underwent surgery. The situation had turned difficult and at short notices, I was forced to pack some clothes and rush to hospitals to be with him.

Staying at hospitals, packing and changing frequently was turning out to be quite taxing, and while I was purchasing clothes all these things were uppermost in my mind, So I had purchased three sets of cotton comfortable chudidars, all for about Rs.1500 and came out beaming.
Reality dawn to me when my son looked at the bill and exclaimed “ Is that all? You purchased for just 1500 rupees?” My father's first salary was 4 Rupees, mine was 400 Rupees and my son's was 40000 Rupees, but the pleasure I had with every first purchase remains incomparable and  special.

Yesterday I was in for a big surprise – nay shock. My son had been to Pondicherry with his friends and on his return handed me a cover. It contained a HIDESIGN bag – a branded one – for me.A gift from anyone is always an indication that you are in their thoughts and their heart – but when your children give you gifts, it holds a special place of pride in your heart.
Then I opened the cover, was delighted to see the bag and then I looked at the price tag. I looked and looked and looked – it was from the factory outlet at 50% discount and the discounted price was 4000 Rupees! And my son nonchalantly explained that in open market it would cost around 8000 Rupees. 8000 Rupees for MY bag!?! I am still in a state of shock !!!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Happy Birthday COLONY AMMA ......

Have you ever met a person who has                                        
  • Never got angry
  • Never shouted at anyone
  • Never let anything perturb her
  • Never felt depressed
  • Never worried
  • Never was and never looked or acted greedy
  • Never felt jealous of anyone
  • Never cried
  • Never was over-sensitive or
  • Never was overtly emotional......

I can see the sceptic look on my readers' face.Don't think there can exist such a person? If you think so then you have not met this person. जानोगे तो मानोगे ना !  I am sure everybody except from my family would reply in negative. I am fortunate to have a Mother-in-Law who is all above and much more.

I have known and have been interacting with this lady -  my MIL Smt.Narmada Bai, wife of late N.Ananthachar - for more than a quarter of a century now and I am not exaggerating, but I have never seen her expressing any of the above mentioned emotions. If we all consider Late sri N.Ananthachar as a Daivamsha Sambhuta for his immense strength and achievements during his lifetime, an equal , if not more credit should be given to his wife and life partner for standing by him in his struggles and for her splendid and enviable personality.

As we are about to celebrate my MIL's 100 th birthday this Sunday, I have been thinking about her and her life. The more I think, the more and more I am marveling at the wonderful lady. Thinking that I might have overlooked or not witnessed something, I discussed with my husband whether anytime he has seen any of the above emotions in his mother. He tried to recall, recollect but ended up grinning and admiring his mother all the more.

And it makes all the more exemplary, if I narrate what she has been through and how her life had been one of innumerable struggles,sacrifices and ultimately achievements and triumphs. Many don't know much about her as she has always led low profile life and never aspired to hog the limelight. Although I may not be the right and competent person to tell about her, I feel that at this moment of celebration, we all family and friends should share, celebrate and try to imbibe at least some of her finest qualities.

Having been born in a rich family of an Amaldar from Arsikere, she has always been well read, well informed and extremely well behaved. In fact she can give a tip or two in management, handling the pressure, financial management and delegation of work. With hardly one or two children, with so much of awareness and amenities, we struggle to create, build and maintain that perfect rapport in the family. But she is a mother of twelve, MIL of twelve and without ever raising her voice one decibel or without twitching a single muscle on her face or without ever losing her composure, she has brought up her children and has seen to it that her family has always stood for principles, human values and has always remained bonded together.

But then was she very strict? No. Was she very lenient and indulgent? Never! In fact she saw to it that the principles laid out by her and her husband were always respected and followed by all the family members. I think she has that management skill and the art of delegation and she has such a beautiful art of communication, that even without uttering many words and without talking much, she lets it be known that she is the authority, and she has been showing and following the right path and without slightest hesitation and resistance everybody in the family would willingly toe her lines.

Did she imbibe these qualities from her parents or did her association with Sri.Ananthachar instilled such confidence in her? She must have been barely 14 when she got married and moved to her husband's place at Mysore. Did her in-laws influenced her or was it her husband's character rubbing on her? Whatever it was, she stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband in both his social life, his building of the educational institutions or looking after her family.

Late Sri. N.Ananthachar moved to Bangalore from Mysore after marriage with her in search of job. Sri Ananthachar's father was a teacher and financially was not very well off. On arriving at Bangalore,Sri Ananthachar did some odd jobs at Government offices, taught at some private schools, and gave tuition to children before losing hope of finding a suitable teaching job. However he didn't lose his spirit and started selling vegetables  which needed very little capital, at a shop by the side of the present day Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar. But even in this work his systematic approach and sincerity were evident. Even today one hardly sees a board at a vegetable shop, whereas he had put up a board as shown below outside his shop even at that time – may be in 1932-33!

                                                                          ACHARYA & CO

Dealer, Suppliers and Contractors of High Class Fruits and Vegetables and Commission Agents, IV CROSS ROAD, Basavanagudi – Bangalore City.

                                                                           Fresh suppliers                        
                                                                          Weight accurate
                                                                          Charges Moderate
                                                                          Proper Attention

                                      Prop.                          N.Ananthachar M.A.

And in all these endeavors smt. Narmada Bai stood by him, accepting the life as it came. But as destiny would have it, Sri. N.Ananthachar had some distinguishing customers at his vegetable shop. Prominent among them being Divan Madhava Rao, Sir.M.Vishweshwaraiah, Sri.Garudachar, Sri.P.Kodanda Rao, Sri.N.S.Subbarao , Sri.B.P.Wadia, Sri.Thathachar and Sri.Navarathna Ramarao. They were all immensely impressed by the literary knowledge, intelligence, diligence  and sincerity of Sri.N.Ananthachar.

Though they respected his approach towards his work, they always felt that he should use his knowledge in a better way like teaching children. Even Ananthachar and his father had always dreamt of him being a professor, getting a government job and imparting knowledge to children.

Sri. N.S.Subbarao and Sri.Navarathna Ramarao, impressed by Sri.Ananthachar, introduced him to Sri.M.N.Krishnarao who, equally impressed, offered a gift of Rs.100 to upgrade his vegetable market.

APS School first batch
But Sri.Ananthachar had other plans. With this money and his own little savings he started a small school Acharya Pathshala at EAT street in Gandhi Bazaar with just three students. From then both husband and wife struggled day and night, spending every minute and every penny they had on this school. Later he shifted the school to the first floor of Basavanagudi Co-Operative society in Gandhi Bazaar. And finally with a lot of struggle he got the land from the Government in N.R.Colony to build a school. But there was a catch. The site was filled with big boulders and stones and trust Sri.Ananthachar to overcome every hurdle with ease and convert it to his advantage. The boulders were cut and dressed and were used to build the massive building and rest, as they say, is history. But it is commendable that in all his struggles and strifes, Narmada Bai stood by him, never ever complaining. In fact she considered all the employees and students of the schools as her own children and there were times when she gave away all here gold and jewelry to raise  funds to pay salary to the teachers!

Sri.Narasinga Rao once offered 5000 sft of land at Jayanagar, ( present Nanda theatre ) at just Rs. 1 per sft and Sri.Ananthachar was aghast at the very thought of making property for himself. Had he wished, he could have made a fortune for himself and his family with his hard earned money. But every penny he had was utilised for the noble cause of giving education to more and more children. And here Smt. Narmada Bai stands apart from the ordinary mortals because unlike a normal woman, she never craved for riches or property but worked shoulder to shoulder in building these mammoth educational institutions.

She stood by him when Sri.Ananthachar carved the stones to build the solid school building and accompanied him to Somanahalli, then almost a jungle, travelling with him everyday with small kids in her lap,cooked there and fed the family while her husband built the rural school, Polytechnic college. She was by his side when he built Sri Anantha Padmanabha temple in the campus. It is no mean achievement that all this was achieved in just about 40 years before she lost her husband, her pillar of strength.

Whereas one finds it extremely difficult to build a structure on a 30x40 site with all the money at one's disposal, it is no less than a miracle that from scratch late. Sri. N. Ananthachar and smt.Narmada Bai could achieve so much in life, gave their everything  to the society. A big salute to the great souls.

I would be happy if you share this with your friends and family as it can be a great motivation to the youngsters, who can see that if one has the determination, sincerity and the will power nothing can stop him and it is high time we told the society how these two selfless individuals strived to educate more and more children, sacrificing their personal pleasure and lived for the society.  

Saturday, 1 March 2014

When I got married to the son of a family with a dozen siblings, I was always asked, “ How could you agree to get married into such a big family?” Strangely, it  never has been or is an issue. Because I had my own conditions to my father before I agreed to an alliance – that the boy should be an Engineer ( But of course :-D ), that he should be tall and good looking and he should not be from North Karnataka, he should not be remotely connected to North Karnataka, infact he should not have even drank the water from North Karnataka ( With due apologies to “ಉತ್ತರ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಮಂದಿ ” )

Hello! Hold on before you call me racist. I am proud to be from North Karnataka, a region rich in culture and humanity, a region where people matter more than money, where people are strong, may be with rough lingo but with a soft inner nature belying their sort of ruffian demeanour. But ask any – ahem – beautiful girl born and brought up in North Karnataka region what she hates about her place and pat comes the reply – EVE TEASING.

It is so wild and rampant that those ruffians don't think twice before misbehaving with you even when you are with your parents, brother or even with your spouse. Even today I shudder thinking about their rowdyism and lecherous grin. So it was obvious that I make the above statement and on my wedding day my father complimented me with a wide grin “ ನೋಡಮ್ಮ ಉತ್ತರ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ನೀರು ಕೂಡ ಕುಡಿಯದಿರೋ ಹುಡುಗನ ಜೊತೆ ಮದುವೆ ಮಾಡಿದೀನಿ ..."

And when I first met my would be mother-in-law, I was sort of bemused because she looked like yesteryear actress Leelavathi,  wearing silk saree, draping a shawl around her shoulder and strings and strings of gold adorning her neck. She always carries herself with dignity and grace and believe me, even now when she is about to celebrate her hundredth birthday, she is so conscious of her looks,presentation when she has visitors. It would be altogether an interesting and captivating account of my association with her for the past quarter century, which I hope to record here one day.
But for the present, my MIL is turning a centurion and its going to be a grand memorable event. Her family spread across the globe comprises of about 80 people of first circle – here I have not added her parents' or in-laws' family but only her children, grand children, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren – yes her grand daughter has a grandson now – and their spouses! Late N Ananthachar, my father-in-law has been respected and revered everywhere for being the founder of APS Educational Institutions, but there is no denying of this lady being behind that very successful man.  She is as much, if not more, as Sri. N. Ananthachar , responsible for building these huge philanthropic educational Institutions.

And we are having a whale of a time making preparations for the grand occasion. Who can deny the pleasure one has while going on shopping with one's husband's money to buy silk sarees? And accessories? And have tete-e-tete with food ordered from every possible eatery? OK OK we spent some of their money on buying them identical Ramaraj shirts as per their dress code – of course as decided by us :-D – And the grandchildren are not far behind. They too have their group – cousins – and are checking out different malls and eateries – making plans of their attires and the grand evening party at 1947 :-D
All the family members – all the 80 of them are hosts -to around 100 of the relatives of Late Sri N Ananthachar and Smt.Narmada Bai, to a traditional Homa and luncheon in the afternoon and a grand party in the evening.

What is the immediate upcoming event? A potluck party of youngsters at Anils' on Sunday, followed by a chats party – courtesy Amruthu – and a Mehendi on Friday, before the BIG DAY on March 9 th!

Keep watching this space for latest updates!!!