Busy Bee on Gopi

Gopi lived an active life in spite of his disability due to polio.He was a journalist and one of the best in the business.Here is a touching write up on Gopi by the well know columnist Busy Bee.He wrote this piece in the Mid Day newspaper dated July 23,1984 just after Gopi passed away,a victim of the family scourge, cancer.Here it is
“For Gopi Baskaran,till the other day so young and so full of life,death could not have come at a less opportune moment.He literally designed Mid-Day,gave it life and shape and integrity.He was the first member of this paper’s staff, and , in many ways the best.
While the rest including myself were still thinking of starting a paper,leaving our old jobs and taking a new one,Gopi was already designing the paper.
I remember the first meeting of the likely staff.We meet one evening to consider whether we should leave the security of our existing jobs and venture out on something unknown. Gopi Baskaran came to the meeting with a complete “dummy” of the paper,printed on the old “Inquilab” machine. It looked very much as the paper does today, five years later,and more than any thing else it was Gopi’s dummy that made us join.At least it made me join.
For five years he was the constant factor in the office.He put in real,old fashioned working journalist hours;starting early in the morning with the evening paper ,then putting together the Sunday paper,the various dak editions,designing the Bangalore edition.
He may not have got much credit for his work. He was a sub-editor the tribe that belongs to the back rooms of newspapers all over the world.The reporters are the front men , meeting people, giving an odd story here and there, getting their names in print. The sub-editors work through the night,rewriting the stories,giving the headlines,selecting and discarding news, putting the whole newspaper together.
Gopi Baskaran was a sub-editor and the very best that I have known in all my working life.
Only recently, a month before his illness,he was promoted and officially made news editor,a job that anyway he had been performing since the first day.
And then as he was getting set to enjoy his new status ,tragedy struck.Though I could see him being wasted away by illness , he kept coming to work, planning regular colour issues, sending transparencies for processing, designing new pages. He took two days casual leave to go to the hospital for tests — he never came out of the hospital .
He was a good friend , honest and considerate and non-interfering. I value his friendship, but ultimately I will remember him as a colleague, as the best sub-editor I have know. “
Thank you  Busy Bee for that warm write up and kind words about my dear brother.He represented all that the Baskarans stood for, simple hard working,passionately committed to our professions and men & women of honour.It is so sad that we are all not together now.

Enduring relationships

Hartland was a place for family members to congregate during the vacations.Hema and the girls came every year and so did Aruna & Cho. Hartland was always full of fun and bonhomie when the folks were around. Aruna had a very special way of lighting up the place with fun and laughter. One of the most memorable times was when we all met for Venu’s wedding. Hartland was full to the brim and we spilt out for the night into the out house of Dr ANK Menon’s residence.The official residence of the Dean of Madras Medical College.

Some how the friendship (and kinship) formed during those boyhood days endure all through life. There were really long periods when we didn’t get to meet but the memories of those wonderful days remained warm within our hearts and it seemed as if we never parted when we meet on  infrequent occasions. Such was the enduring relationship I had with Cedric & Srini, Mohan & Paul, and Aruna & Cho and off course all the near family members.

Cedric migrated to Melbourne, Australia and I was really fortunate to meet him and his wife Cheryl when I had gone to Melbourne for a short holiday with Bobby & Gillean. It was really a pleasant surprise as I had no idea he was there. Post his graduation in B.E. Mechanical from the College of Engg, Guindy he worked for a fair length of time with Metal Box before I lost touch with him. We met at Melbourne after more than 20 or 25 years!!

He had a fairly hard struggle in the initial days in Australia working as he said at the bottom of the rung in the Transport Department.He gradually rose to become an Inspector and now has moved on to Rockwell International in the Training & Development Department. Much much better I should guess. Now as we are e-mail & mobile phone connected we are more in touch and that’s truly wonderful.

Srini, another old pal from the St Mary’s,Loyola College & Guindy days joined the Atomic Energy Commission and has been with them all through his career starting with BARC, Mumbai and now with IGCAR,Kalpakkam. I didn’t get to meet him for 20 years till I surprised him by attending his daughter’s wedding at Hyderabad.Since then we have been meeting on and off and now that his daughter Vidya and son in law Sankar are based at Gurgaon I’m sure we will meet more often. E-mail and mobile connectivity will make the world smaller for us.

Mohan has gone on to carve out an exceptionally successful career as a diabitologist. He has now gone several notches above the considerable achievements of his father Dr M Vishwanathan and is well recognised in India and internationally .

After a gold medal winning stint at Madras Medical College, he married his classmate Rema and together they founded the Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Hospital and Research Centre. I was fortunate to be able to attend the ceremony in Chennai where his research centre was formally recognised by the Chairperson of ICMR. This is one of very few private institutions to be recognised and supported by the ICMR as a research facility.

I meet Mohan from time to time but infrequently because of his very busy schedule. We do however keep in touch.

Paul, a class mate of Mohan and part of our childhood gang has had a fairly eventful career. He had a strong desire to study medicine and sincerely tried three times,once even working in a leprosy clinic to gain more points, but some how couldn’t get selected. In disgust he turned sharply to a new line and completed a Diploma in Mechanical Engg from Central Polytechnic, Adyar and simultaneously completed a course in Marine Engg. It was a very gruelling four year period for him.Thereafter he joint the Merchant Navy and had the best and most lucrative phase of his career. He got to see the world and made lots of money in the process.

Some where along the line he ran into rough weather and fell foul of some of his ship mates and eventually decided to leave the merchant navy. He now has a shore job but hasn’t been the same ever since and make be a victim of depression. Paul has stayed with us at Delhi on a short vacation but we have been out of touch for a long time now.

Aruna and Cho were also frequent and welcome vacation vistors. They brought a great deal of fun and laughter every time they dropped in which was usually for a period of a week or so during vacation time. Cho is doing very well for himself and is now the CEO of Reitzel India , an export oriented unit for gherkins. He was associated with the site selection and  setting up of the plant. I have meet Cho on and off over the years. Now we are more in touch and hopefully will meet more often.

Aruna was the apple of every ones eye !!! There must have been several suitors for her, of them the leader in the pack was  her cousin Pradeep. She in turn found him agreeable and the two would have married but for the opposition from her parents.Her Dad was very keen on her marrying a doctor and so she did,to Prabhakar and relocated to Abu Dhabi. I lost touch with her there after and it was only after a period of over twenty years we meet again.Since then we have been in touch more often and Aruna has even come over and stayed with us at Delhi.She even  made it to Seema’s wedding . It was very good of her. Her husband went through acute health problems and passed away some years ago. Aruna went through very tough time but to her credit she came through with flying colours and continues to be as cheerful and fun loving as ever.She will be relocating very soon back to India and will base her self at Calicut.


Dad passes away

Nothing prepared me for the sad night when Dad passed away. Mom woke me up just after midnight on the 11th Jan ‘72 to say that Dad was unwell and that I should call Dr Vishwanathan.I knew then that Dad was very seriously ill as he would never complain of any discomfort or pain. I rushed off at the dead of night to the Vijaya Nursing Home just two houses away from home and demanded of the intern on duty that he wakes up Dr Vishwanthan and get him to come and examine Dad at home. He finally did so after a fair amount of persuasion.

Dr Vishwanatan took one look at Dad and said we had to take him to the hospital immediately.He helped drive Dad, Mom & me to the Stanley Hospital. Soon all important relatives who had been informed, Madhuettan, Detchiedthi, Radettan, Chandraedthi, Amaman & Co started arriving at the hospital. I was the only sibling available at home as all the others were based out of Chennai at that time. Hema rushed down from Coimbatore along with Vijayettan but would only reach the next morning.

Dad went through a long operation later in the evening, a delay caused by the general believe that the operation should only start after “rahu kalam”. He almost collapsed on the operating table but was revived. Chandraedthi being a doctor was present all through the operation.At one time she dashed out to get additional blood.We all knew that things were very serious.Eventually when the operation was over, the Doctors seemed visibly happy but said that Dad’s chances of survival were 50:50 .Later that night less than 24 hours after I had rushed to get help from Dr Vishwananthan, Dad passed away.

The next day, as the only son present, I carried out all the funeral rites and lit Dad’s pyre .. a duty I still feel very grateful for.The next day as I sat alone in the drawing room at Hartland, I suddenly began to cry and sob aloud. Hema came to me and asked me to be brave and strong.I nodded and wiped away the tears.That sad event more than any thing else was the turning point were I bid farewell to childhood and hesitantly stepped into the world of adulthood.

Life at Hartland

Our’s was a well knit family.When ever possible we had our meals sitting around the dinning table.More often than not the conversation would get animated with Dad holding on to his views and Jaya & Revi chipping in with their own. Venu was the one who instigated debate and added fuel to the fire to liven things up.Dad liked reading the paper from cover to cover and would grab it as soon as it came and all of us would grit our teeth .
Dad was a wonderful person,much like Deepa’s Dad, and was always ready to provide and meet any thing that any family member wanted.I remember on a wet and rainy day one of us expressing the desire to eat hot samosas and before we knew it Dad slipped out of the house,cycled off to the market and returned with delicious samosas.That was Dad !! He also took to cooking after retirement and really ran the kitchen .Mom would chip in on rare occasions. Dad was also a handy man and could repair , fix or make lots of things. Mom often stopped him from freaking out and so it was, when she went away on holidays that he would spring into action and carry out modifications and changes to the house.Dad was the lovable hen pecked hubby for sure.
We were a liberal household and we lived our lives true to ourselves.If you wanted to drink or smoke(not considered very good things in those puritanical days) you might as well do it at home. Drinks were usually available and every one had a peg or two .Guest and party time always had drinks served.This in those days was not as prevalent as it is now.We also did not receive any formal religious education or training.We had a prayer room at home and mom always lit the lamp just after dusk and we would join her respectfully.All of us were God fearing and correct in our behaviour but none of us took deeply to any religious calling.In later years Jaya participated the most in rituals and I took to prayer in a big way .. my kind of prayers till I joined the Soka Gakkai and was schooled in Buddhist prayer practices. Venu & Gopi didn’t openly show any inclination towards things spiritual,though like me,they may well have been into prayers and thanks givings to the Lord in private. Hema followed mom’s tradition and light the lamp every evening.She also was the best equipped among us when it came to religious practices and rituals.Her daughter Reena, took to prayers and regular visits to the temple and continues to be a very religious person.

Education and food were top priority for our parents. Hema was an MA Literature graduate from Miranda House Delhi. Very few women of that period would have such an education to boast off in India. I went on to graduate in B.E. Electronics and Communication from the College of Engineering,Guindy and then completed PGDM at the prestigious IIM Bangalore,an alumnus of the very first batch of this institute.All of us had decent education at top notch colleges and institutions of learning. Mom & Dad had to really struggle hard to do this for us. Borrowing money from family members and even from neighbours.Terrible as it seems, but they did it for us

.Dad’s financial woes started when he had to leave his job as Jt. Controller of Imports & Exports for reasons I was never privy too. Repaying the loans for the house, financing the families education, and Hema’s marriage all took a heavy tool on Dad’s savings .Our Fiat car,then the pride of the family,had to be sold to partially make ends meet. Eventually Venu, Ravi, Jaya, Gopi & I would start earning and sending back money home and the fortunes of the family revived.

My youth therefore was spent with little or no luxuries although all our needs,good food and reasonably good living were some how or the other managed by Dad & Mom. How they managed is still a huge mystery to me. How many members of the larger family lent a helping hand (or those who refused) I never came to know. I can only silently thank all who did help in those tough dark days.

Venu, Revi ad Jaya were the principle sources of financing for my PGDM. I chipped in as I received a stipend of Rs 500/- for three months during our project term and tossed in what meagre savings I had and a bit of the PF money I received from ITI and some God sent refund of Income Tax!!! .The cost of education was much more reasonable in those days than it is today. I may never have made it at today’s costs.

I sent home,a modest Rs 50/- per month out of the stipend of Rs 500/-pm I  received while working at ITI B’lore, and subsequently increased it to Rs 75/- when my emoluments marginally increased.Dad & Mom passed away long before I could reach a reasonable position of stature in the Corporate world and in society and they never got to see the fruits of all the struggles they went through for all of us.

I have always regretted never being able to look after my parents and giving them a feeling of pride and happiness at my modest achievements in my career.



Hartland .. home sweet home

Most of my youth was spent at Hartland — the home of the Baskarans. Sadly it is no more as we sold the house to a real estate agent who demolished it and built a 4 story complex.I lived at Hartland from the early or mid’50s till I moved to B’lore to join ITI in early ’72.We sold the house in the mid ’90s. The home where our hearts resided is no more .
Many memories come fleeting by. The highly competitive  rubber ball cricket matches on the cemented 15 yd courtyard where hand eye coordination and a short back lift were essential,the ashoka trees which I loved to climb on to read or study,learning to ride a cycle in the confines of the court yard by myself with no assistance,our friendly neighbours, the parties which mom & dad threw,where Kaka was the critical support cook who made excellent biryanis, the home coming of the entire family for Christmas and New Year’s eve,the fun New Year’s get togethers with cakes , and coffee from the stately coffee making machine…… and the list goes on.Those were treasured moments.
Royapuram and the lane that ran past our house,West Mada Church Street,changed very much over the years .It was,then,a very liveable and cosmopolitan hamlet.Traffic was minimal,the Parsi Club was just opposite the road where the Parsis often met for their functions and where we played the more conventional cricket,the Parsi Fire temple was just down the road, the Church where we used to watch 16 mm movies on Sunday evenings was down the road a short distance from the Fire Temple,we had St Kevin’s school also just down the road…. the hamlet if I can call it so had a mix of Anglo Indians, Parsis ,Rajasthanies,Malayalees and several large Muslim households.We also had a small but wonderful beach which was a social meeting point in the evenings and inevitably a meeting point for young couples.The Kunhiraman’s stores,the corner shop,was another popular meeting point where young people would park their bikes and eat ice cream. It was a wonderful melting pot of various cultures and religions and every one co existed beautifully.There was never any problem of race or religion of any kind. 
Royapuram is not the same any more.The beach was taken over by the Port Trust authorities and the harbour was extended, most of the Anglo Indians migrated to England and Australia. Most of us like me,found jobs outside Madras or Chennai as it is now called and moved away. Royapuram became a staging point for freight operators who bought up the old houses demolished them and converted them into godowns. The hamlet .. and it can no longer be called that,now was full of lorries.Lorry traffic was also high and the road that ran past our house now buzzes with lorry and bus traffic.Sad how such a wonderful little hamlet should be so polluted and spoilt.
We had a wondeful set of neighbours, the Georges,the Mehtas ,the Vishwanathans,the Byramshaws , the Chunnilals were the most immediate ones but we also had several families living within the confines of the Damodhar Envelope factory next to Hartland which was run by the Chunnilals who were also part of our cricket circle.Most  of the boys in Royapuram went to St Mary’s to study while the girls studied at St Kevin’s or St Columban’s just next to St.Mary’s.I am sure that the unique culture and ethos of Royapuram was largely driven by the value system that St Mary’s ingrained in all of us.
It has been more than a decade since I visited Royapuram. I will,though I may come away most disturbed.The old memories would come racing back and I would relive those old times in my mind.
There is a poem I like very much that remind me of those times.Let see how much of it I can remember ;
Oft in the stilly night ere slumbers chains have bound me
Fond memories bring the light of other days around me
The tears the joys of boyhood days the words of love once spoken
The eyes that shone now dimmed and gone, the cheerful hearts now broken
When I remember all the friends so linked together
I have seen around me fall like leaves in wintry weather
I feel like one who threads some banquet hall deserted
Whose lights have fled whose garlands dead and all but he departed
Thus in the stilly night ere slumbers chains have bound me
Sad memories bring the light of other days around me.

Refugees ’42

Here is Dad’s version of the family’s escape from war torn Burma during the 2nd World War .This is in his own words from pages he had written and found after he had expired.
Tumsar 1959
From 10th to 15th Oct ’59 I was at Tumsar in a place where I could not get any thing to read except the daily newspaper.Time was hanging heavily on me.To keep my worries out of my mind, I started writing this auto biography ….
Syriam 1933
Hema was born on 12-2-’33. She was a tiny but sweet baby.I was anxious to have both mother and daughter with me and pressed Sreemu’s mother to take them to Syriam as soon as possible.I still remember the day Sreemu and little Hema arrived in Rangoon.As SS Ethiopia came along side I was the first to get on board the steamer and ran up the passage to greet my dear ones .
Life in Syriam and work at B.O.C (Burma Oil Company)was really enjoyable.In 1938 we purchased a car , Morris Oxford,a two seater. Even with four little ones we used to have our usual evening outings & badminton in the club. “Getting babies suits you” was a comment of one of the Anglo-Indian ladies when she met Sreemu a few months after Jaya was born.</div

Such a happy life in Syriam was to come to an end soon. In Oct ’41 talk of world war was strong.A Japanese attack on Burma became a general talk.When Pearl Harbour fell,the people of Burma became panicky.
On 12th Dec ’41 the B.O.C. advised us to evacuate our families as the Sukky Oil Refinery was a dangerous area. Sreemu and children were sent to a small town near Henzada.
On 23rd Dec ’41 at 11 am Rangoon was bombed by Japanese fighter planes which flew very low and machine gunned Rangoon.The office going people were all caught unawares on the streets.The air raid which lasted for about two hours in steady waves killed a very large number of people on the road and on the river.In the afternoon when the all clear signal was given, I made up my mind to go to Henzada.I came to the jetty in my car.Locked it safely but there was no launch to take me across to Rangoon.I was able to persuade a Chittagonian to take me across the river in darkness on payment of Rs 50/- .I reached Rangoon at about 8 pm drenched with river water which was lashing me in the small sampan in which I crossed the turbulent Rangoon River.
There was no conveyance in Rangoon. All shops where closed.Dead bodies were still on the street.I had to walk the distance of two miles to the railway station to catch the Henzada Mail at 9 pm.The train was full.People were sitting on top of the carriages.I purchased a 1st class ticket to get a foot hold in any compartment. I reached Henzada in the morning.Sreemu and children were happy to see me.On 30th Dec we reached Rangoon and stayed with Dr Anandan who was making arrangements to evacuate women & children from Rangoon.May God bless that generous soul who had been so helpful in saving the lives of so many people.
A Chinese coal vessel was sailing for Madras and arrangements were made for women and children to go on board that vessel by 6 am on New Years day.We had to leave for the jetty by 3 am.As we were getting ready there was an air raid on Rangoon in the moon light.We rushed to the shelter.Even there Sreemu wanted to stand close to me to get to heaven together.Before dawn we reached the wharf.Only women and children were allowed on the wharf.Sreemu was helped by other ladies who had no children to carry the four little ones who were shivering with fright.Leaving them in the hands of God I returned to Syriam to my post.With God’s grace they landed safely in Madras.
I had a faithful servant Damodhar Nair to look after me.On many occassions when I was reluctant to go to the shelter in an air raid he would force me to go.I remember once he wept aloud when I said that I would rather die in an air raid than be a prisoner of war in Japanese hands.
On 19-2-’42 at 12 noon orders were given to evacuate Syriam within half an hour.The Japanese were only 40 miles from Rangoon.I went home to pick up Damodharan and my hand bag in which I had packed a shirt,a pair of shorts for change, a few bottles of Horlicks and biscuits and first aid equipment.I left my house as it was and got into my car on my last trip in that car,to the jetty where a launch was waiting to take us to Rangoon.Local Burmese hooligans had occupied the house even before the launch sailed from Syriam. At Rangoon we had to go to Ching Song Palace 8 miles away from the jetty and wait in the evacuation camp for further orders of movement.
In batches of around 50 we went to that palace.It was not a safe place to stay as prisoners from Rangoon jail and lunatics from Insien were released by that time and some of them had also taken shelter in that camp.Most of the people left in fear and by 23rd Feb only 11 of us including Gopalan,Nair,Subramanium,Burjajie,Webb,Alexander,Xavier,Yun,Marsh and myself remained together.Peacock had a revolver which we  used by turn for sentry duty to guard the group from attacks by hooligans.
On the morning of 23rd Feb we found the wardens of the camp leaving the palace in panic.We managed to get into a lorry and Peacock who could drive any vehicle brought us to the high court building near the jetty.We also got news that SS Jalagopal which was in the wharf would be sailing that evening.
In the evening we had to fight our way through the crowd waiting outside the jetty.It was indeed a struggle to get through.I was completely exhausted by the time I reached the steamer which sailed in darkness.
Near Basiene we were asked by a Japanese Raider to stop.Messages where exchanged between the Raider and Jalagopal. Within an hour we could proceed safely to Chittagong which we reached on 27th Feb.The same night I left for Cannanore on a four day train journey .
—- I was happy to meet Sreemu and children and all at home .
And that was Dad’s story .I must have got some names and places wrong and possibly also missed a few passages as it was from a very old manuscript that I copied these lines.  

The Roots

We are the Baskaran’s. The family returned to India from Burma during the 2nd world war at the time of the Japanese attack on Burma.The story of their return reads like a thriller and I’ll share Dad’s diary entry on the same shortly. I was born shortly after the family relocated  to India and Dad got a job in Delhi.We lived in a one roomed lodging on Curzon Street where I was born.We moved to Chennai when I was a few years old and we stayed there for several decades.I did all my studies, barring the PGDM ,at Chennai. I studied St Kevin’s till 4th standard, then at St Mary’s, then on to Loyola College for Pre-University and finally College of Engg, Guindy. We were a family of six,the eldest was my sister Hema and then came Venu,Ravi,Jaya ,Gopi  and me in that order.
We were a well knit family and a talented one too. Venu studied MBBS at Stanley Medical College and went on to join the Army Medical Corp.He was a good cricketer and captained the Stanley cricket team. He was the most studious of us.He married Geetha and they have a son,Anand. Ravi ,studied BCom & Law and built a career in sales .He was the best cricketer of the family having represented Loyola College and also played for Tamil Nadu Junior State team. Ravi married Marie and  they have three kids Bobby,Nicky & Sandhya. Jaya was the soldier from the very beginning and after graduating from the Indian Military Academy, went on to serve in the Armoured Corp.He took part in the 1965 war with Pakistan and was in the Armoured Division that crossed the International border and drove in,all the way ,till the out skirts of the city of Sialkot. He served at the battle front for the ’71 operations. Jaya married Prithi and they have two sons, Sanjay & Rajesh. Gopi was in many ways the most talented of us,however he  suffered a polio attack in school which left him crippled.He had an indomitable spirit and his disability did not stop him from actively taking part in sports and leading a fiercely independent life. He married Marie Celine;they had no kids. Gopi was a journalist and was part of the pioneering team that launched the Mid Day newspaper,whose success lead to the formation of a niche mid day or afternoon newspaper segment. Hema was the soft spoken and extremely lovable sister.For me she often switched roles and was a mother,I was just nine years when she married Vijayaraghavan and they have three daughters, Vidya,Reena & Deepa.
I always thought our family was invincible and so it seemed,however we lost almost all one by one.Dad first passed away;it was the first time I came face to face with death and as I was the only one at home with Mom,it was a defining moment and a time when I grew up. Then Venu & Gopi passed away within a space of 45 days both to Cancer.Cancer would continue to be a scourge of the family as it felled Hema and then Jaya. Now only Ravi & I remain.But we have our sisters in law, and children and the Baskaran tradition lives on.

The family crosses the Atlantic

One of the great highs of our family was when we went for a holiday to the UK & the US in ’96.For Seema & Shirish it was their first journey by air and also their first visit to a foreign land.A first holiday abroad for Deepa as well.This was a great learning experience for the children and something I know they will always cherish. Deepa’s mother also come with us on this wonderful holiday.
Those were the days when getting visa’s was much easier than now.Our interview lasted just about 5 mins and the Embassy official gave us his ok and good wishes for a great holiday !!!We travelled all the way by the United Airlines and had pleasant experiences all the way except that the travel agent had marked us for a Hindu meal!!!???All of us wanted the non veg continental meal.Most often we managed to change it but some times had to grit our teeth and bear it !!
Our first stop was at London where we stayed with Srilakshmi & Manoj and their son,Neesh. We saw and did what most tourist would do; a visit to Madame Tussaud’s museum, a ride on the famous London double decker buses, a visit to Piccadily Square etc etc .We had a memorable visit to the West Minister Abbey, where we saw a choir of little boys troupe into the church and heard them sing. They sang in the most ethereal way.We visited Winsor Castle and had a great time. Shirish quickly took to the London Under Ground and the buss services.He could find his way around quite easily.The children had budgets of their own for spending. Shirish was quick to spend on all that caught his fancy but Seema was ultra conservative on spending and we had to force her to open her account and spend.
We then flew across the Atlantic to New York and then to New Jersey where we stayed with Chitramaman ,his wife Rose and their children Kevin & Sheila. We were hospitably looked after and had a great time. Chitramaman has a wonderful house with a small brook and wooded areas around the house. It was a dream house. Rose and the children took us around the sights of New York such as the Science museum , the Naval Museum on the aircraft carrier, etc etc.Memory fades away on all the things we did and enjoyed.We do have two full albums of photos to recreate the memories.We drove down with Chitramaman and family to Pittsburg,Pennsylvania where we walked around the site where the Declaration of Independence was signed and also saw the freedom bell.En route we stopped at the Seven Flags Adventure resort and all of us particularly the children had a great time.Sheila and Kevin were about the ages of Seema & Shirish and so they got along together famously.From New Jersey we flew across the US to the West Coast to Los Angeles where we stayed with our old friends from Deshbandu Apartments,Vineet,Kavita and their daughter Brinda. It would be repetitive,but yes they looked after us very well and we had a great time. Vineet and family took us to San Diego where we saw the Water Park and some breath taking sights as we drove down from Los Angeles.We went to Disney Land and the Warner Bros Studio.It was a mind boggling experience for the kids.
After a two week fun & experience filled holiday we returned to Delhi after a brief one day stop at London.We had several great get together since then  however the thrill of that first holiday and the magical sights and sounds we saw in UK &US will remain special for our family.

Life as a family man

Work and the office dominated my life whether as a family man or as a professional. A short while before Shirish was born I took up up a new job with HCL and was posted to Mumbai with no housing support of any kind.I moved to Mumbai as an enforced bachelor while Deepa & Seema remained at Delhi with her Mom & Dad.I stayed for a while with Gopi & Marie and then moved to a room of my own with the Phadnavis’s. My stay in Mumbai was professionally very good and I established myself as a performer in the new company.I remember one night before I was to leave I noticed how worried Deepa was looking in her sleep. I wake her up and reassured her that all will be well. She was worried that I had left a secure job in a public sector company and was jumping into something much more risky.It worked out for me;yet every night and day I prayed sincerely for divine help that I would succeed. As always,my prayers were answered.
Within 8 months or so I was called down to Delhi,promoted and offered a wider responsibility spanning the West and South with the option to base myself anywhere. I choose the place I was most fond of,B’lore. And so once again the family was reunited as Deepa ,Seema & our new born son Shirish joined me at B’lore.
Our stint at B’lore was another great period of togetherness with the greater family. Geetha and Anand , Sathy & Judy and Arun & Medha were great company and we met often for get togethers and parties. Seema however didn’t like her school one bit and on a holiday to Delhi choose to stay back with her grand parents and go back to the Pansheel Montisarrie school. Ever since we reached B’lore she was so keen to join a school and would stand by the gate and  look wistfully at the other children going to school. Once even applying some pressure of her own,saying if we didn’t find a school for her soon she wont go later ????With sky high expectations of school a poor experience was a rude shock.It was good she could get back to such a wonderful and forward looking school as the Pansheel Montisarrie,so that she did not seriously lose  confidence in herself or the social fabric at large. Shirish meanwhile grew up to be very fun loving and eager to jump into activities.This trait remained with him and he never hesitated to experiment and participate in games or social activities in his school or friends circle.
I continued to be absorbed in work and maintained a gruelling schedule of 15 to 20 days travel across the territories of West & South. Deepa learnt to be very self sufficient and once again the presence of near family members gave her comfort and confidence. 
Our days in B’lore would end all to soon as I was called back to Delhi to head the Customer Service operations.This time we set up a home of our own in Deshbandu Apartments.We all liked this house and the early days of our children were spent in this house over a period of ten years.Life for me at the office with a new expanded responsibility was as hectic as ever and I was absorbed in work and the hectic grind of late nights and travel. Deepa managed the house and the kids and all our needs, me included and I had as many as the kids.This new assignment and the national responsibility it carried brought for me loads of tension and bouts of anxiety.I keep wondering how I could have done things differently,but still cant find the answers.Corporate life always seems to be like this and as I look around me I see the same story and the same situation for all in the rat race. Some people I noticed managed to spend time with their children and participate more in family activities, oh how I envied them !!! I just couldn’t get the balance right. Deepa was most cooperative and understanding.She could have made life difficult for me and insisted on a greater participation in the affairs of the family and up bringing of the kids.It’s amazing how she managed all those years.

Enter a force multiplier

On 26 May, 1978 I married Deepa. A more wonderful wife no one could ever ask for.The Ramachandran’s are a terrific family.My father in law , now sadly no more, was one of the finest gentlemen you would ever come across. Deepa was supremely understanding and accommodating all through our married life and was a great force multiplier for me in the pursuit of my career.She took charge of running the house besides taking care of the needs of all of us — me and the kids.She hardly ever thought of herself or her needs. I was a poor father and  home maker.Work-life balance was something I never thought  about or considered all through my career. I always carried my work related tensions back home and often just wanted to be by myself or watch TV or listen to music or what not .. I never learnt to relax by being with the kids and playing or doing things with them.If I lead my life again,this is something I would definitely correct.
Marriage changed many things for me.For one I was no longer plagued by a sense of loneliness.Our early days at Hyderabad where Deepa’s sister,Asha,Aunt & Uncle and their kids were a great source of company. Deepa ,therefore ,had the support of near relatives  ,which helped her settle into her new role.We also had great company from Cheenu & Pushpa who lived across the road.They were also a newly wed couple and we had a lot in common.Life was so comfortable that when I got requests to shift to Delhi for a lucrative assignment I refused it,much to the consternation of the Chairman.
When we did shift to Delhi it was when our first child was expected.We moved into Deepa’s parents house and there perhaps lies the reason for my poor engagement as a father or family man.Deepa had more than enough support from her parents and I was not forced into the supporting role or mandatory duties of taking care of our baby.
We have two wonderful children,Seema & Shirish who grew up to be wonderful adults and thankfully with out any problems of health or maladjustment.Both are leading wonderful lives of their own.Ours is a model and happy family for which I remain ever indebted to the Almighty.