Sunday, March 30, 2008

A guided tour down a memory lane

Mom and I visited Mrs Sulochana Pattabhiraman's residence this evening. She belongs to the list of people who should always be alive. I remember meeting her when I was probably 7-8 years old. Sulochana ji got to know Mom because of common grounds on music appreciation, which grew over the years. She used to take mom directly from the Music Academy to her residence for long sessions of intellectual discussions. Once the December season was over, there would be an intermission until the next season and they would start from where they left off sometimes not realizing that an entire year has gone by.

Mom did a project called Alaap for the Aurobindo Society, which is on sale now in major music stores, and if I remember right it is being sold for some 4000/- INR. Alaap is a glossary/encyclopedia on Indian music on which mom worked extensively in 1993. It took quite a while for it to see the light of day, and when I saw the name T PADMASANI in the credits, my joy knew no bounds. Sulochana Pattabhiraman, Calcutta K S Krishnamurthy (from scholars' viewpoint) and Sudha Raghunathan (from a singer's viewpoint) certified Alaap; some of Mom's entries in the glossary brought a new perspective and a deeper understanding. They found Alaap to be at once illuminating and extraordinarily User Friendly, to scholar or layman alike.
Sulochana ji passed on about a month ago in Chennai and at that time neither mom nor I were able to pay our last respects no-thanks to being out of town. By the time we even got to know we were more than a week late. We dropped in at their residence today and met Pattabhiraman mama.
I remember walking into that house ages ago and watching a Malayalam movie which was playing on Television. If I remember right, it was about a woman who transformed into a tree or something like that. And I took precisely one class in Bharatnatyam from her daughter-in-law. Just on a whim, that very same day. And never went back. I guess Odissi was what was written in my destiny.
Thereafter I would have met her a few times over the years, she saw me grow up.
As we entered the house, Pattabhiraman mama recognised Mom instantly and he asked me what I was upto. Explained to him that I am a singer and I go about doing this and that. He then asked me to sing for him and I chose to sing Kesariya Balam. One of my favorites.
Higher up on the walls of their living room, I saw the pictures of a younger Mama and mami and came to know that they were married when Mami was 15. Her eyes were limpid pools of innocence. Truly Sulochana. Mama then went on to say how they had had a happily married life and how they were made for each other. For an instant he forgot that Mami was no longer there and told us "My wife will give you some hot idlis if you like". That is when his daughter reminded him, "amma illa, appa.." There was only a quiet "Oho.." in response. He also went on to add how there had been no disagreements and when they did not see eye-to-eye on certain aspects, he would apologise or her style of apologising was to give him a hot cup of coffee. Mama was absolutely handsome in his younger days and Mami a damsel. How their beauty within and without evolved over time is there for all to see.
Mami had started singing with AIR as a child, and he explained how they would send a van to pick up the children and drop them back. Mama was in the family business, dealing with timber and he said that almost every house in Chettinad was built with timber supplied by their firm in those times. Mama was also a print model for a couple of Ad agencies at that time. There were a lot of such interesting things that I heard from him.
I was also given to understand that Sulochana ji was considered the best ever reviewers. She used to review concerts and she was unbiased and tactful at the same time. She wrote about the plus points and politely and unhurtingly pointed out the things that could have been better. Her reviews were looked up to and cherished.
I noticed a certain fondness, respect and admiration everything put together, when Mama mentioned his wife. Even when my thatha referred to Paati saying "My wife ..." there was a certain tone, a certain air (I just can't put a word to the sound of that word and the emotion attached with it), that seems to have died with that generation. I wonder why that did not get passed on. I guess quietly without all these counseling and self help books, and shows and magazines, news, meditation and all that, most of our parents and our grandparents have/had a mutual respect for each other, gave each other the space.
How did it go with the wind? The beauty in marriages then, I am even to scared of dreaming or visualizing of one. In the things we can talk of in the eras gone by, this would be the topper. The dignified relationships people had with one another and the love to respect another, and to give another the space.
Also I find immaculate language, vanity and chilvalry in Mama (I remember instances like that with my thatha also) which I have almost never seen in people closer my age. He refused to be seated when I wanted to do namaskaram to him, stating "it is not right" and rose up and blessed with words I felt came from the bottom of his heart.
There was also another thing that I have heard Mom say about Sulochana ji. That every cell in her being would honestly and wholeheartedly praise and wish well for anyone. I knew what wholehearted was, rather I heard and felt what a whole hearted wish was today. I am sure I would have heard wholehearted wishes before (this is with respect to people other than my mom and grandparents). But like most of us, I take things for granted too, and I believe even to relish and respect some simple things in life, you need a certain amount of growth. Or maybe its just time.
And Hey, To you, who are reading this, I wish for you one thing, rather a few things, that you have ....times and moments that you can cherish and savour, that you will meet people like whom you would love to have a life like, or would like to model your life like (I think inspite of the amount of achievements and developments in the world right now - and let me state again, that this is what I feel at this point in time - we are in need of role models, complete people whom we can really look up to, a complete personality who seems perfect to us in every way, I say seems here, because perception is quite the dicey thing), and that you come across and have true blue encounters with people who are 70+, and more than anything else, that you are blessed by them and have the happiness and a certain perfection that the generation gone by has had.
I could not take a picture of the photograph that had Mama and Mami in their younger days. But here are a couple of pictures of Mama now and a collage made my Mami's students. And I wish, sincerely, that I had been able to meet her in person.


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Touched!!! Both mama and mami's specials AND your wishes! Bless you.

Vijay Krishnan said...

My wholehearted wishes for aunty. Nice to read your article about Pattabiram mama. Only few are like this. I too had experienced this kind of heart content meeting with an eminent personality. Really getting blessings from those persons will make us devoid of our sins :)

SARAS said...

Good blesssings from Great and good hearted persons.

Gopalakrishnan said...

Very well written. Emotional stuff. I feel it is only destiny that they influenced your thoughts. This is what make our world sane.

A said...

Loved this entry...Trivia: The movie you watched could have been Cheluvi, directed by Girish Karnad...

Chitra said...

Nice post. Totally moved. I always wanted to learn pattu from Sulochana mami. Close friend of mine went to her while i learnt my lessons from Mrs. Rukmani Rajagopalan a.k.a patti. She would fondly be remembered by all music enthusiast.

Maha said...

Hello Chinmayi akka.. first of all i'd like to say from the bottom of my heart,that you're extremely lucky to get blessings from him.. absolutely,this is one of the few things in life that can be cherished and kept within ourselves unerased till our hearts are alive.. and i've personally felt so happy and i'd even become awe-struck when i at once start to hear elderly people talking on their times, the happenings in their lives especially, since i'd been not lucky enough to see my grandparents..:( i indeed feel good to atleast read some of the gists of the reported speechs of Pattabiraman Ji,with the credit going to you..
And i should say that this article of your's is one of the good and thought provoking ones i'd come across so far.. your thoughts and the way you've transformed them into words was really instilling..i guess that you're having got knowledge in Psychology is well reflecting in most of your aticles..:)Keep it up..Keep posting more of such! Would love to get good feel and thoughts into myself from your posts!

Anonymous said...

this is a good out of box blogging. I wish you should continue these kind of blogs more, i really enjoyed it

ILA

Anonymous said...

Hi !
Just a doubt here.. Is it fashionable to add Ji towards the names of elders in India ? I thought its mainly a north indian thing for people who talk among themeselves in Hindi. I often heard you referring to Chithra as Chithra ji. chithra akka or janaki-ma or chithra mam made sense to me.
so i was just wondering, if this is like fashionable a hip thing to do and not just about respect anymore..

Chinmayi said...

thanks Ila
and Ji is not about fashion.. I append Ji because I didnt want to be repetitive about mami every where because it might make for tiresome reading... and Ji is always used for respect, not because it is coool...
A: cheluvi.. I ll try to get a DVD if possible
maha: :)
chitra: I agree
anonymous: thanks :)

Anonymous said...

chinmayi, gurupriya here. goes without saying that your posts are so beautiful, especially ones as this where we learn as we read... lot of values n such.
one question, where did you learn kesariya balam from?. i heard u sing it for the first time outside kamaraj arangam. fell in love with the song.
all the best. your my role model.
you have the versatality stamp all over your name. :)

Chinmayi said...

thanks gurupriya.. all the best to you..

MMC said...

This is one of the best blog entries I have ever read in a long time.....not just that, it made me too go back on a trip down my own memory lane...was fondly remembering all the time I got to spend with my grandparents...

What you said is right - we need the right kind of role models now... Dr Kalam is one, BTW..

Anonymous said...

and where did you learn kesariya baalam from... your version..

Anonymous said...

I watched your interview on Mega Tv by Uma Padmanabhan. We enjoyed your singing so much. We ( Myself and my husband Mr. K. Subramnian) were all appreciation for the young girl Chinmayi. we didnt want the interview to come to an end at all. We wanted more of your talk and songs. Finally when the khaju Khathli was in front of you, you just slipped down to the plate even forgetting people around you. Youwere very natural. We have a daughter by name Swathi who is a Bharathanatyam Artiste, and you reminded us of her.And she too loves Khaju Khathli. We bless you child. Parvathy & Subramanian

Chinmayi said...

thank you very much maam.. you made my day!

பிரியமுடன் பிரேம் said...

Respected Chinmayi!

sorry to ask u this, u dont like to give place for leave some tamil comments on your blog right! well! i do wan to ask u why, bcoz its non of my business! but do not stop singing tamil songs! all d very best! God bless u! Have a wonderful day!

Chinmayi said...

unfortunately prem you are wrong.. I read that poem, and the problem is it can give rise to some misunderstanding.. hope you understand.

Rathish saravanan said...

I am great fan of yours. Esplly i like the songs from kannathil muthamittal and sahana very much. Esplly teh Aalabh which u do at the end of the song sahana is great indeed. I have seen u singing thesulaavudhue, it was very nice. me too hada chance to skim through Deccan chronicle and came to know that u often blog so jsut came and posted this . II even listen to ur radio show in aahaa fm. good job done by u
all the best

Ananth said...

A coincidence perhaps, but I was observing the same thing about the older generation. I would love to conclude that ever since the western influence started seeping in, the behavior patterns changed. But, having been living here in the US for the past 4 years, I have come across enough Americans to notice the same respect and chivalry among the older generation here - which was quite fascinating!
The race to make this world more 'global', people have forgotten where they came from ....

Regards,
Ananth

Adithan Karikalan said...

I agree with Anon. The ji suffix is a bit grating. I have noticed this in many posts earlier too - Rahman ji, this ji that ji.

Your blog posts will be lot more readable if you could avoid ji's.

Anonymous said...

chinmayi..happened to check out this blog... i was a student of sulochana mami & it brought tears in my eyes just seeing mama now & the collage.. i live so far away..couldn't even see her when she breathed her last... and to see my picture with her in the collage...brought back so many memories..i can soooooooo relate to what you have mentioned about the older geenration & i've been blessed having been able to see them both as a couple.. setting a wonderful example to one & all.. thanks to you for the pictures especially.. good luck in all you do..