P.M. VIJENDRA RAO writes: By a sheer coincidence, I have met all the three men over the naming of circles after whom you have expressed misgivings (see CAMPAIGN: Why you must speak up for RKN).
As a Mysorean, you should have known better.
T.N. Narasimha Murthy was the first of the troika that I met. That was in Bangalore. In the Vidhana Soudha, to be accurate. As Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, he held Press meets with customary regularity.
TNN was a champion of the press–his press conference never beginning without the gentlemen of the media being extended Mysore-style hospitality—uppittu, kesari bhatu, kapi, etc.
His acute participation in the deliberations of the legislature tired him so much that he would hardly have anything to tell the Press. But, he was not one to distance the Press on account of that.
Such intense and regular interactions with the Press had earned him quite a few friends in the fourth estate. He went out of his way to familiarize himself with the many that he didn’t really know.
When he would see a reporter entering the hall, he would immediately lean on to the nearest reporter and ask him for the identity of the newcomer. He never embarrassed the newcomer by asking for his identity. His amiability made him address the newcomer as if he had known him since his birth.
You don’t expect a man in public to remember the legion faces and names that he gets to see or hear, do you? This professional hazard at times landed the latecoming reporter in a puzzle. TNN once inquired with customary warmth about the father of a certain scribe.
Without showing slightest keenness to match his conviviality, the scribe lost his cool for being asked about his father who was no more. TNN lost not a second to put the reporter at ease and offer his heart-felt condolences.
Perhaps a similar event had upset TNN on another day when he met us for the customary tete-a-tete. His anger gushed out involuntarily as he spoke about a certain political opponent.
TNN hurled at his target an extreme epithet that one uses while targeting another’s mother. The sensitive man that he was readily understood that he shouldn’t have said it. He said it was actually a profanity another politician had used against the politician in question.
The plebians that journalists are, they simply laughed away to glory, revelling in the very sound of the unmentionable word, indecently leaving the host to gape at them.
The next man that I met was the man after whom, you say, a circle has been named in Yadavagiri.
I am sorry about your ignorance: You don’t know who lives next door to you. It is only ignorance that can embolden you to ask who on earth is he. However, no need to kick yourself for not being informed.
I did not know about him, either. (But, I at least had an excuse, because, unlike me, you are an appata Mysorean).
One afternoon, I got a call.
The caller thundered: “Who are you?”
Sheer reportorial impudence made me echo his question.
The question bounced back at me. (It was almost like the echoing in the Gumbaz).
Finally, he identified himself. In typical Bond style: “I am A. Ramanna, MLC Ramanna.” (For a moment I mistook it for his initials).
“Please tell me what can I do for you.”
Then, he said something in chaste Kannada and with such fluency that I thought he was actually reading it out. His statement was in condemnation of a rival political party which had violated the code of electoral conduct.
“You may go ahead,” I said.
“It’s a nice statement. I liked it.”
“I want it to appear in your paper tomorrow.”
“It won’t appear.”
“What are you talking?”
“It won’t appear.”
“You say you are a legislator. I am sure you have stationery provided by the government. You write whatever you have told me on your letterhead and send it across. I will decide on it.”
“Nobody has spoken to me before like this in the whole of Mysore.”
“So it’s a first of sorts? Anyway, here onwards you will get to hear it often.”
Then he slammed the receiver.
It was only later, on inquiry, that I came to know that the person at the other end was a freedom fighter. No wonder, he thundered the way the Mahatma thundered at the British. I should have educated myself before being impolite to the man.
The third of the triumverate that you have mentioned whom I met was Vedantha Hemmige.
It was dead of night and the Dalit champion Ram Vilas Pawan was visiting Mysore. A couple of us reporters were waiting inside the residence of Hemmige. The socialist that the one-time MLA from Mysore was, had sought to seek parity with his leader that we were all awaiting.
I experienced a culture shock while inside his house. I cursed my lower middle class background for not providing me any cushion against such shocks.
And, Vedantha–o, what a name–can give you a lesson on how to respect one’s elders. If his tradition-bound parents gave him the name Vedantha, he upheld that tradition by naming his abode Indraprastha. I don’t think it could have been more appropriate.
Another occasion, I met him at a press conference that Vilas (I don’t know if Vedantha had got attracted to the middle of the three parts of the name and made friends with the Dalit leader) addressed.
The angry, bearded leader was talking about upper caste tyranny.
That’s when I once again showed my haughtiness in reporting to the leader that the person sharing dais with him had just attended a Brahmins’ congregation.
The din that the reporters created downed Vedantha’s retort. His statement went grossly unreported. But, if we are honest to ourselves as journalists, we must admit that we don’t always report everything of even what we hear. The socialist had been wronged.
I cannot completely educate you unless I share with you that it was Vedantha that inspired me to set up the e-effigy facility on my portal. I don’t remember–selective memory is a scribe’s speciality–what the protest was over, but Vedantha, even at his advanced age, was leading a team of protestors in the city to set an effigy afire.
An accident and Vedantha received burns. It was reminiscent of the agitation that the Mahatma initiated to destroy foreign goods.
I think, you owe an unqualified apology to Churumuri readers for the blasphemy of questioning the worth of our worthies.
I know, as a resident of V.V. Mohalla, you had developed a deep regard for R.K. Narayan who lived in your neighbourhood. That does not however mean you must talk ill of those about whom you lack knowledge.
It is the duty of every journalist to be correctly and sufficiently informed about his surroundings. Sorry that I had to write to you so elaborately on the issue. But I am convinced that it was warranted.
I’m afraid I am not convinced by Shri. Vijendra Rao’s arguments. His personal experiences with the individuals in question are not ample reasons for the honour bestowed upon them. One would hope that Shri Rao would give more details of their contribution to Mysore, how they affected the lives of common citizens, or brought glory to the city, so that they can be deemed worthy of such respect. At least, more worthy than Shri. R. K. Narayan. Anecdoates about fleeting conversations are not good enough.
typo. I meant to write ‘Anecdotes’.
I agree with Quizman. I think the point is that the case for getting recognition for RKN should be considered on its own merits (which I’m sure there are many). This issue should not be related to whether other ‘worthies’ are as deserving of the honor they have got.
Vijendra Rao is sure a good read. Eloquent style and very appealing. Wasn’t he the deccan herald dude a few years ago ?
Anyway, this entire piece is nonsense. As I said, wwell written. very well written, infact. But what a shame…..Is he trying to compare RK Narayan with TNN, A Ramanna and Vedanta Hemmige ?
In another post, I ahd mentioned that it’s impossible to compare people when they cross a certain threshold. It’s improper to compare Kuvempu and Bendre and Karanth and DVG and say one is better than the other.
BUT, it’s very easy and quite right to say Kuvempu is better than de.ja.gow or that Bendre is better than Kamala Hampana (My God, did I really take the two names in the same sentence ? Sheeeesh….)
So, Mr. Rao, no point trying to argue based on your personal rapport or friendship with the three people emntioned in this article. They may all be nice people, very nice to you. But, KP was comparing them with RK Narayan and none of the three named here will come anyhere close.
I rest my case, with the confidence that most readers of this blog will side with me ;)
I thank Sri. Quizman and Mr. Prasad for their valuable advice. I fully respect and cherish it. It is the secularisation of awards, naming of streets and circles, and such other developments that we should all be taking note of with concern. This exercise is a blatant and constant abuse of power. If so much public good has been created by all our worthies who get so routinely honured in our great city, then there should be some public evidence of it. I am in my forties, my sight has not failed me, but I fail to see it. I will perhaps try to write on this issue shortly.
Mr. December Stud, thank you, too. But, I am surpised that you have missed the point that it is a spoof. Perhaps, the failure was mine that I did not bring out the element of sarcasm clearly. I took off from where Prasad left when he questioned who these three (and other) guys are that they should be getting so honoured.
I’m afraid we are veering off the topic.It’s RKN one is talking about, and it’s high time something is done honouring his contribution to literature. We seem to get into frivolous sidetracks,leaving the focus on main issue.
Similalrly, it’s time one recognises the contribution of ‘Namma Piteelu Chowdayyanoru’. Bangalore has a hall in his name,Chennai still remembers his contribution to Carnatic Classical music but nothing is done in Mysore! I am sure, if somebody starts thinking about that, there will be thousand complications as to who all should be honoured before him!
We have a’Thyagaraja Road’,’Vasudeavacharya Bhavn’,Veene Sheshanna Hall’.No Chowdayya Hall, Road or even a circle. Jawagal and Kumble are lucky that way, their contributions are recognised already.
I would like to ask vijendra rao what kind of cultural shock he experienced inside vedantha hemmige’s house…. Just out of curiosity
And Mr Quizman… Ask any senior citizen of Mysore … He or she will definitely tell u about vedantha Hemmige…