churumuri.com is delighted to record the renaming (and flagging off) of the daily Mysore-Yeshwanthpur Express between Karnataka’s two premier cities as Malgudi Express, to perpetuate the memory of India’s first globally renowned English writer, the Mysorean R.K. Narayan.
We are delighted for two reasons.
One, we believe that even as small a gesture as getting a train named after Narayan’s creation, although rather late in coming, is an important signal in giving our literary, social and cultural titans their due.
And two, the railway ministry’s decision is largely if not solely the outcome of the suggestions of churumuri readers across the world, who responded magnificently to our campaign which began over five years ago.
In many ways, therefore, this is a victory of online activism of a kind not generally known or seen in India.
On this happy occasion, please allow us a moment of self-congratulation.
We would like to thank the then governor of Karnataka, T.N. Chaturvedi, who took the churumuri campaign to the railway ministry in the centenary year of Narayan’s birth; the Union minister for external affairs S.M. Krishna who revived the campaign in the 10th year of RKN’s death; and the railway minister Dinesh Trivedi who gave the green signal.
Additionally,we are thankful to the late Mysorean icon, T.S. Satyan, the historian Ramachandra Guha, and the writer Sunaad Raghuram who took the churumuri campaign to the governor of Karnataka. Several writers have kept the campaign alive over the years by writing pieces on Narayan. S.M. Krishna’s advisor Raghavendra Shastry, played a key role in reactivating the campaign this year.
Above all, we are thankful to our readers. Without you, this small salute for a giant Mysorean would not have been possible.
Coming up next: A stamp for R.K. Narayan.
MALGUDI EXPRESS TIMINGS
Train No. 17304: Leaves Yeshwanthpur daily at 11.35 am, reaches Mysore at 3 pm
Train No. 17303: Leaves Mysore daily at 12.10 pm, reaches Yeshwanthpur at 3.30pm
Photograph: courtesy Simon Winchester/ The Guardian
Read: All the stories in R.K. Narayan campaign
Also read: ‘Where is Malgudi? Where we all wish we lived’
Ved Mehta on a day in the life of R.K. Narayan
T.S. NAGARAJAN: The R.K. Narayan only I knew
T.S. SATYAN: The R.K. Narayan only I knew
R.S. KRISHNASWAMY: A day in the life of R.K. Narayan
CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY: As Mysorean as Mysore pak, Mysore mallige
Naming a train after RKN’s ‘Malgudi’, naming a circle or street is better than converting his house into a ‘memorial’. Even the place where swami Vivekananda stayed before he went to Chicago -Niranjan Mutt’ in Mysore has been allowed to become a public urinal! Given the attitude we have for treasuring heritage buildings, lackadaisical attitude of corporation officials, budget etc, maintaining RKN’s house would surely be a recipe for disaster !They must shelve the idea of a memorial, however noble the thought. Well done Churumuri!
Thats fantastic. Kudos to Churumuri!
Good… Malgudi annodanna avaru kannada dalli haakli board.
Speaking at the inaugural programme of B.V. Karanth Navarathri Rangothsava at Rangayana, Noted Kannada Litterateur Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah (Hampana) questioned the sanctity behind Making his house a memorial when RKN’s children and grandchildren were not bothered about retaining the house and the government seemed to be unnecessarily involving in the matter.
“Government seems to be unaware of the State of the house inhabited by the great Kannada Novelist T.R. Subba Rao (Tarasu)”, said Nagarajaiah.
Quoting an incident at the 51st Kannada Sahitya Sammelan held in Dharmasthala in 1978, Nagarajaiah said, “Chandrashekar Kambar presided and along with him were P.T. Narasimhachar, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar and U.R. Ananthamurthy. It was decided to felicitate R.K. Narayan and Shivaram Karanth on the occasion. RKN was asked in which language he would speak and he replied that it would be in English. When told to speak in Kannada, he refused and offered to speak in Tamil. Masti Venkatesh Iyengar and Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar (though their mother-tongue was Tamil) asked RKN to speak in English. That was a very embarrassing moment. RKN never translated Kannada novels to either Tamil or English. He was never a beacon to Kannada litterature and always isolated from that. The government is terribly erring in trying to construct an RKN memorial.”
Four comments. Do we still need to talk about how important this Churumuri victory is? No respect for Kannada, no respect for the person.
So pleased to read that MUDA has declared R.K. Narayan’s house in Vivekananda Road, Yadavagiri, as a heritage structure and will make it a museum — an expensive museum — for the writer.
The museum idea is super, but numbers reported in today’s Star of Mysore indicate a bit of financial recklessness. MUDA has budgeted Rs. 2.2 crore to make the museum — in addition to the Rs. 2 crore already budgeted by the Karnataka government! No indication of what exactly the money will be spent on except obviously building repair. The amount of Rs. 4.2 crore seems inconsistent with the memory of an old Brahmin literatteur who was admired for his frugality.
But that is not all. In addition to that Rs. 4.2 crore, “the family members of R.K. Narayan had prepared a sale deed according to which as per the present market rates, [the property] was sold for Rs. 3.86 crore (at the rate of Rs. 3,250 per sq.ft.). They have requested for Rs. 3 crore from the government with part payment in cash and the rest in the form of a site.”
So Karnataka taxpayers have been stuck with a total bill of at least Rs. 8.06 crore! — everybody has gotten rich: contractors, local politicians, even RKN’s survivors. The museum better be good! — I hope it will become a rich asset to Mysore’s literary culture.