Sunday, December 19, 2010

Part IV of my life in Kerala

Opposite to Anchu Muri Madhom was a house in which lived Manohar Dattatreya Deo a Marathi Bank Manager at the Union Bank with his family. From my previous post it may be deduced that Manohar was his name and Dattatreya his father’s name and Deo, the surname. The Deos, Manohar and Vijaya had two sons Pradeep and Arun. Pradeep was of my age and was also a student of Nirmala College, in the second group morning session. He aspired to be a doctor. Being from Wadi, I developed a natural affinity to Pradeep who became eventually a close friend. Arun was two years younger. Unfortunately, I recently learnt that Arun passed away at the age of 42 in September 2010. These people who originally hailed from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, were the scions of a respected business family D V Deo and Sons, of Mattancheri, Kochi, manufacturers and exporters of essential aromatic oils.

Pradeep was learning to play the Mridangam from one Panangad Chandran, and was familiar with Carnatic classical music. They had a record player and he had a stack of records featuring masters like Chembai, Ariyakkudi, MS Subbulakshmi and the like. He had a great fascination for Palakkad Mani Iyer, the Mridangam Maestro, and had many legends to share. At his home in the evenings I learnt to appreciate the nuances of carnatic music. It was my first exposure to this treasure trove of culture. Incidentally it was around this time that the epic movie Shankarabharanam, directed by K.Vishvanath and featuring Somayajulu was released and it became quite a success. I watched it several times in Latha Theatre.

Pradeep was proud of forcing me to listen to the records and pointing out to me the fine distinctions that differentiated Adi Taalam from the roopaka taalam. He was more enthusiastic about percussion than about melody, though we did learn to identify Kalyani from Mohanam, Sree from Madhyamavati etc. While Pradeep was inclined towards heavy dignified Ragas like shankarabharanam and Kalyani, I preferred soulful ones like Sree, madhyamavati, sahana, kanada, Darbar and the like. There was at that time a gentleman called Sundaresan, who was also very keen on carnatic music and who also was an astrologer in Moovattupuzha, who in a white shirt and Mundu visited the Puzhakkara Kavu daily. There was at that time a cultural organization called the MELA or the Moovattupuzha Enlightened Lovers of Art, which organized cultural events like Kathakali performances and as a part of MELA, under the leadership of Sundaresan, we boys started an organization called the Shatkala Sangeeta Sabha to bring carnatic music to Moovattupuzha. The inaugural concert was by Dr. M Balamurali Krishna who sang a detailed Shanmukhapriya exposition followed by his own composition, “sada tava paada” during the concert. He was accompanied by his wife Abhayambika on the Tampura and by local percussionist Panangad Chandran, Pradeep’s teacher on the Mridangam. Though Chandran was not of the class of Dr.Balamurali Krishna, the concert was a roaring success and I had the good fortune to be alongside Balamurali during the concert.

Eventually I was enamoured of carnatic music, and though I could not sing, I became adept at recognizing and appreciating ragas, and learnt the basic theory of music on my own. An incident I remember was, when I and Pradeep traveled overnight to Vaikom by bus to listen to Madurai Somasundaram during the Vaikkathashtami concert of 1982 and reaching Vaikom well past midnight, listening to the concert till 4 AM, and leaving back to Moovattupuzha. I have been a fan of carnatic music ever since, and I owe Pradeep for that. It is another story that Pradeep fell to the lures of western pop music later in life.

It was also at this time that I became interested in astrology. Most of the theory was self taught. I gathered enough courage to make predictions and lo and behold many came true! I continued this practice for a long time later till about a few years back and my record of success in astrological predictions was well above par, in fact a roaring success. My services were sought after by the high and mighty and as a matter of fact I landed my first job owing to the predictions I made for one of the Managers of ACC, Wadi. I also learnt the elements of Palmistry and Numerology to supplement my knowledge of astrology. It was only later that I realized that I was naturally gifted with the ‘divine’ skills that astrologers learn – 1) to make vague predictions crouched in astrological terms, 2) to glean information out of the supplicant and then present it back to them in a packaged form and 3) to suggest remedies which are useful and harmless albeit not related to the problem. Things like stating ‘you must have performed below par in atleast one exam between 3rd October 1978 and 12th July 1986’ and having elicited an answer of yes or no (formula 2), saying that ‘you have a danger of failing in your exams this year owing to your Mercury being in the combusted mode because of its 2 degree proximity to the Sun in your horoscope and Saturn being placed in your fourth house, which happens to be Virgo the house of Mercury, the karaka of knowledge - by gochara (formula 1), if you study really hard and chant this particular incatation to Saraswati thrice every morning and offer white flowers and rice to a swan, you might avert failure(formula 3). More about the art of making accurate astrological predictions later.

A third thing I got interested in and pursued at that time was vedic mantras. I used to wake up very early (4 AM – too early by my standards) and listen to records of Rudram, Chamakam, Sookthas and the like and memorise them. Since Balan Mama did not have a record player, Vanaja Mami took me to the house of one Saroja Mami who had the player and the records and I mustered enough interest and enthusiasm to learn these mantras.


Anonymous JC said...

Dear Ram,

After a gap of nearly six months. i leave a small note to your moovatupuzha story- during this period of 1980-1982 if i am not wrong i was @ chertala (alappuzha district).

The reference made to Vaikom in your blog is the place where my wife & S V Pathy,UR uncle hails from.

Chertala and vaikom is divided by VEMBANAD lake.One more place surrounding Chertala is Kumarakom the place full of house boats.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Ramdas Iyer said...

What would I do without JC who has been following my blog so religiously and posting comments? You are one of the - no THE best friend I have ever had the fortune to have. Thank you friend. People like you dont come often in everyones lives. I cherish you. Thanx

12:38 PM  
Blogger Raghavendra said...

Dear Mr.Iyer,

I have a deep connection with your beloved Wadi. I was Project Leader from Honeywell for the world's largest cement kiln automation at Wadi in 2010. I have made numerous trips to Wadi catching the 2'o clock train from Pune to wadi. I have stayed for weeks together at the wonderful "Kagina" guest house at Wadi with it's wonderful chef.



11:24 PM  
Anonymous astrology predictions said...

What would I do without JC who has been following my blog so religiously and posting comments? You are one of the - no THE best friend I have ever had the fortune to have.

11:28 AM  

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