Mahadevan's Monologues

If we had the vision and feeling of ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. – George Eliot

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Short stature, square countenance, a large kumkum mark decorating his forehead, thick growth of white beard, holding onto the chin as the infant monkeys hold on to their mothers’ bellies, a stern looking face that conceals the subdued smile, sleeved shirt tucked inside the pant or the occasional imported jeans, Ganeshan at Pune would greet any new face with an offering of a chocolate.

Ganeshan is gifted with words, covering the entire gamut in the globe, at times with no grammar to govern them. What his thought processes lack, the supply of words, uninhibited by rules of grammar, would supplement them. Thus, he could talk about his Peth’s richness and internal audit’s limitations with equal ease. If he is on back slapping intimacy with the high priests of Satara’s Natraj temple, every Gounder in Coimbatore’s Avinashi Road would trace nostalgically Ganeshan’s days of gay abandon in their group. Every electric pole in his Peth can tell Ganeshan’s tales in greater detail than an inquisitive one would care to hear about. Even if one lives in a cloister for a few days at Pune, one cannot escape hearing about Ganeshan and his exploits. With his endearing qualities, Ganeshan constantly enlarges his circle of friends in Pune.

To renew one’s ration card or to rent a house, Ganeshan would lend his services smilingly. College admission to punishment remission, Ganeshan’s help would be sought after with confidence of success. Priests to perform Yagna to propitiate Gods and Almanac to identify the days for celebrating rituals, Ganeshan can arrange unasked for. Ganeshan’s diary abounds with data on cooks for preparing feasts and girls with ‘looks’ for marriages. Running errand and reforming errant boys are as natural as morning constitutional to him.
When Ganeshan addresses an audience from the stage, like a vehicle bereft of brake, only an obstruction on the way alone can stop him. He refuses to accept the theory that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. He honestly believes that wit can be at its best, if words in plenty are made available, even if they do not add value to the sense. After all one always identifies prosperity with plenty. A slightest pretext is sufficient enough to snatch the mike and start his monotones. He is equally at ease in his homilies, be it a farewell for a colleague or a funeral dirge of a neighbour.

Inhibition and self-consciousness, the bane of progress in any man, are alien to him. Ganeshan would engage himself in conversation with anybody, be he one who looks down upon him as a lowly creature needing to be crushed or look upon him with veneration and awe, wondering at his sagacity. Ganeshan’s charm helps the distant becoming familiar and the indifferent to enter the circle of intimacy.

Ganeshan, as the name suggests, inspires one to spiritual inclinations too. His morning hours are spent in performing Pujas or in immersing himself in identifying with the Immortal Soul. Yet, the meek in this mundane world are not cast aside and Ganeshan’s benign nature would beckon them for soothing words if not for serving their needs.

Often Ganeshan is generous to a fault. His large house provides asylum to many a new comer to Pune City, till they seek and secure shelters of their own. On the eve of his retirement, he arranged a get together when piles of steaming Idlies in large stainless steel boxes and Medhuvada in equally large containers with Sambar and chutney sufficient enough to drown them (elsewhere they are not even drenched) were served to the delight of his colleagues. Ganeshan’s home is like an ‘Aunty’s Inn’, where old timers of Pune frequent to exchange views over tantalizing tiffins and steaming cups of coffee, to improve upon the conditions of the Peth Residents. New comers seek and secure support for their sustenance and for furthering their prospects.

As all his children are abroad now, Ganeshan is under the grip of wanderlust and he travels to Dubai and Dulles as one travels between Pune and Mumbai -instant decision with no elaborate preparations and one fails to remember the frequencies.

Even after his retirement, Ganeshan’s altruistic mission continues. He constantly strives to bring cheers to the sagging morale of Pune’s pensioners by organizing meetings, ensuring that their dues are disbursed in time, calling on them frequently, consoling and comforting the aggrieved and sharing time with the relaxed ones.

Men like Ganeshan, like spices in food, provide fragrance and add to the taste when taken in moderation and their absence make one feel averse towards life. May his ilk continue to inspire us.