Abraham (Avirappi) and Rose were my hosts in Chennai. You will not find a more helpful person than Avirappi on the Planet that we know. He goes so much out of the way to help anyone, friend or otherwise, that he has a tendency to neglect his own requirements. To him everyone is an ‘Uncle’ or ‘Brother’. His innate ability to empathise with another’s problem and find solutions for them is a stuff of dreams. Seeing his father, Pius Joseph, lending his shoulders in the most unfortunate situations to the less fortunate during his formative years surely strengthened him. Pius Joseph was a legendary officer of the Indian Railways. Nobody was unworthy of his attention and assistance. His positive attitude and helpful nature brought succor to many within the Railways and outside it. His wide circle of friends and acquaintances is testimony to the good nature of this wonderful human being. “Behind a successful man…” goes the saying. Avirappi has Rose and Pius Joseph has Mariamma with them through all that they go through. The support and motivation they provide their husbands is exemplary. Achievers have the support of their family and the ‘Tharayils’ prove it. A report of my stay in Chennai would not be complete without mentioning the incredible Rajendran and his wife, Maniamma. Rajendran has been with the ‘Tharayils’ for about 15 years catering to every conceivable palate variant. His sense of integrity and devotion to the family is exemplary. He finds time to read the newspapers cover to cover every day and is up to date with the latest political developments. A stauncher supporter of the ‘Kalaingar’ you will never find.
In 1976 TI Cycles had organized a cycle rally from Chennai to Bangalore. All the major colleges in Chennai participated. Each team had three members and the distance of 335 kms was to be covered in three days. The organizers provided the accommodation along the route – very sparse, of course – and the participants were to rent the cycles themselves. Never one to miss out on an adventure I mustered a team and rented cycles. The participation was very good and the rally was most enjoyable. Cycling all the way through without having to seek assistance from the “Medical Van’ was extremely satisfying. In Bangalore, the rallyists were put up in St. Joseph’s College for the night; 34 years later my son became a proud student of that College!
The drive to Bangalore was a dream. The road is fantastic and all along from Chennai to Hosur one can see industrial establishments dotting the landscape. The National Highway is tolled and the entire journey cost me Rs. 215. One does not mind paying the toll as long as the infrastructure is well maintained. In Kerala we do not want wide National Highways and refuse to pay toll; end result is awful roads and accidents. Along the route to Bangalore there are signages saying “Heavy/Slow moving vehicles must keep to the left”. The drivers of heavy and slow moving vehicles obviously misinterpret the message – they keep to the left of the right lane, slowing down traffic! There is need to educate the drivers more so that maximum throughput of vehicles is achieved when such huge investments are made.
The Metro in Bangalore is getting closer to completion; at least the mess on MG Road is far lesser than it was a few months back. There is palpable excitement about the Metro with people queuing up to see the Metro coach and a section of the Motorman cabin even at 9 pm on MG Road. The sight of people lining up to buy tickets for the second day of the ongoing second cricket test match between Australia and India brought back memories of many such ‘exercises’ in Chennai during the 70’s. Staying overnight to purchase the cheap daily tickets was part of the excitement of watching stars in action. The day ended with a meal at Tandoor. The food there has always been top class and so is the bill – a tandoor platter and a few beers with my son set me back by nearly a couple of thousands.