It all started with the eternal question of ‘To be or not to be’ raised by the Shakespearean Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. To celebrate 40th anniversary of Star of Mysore or not. That was the question. The doubt arose because some one thought after the Silver Jubilee celebrations on Feb.16, 2003, it is Golden Jubilee in 2028. Let us wait for another 10 years.
If winter comes, can spring be far behind? Likewise, if we are entering 41st year of publication, can 50th year be far behind? But then the old war horse, yours truly, is eager to hang up the spurs, retire to its stable allowing the young stallions to take to the course and run towards the 50th year !
Now, forget the old horse is really old. With many well- healed wounds, it is raring to go towards the Golden Jubilee along with the youngsters. I still feel, my life’s work is not quite done. Nor do I feel I have won the race. Of course, I always believed that life’s race is not for winning but to keep running till the end chasing a goal-post that keeps shifting or moving farther and farther.
Many asked me why the function was held on 17th, one day after the actual day of anniversary, that is, 16th February. Yes, we need to explain. We had not thought of celebrating the 40th anniversary, but had thought of reviving a tradition of 25 years which was abandoned since 15 years — annual staff dinner, a gala evening of spirits, food, music and dance. Then it happened that Devdutt Pattanaik, you know who, agreed to deliver the anniversary lecture with pleasure. That was an excuse and we decided on both the anniversary and staff dinner.
With only a month at our disposal we rushed to book Kalamandira. No. It was already booked. Luckily, Platinum Jubilee Hall on J.K. Grounds was available and booked it post-haste. Now what about our chief guest? Of course, it must be Suttur Mutt Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji. It was he who had presided over the Silver Jubilee in 2003. However, we wanted him for reasons of redeeming a promise and aspiration made on that occasion by me from the stage that Sri Swamiji should grace our function and bless us on the 40th or 50th anniversary.
At that time, listening to my aspiration, Swamiji in his concluding address of benediction responded to my aspiration by narrating an incident from the Mahabharata which I remembered on this occasion. It was like a premonition by the Swamiji that he might not be able to meet my aspiration. And it was so. When my son and I went to meet him to invite for this function, he sought time to confirm and after a week confirmed his inability as he had an important engagement on that day. It was for this reason in my opening address, I narrated the Mahabharata episode at this function which was presided over by Union Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar. Now the episode:
The Kurukshetra war between Kauravas and Pandavas had ended with the latter winning. The Pandavas settled down to rule the country. Dharmaraya was the King. One day he was in the Royal Court with his brothers and after the day’s work Dharmaraya was about to leave for his Palace. At that moment a poor man approached him seeking help for his daughter’s marriage.
“Come tomorrow. I will consider,” said Dharmaraya and left for his Palace with his Prime Minister. On the way he saw lights being lit along the streets and in the houses like in a festive celebration.
“What is this, Minister?” asked Dharmaraya, “This is not the season of Deepavali.” The Minister replied, “My Lord, this special celebration is ordered by your brother Bheemasena.”
Surprised and a bit annoyed, Dharmaraya said, “But why? Ask him to meet me immediately.”
Most obedient Bheema presented himself before his elder brother Dharmaraya.
“Bheema, what is this? Festive lights along the streets and in houses. And Minister tells me you ordered this festive celebration.”
Bowing in reverence, Bheema said: “Yes my revered brother. What else can I do. Should we not celebrate your mystical power of knowing the events of the past, present and future like a Trikala Jnani?”
Dharmaraya in a state of impatience asked Bheema to stop the rigmarole and answer in plain words.
Bheema said, “Today, a poor man came to your court seeking help for his daughter’s marriage. What did you tell him? “Come tomorrow, we will see.” Most revered brother, how do you know tomorrow whether that poor man would be alive or you yourself would be alive. You spoke like a ‘Trikala Jnani.’ If you are that, then there should be a festive celebration. And that is what I have done.”
Narrating this episode, Swamiji turned towards me with a gentle, teasing smile. I returned an understanding smile. And the audience too smiled.
As if to vindicate the truth of this Mahabharata story, Swamiji could not make it to SOM’s 40th anniversary. In retrospect, I reflect that in life the only constant is uncertainty. Let it be.
Now my hunt for a new chief guest began. A friend in need is a friend indeed. On receiving a negative message from the Mutt, I immediately called Industrialist Shreekaanth Dass, brother of S.A. Ramdas, former Minister and sought his help. He had apparently understood my predicament and seriousness of my request. “Don’t worry uncle. Give me an hour’s time. I will come back to you.” True to his word, he came back to me with Union Minister Ananth Kumar’s name and so it was.
Many may be wondering how is it that Ananth Kumar keeps winning Bengaluru South Parliamentary Constituency continuously for six times and I’m sure he will win again in 2019. What is the secret? I guess it is same as that of our own H.S. Shankaralingegowda (HSS) of BJP winning continuously for four times and losing when reneged and contested from JD(S). As long as a candidate keeps in direct touch with the VOTER and resonates positively to his needs victory is assured. HSS used to tell me in a lighter vein how many chappals were worn-out in a year doing ‘padayatra’ in his constituency.
In a similar way, I learn from my sister-in-law Rajani living in HSR Layout, Bengaluru, that Ananth Kumar quickly responds to the voter’s complaints and gave one example.
In HSR Layout 7th sector there was a park, about half acre. First a few poojaris encroached starting a temple despite protests from the residents. But the BDA connived and half the park was gone. A few years later the ICCI got the remaining area of the park allotted to itself and moved in quickly to start the work with a JCB menacingly parked inside. Over hundred residents gathered and protested. Approached Ananth Kumar, who came to the spot and then got the Congress Chief Minister Dharam Singh himself to the spot. The park was saved.
I have received a letter from an ex-BSNL employee praising Ananth Kumar for his help to the BSNL employees and pensioners. Likewise he must have helped many. In addition, his wife is a pro-active social activist doing yeomen service to women of that constituency. No wonder, victory goes with hard and honest service to society.
We have received many messages, letters of appreciation, cards, sweets, yours truly being honoured in the office in the traditional way with shawl, Mysuru Peta etc. A few birthday cakes too. But I must show my readers these two cakes, one of which I had no heart to cut and eat. It is still in the fridge to show to close friends. It came from Grand Mercure Hotel, Mysuru. The other cake resembling SOM’s mascot Mahishasura was by Blue Sand and Kalisu Foundation. [See pics].
And finally, I believe that a function of this kind or any kind, even a mela or jatre can succeed as envisaged, as visualised only if there is proper planning well in advance, mutual consultation among those involved and by a TEAM led by a team-leader. The input from each member is vital for the smooth and successful conduct of a function. But then if things can go wrong, they will. If anything went wrong at our function, I seek your indulgence and understanding.