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Story listed as: True Life For Adults | Theme: Family / Friends | Subject: Family | Published here : 08/01/2017
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AN ODE TO MY DAD.....2 
 
By mugunthanchari
Born 1959, M, from CHENNAI, India
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AN ODE TO MY DAD……2
I was promoted from class V to class VI in 1968. The school was called as Moyar Camp Elementary School. The school had mostly students from working class who were laborers associated with Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and a few from the local village called as Undiyoor mostly belonging to Scheduled Tribe population. The standard of education unlike the plains was pathetic. But teachers who were mostly from Thirunelveli district were very good with mathematics and gave us a good grouting. English was poor. As we started moving from class to class the school, the school also started growing from Elementary to Middle school! In that school, I got moved to class VI. My father gave a very long sermon on that day about the emphasis of good education and importance of leading life which should not be a hand to mouth existence! That message got deeply embedded in me.
I remember one teacher there very fondly. Her name was Mrs. Amirtham a Catholic and wife of the local Health Inspector. Every year she used to get a baby and due to heavy pregnancy she used to mostly sleep in the class asking the monitor to take care of the class! For my fourth year birth day she gifted me a pack of “Glaxo” Biscuit and now I am, probably because of her blessing stuck to making biscuits!
We were taught Sanskrit Slokas by both parents. Thus we were fluent in Sri Venkatesa Suprabhatam and Vishnu Sahasranamam before turning 12. When MS Subalakshmi’s Sahasranamam was released as a LP record, we were taken to the local temple to listen to the same by my father. My father liked the speech in English by Sri Rajaji.
Dad used to be very active in the temple and used to take to Saturday Bhajans as well as Markazhazi month morning Bhajans. People used to admire him for the way he used to sing the Bhajans swinging his head in simple harmonic motion!!
As Children we were often taken to the forests to get good Amla, Berrys etc. We also had the fortune of seeing wild animals swimming in Moyar river. Twin calves of a single mother elephant in Theppakadu. My father took to gardening in a big way as we had plenty of space for kitchen garden. Most of the time we spent on the guava tree! We also had the fortune to see deer population devouring our garden which had plenty of beans and other vegetables. Wild pigs used to uproot banana plants to eat the roots!

Dad used to be always to be very presentable. Good dressing sense was his hall mark. He always ensured that all the clothes were washed properly using 501 Bar soap or Sunlight soap! Tin opal a cloth whitener and Blue color used to be liberally used to make his dhotis and white dress shine and stand out! Sundays he used to spend in washing and putting starch for the clothes. Then all the dresses were ironed using an iron box which used coal! Habits which still my younger brother strictly adhere to every weekend, of course using an electric iron box and he has the company of TV to entertain him while ironing the clothes!
When I was in class 7th we three brothers went on a trip to Chennai all alone. Father dropped us at Mettupalayam and we took Blue Mountain Express from Mettupalayam to Chennai. We were received by our cousin in Chennai. The trip to Chennai in hot summer was indeed a great experience as we got exposed to a city. But the hot climate took a toll on our health. When we were to return my Uncle did not know our names correctly. So he booked tickets in the name of TT Chari, TC Chari and TV chari giving approximate ages!!
For class 9th I moved to Sri Shanthi Vijaya High School in Masinagudi. This Jain Institution was the only high school in Coodalore taluq of The Nilgiris District. My father asked me to go and get admitted to the school as he was very busy then. I was asked to pay INR 13.65 as annual fees and I told the head master that my father when free would come and settle the same. The Head master used to teach Maths. Some of the teachers were very good in English. I still remember one Mr. Bholan who used to drive the message hard “Third Person Singular Present Tense one should add “S” to the verb “!! When even highly qualified people make mistakes in this often, I get to remember the great soul!
I had to go to school in school bus run by the electricity board. The distance of 8 KM from Moyar Camp used to take 30 minutes. If by chance any rogue elephant that day we had to return mid way. So we used to chant lot of prayers if there was any tough test asking Ganapthi to save us that day!! We also got to see many Tamil, Hindi film shootings near the school.
In 1972, middle of the academic year my father was transferred to Ambasamudram and he was to take care of a Hydro Electric Power Project in Mundanthurai wild life sanctuary. We had to, in the middle of academic year get transferred to new school, new location where we had to set up a home and manage! The Nilgiris was a paradise, no house rent, free electricity, 24 hours protected water, security and what not! Kallidaikurichi where we set up based was an over grown village and very different from our old way of life!!
……………… To be continued…
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