Remembered a funny incident when I took over charge of kitchen as a newly married. I opened all masala boxes and shocked to see the contents. All were worm infested. Opened the rice container and it too was full of worms. When I asked Venu whether he knew what food he was consuming as everything was full of worms. Venu just said when one can have prawn fried rice why not poka (worm in Bengali) fried rice. Will really miss this witty man.
Our marriage as fixed. One day, along with my sister we went to watch a Malayalam movie. The show was houseful. We were standing depressed not knowing what to do when I saw my knight in shining armor walking towards us. He flourished two tickets in front of us and told us to accept it. We thanked him profusely. On reaching the alloted seats, my sister noticed Venu coming and quickly exchanged our seats so that her seat was next to Venu. Later Venu said he felt like killing my sister for her act and had kept watching me and not the movie. Then came to know from Venu's brother that Venu seeing us standing so forlorn had snatched his brother's and his friend's tickets and given us and the poor things had to go without seeing the movie.
He said after getting married he was not interested in seeing Malayalam movies as he had already got a wife, so there was no need to ogle at ladies anymore.
While in Delhi, I bought some eggs from the store. On checking, I chanced to see that one of the eggs was shapeless. I told the shopkeeper to replace it. He should have been polite enough to do so. Instead he went on to say that he did not lay the egg, the hen did and so on. I got infuriated and told him I will a fight because of an egg. It was not the question of an egg, I wanted to teach him a lesson because of his impudent behavior.
I got infuriated and told him I will return again with my husband as soon as he returned from office. Maybe, the shopkeeper did not take it seriously thinking no man in his senses will think of coming for a fight because of an egg. It was not the question of an egg, I wanted to teach him a lesson because of his impudent behavior. As soon as Venu returned from office I told him he must come with me immediately to the store. Venu tried his best to calm me down, finally decided to accompany me to the store. The storekeeper did not except this and was very cordial to Venu saying he can take an exchange egg and whatever he wanted, face full of smiles. I think anyone who sees Venu forget their anger. Venu the real charmer.
Venu was a very good exchange master. Once having bought a sari from Nalli, Chennai, I wanted to change it and told Venu so. We went to Nalli and gave the sari for exchange. While examining the salesman noticed a very light mud stain and refused to exchange. I badly did want to exchange for a better color. Always the knight in shining armour, Venu as usual showed hid hreoism, asked for the manager to have a talk and threatened the salesman. The salesman then lay down arms and was willing to exchange the sari.
As it was a rainy season and I was working in a school, I wanted to buy a pair of water proof slippers. I did wear it for a day and found that the nos on each feet were different. I told Venu I wanted to exchange with the proper size. Venu was shocked and said since I used it they would not exchange it. But seeing my forlorn face decided to give it a try and we went again to the Bata shoe shop in Rountana, Annanagar. Venu did manage to make the salesman agree for an exchange after sometime of talking.
Venu invited his very close friend, parents and sisters home for dinner. Painstalkingly I prepared everything. When no one came, I was upset. Venu then came with a sorry look on his face saying he had forgotten to invite them. He went quite late at night to bring them home so as not to upset me. But they had already had their dinner and just had some food for namesake.
One day Venu said he was inviting his Times of India friends for having idli, sambar and chutney. I had the batter ground and ready for next day. Luckily sambar and chutney were yet to be prepared. He came home and said no one was coming. My mother had a touch time finishing the wholesale batter.
One day I told Venu I was making idiappam and mutton curry for dinner. Venu was thrilled. Did not know my method of making idiappam would backfire as it was not made that way. I did become an expert later. I kneaded the rice flour into a dough, took the idiappam stand and tried to press through the holes. The dough refused to come out. I tried with all my strength but no use. Venu meanwhile was waiting for his mouthwatering dinner. Not seeing it coming, he came to the kitchen to see what the matter was. Both of us tried but failed. Time was getting late. Saw Venu running out. He returned with the presswala. Both of them tried with all their strength and some amount of idiappam came out. Then Venu noticed the dhobi waiting at the door not going home. Asked him why and he replied he wanted to try the dish that was so difficult to make.
In the early 80s Venu was in Bhubhaneshwar to set up Times of India office. He was to be there for 3 months so he wanted his family with him. Along with my mother and toddler son, we took a train to Bhubhaneshwar. My notion of Bhubhaneswar stuck to cuttack as the station approached usually when we slept when I travelled as a child with my parents from Kolkatta to Chennai and the same train resumed journey after a halt of 3 hrs in Chennai to Kerala. As soon as the train stopped at Cuttack, along with mother and son I got down thinking it to be Bhubhaneshwar. Not seeing Venu to receive us, both of us got really annoyed and started moving towards the exit.
There was a telephone booth, and with the given no. tried contacting Venu. Seeing me worried and angry, the boothwala asked for the no. and immediately said that I had to make a trunk call as the no was not a Cuttack no. I got panicky. A rickhshaw walah who had been noticing everything came to my rescue and said he would drop me to the bus stop plying to Bhubhaneshwar and it would be one and a half hrs.. The journey went on and on and I angrily asked him whether he was taking me to Bhubhaneshwar. After what seemed ages, we boarded the bus helped by the friendly richshaw wala and reached Bhubhaneswar and arrived at the given address to the hotel.
As I was climbing the stairs to go to my room, there was a call at the reception meant for me. It was a call from Venu's boss's wife saying her husband had a dream in which he saw me getting down at Cuttack. I said it really happened.
We were waiting in the room when Venu arrived drenched in sweat and angry. He shouted at me and asked me if I was educated. It so happened that Venu was waiting at Bhubhaneshwar and when enquired the passengers in the couch about us, they said an aged lady, a young lady with a baby had got down at Cuttack. He also said he was to make a police complaint. When I said his boss ( also my father's close friend) saw a dream in which we were getting down at Cuttack, Venu shot back, ' Why should he dream about my wife'.
Venu took me to a restaurant he usually went. The waiter immediately pulled the screen to make the room cozy. Venu said there was no need to pull the screen as the lady was his wife.
While working in The Times of India, Venu's Hindu colleague was in love with a Christian colleague. One day she was found weeping and coming to know about the incident, the manager unaware of the person she loved asked her if it was Venu. She replied in the negative. One day a few friends decided to get them married. Venu told the lady to pack up some of her belongings and get into the car that would be waiting down. There was this driver, partner in all crimes who was supposed to turn the car and wait since it was a narrow lane. He didn't. When she got into the car, it was like some film scene. The driver recklessly turned the car with much trouble with her people getting close, managed to turn and sped away. Both the colleagues were helped to get married, a home located and all essential things bought for the house. Her brother, an armyman on returning and coming to know of the incident came in search of Venu, the hero but the villain for him. He came wielding a knife asking for Venu. He had not seen him before. The manager, hearing all commotion was put up in his room rotating the runaway bride's small niece on the rotating chair keeping off from all the problem going on. When Venu came and introduced, he gave him a piece of his mind saying his sister was supposed to be a nun. Venu started talking of communism saying Jesus Christ was a communist and so on. The brother got shocked and said' You are Satan'. Seeing him entering the office with a knife, the hawkers (all Venu's friends) barged into the room to help Venu. The brother left not able to challenge Venu. Finally, the couple were accepted and the colleague was the most loved son-in-law.
Once while travelling by train, there was only one berth for both Venu and me. Venu was in an unalloted berth. When TT came and enquired, venu said a lady was using his berth and he can ask her to vacate.
People in the couch looked shocked because the lady Venu mentioned was me. The TT too was speechless and finally alloted Venu a berth.
First meeting of my late husband Venu was at a Filmfare Awards Function in Kolkatta. in the early 70s. I used to see this tall, dark and handsome man impeccably dressed in white, including white shoes running around organizing the event. He was an employee of Times of India in charge of Economic Times later. Along with late Mr. Khuswant Singh he had gone to interview Saint Tetresa at he Dying Home in Kalighat, Kolkatta and returned with a vast experience..
My late father used to get passes for the show and it was an event looked forward too as well as Femina shows.
Venu was in charge of receiving actors coming from Bombay. Later he told me that Amol Palekar took a liking to him and was always behind him calling 'Venu, venu'.
I used to see him at a theatre showing Malayalam movies every Sunday. My younger brother used to be fascinated with his belt with the sparkling huge clips.
My brother-in-law, my younger sister's husband(my younger sis had got married before me) was his mess mate. He brought the proposal for me. Later I came to know that Venu himself had taken a liking to me after seeing me at the theatre showing Malayalam movies.
When the proposal came, my father refused saying he will not give his daughter to any Tamilian.
His friend who was the boss of Venu laughingly told that Venu was of our caste.
When marriage talks were going on, I refused saying he was dark. My BIL got real angry and asked me whether I considered myself Reita Feria, a Miss World.
I meekly consented to the marriage and till he breathed his last has absolutely no regrets. He is, was and will always be my knight in shining armour and the tall, dark and handsome hero of the Mills and Boon novels which I was a fan of.
After getting married and moving to his house which used to be a mess shared by his brothers and other friends, all were asked to vacate. There was this cook who even if abused never used to leave, the reason was the inmates of the mess would sometimes take loan from him. The happenings in the mess when told by Venu were hilarious.
After marrying Venu, I got a wonderful family from his side. A wonderful mother-in-law, who always sided me in any arguement and Venu chided her asking her whether he was her son or Anu her daugher, three elder sisters, 2 brothers-in-law and a batch of nephews and nieces. I used to be one among them, so got along well with them. Venu was blessed to see his grandsons, granddaughters and also great grandchildren.(grandchildren of his eldest sister who passed away two years back)
He had always wanted his family and friends to be around him. He was everyone's pillar of strength. He had endeared himself to my late father. Call it providence, both had to die due to lung problem.
Both my father and Venu were similar in nature. He was really a father figure for me and a pillar of strength till he breathed his last. He kept giving me hope knowing well he will not survive. He would keep calling me every now and then. I used to tell him I had other work also, he would look forlorn and face would light up when I used to enter his room. My hope for a recovery made me chide him to fight and not be inactive, to be up and about and take care of his needs. Then I used to feel sorry for my outburst and say sorry over again for which he used to calmly say that he understood me very well and that he was blessed to have a wife like me. He also said that he would never have been able to take care of me as I cared for him, hold my hand and keep kissing it till I have to ask him to stop. Even though suffering, he never gave me a chance to understand it.
When he complained of chest pain and I asked if it was unbearable, he would say it was OK.
He had started losing weight drastically and also his speech. But my coaxing everyday had made him utter everyone's names till he breathed his last.
A few months before, he was training me how to activate his bank details, to make online payment etc. He was always afraid about me and how I will survive without him.
I always kept assuring him not to worry about expenses or anything else and relax. He always told he was never bothered about money. He gave me assurance he would be around to celebrate our 40th anniversary on 26th May.
He had told me he had ordered an online dress for me for my birthday on 30th March.
Feel grateful to Lord Vaithyanathan whose ashtakam was rendered and played everyday since a friend told me it is powerful. Though the Lord did not prolong life, he made sure that Venu did not suffer.
After taking me for a bride and entering his home, the cook was dismissed. I knew minimal cooking, my culinary speciality was making rotis having learnt from my neighbor who was a punjabi. She was very much impressed by my rotis.
Gradually, I learnt cooking and finally was declared a wonderful cook by friends and relatives.
Having spent most of my life in Kolkatta, my education, wedding and birth of son, we shifted to Chennai in 1986. Venu had resigned from Times in 1983 and joined a foreign company based in Indonesia with branches in Dubai and far eastern countries. He used to come to Chennai every month. My mother used to be me to take care of me and Pravin.
We shifted to Zaire in Central Africa and had a wonderful time for 8 months after which my son and I were packed off to Chennai.
Venu kept shuttling between Chennai, Dubai and africa.
One fine day he said a friend who owned a company had offered him a job as VP in his company. After a year or two he was transferred to Hyderabad where life was a roller coaster ride, making new friends and new experiences. Used to attend functions where popular Telugu stars used to come. It was partying all the way till the year 1994. Was in Hyd from 1991 to 1994.
Remember the train journey from Chennei to Hyd, where minister Kalyan Singh was in the next coach. Black cats sitting at the the window seats next to our seat were invariably going along with him weilding their guns when he went to toilet. Pravin used to be fascinated by their guns and allowed to go through it by the black cats.
Venu as usual quirked,' Happy I am not a minister'.
While in Hyd, venu was invited for the inagural run of cable cars in Gujurat, Gujjar Hills, Ambe Mata Temple.
While in Hyd, venu was invited for the inagural run of cable cars in Gujurat, Gujjar Hills, Ambe Mata Temple. The cable car he was travelling with 3 others literally came off the hook and it was a miraculous escape for everyone because the racing cable car came to a stop when it stopped because of a stationary cable. The people inside were asked to be very still with not even a slight movement to avoid the cable car from coming off the hook.and may crash down. After help arrived, one by one the people inside were brought down by pulley technique.
When press came to make a report, Venu immediately stopped them and said they were doing a trial run to see what would happen in a calamity. The owner of the company literally fell at Venu's feet for saving his company..
Once, while in office, ( I used to go with him to office once in a while and friendly with the staff), a youngster who was to get married in two months narrated the cable car ordeal (he was one of the occupents of the cable car), told me the only person who remained calm was Mr. Venugopal and he made sure the other 3 got down before he got down in the end. He also said it was difficult to come across a person like Venugopal..
In honor of Venu's act, he was invited to garland the then Gujarat CM, Kashbai Patel and I was asked to garlad Mrs. Patel. Such was the respect he got from anyone who was in contact with him.
Then it was transfer to Delhi from 1994 to 2000.
He had to attend many VIP meets and in one such meet thrown by a prestigious Newpaper owner, I too had the chance to go with him. The whole open ground was filled with black cats. I befriended the owner's wife as well as Mrs TN Sheshan, Ex election commissioner.
While sitting for lunch, the person sitting beside me was explaining how the rabdi was made when I said it was tasty. The person very patiently explained how it was made.
While leaving, I bid goodbye by patting Mrs Seshan on her back. Venu, when outside asked me if I was aware of what I had been going. He said the person sitting beside me was none other than the newspaper owner himself and I was behaving with Mrs Seshan as some long lost friend.
He used to the PRO for LN mitthal, the steel tycoon whom he used to meet whenever he was in Delhi and narrated a lot of interesting things.
He was also invited for Mr. Mitthals son's wedding in Kolkatta, the venue being The Victoria Memorial.
He could not go. The wedding invitation with a box of sweets was delivered to Venu at his office in Delhi. A beautiful meenekari box, yet to see its worth as it looks like it is silver. The sweet inside were shared with the staff and only the box brought home.
Venu had the charm to charm everyone, be it neighbors or their children. Our neighbor's children always used to be at our place.
Our immediate neighbor had come down from Mumbai to pay homage and said his wife was crying her lungs out.
From Delhi, it was Chennai again. He suffered a massive heart attack in 2006 July and had a bypass in 2006 August. He resigned his job and while seeking for one was offered a job in Mangalam Timbres, a Birla company as VP by a friend working there. He jokingly told everyone that he got the job at an age when people retire as the VP.. He was 58 at that time. As always, he endeared himself to one and all, his boss and colleagues. He was fit and fine till 10 years and I had a lot of wonderful moments with him. He and Pravin were more like friends and not father and son. He was called Babe by Pravin. Being in Kolkatta, father was baba, but Pravin changed it to babe.
He was a prankster.
While attending a colleague's wedding while in TOI, he had retorted that his bride was far better than his other girlfriend.
The next day, the colleague came rushing to Venu saying he was ruining his married life as his wife believed it and was furious with him. Then Venu had to go and pacify her saying it was said in a joke.
When I befriended the mami, our first floor neighbor in Kolkatta, she narrated their first meeting.
She was Hema and Venu told everyone he had Hemamalini as his neighbor. One fine day she told Venu that Hema was coming down to meet him. The way she narrated was hilarious. Venu was standing by the stairs and she told Venu he could see Hema malini in person. She was a stout and dusky lady and Venu was quite shocked.
Later she and her husband and sons became very friendly with us.
He had once told mami (fondly called) that even if anyone married a patti (dog), none should marry a pattar.
Mami fumed saying how dare he insult their caste when immediately Venu said, ' Mami marry a naya (dog in Malayalam) but never a nair which made mami burst out laughing.
The house we lived were Naxalite infected. Our neighbor too had been a naxalite.
Venu befriended all and was able to change a few advising them to continue their education.
Once a problem brought the whole slum at our doorstep.
Hearing of it, his naxal friends came with pipe guns shouting in Bengali who were the people planning to attack Venuda.
He endeared himself to one and all. His friendship with his neighbours in Chennai who were his school mates also is credible. The friend ship still carried on till the end. A 56+ years of friendship. He was more like a family member to his neighbors whose mother looked upon him as her son. A similar freindship lasted from Kolkatta days where he had another mom.
His nature was such that if if he was abused and kicked, he would go that place. He had no enemy. If anyone had critisized, it was because of their ignorance in knowing him.
His stature was such that friends and relatives from all around the globe called up to pay their last respect. A family friend's daughter who stayed with us while in Delhi used to call us her Delhi parents. She called up from UK and broke down saying she had lost a loving father.
His goodness gave us a loving and responsible son and a more loving and responsible daughter, our son's wife Meena. She gave us a wonderful extended family. Since she lost her father 10 years back, she looked upon Venu as her father affectionately calling him Daddy, scolding him, fighting and arguing with him. There was no need for him to have missed having a daughter.
Feel blessed to have shared a lot of rich experience and to be by his bedside when he breathed his last.
In fact Venu's family members with their extended families are our family also.
There was no restlessness, no suffering and he looked peaceful when he took his last breath.
Only beautiful memories remain and the last stage experience.
I am grateful to the almighty for giving me strength to face everything. As an astrologer said, it was an auspicious time to have departed and even no karmam (last rites) need to be done. He had gone straight to Kailash to entertain Lord Shiva. He attained
Most importantly, he was a true Rotarian. Having joined Rotary in 1991 in Hyderabad, he became a Rotarian in 2004 and remained in Rotary till his end. Was the president of his club, 2012-13 and it was a wonderful year with PETS (President Elect Training Seminar) in Singapore.
The crowd that collected from all over as well as Rotary clubs to pay their homage was proof of him being a great Rotarian, service oriented and fun to be with. Children loved him. A very close Rotary associate had gone out of her way to visit temples, collect vibhuthi and bring it home for Venu.
His great grand niece, when she was around 4 used to introduce him to her friends as her best friend. His own grandson, his other grandson, meena's sis son fondly called Munchie were his great fans. For both, he was their most favorite daddy as they called him. Then it was chachacha for Amartya Pravin's son. He looks at his chachacha's photo and says chachacha has become ambati (God). If told, he will go and bow down in front of the lamp kept in front of his grandpa's photo. He is only 2 years and 3 months old. Such was his charishma.
Remember some MBA students coming home in Hyderabad to get Venu's advice.
Venu used to be among the panel of judges for interviewing IIM aspirants when in Delhi and the pay given was always given in charity especially to Saint Teresa Charitable Trust..
Continuation of Reminicences of a true gentleman.
When Venu was in Uganda, there was a civil war during Idi Amin's rule.
Where Venu was staying, he could hear gun shots now and then.
A group of friends were with him who were literally scared. Venu made them lie on the floor and they played cards. When army arrived to evacuate them, Venu and friends could see bullet shattered bodies lying on the road.
Once when in Delhi after the assassination of Late Rajiv Gandhi, Venu wearing a monkey cap as it was winter was accousted by a sikh military man thinking he was an LTTE saying whether he remembered that a sikh had assassinated late Indira Gandhi. Venu without any fear asked him whether he remembered that an LTTE had killed Rajiv Gandhi.
He then assured the sikh armyman that he was from Chennai and on official tour and nothing to do with LTTE.
Once when returning from Perambur station to our house in Shanthi Colony, the auto driver created some problem regarding fare. Venu asked me to go home as he wanted to deal with the auto driver. The driver was heard saying that he had just returned from jail last week after committing a murder. I heard Venu saying that he too would go to jail after a murder.
The driver did not know that Venu knew such good Tamil. He sobered down told Venu to give the asked for fare, turned the auto in full speed and sped away. Venu paid the fare asked for. When I enquired why all the drama, he said he wanted to teach the auto driver a lesson for duping innocent passengers.
When I went to Zaire, Kinshasha (Central Africa), a few of Venu's friends had come to see me and Pravin. I was having a bath and had come with a towed tied around my head. Venu introduced me to his friends as Idi Amin.
One Sunday, Venu left in the morning 7 am to meet his boss. Around 10 am, the boss came searching for Venu. I told him, he had left in the morning to meet him. The boss said Venu had not come. I got petrified, a friend of Venu who was with us calmed me and said he would go in search. .
The friend returned after a long time and said Venu was not traceable. I was at a loss to understand what to do being in Zaire.
In the late afternoon, another friend called up saying, he found Venu and he was playing cards in a friend's house. You can understand the situation at home when Venu returned.
he could babysit me? With a heavy heart I went back home. I waited and waited. It was nearing 2 am and no sign or information from Venu . Around 2:30, I could hear a car and going outside saw Venu paying off the cab wala. Controlling my anger I asked him where he was. He said his marine friends had come, so he was with them in the ship. So much for all the advice given by the BIL. Wasn't he disobedient??When our marriage was fixed, Venu used to come home on his Jawa bike which had no silencer. The moment the bike came full speed through our society gate, everyone hearing the loud sound would come to their balconies saying' Jamai ashche' meaning the groom is coming.
My mother used to make a delicious spread in honour of her would be son-in-law, delicious mutton curry which Venu enjoyed. After our marriage, he used to say now when I go to your house, your mom does not make anything as before.
Pravin called him Babe. Whenever he used to go out with Pravin, he had given strict orders (in fun) to Pravin to call him dada and not babe. Whenever Pravin used to dress well, he would say, 'Now you look like my son'. There was this friend of his called Jawahar. Invariably he called him Janwar and he used to get upset. Once at home immediately after marriage, the maid who usually did the grinding did not come. Venu magnanimously offered to do the grinding. As he was at it, someone knocked at the door. Venu was about to get up when he heard the sound of his friend, immediately sat down, resumed the grinding and called out to his friend and wife saying how his wife was treating him.
My husband was admitted in the CCU with severe breathing problem in a hospital.
His bed was close to the entrance door.
The next day when I went to see him, he was sitting up on bed but looked completely different. The sight gave me a scare and I asked in Malayalam 'Ventttan edhu patti'. The person I addressed looked really dark and scary. I thought the medicines given had taken a toll on this present look.
The person addresed who was lying on bed leapt up and asked.' Enna ache'. I panicked and just then found my husband sitting up two beds way. He was shocked at what I said and said the person may be on ventilator. I said he was not having any ventilator or any such thing. A relative chucklingly said,' Good he did not get a hear attack'.
An incident at NIMS, Hyderabad.
Venu, my husband was detected with high BP in 1992 when we were in Hyderabad,
While in Chennai, his blood report showed AB+. Another blood test was taken in Secunderabad where we we were staying. The report showed B+. I was doutful which report was correct.
With my husband away on tour, I had to take the report (the AB + was already discarded) to be shown at NIMS to a very reputed doctor.
After having waited for some hours for my turn, I was ushered in to his chamber when my turn came. He checked and said Venu needed BP medication.
Before leaving I asked the doctor,' Doctor can a blood group change'? My husband's blood group seems to have changed. The doctor gave a shocked look and said,' No it can never change'. I decided I had made a mistake and left the chamber.