I was driving through the blow-hot blow-cold afternoon rains of Bengaluru. Not being able to see clearly was not solely the misty windshield. I had just heard an audio clip of a conversation between my cousin and a doctor who pronounced my dodappa (father’s elder brother in Kannada) as all but dead.
Dodappa was the only Mechanical Engineer in my immediate family before me. In the larger family, we even count Sir. M. Vishweshwaraiah as one of us. When I wrote the CET and qualified for an engineering seat, he was my go-to person. He was also someone I looked up to, to understand issues I had no idea about. His enthusiasm to know and understand new things was infectious. He would frequently ask you questions to make you think more about something. He rarely presented the answer on a platter. He would let you seek your answer but also debate on any false cul-de-sac I mistook for the answer. He wouldn’t let the fire of knowledge go cold. He helped me keep the fire on. The fire of knowledge was the fire of seeking.
Such memories rolled with clarity as I reached the hospital by nightfall to watch him pierced by tubes for life support in the ICU ward. The doctor said he felt no pain. “Nobody should feel that pain”, I thought. Just watching him in that state was unbearable. He breathed his last the next morning. And was cremated by the evening. Finally, the fire got him.
As we went about the next few days with a forced mechanical routine, I began hearing stories about Dodappa from everyone around me. So many aspects of him that I never knew.
A close relative recalled him as a jolly good fellow. That dodappa had no filters while saying things. If his words hurt you, you were mostly at fault because he was expressing mostly what he had in his mind without any agenda. Though I think that communication of one’s own thoughts has to be compulsorily accompanied by the onus of the impact it is causing on the other person, the rest of it I seemed to agree with. Also, that dodappa would pick up the phone and call him (my relative) if he heard about any news about Chennai. Or if India or RCB lost! Dodappa lived in Bangalore while the relative was in Chennai.
My father said that Dodappa was a voracious reader. That he would be found sitting in one corner reading books while the rest of them – a gang of cousins – would be planning something outdoorsy. That sorta explained how he stoked the fire of knowledge within me.
There were countless stories of Dodappa’s generosity at his workplace over whatsapp. So many people owed their careers to this man’s guidance and encouragement. He was planning to attend the 20th year reunion of the alumni of that company this month. They had just formed that whatsapp group to coordinate. The group dedicated a day to nothing else but messages about Dodappa.
This, listening to stories about someone who was no more, was a Deja-vu for me. Recently, I had lost a couple of uncles – Dr. Shirdi Prasad Tekur , and Dr. Gurunath Kilara  during covid. It triggered a parallel stream of thought. How I had no idea about so many aspects of their personalities that formed the very core of who they were! And yet, I had assumed that I knew them well!
I could have just put this down to how wrong I could be about people. And how I was so much younger to them and that it was never going to be possible to know them as much as those who have spent more time with them than I had. The logic fit well in the brain. The heart did not quite accept that this is how it was.
Prasad uncle and I would discuss social issues and politics, at times. Guru mama was a fan of old Hindi songs and movies. My dodappa introduced to me to Telugu mass songs among other movie music. I would debate with dodappa about how AR Rahman’s songs were always better, but as was his wont – he just smiled. Today, when I listen to an “Oo antaava..” I imagine him smiling and enjoying the song!
My dodappa’s name was S. Thyagaraj. His Facebook account is here, in case you are interested. May the departed souls attain peace!
Thus entertainment, social issues, and politics, became the base of what I wanted to start putting out there. I thought I should begin updating this blog regularly on those topics. But then I came across a workshop where I understood that podcasts are a fast-growing medium now. Nobody reads blogs anymore apparently. The Tik-Tok generation likes multi-tasking. So you need to put your blog out as an audio episode and they will listen to you while they are running their daily 10km to keep fit.
I plan to launch “Mysorean Talks” on 30th September as a tribute to those conversations and personalities. Mysorean Talks will be a late night entertainment podcast show on music, movies, TV, poetry and others. I host this show to talk about my memories and stories of being an avid consumer of entertainment. I will cover the latest movies, music albums, OTT shows and famous personalities while also bringing in my social and political insights to it. This will be a weekly show that releases an episode every Friday.