Monday, May 07, 2007

Felicitations to my online friend

We live in the same town, Mysore; about three km apart. We have known each other for some two years. We belong to a vanished species of journalists of the typing and shorthand era. We have a lot in common and much to share about our media days in the 60s and the 70s. And yet we hadn't met each other, till Sunday last.

Such is the marvel of the Net. The technology that brings together people spread across the geographical divide can also obviate the need for even neighbors to meet, face-to-face, to be able to stay in touch. Who needs to meet when e-mail, v-mail and Skype could speak. And my friendship with Mr Krishna Vattam is strengthened with every e-mail we exchange, with every chat on the old–fashioned telephone.

My friend has turned 75; and felicitation would be in order. In fact, there was a public felicitation function, about which I learnt, true to form, through the web, after the event. Presumably, the man was much too modest to inform me, as yet an unmet friend, about a public 'do' in his honour. But then the morning after the event, to my surprise, Mr Vattam called to ask if we could meet. We did, and talked about, of all things, Krishna Menon, as if we were picking up the thread from where we had left it in our ongoing online communication.

He referred to D R Mankakar's 'Guilty Men of 1962' and his clumsiness in using the web software, to post a comment on my recent blog post. Here we were, meeting for the first time, and all that we could find to talk about was Menon, Nehru, Rajaj, and about the Emergency. If we were excited about our first ever face-to-face, neither he nor I wanted to betray our child-like excitement, particularly in the presence of his teenage grand-daughter Mr Vattam had brought along with him.

We talked about the blissful unfamiliarity of even some of our today's media folk with India's recent history. Mr Vattam spoke of L K Advani's Mysore visit, at which he told the local media about his imprisonment in Bangalore during the Emergency years (1975-77). After the press meet, said Mr Vattam, he was asked by a young reporter, in all innocence, why Mr Advani was jailed. If at all our youth know of what went on during the emergency, their knowledge is limited to what they saw in Sudhir Mishra's movie, Hazaaron Kwaishen Aisi.

Mr Vattam left a copy of the felicitation volume brought out on the occasion of his 75 th birthday; his completion of 56 years in journalism. His father was a journalist. So is his son. Presumably, media is in the Vattams' DNA. Reading through felicitation volume I learnt Mr Vattam had watched the Telugu movie, 'Malleshwari', 54 times. Wonder who kept the count, and why he stopped short of 55.

He is the founder of a local support group called 'Ex-cancer Patients' Association', to build-up self-confidence and dispel that lingering fear of relapse among the recovered patients. Mr Vattam is a cancer survivor. The next time I meet him, I must remember to loan him my copy of Stewart Alsop's Stay of Execution, in which the Newsweek columnist describes, without sentimentality, what it meant to live with lethal cancer and survive to tell the tale.

Cross-filed in zine5 and Desicritics.

3 comments:

Guru said...

'Such is the marvel of the Net. The technology that brings together people spread across the geographical divide can also obviate the need for even neighbors to meet, face-to-face, to be able to stay in touch'

The key words here are ' people spread across the geographical divide'. The Internet bring these two people together in some sense, but often separates the people where geography is not an issue. For example, people working in the same department in the same floor send e-mail messages to each other across the cyberspace instead of say using phone communication or better face-to-face chatting. Often these messages are much misunderstood risking friendship and collegiate relationship. Some organisations in the West have dispensed with staff common rooms in favour of the cyberspace. I can give examples of recent cases ranging from e-mail communication between doctors to ministers and their civil servants where the messages were misunderstood landing the parties in trouble and resulting in resignations .

I am an IT guy and have been one since the last 30 years. I strongly believe in humans meeting face-to-face where this is possible and using the phone otherwise. Verbal voice communication is God given gift to humans.

Anonymous said...

'We talked about the blissful unfamiliarity of even some of our today's media folk with India's recent history. Mr Vattam spoke of L K Advani's Mysore visit, at which he told the local media about his imprisonment in Bangalore during the Emergency years (1975-77). After the press meet, said Mr Vattam, he was asked by a young reporter, in all innocence, why Mr Advani was jailed'

I am not surprised about that young reporter's ignorance. In the West from America to Europe with the exception of France, the country's history, past and recent past is diluted in the schools' curriculum in favour often of IT and a few soft subjects. In America it appears that the strong reverential gesture to the flag (without even understanding its background)is suffice and in Europe even this does not exist.

What is alarming about Indian education system, particularly the higher education these days is the way it is skewed in favour of IT-related curriculum. Science has lost its residual importance and so are other subjects through narrow focus on one area. In my college days it was engineering, and the best students were enrolled in engineering colleges/institutes. Mysore then lost some of the best scientists and science lecturers who migrated to countries abroad.

Guru said...

Next time you meet Mr Vattam, interesting to know about what you both think about VKK's prejudicial attitude towards Sam Manekshaw. Also interesting to know about his experience with Inspector Kuttappa, the unique traffic cop who did not spare even HH Jayachamaraja Wodeyar. I still visualise the sight of Inspector Kuttappa's motor bike roaring through Ramanuja Road the route HH Wodeyar's Rolls used to take on the way to Chamundeswari Hills.