Saturday, 31 May 2008

Tata Kumar

If you have to travel from the suburb of Andheri in North Mumbai to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Powai, you have to first go through the industrial suburbs of Marol and Saki Naka. Just before the huge campus that houses Larsen & Toubro, you take a left and suddenly the landscape changes: you have the shimmering Powai Lake on one side and fields of verdant green on the other. The scene is almost pastoral in its beauty and even the air seems cooler.

Whoa! Hold on! I hear you say. The picture you are painting–which century does it belong to? There is a lake certainly, but shrunk to pathetic proportions; and on the other side, all we can see are tall, drab residential blocks. The road is in a permanent state of being widened and the excavators kick up a fine red dust that sears our eyes and clogs our nostrils. Traffic piles up even during off-peak hours and the exhaust fumes choke us. Our children have bronchial problems and...

I know. I know.

But this post is not about how Mumbai’s politicians have sold their city’s soul to a cartel of nefarious interests which has resulted in the destruction of the last patches of greenery and led to the creation of charmless, soulless suburbs such as the Powai of today.

This post is about my friend, Tata Kumar.

After finishing his M.Tech, Tata Kumar had shifted to a rented, one-bedroom apartment opposite the IIT campus, where all of us used to get together once in a while. Being intelligent and brainy unlike most of us, Tata would lecture to us relentlessly on Operating Systems and microprocessors and, close to midnight, exhausted by so much gyan, we would all troop into the nearby Udupi joint for some beer and simple vegetarian food. Tata, being a regular, could order stuff not on the menu, alu-jeera fry being one of them.

Tata Kumar was not his real name, of course. When he took up his first job, it was with that reputed industrial house, and he was to stay with them for very many years; his loyalty and admiration to them was so great and overwhelming, that it was Digamber I think, who re-named him as Tata Kumar and the name stuck.

Tata Kumar being a computer specialist, I will use a computer term to describe him: WYSIWYG or What You See Is What You Get. He is a simple, honest soul, totally devoid of guile or deviousness, ever willing to help, listen or advise. Recently, I met up with him in Mumbai after a gap of almost ten years and he was the same Tata Kumar, with his wide open smile and utter lack of pretence.

Tata Kumar, I am happy you are still the same, even though the Powai we knew so well has changed forever.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are lucky to have found a friend like that, someone who does not change like the weather.A rare find indeed.
M.

Ideasmith said...

Isn't this Mr.Tata Kumar the same one who has been an ardent participant in your Beatles-nostalgia sessions? I like him already. :-)

Velayudhan said...

I still remember my first beer with all of you in a steel glass!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

sweet post che

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.