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Early Years


Hello, visitor,

You saw how I got my name and a bit about my attitude to life. Let us now start our journey through my life. Here I shall describe my life upto 24 years. I am not a great admirer of Jethmalani. But I like his technique of 10 questions. So my early life is in the form of answers to 10 questions

1. Where were you born ?
I was born and brought up in Madras (and perhaps fed up with it! That was only as a joke. I like the city and have come back to the city in 2002 and shall live here after my retirement from service in 2006) and spent the first 21 years of my life in that city.

2. Can you tell me something about your early years ?
My early memories are all very pleasant and my life as a boy was almost the same as that of Swami ( of R.K.Narayan's Malgudi ). Our colony called Vedachala Gardens , was a real garden in those days and we used to play all the seasonal games - goli ( marble), bambaram ( top ), paandi ( hopscotch), kombattam ( a game with sticks ), football and of course cricket throughout the year. We were a group of more than 10 boys in our colony. I still fondly remember our visits to the Santhome Beach and Kapali Temple, cricket tournaments in Cemetry Ground ( by crossing the dirty Adyar river ), visiting the houses in the colony for sundal during Navaratri , rose milk of Kalathi shop in Mylapore , my family's annual visits to our village ( which involved travel to Madras Central by jatka vandi, same as tonga, by train to Tyagadurgam and then by my grandfather's bullock-cart ) and so on. I have written a nostalgic article on my early years 'I was not bored', which you may find interesting.

3. Were you rich or poor ?
We belonged to the middle class. Though my father was a teacher, I never experienced shortage of anything. Cheap soaps? The only thing I didn't like was using the cheapest toilet soap, viz. Lifebuoy or Hamam, as we could not afford any other.

4. How many siblings did you have ?
I had one sister and three brothers, all elder to me. One brother died in 1995 in Calcutta. ( details in My Siblings).

5. Was it tough being the youngest ?
Being the youngest in the family, I had to wear the discarded clothes of my brothers and also serve them at times, though I was pampered quite often. We used to buy one season ticket for test matches and I was always given the chance to see the fourth day's play and very often the match would be over on the fourth day. But still, I remember seeing one of the best innings by any Indian - Hanumant Singh's 97 against Australia in 1966.

6. Can you tell me about your education ?
I had my elementary education in CSI school, Adam street, Madras ( 1951-55), high school education at P.S.High School, Ramakrishna Mutt Road ( it was Brodie's Road in my school days) (1955-1961), pre-university from Vivekananda College, Mylapore (1961-1962) and joined College of Engineering, Guindy College of Engineering, Guindy in 1962. It took me five long years to complete my degree. No, I didn't flunk at any time. In those days, B.E. degree was given after 17 years of education ( 11+1+5 ). Now you get the same ( perhaps better) degree after 10+2+4, i.e., 16 years of education. I was a bright, but lazy, student. Though I performed reasonably well in all exams, my grades in pre-university were extremely good, which enabled me admission in Madras itself. They also got me a scholarship of Rs. 100 per month for my entire degree course ( which was a princely sum in 1962, when 4 idlis and a cup of coffee was available for 30 paise). I had a few close friends like Pattabhiraman ( who unfortunately is no more ), Ramasubramanian , Nagarajan , Sampath and Raj Kumar. ( But I have lost touch with them except Ramasubramanian who is in railways. It was , however , a nice experience to meet my college classmates in 1992 after twenty five years. After my posting here in 2002, I have attended the annual meeting of 1967 batch in Alumni Club of Anna University. I hope to be in touch with my classmates. )

7. Any particularly memorable experience ?
The three months after graduation was a memorable period. I visited Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore for interviews at the cost of prospective employers. For one who had not gone beyond Renigunta, it was a thrilling experience.

8. When did you start working ?
All good things had to end and I had to start working. I joined Chemplast on the production side in August 1967.

9. About your first salary ?
I received my first salary in September 1967 - a round sum of Rs. 250. I promptly bought a cake each of Maharani Sandal Soap and Pears soap, which were the costliest soaps then ( please see Q. 3 ) and continued to use these two soaps for a long time.

10. How was your life in Mettur ?
I enjoyed life in Chemplast, where we had our own cook and lived a royal life. We saw two films every week in the touring theatre nearby. I had to work in shifts - one week from 6.00 A.M. to 2.00 P.M. , the next week from 2.00 P.M. to 10.00 P.M. and the next week from 10.00 P.M. to 6.00 A.M. with the same cycle being repeated.

Once a month, 10 of us used to go to Salem, about 40 kms. away at 7.30 A.M. Even in those days, Salem had a large number of good hotels and theatres. We would have breakfast , see a morning show: have lunch, see a matinee show ; have evening snacks , see the evening show and return to Mettur after eating dinner. On a couple of occasions, we had even seen the night show before returning by the first bus the next day.

All that changed in 1969, when I decided to appear for the Civil Services Examination. Like many Indians, I always had a fascination for IAS. In those days, the number of engineers appearing for IAS was not many and the only technical subject that could be taken by engineers was Applied Mechanics. But after two years of working, that subject did not look very familiar. So I chose Indian History, British History and Political Science for the lower papers and British Constitutional History and Political Philosophy for the higher papers. I worked very hard for about nine months, which paid off. I appeared for the interview for IAS and finally got selected for the central services, I chose Indian Railway Accounts Service ( IRAS ) , after consulting my cousins who were in service. I was also selected as probationary officer in State Bank of Mysore in 1969 and State Bank of India in 1970, both of which I did not join.

Much more is to come and I hope you continue your journey with me.

Thanks & Regards,

S. Parthasarathy

Slow Dance - An inspirational poem

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly,
When you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with a hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,
'cause you never had time to call and say "hi"?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it's like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life is not a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before the song is over.

Author unknown

Copyright 2003 S.Parthasarathy. All rights reserved.

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