EJJI'S ARTICLES 1
About my articles
My articles have been published in many magazines and as booklets. In this section I am just putting up a couple of interesting ones from the many that I have write. I hope to keep updating this page as and when I have the time.More article of mine on page titled "EJJI'S ARTICLES 2".
Enoughness of Money
“Enoughness of Money” is my title for this article. I am not here to impose this faith on anyone. It is my way of thinking. I do not need any acceptance of this faith from any one. I do not say I am right. I accept I may be wrong. But this is my view, for myself. And I think I have been successful and positively I am happy. (Modesty is not my middle name!) Read me out. Dissent is the first quality of a thinking mind. In case you do not want to read me through, please feel free to leave whenever you want. It is my idea to share my thoughts, with constructive criticism from the dissenters, than to have only dormant acceptors.
Before I say anything about what this artice is, I want to begin by saying something about what it is not. This is a not a "get rich quick" or "think your way to riches" or “how to live” guide. You will not be asked to "think like a millionaire," "dress for success," or "climb the corporate ladder." You will find advice in this article on managing your life and planning for your retirement. There are more than enough experts and godmen of this kind in business already. In this article, the emphasis will be on a deeper experience of “enjoying being alive” than can be realized by the mere accumulation of goods or by amassing money with an impressive balance sheet.
To be sure, many of you will find that applying the principles contained in this article will, in time, bring greater material abundance into their lives. Some will find it a waste of time having read me through. I respect both varieties. Certainly, applying these principles will assist you in opening to receive the creative ideas from which all wealth ultimately springs. Yet this increased material abundance will come not from struggling to attain it as a goal in itself, but rather as a natural by-product of experiencing a deeper state of psychological abundance. The new feeling of abundance that you enjoy within will come to be reflected in all aspects of your outer life, including your finances. Yet even if you make not one rupee more, or even a few less, but come to earn your money in a way that truly reflects your nature and expresses who you are, your experience of abundance will be enhanced. Indeed, some may find that a truer experience of abundance requires that they relinquish their attachment to social status or the urge to be richer. Needless to say, doing this is very difficult, rather impossible, unless your mind tells you to do it, without any axioms attached.
Mental peace is about so much more than money. A "healthy bottom line" does not equate with a healthy and abundant state of mind. Evidence of the psychological and spiritual poverty of the rich and famous fills our newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and television programs and hardly needs repeating here. Suffice to say that many who own great stockpiles of material possessions, and who are, to all outer appearances, extremely wealthy individuals, do not enjoy real abundance. They are never content with what they have, and live in fear of losing it. Clearly, real abundance must be something more than having a lot of money and things. But then how do we approach it?
The fundamental premise of this article is that your life is you and is for you. If you put yourself in accord with the way of enjoying your life, it will take care of you abundantly. To experience this abundance, there is nothing you need do first, but sit back and think of yourself and what life means to you. All that is required is that you become aware of the inner process through which you create an experience of lack and struggle in your life, and refrain from doing it. Feelings of abundance and gratitude are natural to the human being; they do not need to be added or put on. We have only to become aware of how we are resisting and inhibiting this natural state.
Throughout this article, you will be asked to accept responsibility for creating your own experience of abundance or lack. Of course, no individual operates in a vacuum. It would be absurd to deny the impact that the values and organization of the broader society have on us as individuals. In an effort to secure the ever-expanding earning and consumption upon which its "health" depends, modern commercial culture vigorously promotes a "lack consciousness." We buy things we don't need (or even want), because we have become convinced that we will be somehow lacking or inferior without them. Like expensive cars which are an external symbol of having arrived, though any good car as a medium of transport will not give you the exclusivity to be known as “having arrived”. We do work we don't want to do, because we have become convinced that there is a fear of scarcity of money and that we can't be sure we wont need more. Thus, even while we amass more and more money, the feeling of abundance keeps eluding us. In addition to the role that the values of the broader society have in promoting a psychology of lack within the individual, the current organization of society poses institutional barriers to his or her creative development and financial independence.
Nevertheless, ultimate responsibility for the individual's experience lies with the individual, not with the culture into which he or she has been born. Awareness of the broader social dynamics that promote a consciousness of lack, as well as the inner ego drives that bind us to them, empowers us to break, once and for all, the chains of psychological poverty and lack. This article will address the root causes of the psychology of lack, and how these can be overcome. To overcome it or not, I will not decide.
Ultimately, the system is the ego. Freeing ourselves from the dominance and control of this system will be our primary concern. What we see reflected in the broader social and economic system ~ alienation, attachment, struggle, resentment, craving for approval, competitive hostility, pride, greed, and chaos originate within the ego. “We are the system", as J. Krishnamurti put it, long before the popular song: “We are the world" was made popular. This article will contrast the way of contentment with the way of the ego. The way of the ego necessarily produces a “psychology of lack”, one that cannot be overcome, regardless of the quantity of money or goods we accumulate. Alternatively, shedding the mask of “existing” and starting to “live” naturally yields a feeling of abundance, regardless of how great or meager our accumulation of money and goods may be. Though he was often without money, and at times even food, William Blake's poetry exudes abundance. As he put it:
I have mental joys and mental health,
Mental friends and mental wealth,
I've a wife that I love and that loves me;
I've all but riches bodily.
This is not to say that we should reject material wealth or shun the blessings that come with it. With money, much good can be done and much unnecessary suffering avoided or eliminated. Moreover, in the culture we live in today, time is money and money is power. It takes time to appreciate and enjoy life and all of its simple beauties. It takes time to stop and listen to the voice of our true selves and understand what we want to do. It takes time to develop our gifts and talents. It takes time to learn and grow. It takes time to develop and nurture meaningful relationships. And in making time for all of these, money is a great help.
Money can also give us a measure of freedom from the control of others and in this respect is more important today than ever. Throughout most of human history, one did not need money to live, that is, for the basic necessities of life. For one unable or unwilling to fit into society's mold, there was always the option of retreating to some remote place and subsisting on the land an option that isn't really feasible today.
My values of freedom and preserving the dignity of the human spirit in this respect, would not object to Humphrey Bogart's assertion that "the only point in making money is, you can tell some big shot where to go." (He meant saying, “ go to hell!”) The idea here is not to express (or harbor) hostility toward others but to affirm and follow your own path, free from intimidation or the control of others. The big shot might be a boss for whom you do soul-draining, monotonous work or a landlord or mortgage-holding bank, whom you must pay for the privilege of a little peace and quiet. Touch your hearts and tell me. Most of you can be considered “rich” in monetary terms. Most of you run empires worth crores of Indian rupees. Most of you have never for many years seen salaries that are less than 7 figure amounts. Can you boldly say that you have not stood outside a small time government official’s room to get your job done? Can you tell me that though you know the Finance Minister of India on first name basis, you have to put on a show of humility before the labor union leader of your organization. Have you not missed a party or a holiday or a music concert or even an evening with your family because your business commitments came in the way? Have you not got up in the middle of the night, turning over business problems in your mind? In as much as money is an important factor in determining the time we have to enjoy life and the power and freedom we have in it, the pursuit of money is a worthy goal. On the other hand, if we are looking to money to fulfill or satisfy us, we are sure to be disappointed.
In lacking money, we too often think a lack of money is our only problem. Money can give us the time to appreciate the simple things in life more fully, but not the spirit of innocence and wonder necessary to do so. Money can give us the time to develop our gifts and talents, but not the courage and discipline to do so. Money can give us the power to make a difference in the lives of others, but not the desire to do so. Money can give us the time to develop and nurture our relationships, but not the love and caring necessary to do so. Money can just as easily make us more jaded, escapist, selfish, and lonely. In short, money can help to free or enslave us, depending on why we want it and what we do with it. In this respect, nothing has changed in the two thousand years since Horace wrote, "Riches either serve or govern the possessor."
Money is a relatively simple issue. There are only two important questions: (1) How much do you need? (2) What is it going to cost you to get it? It is keeping these two questions in mind that gives us a true sense of money's relationship to you. If we have less than what we need, or if what we have is costing us too much, in either case our experience of “living” will be incomplete. As things stand in the modern world, you need money to eat, sleep, dress, work, play, relate, heal, move about, and keep the government off your back. In what style you choose to do each of these will determine how much money you need, that is, your lifestyle. Remember in choosing your style that it comes with a price tag. How much money it costs is not the issue, but how much the money costs you is of critical importance. Keep in mind:
Money should not cost you your soul.
Money should not cost you your relationships.
Money should not cost you your dignity.
Money should not cost you your health.
Money should not cost you your intelligence.
Money should not cost you your joy.
Money should not cost you the inability of doing anything unconnected with earning money, but close to your heart.
When it comes to determining how much you need, there are two important categories to keep in mind. First, there are the material things you need to keep body and soul together. Second are the areas of "need" related to social status and position. With both, you have a great deal of discretion. The ancient Taoist masters were keenly aware of the cost of money and were particularly skeptical of the cost of attaining social status and position. In the Lieh Tzu, Yang Chu says:
[People] realize happiness is not simply having their material needs
met. Thus, society has set up a system of rewards that go beyond
material goods. These include titles, social recognition, status, and
political power, all wrapped up in a package called self-fulfillment.
Attracted by these prizes and goaded on by social pressure, people
spend their short lives tiring mind and body to chase after these
goals. Perhaps this gives them the feeling that they have achieved
something in their lives, but in reality they have sacrificed a lot in life.
They can no longer see, hear, act, feel, or think from their hearts.
Everything they do is dictated by whether it can get them social, business or monetary
gains. In the end, they've spent their lives following other people's
demands and never lived a life of their own. How different is this
from the life of a prisoner or slave? . . .
In the short time we are here, we should listen to our own voices
and follow our own hearts. Why not be free and live your own life?
Why follow other people's rules and live to please others?
Why, indeed? In a recent study, 48 percent of the male corporate executives surveyed in India admitted that they felt their lives were empty and meaningless. When one considers the cultural taboos against such an admission, the figure is surprisingly high and leads one to conclude that the real number must be higher still. Yet these are the ones who have the money and status so many others desperately crave. Napoleon Hill, who wrote the classic "success" book Think and Grow Rich, learned the hard way that true riches can never be equated to dollars and cents. In a later work entitled Grow Rich! With Peace of Mind, he described how his own obsession with money and material success had indeed made him rich but had cost him his peace of mind, health, relationships, and ultimately, even his financial fortune. He acknowledged the spiritual dimension of true and lasting prosperity and determined that in reacquiring wealth, he would keep money in its proper place as but one of the many abundances of life.
Many think they'd be happy if they had enough money to give up working altogether. Yet this is often only a reaction to the drudgery of working day after day at things they find meaningless or even absurd. In response to my speeches on similar subjects, I receive many communications from people about their experience of work. One day, I received a phone call from a man halfway around the world who, at forty-five, had never worked a day in his life. As a beneficiary of a sizable inheritance, he was free of the need to earn his daily bread. Yet he was not a happy man. Indeed, he was deeply troubled by the fact that so much of his life had gone by without his having expressed his own talents. As a matter of fact he had just now realized he had talents! Like good health, spiritual growth, and nourishing relationships, meaningful work is one of the abundances of life, which we neglect at our peril. It is this kind of holistic approach to “living” and not “existing” that I will be taking you through.
To begin with, it's worthwhile to ask whether the world we live in is one of abundant happiness and wealth or scarcity of happiness and wealth. The way we answer this question depends in large part on how we define wealth. Traditionally, economists have defined wealth in terms of scarcity. In fact, economics itself is defined as "a science concerned with choosing among alternatives involving scarce resources." The first economists viewed land as the basis of wealth. While land provides sustenance and often an abundance of food to exchange for other items, there is a definite limit to the amount of land available for cultivation. Next came the mercantilists, who viewed gold and silver as the basis of wealth. Gold and silver are valuable because they are scarce. This conception of wealth spurred the colonial expansion of European nations, resulting in what remains to this day worldwide cultural and economic dominance by the moneyed nations. Later economists viewed labor as the basis of wealth. Early industrial development required vast numbers of "cheap" laborers. Generally, the more people one employed, the richer he became. Yet there is a finite number of workers and a finite number of hours each can work. All of these definitions of "wealth" (land, gold, and labor) then are based on limited, that is, scarce resources. Now, to state the obvious, if wealth is based on owning scarce resources, a relative few can be considered wealthy. If relative few are wealthy, it is needless to say that happiness takes a back seat. Scarcity of happiness also entirely depends upon your definition of wealth. How much of wealth is enough?
If we live in an abundant world, if we are all, as Buckminster Fuller puts it, billionaires, why do we see so many examples of scarcity and lack? Beyond issues of economic and political control and the distribution of wealth, most people believe in and operate from a psychology of scarcity and lack. The psychology of lack relies upon wide acceptance of the belief in physical scarcity. To be sure, there are powerful interests that have a stake in promoting and perpetuating this view. As Fuller puts it, "With their game of making money with money, the money-makers and their economists continue to exploit the general political and religious world's assumptions that a fundamental inadequacy of human life support exists around our planet." People who believe in lack are more likely to become lackeys for those who would manipulate them for their own purposes.
Whether or not we accept Fuller's findings, or even his definition of wealth, the important point here is to recognize that the way we define wealth has a great deal to do with our individual and collective experience of abundance or lack. Moreover, each us can benefit from challenging the assumption that we live in a world of scarcity and lack. On a more immediate level, we each might ask ourselves, if we don't already live in abundance. Certainly, on a material level, most of you here enjoy abundance unprecedented in human history. Think about all you have and enjoy. First and foremost, you have your life. I'm willing to guess that you have enough to eat, ample clothing, and a place to sleep, out of the elements. Beyond the basics, the average middle-class person in the developed world has a higher standard of living than the kings and queens of earlier eras enjoyed. We have running water and indoor toilets; we have air conditioning, and refrigeration. We eat exotic foods from all over the world. In Chennai, one can enjoy Australian grapes and South African Oranges and other foods, something even Queen Elizabeth I would have been unable to do. In addition, we have means of communication and transportation that would have seemed fantastic even a century ago. Through most of their time on this planet, the life expectancy of homo sapiens was about forty years. Today, a good many will live twice that long.
Regardless of the facts of making money on an individual or planetary level, for many, a feeling of lack persists. To be sure, the psychological factor is critical in determining our experience of making money or lack of it. Even hardheaded economists recognize the psychological component to wealth creation and valuation. When economists use terms such as "consumer confidence" or "investor confidence," they are recognizing the importance of the psychological dimension in economic life. In the fluctuations of the stock markets or in the individual valuation of a particular company and in a person’s assessment of “enough money”, psychological factors often play a significant role. The perception of, or belief in, the strength or weakness of a given market, company or wealth may override the "economic fundamentals" in the determination of value. Even the paper money we use, backed as it is by absolutely nothing, depends on our collective belief in it. If believing in the reality of planetary and individual “enough of money” is an act of faith, it is certainly no less an act of faith than believing in the real value of the paper money we use everyday.
Because the psychological dimension is so important to our experience of making money, I will address it at length. The principles examined here will provide powerful keys to embracing and integrating a psychology of “enoughness”. Groundwork will be laid for overcoming the sense of alienation and separation that are the underpinnings of a psychology of lack. Again, for most of us, the feeling of lack is not a result of a lack of things or material stuff. It is a sense of struggle and a lack of ease; a lack of energy; a feeling of powerlessness and blocked expression; a lack of harmony and connection in relationship; a lack of time to be, grow, and relate; and a lack of opportunity to fully appreciate and celebrate the beauty in life that give a sense of deficiency to our existence. Each of these "lacks" has to be considered, both in terms of understanding their causes, and in terms of practical suggestions for creating greater abundance in each of these areas.
The dynamics of the psychology of making money go like this: Simultaneous to the formation of the individual ego there arises a profound sense of lack of “enough” money, a feeling of separation from everything else in life. This sense of separation brings a feeling of contraction and a sense of incompleteness, which we try to mitigate through mental, physical, and emotional attachments to making more money. The perceived need to defend and expand our attachment to make more money, in turn, creates a feeling of struggle. Struggle brings resentment, ingratitude, and withholding, which rob us of joy and keep the energy from flowing freely in our lives. This leads us away from the path of our inborn pleasures that we always want to experience. Instead of following our own paths, we crave the approval and attention of others. This craving for approval, in turn, produces competitive hostility and envy. Envy, in turn, provokes greed, which agitates our minds and sends us on the mad chase that today we call the "rat race." In the process, we lose the ability to appreciate the simple enjoyments that come with leisure. Ultimately, this leads to a sense of chaos and confusion that obfuscates our innate intelligence and robs us of our capacity to appreciate the beauty in life. And leading all this is, “I should leave money for my progeny”. About this definite point, I will discuss later.
In addition to the inner or psychological dimension, I will address some of the social and economic factors that contribute to an individual and collective experience of lack of Leisure. The Tao of Abundance will be a good example. I do not purport to apply ancient wisdom to modern times, and in this, the modern times are as important as the ancient wisdom. I have no interest in spouting spiritual platitudes divorced from the social and economic context in which we live today. Rather, I will attempt to apply ancient, really, universal, principles to the situation we find ourselves in at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The classical Taoists were keen social observers. Lao Tzu, in particular, often had harsh words for those individuals and systems that oppress people or lead them away from their true natures and thus from the fulfillment of their inborn destinies. In the spirit of this tradition, I will address social and economic factors that contribute to a mass psychology of “not knowing enough of enoughness”, as well as institutional barriers that limit the natural creative development of individuals.
You may reject the values of the society that can be termed “retired rat race runners”. You may even be actively working to transform them. Still, you needn't make your own experience of “the power of endless money making” contingent on that change. To view the anti rate race system as an enemy that must be overcome before you can prosper and be happy is to put yourself in a position of powerlessness, frustration, and resentment. While there is a place for collective action, the emphasis will be on what we as individuals can do to enhance our own experience of wealth and well-being within the system as it now exists. By becoming living examples of genuine people who “live” our own lives and stop “existing”, we participate in the transformation of the broader culture. While no individual can single-handedly change the popular global phenomenon, each of us can transform our own experience. Where once we saw lack of time, debt of hobbies, and conflict of interest, we can begin to see gifts, opportunities, and mutual support. We can each, in our own way, challenge the widespread belief that we live in a world of endless money making.
Life is more holistic in its scope, the entire issue being the quality of life, and not simply financial goals. It assumes an innate order in life, one that we as individuals realize as we fulfill our inborn desires other than making money and living up with the Joneses. It further assumes that the world we live in, the world we grow out of, is a real one.
Now, if in fact, we live in a world of monetary goals, there are three primary tasks for us on the journey to a life of total peace. The first task is to recognize the inner and outer forces that conspire to make us believe in the rat race and thus to feel lack of peace. Awareness of these factors will help us to overcome their influence over us. The second task is to cultivate a spirit of satisfaction in our lives, celebrating the gift of life with joy and thanksgiving. As we focus in our thoughts and actions on things that bring a feeling a connection with all life, we begin to move with the flow of retiring from the rat race. In this way, we allow blessings to come to us as a part of the "overflow" of a realization not as things we crave and struggle for from a sense of lack or desperation or even the un-satiated urge to earn more. The result from lack of this knowledge can only bring lack of happiness and peace, even when we get what we think we need. On the other hand, when we come from the spirit of “this is enough”, we attract ever greater achievement..
Finally, as we move in the world from the spirit of “this is enough”, we become a liberating and empowering force in the lives of those we interact with. We help them see, not by preaching, but by example, that we all live in an abundant world and that they as well can free themselves from lack consciousness. Together, we can unite in a spirit of abundance and create new patterns of community and social organization, new lifestyles, and new ways of relating, based on cooperation rather than competition. As envy, greed, and competition flow from lack of “enoughness”, so do compassion, service, and cooperation flow from a spirit of “enoughness”. It is this spirit of “enoughness” that will be our guide as we embark on the journey to creating total “enoughness” in our lives.
For a person who has attained the “nirvana of enoughness”, these few lines will not mean much. But to those struggling to press their brakes when the vehicle of life (making money) is going uphill at full speed, you must realize that even if the brakes don’t work, the vehicle will stop on its own some place, but will start rolling backwards soon. And even then your brakes wont be working!!
Think about these points.
Money is not very important, nor is it related at all to your happiness.
Most of us have a sense that money is important and believe that it could be the route to happiness.
Most have an unrealistic belief that money will solve your problems.
Experts say there's a link between overworking, earning more than necessary, excesive spending, and stress.
Whether or not you believe that the love of money is the root of all evil, chances are you have an opinion about what money means. To some, it represents success, fame. To others: power, acceptance, material goods and status. To the few who have “enough” it will mean peace and happiness.
There are many of us who feel we can improve our emotional well-being with money, either by acquiring more of it or spending it lavishly. Certainly, when you don't have enough money to provide for your basic needs--food, shelter, clothing, medical care--money is crucial to your sense of well-being. But once you're above the poverty level, money loses its ability to boost your happiness quotient. "You get happier at a diminishing rate," says Andrew Oswald, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. "The first $20,000 is a lot more valuable than the 12th."
Richard M. Ryan, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Rochester in New York, believes that money is not the way to pursue happiness because the link between the tangible (money) and intangible (happiness) is too weak. "Focus on maintaining and improving the relationships in your life instead," he says. "Research shows that if they are unfulfilled, you see big drops in happiness."
Ryan's research has shown that those who put a lot of value on external goals such as money, fame or status are less happy and well-adjusted. "You don't find anyone who doesn't want financial security or success on some level, but how strong a goal is that relative to other goals?" he asks. Even materialists will say that relationships, hobbies, increasing knowledge in unrelated field to business, are the most important things in their lives, but unlike nonmaterialists, they will put money as a close second. The time you put into pursuing financial wealth might take away time for the things that really could bring you joy.
Here are three healthy ways to take a new look at money. Once you've rethought a few of these financial facts, you may realize that there are other things--besides money--that bring happiness. You may even discover that you already have them.
1. Ask yourself "What is success?"
For some, the size of their bank account determines what they are worth as people. If they could just "make a certain amount of money," "buy a big house" or "live in a ritzy neighborhood," then they will have "made it."
"Materialistic people are insecure," Ryan says. "They get hooked because they have to convince others they're worthy by having cool jewelry or hot cars." The problem is, it's never enough. If you ask most people how much money they would need to be happy, they will name a figure that's about 20 percent higher than their current income, Ryan says. And if they get it? "They still think the next 20 percent will do it"
Let's say with your higher income you move into a nicer neighborhood or buy a bigger car. Will you feel successful then? Probably not, because you're now comparing your house and car not to the ones in your old neighborhood, but to those in your new, wealthier environment. "Human beings seem to have to look over their shoulders before they can decide how successful they really are," Oswald says. In other words, if you get richer and everyone else stays the same, you feel the benefit. But if everybody around you has more money too, the extra income has no effect. This may explain why a nation that grows wealthier does not necessarily have happier citizens. You can see this today in India, post Rajiv Gandhi. Whereas the income for standard jobs, say a call center employee is quite high, the highly paid call centre employee is unequipped to know the value of that money as even this first well paying job is not comensurate with his social background and family history. So he does not know what to do with it. He certainly will not know when to stop."Since the early '70s, real income in Western countries has doubled, but you see no improvement in happiness surveys," Oswald says.
If you find yourself getting caught in the rat race, ask yourself what you truly think it means to live a successful life, Ryan says. Is it a big bank account or having people love you? Imagine you're on your deathbed and what your regrets would be, and then live your life so that you won't have them. "No one ever says, 'I wish I'd made more money,' " he says. "It probably feels great to get into a Ford Mustang when when you are hardly 28 years of age. But if it cost you 18 working hours per day for a year to achieve it, was it worth it in what you gave up with your family and friends?" The answer depends on your age, which is of more importance to you, and how you hope to achieve your target.
2. Consider if money can buy what you really want
You may have had the occasional thought that you'd be more satisfied with your life if only you had a sports car or a foreign vacation. But would you really be content if you got these things? Yes, but only if the wish is one that you can realistically hope to fulfill.
A 2002 study from the University of Illinois published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people were happy when they could expect to obtain the things they desired. For instance, a woman earning minimum wage who wants a portable stereo and can afford it will be more satisfied than a millionaire who wants to own a Caribbean island or private jet that's out of his price range. And if you don't hunger for material things at all, you will be more satisfied in life than someone whose desire for things never ends, no matter what your respective incomes are.
For people who place tremendous value on money and objects, life satisfaction may be elusive. "With material possessions, you can always want for something more," says the study's lead author, Emily Crawford Solberg, M.A., a graduate student in the psychology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigne, who researches the connection between money and happiness. "There's no finish line," she says.
If there's a big gap between what you want and what you can afford, self-assesment and realization could help you find more realistic goals so that you can be happier with your life, Solberg says.
3. Change the "value" of money
Putting money in its proper place will help you live a happier life. "Part of the modern American Dream is that money builds happiness, and we know that not to be true," says Manevitz. "If money and material things are very important to you, what you want to do is find out why."
For example, you may think you want a large house, but the desire behind it may really be about your need for security. You may feel you have to have a high-paying job, but behind that may actually be a need for approval. It's OK to have material and financial goals, but you should be enjoying yourself while you pursue them. "Make sure you're taking time out to have a balanced life," Manevitz says, 'because if you're becoming depressed or compulsive while seeking money, it's not worth it."
Your business may be doing well. It will and can run on it’s own steam and keep you, your workers and every one happy for the next 50 years. But you have the urge to go in for an expansion or buy up another factory or recruit more persons to source and expand your market. Whether it is right or wrong again depends on your thinking.
Ask yourself if you are “living” or “existing”. 90% of you would be “existing”. Ask yourself if you are “working to live”, or “living to work”. 90% of your would be “working to live”. Ask yourself if you have done anything other than make a mark in your business or professional life, creating wealth, bringing up a perfect family. 90% of you would have done nothing else. Ask yourself if you have done something, just anything, that no one you know has done before. 90% of you will have to answer “No”. The problem here is that you were chasing an invisible shadow. That by itself, is wrong. But you are chasing it at nighttime. Worse still!
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you have enough money?
Are you spending enough time with your family and friends?
Do you come home from your job full of life?
Do you have time to participate in things you believe are worthwhile?
If you stop working, would you see it as an “opportunity”?
Are you at peace with money?
Does your job reflect your values?
Do you have enough savings to see you through the rest of your life of normal living expenses?
Is your life whole? Do all the pieces -- your job, your expenditures, your relationships, your values, your hobbies -- fit together?
If you answer “No” to any one of the above questions, you are one of the 78% of educated persons around the world who are in the rat race of making money.
Life has 4 phases. Only 2 are applicable to developed nations like the USA. Phase 3 and 4 are culturally selective, and does apply to India.
In Phase 1 you are a student, being educated, learning life skills.
In Phase 2 you are a householder, raising a family, making a living, saving money, being part of the community. (For many Americans, personal evolution stops here. Then it's off to the retirement home or the television.)
But the Hindus continue to grow. Hindu retirement, the Phase 3, involves withdrawing from business and social obligations to discover who you are and what life is about. It's time for life's deep questions. It’s time to pursue your hobby. It’s time to see a sunset and stars twinkle. It’s time to be able to get up in the morning and plan your day with no obligations to be met, no problems of business nature to be solved, and not have to spend the day by your watch.
And finally, in Phase 4, you return to a world without attachment to making money. It's the time of “selfless service to yourself”. (Read Ayn Rand’s “Virtues of Selfishness”.) It is the time when you can get up any time of the day, do exactly what you want during the day, and go to bed any time you are satisfied that the day has been well spent. (The richest man in the world is one who can get up whenever he wants, do exactly what he wants and go to sleep whenever he wants-Bob Dylan). It is the time when you can do all that you have loved to do but had no time. (Read, you were busy making money!) Till 40 years of age, you should work for money. After 40 the money should work for you.
I call phases 3 and 4 Hindu phases, considering that the origins of this philosophy is the basis of Hindu religion, but is universally applicable irrespective of class, creed, nation, religion or belief. So I believe.
For all this you need money. The only factor that one has to concede which can erode this blissful state of “Living” and not the usual state of “Existing” is INFLATION. (I consider that “living” and “existing” are 2 different things like chalk and cheese. Both could be white, but they are not the same!)
There are ways to beat it, but that is a different story. In case there is any dissent on this fact, I have only myself as proof. You CAN live comfortably, beating inflation, but for this your investments should be wise, calculated, should be suitably reorganized every 364 days (considering that tax planning in India is worth only 364 days!!), should generate interest that must in part be reinvested, and most important the investment should be large enough to do all this. This again depends on your age. Lower your age, larger the investment, since it has to feed you longer. No use thinking of all this with a small investment. To live a life of a retired rat race runner, your investment must be really large. Lastly, you must not have any loans to be paid and all things you need must have been paid up. This planning comes early in life. 20% of whatever you earn should be saved every month. Life and medical insurances must be started as early in life as possible. The first investment should be a house. The location of the house must be a minimum of 10 km away from the periphery of a Major town, 5 km if it is a minor town and 2 km if it is a village. At the time of retirement, your house will be on the fringe of the town or village considering the growth factor of places in India. I am myself unsure if all this will work for an employed person on a fixed salary, especially a government job. (A government job needs only one qualification till retirement. You have to be alive!! And of course, you have to sign the attendance-register and follow the rulebook. You can retire happily without having taken any decision whatsoever. And imagine working for 158 days a year and getting paid for all 365 days! That is India.)
Through my public speaking, I come in contact with many people who are sufficiently awake to the needs of the world to have asked themselves that same question, "How much of money is enough?" Many of them, even those who speak out about the inequities and insanity of our moneymaking and keeping-up-with-the Joneses culture, feel they fall far short of the mark in practicing what they preach. They confess their "sins of upward mobility" to me, with everything from sheepishness to painful guilt.
Others, though, have discovered that golden meaning of “enough money”. Here are a few consistent themes from their stories:
They have a sense of purpose larger than their own needs, wants and desires. Desires are infinite. Fill one desire and another emerges. A sense of purpose, though, sorts real needs from whims and preferences and directs your attention to only those things that will really serve your mission -- whether the "mission" is raising children, building a house, buying a car, a garden, accumulating money or consciousness.
They can account for their money. They know where it comes from and where it goes. They know how much they make, how much more they can make and how to make it. There's a sense of clarity that comes from such precision and truthfulness. If you don't know how much you have, you can never have enough. On the contrary, as Paul Getty said, “If you can count your money, you are not rich”!
They have an internal yardstick for fulfillment. Their sense of "enoughness" isn't based on what others have or don't have. Instead, they look inside and see if something is really adding to their happiness, or is just more money to make, store and own,
Like my friend, a constant traveling companion of mine and a self-made millionaire to boot, told me on the phone the other evening, that he has a sense of responsibility for the country and the world, a sense of how his business life and choices fit into the larger social, patriotic and spiritual scheme of things. Wow! I am impressed with his patriotism and goals! His reasoning isn’t true. It’s only an excuse to make more money. But he by himself sincerely believes he is emulating an Ambani or J.Paul Getty. And he is happy. So am I for him.
The most important thread that runs through the whole fabric of “people who cannot stop making money” are, (statistically collected by me and not based on any study or scientific deduction): a) They come from humble backgrounds where money was never in plenty. If they had continued in such a background, they are not eligible for my statistical evaluation, and would continue being in the same social and monetary /economic level for the rest of their lives. b) They taste the power of money, sometimes as a windfall, sometimes they earn it, sometimes when money comes through marriage and start making the money become wealth. (After all money can be inherited, married into, earned or thieved. No other way except of course printing it your self.) c) They are scared of going back into the early “no-money” state and even when they have a fair amount of “cushioning against calamities and security” to call it quits, they do not do so because of this fear. The “cushioning” is made bigger and bigger as the fear of the loss of accumulated wealth increases geometrically with age, and they spend the rest of their lives working their life off. d) They would like to bequeath property and wealth to their progenies, even though the progenies would have done well for themselves, as they do not want their progenies to have the handicap they themselves lived through in their early years without money. (That bequeathed wealth is more dangerous than not having any wealth in the hands of the receiver is never realized and/or accepted by them. This has been statistically proved. Recipients of bequeathed money tend to squander it and the third generation down the line has to start all over again.) e) They have an inherent fear that in case of some unforeseen circumstance, they will not be able to make the same amount of money again at a later date, in the same time. (Lack of faith in their own inherent capacities!!) Then, again here, how much enough is “enoughness”. f) They have hardly any enjoyment in life other than mundane things like going to work, seeing their investment grow, coming back home from work, thinking about relatives, children, grandchildren and wife, watching television, reading gossip magazines, socially interacting at long intervals with a very small group of friends which has never grown last 20 years and will not grow the next 20 years, visiting relatives and having relatives visit them. (The number of relatives being visited will depend on whose seed money has grown. If it’s the wife’s money that was the seed, you visit more of the wife’s relatives. If it is your money that has been the seed, you visit more of your relatives.) Give them a sheet of paper and ask them to list the activities unconnected with making money for a single day, and it will not exceed a list of 5 activities. Imagine only 5 such activities that they go through on a single day in the year 2005 and with mobility, information, communication and the internet at your fingertips. They would not be up to date with reading of best sellers but will be up to date with film gossip. They will have a very small range of music they listen to, in all probability in the same language and from the same source (say regional films) that they have been accustomed to from early age. They will not attend meetings/ discussions where new ideas are shared and you can broaden your knowledge. Their quest to learn new things and new information is restricted to newspapers, and even that pertaining to their own business/profession. They never up date their skills in anything except their own field of business. Even on a business trip to Egypt, they will never see the Pyramids. g) They show an outward appearance of having left all work at the office, but their mind is always on an “alert” mode even after work time. Ask them if they can leave their home at a drop of a hat for a game of golf, and they will give excuses that seem rather normal, but the real truth is they feel deprived of “money-making-highs” in activities like playing golf. h) They seek out problems within their immediate family or business that they take up on themselves to solve. They do not believe in the fact that any human being given a chance to drown will learn to swim. Ask them for reasons and one answer will in all probability emerge. “I am happy doing what I am doing. Why are you bothered”! They are right. I should not have asked. Not because it is bad manners. But, because I know the answer they will give! i) They are comfortable following a standard biological clock- doing the same things at the same time every day. Any change in this schedule upsets them. j) They are averse to make any change to what they always have, like new friends or even in food habits. k) They usually give target dates for retiring from the rat race. When that date is reached, they will still be in the rate race and give you another date for retirement. This will be buttressed with sane and sound arguments that no one can fault with. l) They prefer small groups of known persons than to stand in the middle of a large group or persons they are meeting for the first time. These are some of the salient features I have personally collected and do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Here is an analogy of such “enlightened” souls. They are the same as broilers and layers (chickens) that grow up in battery system farms. (A battery system poultry farm has meshed cages like pigeon hole cubicles arranged in rows. A conveyer belt in front carries feed and water. Another conveyer belt at the bottom carries out the excrement. A third conveyor belt carries out the eggs laid by these birds on the slightly sloping cubicle floor, on which the eggs roll out on to this belt. Fully automatic system including temperature controls and all procedures needed.
The day old chick is put into each cubicle. It just feeds, shits and grows in the one pigeon holed cubicle. The bird can move and turn around for a few weeks. But as it grows bigger, it cannot do so. Ultimately it grows to a size where it can only sit and stand in the same position. (May be like the social circle of the rate race runner, it is in close contact with 3 other birds, the ones to its right, left and rear.) The size of the cubicle is the maximum size to which it will grow ultimately. It literally is stuck in the cubicle in the last days before it is culled. Animal activists are against this system. But scientific study using EEG machines have proved that these birds do not feel any discomfort as they have never experienced freedom of movement other than in the cubicle from the day it is born. I give this analogy for persons who “exist”. They are happy existing as they have never tasted the luxury of “living”.
More is better, or more of what matters?...
The results are in. Americans dream about getting more of what matters, not just about getting more. A new poll released by the Center for a New American Dream revealed that 86% of Americans feel the term “more of what matters in life” fits their concept of the American Dream better than the term “more is better.”
The nationwide poll found Americans nervous about the current state of the American Dream. We worry that excessive materialism is having serious consequences for our children, for society, and for the environment. We worry about a pervasive “buy now, pay later” mentality and believe that the American Dream is getting out of reach for many Americans.
But we’re also willing to turn things around. A large majority of Americans say they are willing to take action in their personal lives to reduce consumption and materialism. Nearly half say they have already made voluntary changes in their lives, making less money in order to reduce stress, get in balance, and have more free time. And they are happy with the changes.
If “more of what matters” is important to you, you’ve come to the right place. The Dream helps you get more of what matters by having a goal from day one of business life, achieving it, retiring (with enough money of course!), living consciously, buying wisely, and making a difference to the quality of your life that you wish to lead, emotionally and practically. Set goals early, achieve targets, quit, simplify, and have more fun. Take control and stay in tune with your values. Support personal happiness in doing things that matter to you other than running a rat race.
Talking of the phrase “rat race”, here’s an aside. My occupation listed on my card and today’s brochure says “Rat Race Runner (Retd.)”. Few understand what it means. Many question me. One person asked me if I was a retired sportsman. Another asked me if I had raced rats. The third opined that anyone who races a rat can win. A friend also told me, “Ejji, even though one may have quit the rat race, you still remain a rat!”
Back to what I was telling you, find others who, like you, who are willing to take action for a better world and broaden your social contacts.
Because more isn’t always better. But more of what matters is.
Never needlessly indulge yourselves in doing anything you don’t have to. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing or not at all. But what you do, you must enjoy doing.
Value focus and relaxed concentration. Value being here and now.
This is not to say don’t believe in hard work, I do. I believe it exists. I have witnessed it on occasion, and, in times of recklessness, I have even engaged in it. But I believe there is a better way. Keep a target date and a list of wants. Achieve it, please.
Achieving your target and quitting the rat race is a skill that must be learned. We understand that it’s not for everyone. The Ancient Greeks understood that we work in order to have leisure. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
We do not dwell on the past and on how things got to be the way they are - although understanding one's past, learning from past experiences and using them in positive ways may become part of the process. Instead, we focus on what you have now, what you want to do about it and the future you want to create.
Research shows that money and wealth can create both positive and negative feelings for individuals and families. It is thought, for example, that the reason for loss of money is poor financial planning. However recent evidence show that 90% is lost due to poor emotional preparation and only 10% is due to poor financial planning. The relationship between money and psychology is a key aspect of growing and preserving wealth.
While it is difficult to generalize, in many cases the more financial security people have, paradoxically, they experience less emotional security. Their external life may appear solid and well furnished, but inside, they frequently harbor debilitating concerns about family conflicts, self worth, fears, failure, inadequacy, responsibility, and ironically even survival. Society's assumption that material success guarantees happiness merely exacerbates these concerns.
There is no magic formula for how to address these issues. Each family is unique, and so are the individuals in it, and therefore have a different set of challenges. However, a two-pronged approach is found to be most effective when dealing with the challenges of money and wealth. One is approaching the personal level and the other is focusing on the practical financial aspects.
At the personal level the primary objective is the emotional education, which can begin by exploring the underlying concerns and psycho-dynamics that related to the person's life and his financial consciousness. The practical financial aspects relate to financial education, which includes choosing the right advisors, to educate our selves in how to better manage and preserve money.
The above support is often best supplemented by developing the necessary skills to manage money or wealth. This may include focusing on creating effective communication with your inner self and goals. It is therefore important to understand the relationships between your financial status and your emotional and behavioral state as a way to overcome various challenges in your life.
Alas only a few of those who are experiencing various challenges with regard to money or wealth have the confidence to approach it practically. Not only are people generally too embarrassed to ask for help in unraveling their feelings, financially independent people suffer the double stigma. Since their problems are caused by money or wealth, which supposedly should be making them happy.
It is crucial for people to understand that an inner search can offer guidance without imposing decisions, accept you as you are, without making judgments and above all, listen in a way that provides you with clarity in realizing the way forward in the maze to happiness.
Finally, don’t succumb to the latest world-wide infection, especially among the younger acheivers. Affluenza! Affluenza is a new word. Let us see what the definition is. Affluenza is the bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. An unsustainable addiction and epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the money, material, title and power.
One of the reasons for not being able to handle wealth is 'Affluenza'. To make more money for themselves and others in order to accumulate signs of affluence just so that others will know you have arrived. But don’t forget that a third party on their own set of standards and rules is judging you.
Imagine you have proudly announced to the world once: I’m going to be rich! Good. But what is the meaning of the word “rich”. If you have assigned a proper definition, work towards that goal with a time frame you set. Do give it a small correction factor too, since most things will not work out in the time frame you set.
In most societies, we are raised to believe in the myth that it’s spiritual to be poor. Or we use such phrases as filthy rich, or Money is the root of all evils. Our TV and movies present the big businesses as the bad guys, and programs our minds to believe that being rich is bad.
So once years ago when I was asked by a “good friend” that disturbing question, “Why are you obsessed with money?” it made me start thinking. I must confess I was obsessed with money. The reason, I didn’t have money. Any money. I was too young and financially distraught to marry into money, though such opportunities luckily were unlimited, thus preventing me from becoming a “private gigolo”. And my father, even if I planned to murder him to get his money, had decided not to will me any of his wealth.
I asked myself: What am I really obsessed about? What are we all obsessed about? So I remembered...
I remembered I was working twelve to eighteen hours a day. Even though the money was good, it was exhausting me mentally and physically. I remembered that my cause was to have real control over my own time, to spend it with my loved ones, on the things that really matter to me, instead of working hard all of my life. And...
I remembered that I love to go and see rare places in India and other countries. I remembered that I love to do theatre. I loved racing cars. I remembered that I simply wanted to have fun. I remembered that I would like to spend my day doing exactly what I want and not be answerable to any human being. I understood that my goal was NOT to get stuck in the rat race, working hard all of my life, and living the illusion of having what some people call a "normal" life. I know some might say: Well, that’s how life is. No, I resent that. You live the life that YOU desire to have, I know its easier just to follow the crowd, but eventually, it is YOUR life, and you should reach an internal peace, rather than wondering how the outside world will look at you.
So I remembered that it wasn’t simply just making money. Those invaluable causes were driving me to become wealthy in my own way. That is when I decided I work for 20 years and no more. That is why I started saving, investing and educating myself, I bought books, I learned from others’ experience and spoke to them at length on all matters, I made such a vast circle of friends. (You can call them social contacts. Remember, never expect any human being to help you when you are in trouble. Most people help themselves through you. Me, a cynic? No way. I am just practical!!) But I had one goal- work and save for 20 years and no more! This was my first step towards financial freedom.
Of course, all these cost money. So what? People are spending lots of money on their cable TV, on their trips, and you name it... Well, I rather spend it on my dreams, and my best investment is in educating myself. Those books that I bought have opened my eyes, showed me that there's another way, an easier way, and I received invaluable insights that turned my life around.
So people say money is not the most important thing in their lives, the irony is, they are willing to work hard most of their lives for... MONEY! Where YOU and I (if you are reading this article so far then may be you share my feelings!) are not willing to work so hard for it. We want to make enough money, so we would NOT have to work for money all of our lives.
Keep those greater causes in your mind. Those genuine causes will drive you towards your sincere goals in front of those objections. And yes, it is OK to have a dream; life is not worth living without one.
Now I come to bequeathing property or money or business - Making money is one thing, passing it on, is another. How prepared are heirs to handle wealth and its trappings? Most rat race runners who retire worry about this. It is also very important to appreciate and accept that you have to look after yourself and your progenies will look after themselves. Making decisions of any kind for another family member or business associate, and making them follow it is a sure way to put an end to your post-rat-race happiness. In India everyone wants a marriage, a house, a Maruti and parents’ property. Most persons I have met make decisions for their sons or daughters. What they should do. Whom they should marry. Now I ask you, if I was told by my father what I should do and whom I should marry and I went ahead with it and both these ended in failures, am I not right in asking my father why he screwed up my life by making me follow his instructions? Do I not have the right to ask my father to support me now, since I did what he asked me to do, and I am now a failure, in spite of doing as he asked? Beware, this could be you giving the advice and instruction. Soon you will have an albatross round your neck. Why make decisions for others?
One obvious fact is that most of us go through life, thinking we are God's gift to mankind or is it woman kind? We strut around, swagger and feel we are indispensable to home or company. "What would my family ever do without me?" we wonder, little realizing that they could manage pretty well without us.
Here’s a small story I read recently.
A little boy went into a drug store, reached for a soda carton and pulled it over to the telephone. He climbed onto the carton so that he could reach the buttons on the phone and proceeded to punch in seven digits.
The storeowner observed and listened to the conversation on the extension: The boy asked, "Lady, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?
The woman replied, "I already have someone to cut my lawn."
"Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price of the person who cuts your lawn now," replied boy.
The woman responded that she was very satisfied with the person who was presently cutting her lawn. The little boy found more perseverance and offered, "Lady, I'll even sweep your curb and your sidewalk, so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all of North Palm beach, Florida."
Again the woman answered in the negative.
With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver. The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy and said, "Son I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job."
The little boy replied, "No thanks, I was just checking my performance and the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady, I was talking to!"
Ha! That must have been one happy boy!
Two things struck me with this little story:
One, that he must have obviously put in a lot of hard work to get that kind of response from his employer and two, that here was a little fellow who was ready to learn about himself. It must take a lot of guts to put your neck on the line and do what the lil' boy did. Do you think the boy would have done it if his father had always told him that dad’s factory was his in a few years time?
Do we have the courage to make an appraisal of ourselves? Have you the guts to stop a moment and make an appraisal of yourself? To really ask ourselves how much we contribute to home or job? Do more people outside your place of work and business know you, or is it the other way round? As Harold Robbins said about a person who “existed” and had not “lived”, “He is one of the millions who walks the streets of New York, whose death goes unnoticed”.
What about you when your time comes? Will your neighbors wonder who you were? Or will men and women from all over come and tell your family what a good, great person you were? Will they say you have left a multi-million dollar empire for your progenies? Will they say he worked till his last breath? Will they say, “Great guy! Enjoyed doing so many things. Wish I could do them.” Will they say, here was a guy who “Lived” and did not “Exist”? Or will they say, “He existed. Never lived”. What you do will decide your epitaph. Do things now, to postpone the need for an epitaph by retiring from the rat race and stress if you so desire. For stress is the primary cause of all early epitaphs!
Coming to the end of this article, I can hear your mind’s eye say that all this is possible only when there is sufficient employment opportunities, and it may not work in India.
Now don’t tell me about opportunities. India is the land of “unwillingness” for employment. We do not, I repeat, do not have “unemployment”. You can either match an opportunity to your skill, or get or upgrade a skill to match an opportunity. Once you identify and integrate both, put your best in it. You want to be a rickshaw puller, pickpocket or whore, be it. But strive to become the best in the profession. Once you have become the best, do not forget that there is a large population waiting to take your place in half the time and with one-fourth your intelligence. Mark your calendar and say, I work for so many years and that’s it. That is how the world moves in the 21st century. Move along with the 21st century thinking. (I do concede that in any society there are people who are happy with old world values. Let them live and be happy. Sati is old talk. But there are some who will commit it even today in India. Hara-kiri is still alive in pockets of Japan.) Do not take up a profession or a career that is thrust on you. Be prepared to travel anywhere. Today the whole world is a village. (In today’s world it is bad manners to ask a person their land of birth, as much as it is to ask for their religion or grade them by their color.) Most important, to be able to call yourself a Rat Race Runner Retired, start saving from day one. The world never forgives a person whose quality of life goes down. No one is known for what he was, but always for what he is. Learn to be selfish. You have to look after yourself. Not any other human being. It is you who should enjoy the money you earn. Not any one else. After all you worked for it. Stop slogging, making money, buying, saving for your progenies. Lastly, don’t do any of these things if you don’t believe in it and it doesn’t make you happy. You’ll be happy yourself! Either way!
This is what is now given the high-flown name “Voluntary Simplicity” in the Western World. And the idea is growing very rapidly.
Insults, disagreements and personal questions are most welcome! So are any agreements with this way of thinking.
TALK ON SANTHOME
Thanks for inviting me to speak to you on Santhome and its Surroundings. I am only a compiler of data that I have gathered from The Hindu, Mr. S. Muthiah, Mr. V. Sriram, Dr. V. Suresh and various other sources. I also collect “useless information” that at times like this starts to sound like a well researched talk!
Don’t get alarmed by the papers I have in front of me. Usually I speak extempore. It is just that I have too many stories on Santhome and its surroundings . Allow me to choose the best from my collection to be told within the allotted time. I also need the papers to double check unfamiliar names, dates, and quotations by the dozen! It is impossible for anyone to remember all these details. Also, I must not give you wrong information!
My earliest association with Santhome was my father Dr. P.Krishnan telling me about his old school St. Bede’s Convent. Next, the first gift I received after I was born was a handmade, satin and silk embroidered book of English alphabets with A for apple, B for bell, C for cat- made especially for me by my father’s school teacher’s wife who I think was called Mrs. Davey, who lived opposite the Santhome Cathedral, next door to the old Santhome post office. So my first first lessons in English started in Santhome. If my English is good today, it is thanks to Santhome!
Next was when Queen Elizabeth visited India, I was taken to see her cavalcade pass by on Santhome High Road. While the Queen stayed at the Raj Bhavan, Guindy, her retinue stayed in Santhome, in Hotel Oceanic. Another Santhome connection there. The other memory of Santhome was that my father’s friends like the Coelhos, Saldanhas, De Souzas,Lobos, Lazarus’ were all living in Santhome. And every one of them made wines at home! I have seen many Portuguese, English and French type houses in Santhome many years ago, But for a couple which you can easily recognize by the typical European metal grilles on the windows, many have been demolished.
HISTORY OF SANTHOME
The history of Santhome is a fascinating study of international politics. The English were at Fort St. George, the Portuguese at Santhome, the French and later the Dutch at Kovalam (actually the Taj Hotel property is inside the Dutch Fort), the Dutch again at Sadras near Mahabalipuram, the Moghuls, Nawab of Arcot, French and English at Alamparai, south of Sadras, the French at Pondicherry, the English again in Cuddalore, Danes again at Tranquebar, French again at Karaikal and so on. At various times the areas in south were ruled by Princely State Rulers, British India, Moghuls, Vijayanagar Nayaks, Maharajas, Sultans and Nawabs. At one point in history, the east coast of India was actually a mini Europe, ownership of places changing periodically from one nation to the other. Actually there was an old road from Kasi to Rameswaram called the Rameswaram Road used by pilgrims years ago. It passed through all the towns I just mentioned. Portions of the old road can still be seen at Tiruvadanthai on East Coast Road and some portions west of the Alamparai Fort. This road must be called the first Trans European Highway.
SANTHOME CATHEDRAL: San Thome is actually San Thome emphasis on e. Indeed, the very name Santhome is derived from Thomas the Apostle, sometimes informally called doubting Thomas or Didymus which means "The Twin", was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. It is widely believed that St Thomas came to Kerala around 52 AD and from there, traveled by foot to Mylapore-Santhome. For some years, he resided in a cave in Little Mount, off Mount Road, and regularly prayed in the small church that existed at the spot where the Santhome Basilica stands now. When he died in 72 AD, he was buried in this church. The Basilica is one of many churches to have been built over the tomb of an apostle. (Others include St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy; the Church of Saint James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and the Ghareh Keliseh Monasteryof St.Thaddeus in Ghara-Kilise, Iran.) Later, most of his skeletal remains were taken to Europe where they were distributed amongst several churches .Presently, a single finger bone piece of the Apostle and his empty tomb can be seen in the Santhome Basilica. The basilica stands majestically on a site where some church or other has stood for 19 consecutive centuries.
According to tradition, the tomb of St. Thomas has been opened four times. It was opened for the first time when a bloodied lance and a patch of bloodstained earth were found in it. Later the tomb was opened second time again to move the Saint’s relics to Ortona, Italy. The Portuguese opened it for the third time in 1520s before moving it to a church being built inland. The tomb was opened for the fourth time in 1729 in the presence of Coja Petrus Uscan, the Armenian benefactor of several Roman Catholic institutions including the St. Rita’s Church in San Thome. San Thome Basilica is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of madras and Mylapore.. In 1956, Pope Pius XII raised the church to the status of a basilica Minor, and on February 11, 2006, it was declared a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops Coference of India. The San Thome Basilica is a pilgrimage centre for Christians in India. The church also has an attached museum.
In medieval Arabic literature, Santhome is called 'Betumah, the Town of Thomas', and in the 13th century, Marco Polo, the renowned Venetian adventurer, described the village of Santhome in his travelogues. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese occupied Santhome, long before any other European power colonized any part of India. In 1559, the armies of the famous Vijayanagar empire fought with the Portuguese forces in this area. According to some historians, one of the reasons for the British establishing a settlement at Fort St George was to curb the growing power of the Portuguese in neighboring Santhome! Sensing the threat posed by the British, the Portuguese built a fort around Santhome in the year 1660.
The Portuguese connection with Santhome is indisputable. During 1507- 1509, Diagio Fernandez and Bastio Fernandez, two Portuguese merchants, visited here and prayed at the ancient chapel. Many Portuguese followed them here and 1521 to 1524 saw the establishment of a Portuguese settlement here. The old Nestorian chapel and the Nestorian monastery at the Mount were renovated and in 1524 a new church was built close to the beach. According to records, the place was called Santhome even in the 1540s. In 1544- 1545, Francis Xavier visited Mylapore and prayed at the tomb of St. Thomas before embarking on his journey to the countries of the East.
Santhome grew into a big Portuguese settlement between 1567 and 1582 and emerged as an important trading port. In 1635, Santhome was a rectangular fortified town, about 850 yards along the beach and bout 400 yards east to west. Between 1635 and 1660, the Portuguese extended this territory and built fortification with four gates, and also seven churches within them.
Later, Santhome came under the control of the Sultan of Golconda.
The Battle of Adyar (also called the Battle of Santhome) took place on 29 October 1746. The battle involved 300 men of the french east India Company, which had recently captured nearby Madras from the British, and a much larger force of 10,000 men belonging to Anwaruddin Mohammed Khan, the Nawab of the Carnatic, who sought to take Madras from the French. In the battle, which took place near the banks of the Adyar River, the French decisively defeated the larger Carnatic force, demonstrating the effectiveness of well-trained European forces in combating poorly trained Indian troops.
And that lesson was not lost on the English who, the same year, in their last hold on the Coromandel, Fort St. David, Cuddalore, began raising and training what became the Madras Regiment that was to be the nucleus of the Indian Army of today. It is with that Army that the British created an India that has grown into the modern nation of today. Triggering English thought to create such a military force that was to spearhead the drive for Empire and the creation of modern India is the significance of that battle that many treat just as a footnote to history. From my point of view, it was a pivotal point in history. The Indian Army that is there now grew from the Battle of Santhome. So you see the very important part Santhome plays in today’s India.
Finally, in 1749, the British acquired Santhome and it became an integral part of the growing city of Madras. Shortly later, the English built another fort called the Santhome Redoubt in Santhome, the old Portuguese fort having collapsed by now. Remnants of the British fort can still be seen on the northern side of some of the houses in Leith Castle Street.
The Portuguese and later the British renovated and rebuilt the Santhome Basilica which is, even now, the most important and imposing monument of Santhome. In addition, the area possesses a few more historic churches. These include the Church of the Holy Rosary built by the Portuguese in 1635.
Nestled between the river Adyar and the Bay of Bengal, Santhome is a charming residential locality in the heart of Chennai. Some of the city's oldest and biggest buildings including churches and residential houses are seen in Santhome. Santhome is also known for its palatial garden houses, some of which date back to the eighteenth century.
Santhome has some premier educational institutions. These include Rosary Matriculation School, St. Bedes School, Santhome Higher Secondary school, St. Raphels School and Dominic Savio School. The official residence of the Archbishop of the Madras - Mylapore Archdiocese is in Santhome adjacent to the Basilica. The consulates of Russia and Spain are also in this area.
Armenia and Santhome
There is a three-century-old Armenian inscription in Santhome. At the edge of San Thome Matriculation Higher Secondary School is St. Rita’s Church (now chapel), which was built by the Armenians in 1729 – 1740 under the supervision of Fr. Gaspar dos Reis with contributions from the most famous Armenian in Madras Coja Petrus Uscan. An inscription on its east wall, in Armenian characters says, In Memory of the Armenian Nation, 1729. H.D. Love’s book points out that the event commemorated was the opening of the grave of St. Thomas, which took place in April 1729, to which Uscan was a witness.
Another inscription in Portuguese in the same church shows that it was partially rebuilt in 1740. The church, now a part of the school.
It s a river island formed by the Adyar River and one of its tributaries. The area has shrunk in the last few years and it will not be long before the word Island becomes a misnomer and it gets connected to the main land. The cemetery has graves of every kind – there is one with four angels surrounding it and another with a picture of the demised painted on. One particularly beautiful grave has a marble statue of a little girl on it. There are even two graves of a Chinese couple – the Minsens, with Chinese inscriptions engraved on the surface. At the entrance is a row of graves of women from a family and perpendicular to it, a row of graves of men from the same family. The most beautiful grave of all is an isolated grave without a tombstone. All it has is a little plant with white flowers growing by its side. The most popular grave of course is that of, the “rags to riches and back to rags” versatile singer, actor, comedian par excellence and person, J.P. Chandrababu. Even today, Chandrababu’s fans visit the grave and place a garland or bouquet on it.
Brodie Castle was constructed by British East India Company servant and businessman, James Brodie on eleven acres of land gifted to him by the Government in Quibble Island in the town of Adyar, then located outside the limits of Madras city. Brodie inhabited the house for a short period but later, due to his declining fortunes, rented the house to tenants, the first of whom was Sir Thomas Strange, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Madras. Following Brodie's death in 1801 in a boating accident, the family sold the property which was purchased by the Arbuthnot Family who resided in it for a while. Ramakrishna Mutt Road from Mylapore to Brodies Castle was till recently called Brodies Road.
NIMMO ROAD (Nimmo family and the Spanish Consulate)
Enter Nimmo Road in San Thome and you are in a different world. Gracious mansions from an era long past greet you on both sides, one of them housing the Spanish Consulate. The thoroughfare commemorates Erskine Nimmo, a ‘free merchant’ of the 18th century who probably lived here. The term free merchant indicates that he was operating independently of the East India Company.
He appears to have been fairly successful in his chosen trade, whatever it was. Besides this, he was actively involved in floating lottery schemes by the means of which the Government of the day was funding several public projects. He was of course also an active participant in what was then the biggest scam on earth till date – lending money to the Nawab of Arcot at usurious rates.
Nimmo died intestate in Madras in 1805. Almost immediately, William Fairlie, the ‘Prince among Calcutta merchants’ and after whom Fairlie Place in that city is named, filed for possession of all of Nimmo’s effects, on the grounds that he was owed money by the latter. Thanks to the efforts of Binny & Co, his agents in our city, Fairlie obtained Letters Of Administration approving the takeover from the Supreme Court of Judicature in Madras.
But he was not to enjoy these additions to his already considerable wealth. William Nimmo appeared out of the blue in England in 1815, after spending several years in the West Indies. As next of kin to Erskine Nimmo, he filed for quashing the Letters of Administration given to Fairlie. The case of Nimmo vs Fairlie was to drag on for fourteen years during which period Fairlie conveniently died. Judgement when pronounced decreed that William Nimmo was entitled to Letters of Administration to the estate in England. But if he wanted to lay his hands on what was in India, he would have to file a fresh suit in Madras.
He rather wisely chose not to do so, for he had already managed to get what was the most lucrative among Erskine Nimmo’s Madras possessions – Carnatic stock or compensation for what was owed by the Nawab of Arcot. It was a handsome windfall for William Nimmo– a sum of two thousand and forty six pounds, nine shillings and seven pence, in 1818.
THE CHURCH OF MOTHER OF GOD:
(Madre De Due or Mae De Dues), first built in 1575, traces its beginnings to the Madeiros (Madras) family. It was rebuilt in 1748 and it survived toil 1997 as “Dhyana Ashram” when it was pulled down. What survives today, despite protests from the old parishioners, are the former entrances to the church in the north and south walls. The main entrance is on Matha Church Road. Some theories state that Madras owes its name to the Madeiros family.
Lazarus Church Road derives its name from a Portuguese built church that existed in Santhome in 1582, and was rebuilt by the Madeiros in 1637. This church was again rebuilt in 1928, incorporating parts of the old Portuguese Church. The present Lazarus Church, renamed “The Church of our Lady of Guidance” in 1952, bears a close resemblance to the Velankanni shrine. A 16th century tombstone inscribed with “Here lies Coja Martinho with his wife Marta Toscano and their son Diogo” is preserved in the Archdiocese Museum and it is one of the major attractions of Santhome.
CHURCH OF HOLY ROSARY:
The Church of Holy Rosary, a Dominican Church built in 1635, is situated on Rosary Church Road. Descano Church, associated with the Thomas tradition, was restored by the Madeiros family in 1703. The old church here was built in the 1650s. In recent times a second church has been built next to the old shrine.
LUZ CHURCH- Our Lady of Guidance Church (not to be confused with the new name of Lazarus Church!)
How many in the city are aware of ‘Kattu Koil' or Forest Church which is situated in the heart of the metropolis? It is none other than the Luz Church, which derives from the Portuguese name Nossa Senhora da Luz, (156, Luz Church Road, Mylapore), located at the west of the Santhome Cathedral and a mile away from it. In the south wall there is an ancient stone with a Portuguese inscription which reads ‘Friar Pedro of the Observance of St. Francis built this church of Our Lady of Light in 1516.' It is one of the oldest Churches in the city and its foundation stone marks as one of the oldest European monuments in India.
Eight Franciscan Friars set sail for India from Lisbon on March 9, 1500. Five of them sailed down South. As they were cruising along the Coromandal Coast, the sea turned rough and tossed the ship about. Suddenly their eyes were drawn to a bright light which led them to land safely on the shores of Mylapore, on the same spot where the ruins of ‘Bethuma,' the old house of St. Thomas, the Apostle, was located, that is Santhome. As they alighted and moved towards the mysterious guiding light, it took them to a clearing in the forest where the light suddenly disappeared. Inspired by this experience, Friar Pedro of the Observance of St. Francis built a church on the spot. The original structure must have been a small Oratory.
Since then, it has always been referred to as ‘Kattu Koil' by the locals. The historical importance of the church is apparent from the fact that the area is officially called ‘Luz', the Portuguese word for light. Luz Church has survived troubled times. It was damaged during the occupation by Golconda forces between 1662 and 1673. During the occupation of Hyder Ali (1780 - 82), the East India Company forces occupied the Luz Parish residence for some years..
MAKING GUN POWDER IN MYLAPORE
There is a Powder Mill Road in Mylapore. It was quite likely that the powder mill in Mylapore dated back to the Arcot Nawabs, or to the Golconda forces, or the French or the Portuguese, in short, to a time when Santhome was an independent fortified town.
The Livro do Estado da India Oriental by Captain Pedro Barretto de Rezende dating to 1646 and partially translated by H.D.Love gives a clue. At the height of its glory under the Portuguese, de Rezende records the artillery might of the fort – “thirty iron guns and one of brass, three, six and nine pounders. There is also a swivel gun of forty iron hoop, twelve falcons and four wall-pieces. For these guns there is enough ammunition and powder in the magazines to enable the occupants of the fort to offer resistance”. The west gate of the fort was at the intersection of Bazaar and Kutchery Road and it is likely that a powder mill was close by.
That was not enough to prevent the Golconda forces from taking over the town in May 1662. In 1672 came the French, who occupied it till 1674. During these two years, the powder mill must have been busy, given that the Golconda forces, aided by the Dutch, besieged Santhome and re-occupied it in 1674.
MUSLIMS NEAR SANTHOME
Devadi Street, is a small thoroughfare that links Appu Mudali Street and Kutchery Road. Most thought that it had something to do with dancing girls or handmaidens of the Gods being called Devadial. V.Sriram researched it and found that it could be because Mahfuz Khan Devadi, a noble of the Nawab’s Court, had a garden house there. Continuing his research in old Corporation records threw up a surprise. The street was registered as Deodi Sardar-ul-mulk Dilawar Jung Bahadur. Deodi or Deorhi is the Persian/Urdu term for a doorway and that made this the street that led to the door of Sardar-ul-mulk Dilawar Jung Bahadur, whoever that was. Over time evidently, the owner was forgotten and only his door was remembered. So did Deorhi or now Devadi Street once lead to his garden? It may well have, for this was once the outskirts of Mylapore, beyond which was the pasture land of Mandaveli. An ideal location for a ruler to settle; close to the town and yet just outside of it. The fact that this was once a garden is further confirmed by the presence of a mosque, named the Char Chaman (four garden) Masjid. An old structure that became dilapidated before being modernised, it still has an interesting archway with minarets. This is on Appu Mudali Street, an extension of Devadi Street. Buildings hem it in but a walk around shows that it formed a block by itself once, surrounded by Syed Hameed Hussain, Syed Nadimullah and Syed Wahab Hussain Streets. More Islamic clues follow. Mosque Street is not far away. And just after Devadi Street meets Kutchery Road is an even older shrine – the Jumma Mosque built in 1699. All this makes Mylapore an amalgam of Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths. What better example of secularism can there be?
The city which is famous for its sizzling hot crisp vadais with freshly brewed filter coffee had eateries since 1930s. Rayar's Mess in Mylapore has been serving up the Madras staple food Idli-Vadai-Sambar since the 1930s, making it one of the oldest eateries in the city.
P Mohan, co-owner of Rayar's Mess, said, "The mess was started in the 1930s by my grandfather. Then my father ran it, and now my brother is running the mess." Rayar's Mess is a family affair as brothers cook, serve and manage this eatery. The menu is also limited, but the recipes are original and handed down from their grandfather.
Even when there are long queues, Rayar's Mess refuses to expand the eatery from four tables. They say the franchise model is not for old-school eateries like theirs.
The Nattukottai Chettiars from Chettinad in Tamil Nadu is a prosperous banking and business community, many of whom went to establish successful businesses in Sri Lanka and Burma in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Those who returned built elaborate palaces in their hometown, Chettinad. The Chettinad Palace in Chennai is one of the few palaces built outside Chettinad. The palace, built from 1902 to 1912 is exquisite in its use of Italian marble, limestone and teak. The palace is now the home of M A M Ramaswamy (the grandson of Chettinad's last Raja), a prominent industrialist who owns the largest stable of racehorses in India.
Think ‘Oceanic’ and it conjures up memories of the 1950s – an empty San Thomé High Road, a pristine Adyar Creek teeming with bird life, an art-deco hotel standing at the edge – a world-class facility where visiting international cricket teams were hosted. Today, all that remains is an empty plot of land, fronted by a crumbling welcome arch over which can still be seen some of the letters that once spelt the hotel’s name.
The property itself, originally five to six acres, goes back to probably the 19th Century. Certainly, when lawyer K.R. Shenai bought it in 1917, it had already had an old garden bungalow in its Southwest corner. The evacuation of Madras in 1942 led Shenai to sell his landholdings, and the part fronting San Thomé High Road was purchased by M.S. Ramaswami Chettiar of Mahalakshmi Films.
Chettiar built two hotels on the premises – the ‘Oceanic’ and the ‘Ratnagar’. Completed in 1954 or thereabouts, the Oceanic in particular was known to be one of the best hotels in India, “equipped with linen, crockery, cutlery, refrigerators, air-conditioners, cooking ranges, electric fans, ice-cream machines, ice-making machinery, light fittings and other moveable and also with tools, implements, lawn mowers, equipments, kitchen and other utensils” to quote from a record in the 1960s. In addition it had a shopping gallery where some of Madras’ best known retailers set up outlets. By 1959, the Oceanic started attracting high class tourists – being only one of three hotels in the city to offer air-conditioned rooms must have helped. “Luxurious Oceanic, a most popular hotel of Madras, situated on the sea shore, all single and double rooms air-conditioned,” ran an ad in 1958.
SANTHOME AND WORLD WAR 2:
When Madras was evacuated during WW 2, many people living in vital locations were asked to vacate their homes. One of them was the famous film director K. Subramanyam and father of the well known dancer Padma. Since their house in Santhome on Sullivan Street is near the beach, they were asked to vacate. Their house was requisitioned as an Air Raid Precaution Center with trenches dug for safety of the local citizens. When the family returned in 1943, they found the beautiful house in a pitiable condition and the beautiful garden they had completely gone. They had to repair the house and I think they still retain that house.
Yes! This bridge is shown in records as part of Santhome and NOT Mylapore.
Among the oldest bridges on record is what used to be called the Barber’s Bridge in San Thome. While popular theory attributes it to a Hamilton, the Vestiges of Old Madras by Henry Davidson Love goes back even further. It mentions that a natural drainage channel on the north side of St. Thome was crossed by Barber’s Bridge. While it was initially called Hamilton, a name that was corrupted into Ambattan (meaning Barber) by the locals, the original bridge was probably built by the Portuguese, as there is a mention of it during the French occupation of Santhome in 1672-1674 (On the 3rd October De La Haye led the troops to a bridge on the north side, 500 paces distant, where a skirmish took place). This is, of course, prior to the British influence over the area. The Hindu Archives even has a photo of a plaque that used to be on the old bridge, according to which the bridge was built ‘at about 1600’, before it was rebuilt.
TRAMS TO SANTHOME:
Madras Electric Tramways or the MET, had the Mylapore line between Luz Corner and Santhome Beach on Kutchery Road. While in every other route the lines were doubled, this unfortunate link remained single till the very end in 1953 when the tram service in Madras was stopped. The fare one way was half an anna when an Indian rupee had sixteen annas.
MURDER IN SANTHOME
On 11th August 1642, 3 Portuguese soldiers and a Dane went to drink arrack at a “base arrack shop”. Base means cheap! There one of the Portuguese soldiers during a brawl killed one of the 2 English soldiers who went to contain it. The murderer was arrested but the Portuguese in Sathome demanded his release from the British. The local Nayak sent his men to the British Fort as they feared that the Portuguese from Santhome would come to rescue their man. The Nayak executed the Portuguese soldier. This was because the Nayak had a grudge against the Santhome Portuguese who frequently troubled him. One of the first murders in Santhome.
CRIME IN SANTHOME:
Chennai’s most notorious gangster Ayodhyakuppam Veeramani lived right behind the Russian Consulate in Ayodhyakuppam.
On Sunday morning of July 27, 2003 on the beach, Vellaidurai a DSP of the Police, shot him dead in an encounter. Veeramani was a huge guy wearing lot of gold jewelry on him and was always surrounded by his men armed with knives and sickles. Vellaidurai and another assistant approached Veeramani to come with them after he had just returned from the day’s fishing in the sea. He refused to give in and attacked them. Vellaidurai fired two bullets at him from his pistol. The gangster who sent shivers among people all along Chennai’s southern coastline for over a decade, died on the spot after the bullets pierced his head and heart.
The hawkers on the beach are controlled by two groups supported by the local politicians, who extort money from thousands of them. Their collection every week runs into well over Rs 3 lakh.
Under the title of Anna Sirukadai Vyabarigal Sangam, two groups are extort money from the hawkers in the name of maintenance and electricity supply. When Veeramani was alive, he used to be the leader of the sangam and controlled the hawkers’ business. The members also claim that they pay Rs 10,000 as assistance for a hawker’s family, if the breadwinner of the family dies.
KALPANA aka"Sea View" situated at No. 27, Santhome High Road, is a huge tastefully done old building once owned by P.S.S.Somasundaram Chettiar who set up Somasundara Mills in Coimbatore and many others in 1933, to make Coimbatore the Manchester of the East. A multi-millionaire, he had borrowed money from his girl friend Kalpana whose real name was Saraswathi a film actor. The property ended in a dispute of enormous proportions and 45 years down the line still unsettled.
The next house belonged to Karumuthu Thyagaraja Chettiar, an Indian independance activist, industrialist and the founder of Thiagarajar College of Engineering, thiagarajar School of Management and Thiagarajar Polytechnic College, Salem. His descendants still live in and around Santhome.
There are three streets and a house in Santhome that have Leith Castle in their names. It is said that the Egmore Redoubt, built in 1751 as a small fort by the shore, was sold in 1794 to a Col. John Braithwaite, who later built a garden house on the ruins of the Redoubt. Two years later, the Colonel sold the property to a merchant, Thomas Parry who rebuilt the house as Parry’s Castle. In 1805 Thomas Parry started perhaps the first manufacturing industry in Madras in Santhome. It was a leather tannery and located in what is now Leith Castle. When Parry died in 1824, Major General James Leith bought Parry’s Castle and made it a garden house again. After his death in 1829, the house passed through several hands, and sometime after 1837, it became known as Leith Castle. The building is still there with a portion of the redoubt wall. Parry’s famous quote on Madras was ‘city full of houris, from the Mesdames (pronounced medaam) of the Choultry plain to the dancing girls with the ‘eminently beautiful counters. Madras is no place for celibates’.
This is a landmark house, which was very small once upon a time. It grew in stages as Viswanathan’s career grew. But more people in Madras knew this house than any other house in Santhome. One may know the Santhome Cathedral because it is huge and you cannot miss it. But I doubt if many knew the Archbishop’s House or Rosary Matriculation School or the Cultural Academy as much as they knew MSV’shouse. He still lives there. Another rags to riches story of a Tamilian in Santhome.
MYSORE PALACE (The Present Russian Consulate)
This place was never a “palace”. It was only a house. The original building was a modest sized house with many cottages called Chamundi Bagh, built by the Maharaja of Mysore Krishna Raja in1930 to be used as his home when he came to “report” to The Governor of Madras which was a rule. The Maharaja’s family being vegetarians, the cottages were meant for their non-vegetarian guests especially foreigners. In 1940 Jayachamaraja Wadeyar became the Maharaja. Now you know where the beautiful carved doors come from. The Goddess on the carvings is Chamundeswari. In 1940 -41, it was requisitioned by the British Army for use as a war office and soldiers quarters. When it was handed back to the Mysore Royal family in 1945, it was in such a bad condition that the maharaja decided to sell it. His Diwan was A. Ramaswami Mudaliar who coaxed his friend and the founder of the Murugappa Group A.M.M.Murugappa Chettiar to buy it. At that time AMM was living in a building called “The Laurels” on Edward Elliots Road, now called Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, and is the present New Woodlands Hotel. In the bargain it is said that Ramaswamy Mudaliar also made some money both from the buyer and the seller of the Mysore property. A.M.M. Murugappa and A.M.M. Arunachalam families moved in there, while The Laurels was bought by Woodlands Krishna Rao. This prompted S. Anantaramakrishnan, the founder of The Amalgamations group who was living in a house called “Kalyan Mahal” one block away, but in a lane off Edward Elliots Road, to buy Sudharma owned by Sir P.S.Sivaswamy Iyer, prominent lawyer, administrator and statesman who served as the Advocate General of Madras from 1907 to 1911, who has a road in Mylapore named in his honor. It was at that time one of the two the biggest properties in Mylapore. Anantharamakrishnan did not want Sudharma to be bought by Krishna Rao, for that would mean he will have to share a compound wall with a hotel. By the way the only other property of this size was Mangala Vilas the house of my wife Shyamala’s grandfather G.A.Natesan owner of the printing company GA Natesan & Company, publisher of the famous magazine Indian Review and the man who introduced Gandhi to politics and South India. Gandhi always stayed with G.A.Natesan as his guest. In the Automobile Association of Southern India office, there is a cloth map of Madras City in the 1940s. In the legend titled, “Places of Tourist Interest”, you will find mentioned The Fort St. George, The Santhome Cathedral, The Marina Beach, The Zoo, The Museum, etc along with 2 names of private homes- one is Sudharma and the is Mangala Vilas. Tourists used to visit these houses to have a look at them of course from the outside! That’s a story for another day.
The Russian Government bought it from the AMM family in 1963-64 and all the properties the AMM family purchased thereafter in Madras after this were named “The Laurels” or “Chamundi Bagh”.
There are quite a few stories to be told. But for want of time, let me stop here. Once again a very big thank you to one and all. Have a good night.
THE GARBAGE COLLECTOR OF BOAT CLUB AREA
Here is something I wrote for the Chennai Boat Club Area Walkers page in FB. And a few comments I received!
Hello and Good Morning!
I am not a regular walker on the roads of Boat Club Area, but usually do walk whenever I come to The Madras Boat Club, where I have been a member since 1975. Going through the list of your members, I do happen to know quite a few.
The reason I joined your group is that I have fond memories of how I started my working life back in 1969. Boat Club Area and its roads have a large role to play!
Being unemployed, or perhaps unemployable, I had asked C.D.Gopinath (Gordon Woodroffe), who lived in the Boat Club Area for a job. He offered me the job of collecting garbage from all the houses in the area in a hand pulled cart, and dumping it in large pits in an open corner plot on First Avenue. CDG took me to meet the late M.M.Muthiah who was living on Boat Club Road, a stone's throw away from where C.D.Gopinath's house was. M.M.Muthiah personally handed over the cart to me.
I had an assistant Pakkiriswamy. We both pulled the cart from house to house through the five roads, once early in the morning and again once early in the evening. We were paid a princely sum of Rs 250-00 to start with. Of course, there was no Exnora, Onyx and the concept of contracted garbage collection and disposal was not known those days.
There were not many houses in the Boat Club Area, and certainly no high rises. All the buildings were in large compounds. There were quite a few vacant plots. I remember Chakravarti of Citibank, K.P. Misra of ICI, R.J. Shahaney of Ashok Leyland, Vishnu Mohan of Gordon Woodroffe and many other big names were residents of that area. Companies like ITC, Binny, TI Group and many big commercial and industrial houses owned properties here.
I used to collect garbage and waste from The Madras Club also. Vijayan of Avery’s was the Secretary of The Madras Club at that time. One day he stopped me on the road and asked me if the club should pay me for collecting the garbage. I said, no, I was being paid by C.D.Gopinath. He asked me to collect Rs.100 every month from him as the payment from The Madras Club. I thanked him profusely for his generosity as that money was nearly 50% of what I was getting.
Time passed. I went into business by starting Ejji Domestic Services in 1971. The company had electricians plumbers, carpenters, motor/pump/water heater/bore well mechanics, whose services were available to anyone in Madras. It was the first of its kind in India. Here again C.D.Gopinath was the first to use my services. In 1972, I started Ejji Maintenance Contracts, which was again India’s first contracted housekeeping service for offices and industrial establishments. Again, thanks to C.D. Gopinath, Gordon Woodroffe gave me my first office housekeeping contract. (Read more about the businesses on my web site www.ejji.4t.com).
In course of time, nearly every house in the Adyar Property Holding Company’s Boat Club Area, including a few private houses on Adyar Club Gate Road and Satyanarayana Avenue were my clients for technical maintenance of their houses! That included The Madras Boat Club and The Madras Club too. (There was no Alumni Club then!) Some of these companies even used my services in other buildings in Madras that housed their offices, guest houses and executives. Soon, the popularity of my services grew and Ejji Services became a household name.
Years later, when I had started doing international car rallies, and I was known as a car rally driver, I participated in one of the biggest car rallies ever run, the India Asean Car Rally 2004. The total distance driven was 8000 km plus, from Guwahati, India, through Myanmar, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR), Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand (twice), Malaysia, Singapore and ended in Batam, Indonesia. It was an event that attracted attention all over the world.
After the rally, I was asked to speak to the members of The Madras Club and do a presentation of the rally highlights. I told S. Muthiah of Madras Musings my story of collecting garbage from The Madras Club years ago. When he had to introduce me to the audience, he said, “This is the first time in the history of The Madras Club, that the garbage collector of the club will address the members!" And, sitting in the audience and smiling was C.D. Gopinath.
Anyway, I quit business life in 1991, as I wanted to work only for 20 years. But that’s a story for another day. I must acknowledge that all this started in The Boat Club Area with a hand cart and garbage! As Johnnie Walker says, “Keep walking”………….. and, let it always be in The Boat Club Area. Memories of another day!l, Prabha Koda and 40 others like this.
Vivek Mukherji A brilliant narrative Ejji.
Bimal Kumar Brilliant!
Shanthi Krishnan Your humbleness is a very very rare virtue. Hats off Ejji.
Rashmi Raman Amazing Ejji ...fm 1968 to 1972 we were in Powhatan one of the ITCs houses those days....so we've known u since I was one year old
Prema Venkateswaran Hey Ejji, though i have heard this story from you over a few drinks at some happy party evening, it is an interesting read! Cheers!
Sesha Sai So inspiring Ejji.. Congenital sybarite .
Shoba Ambalika Singh definitely humble beginnings for a humble man I've been told by the Babs who speaks so highly of you ....
Augustine Kurian Wonderful read! When you look back,Life would seem extremely wonderful.
Narendra Nayak Great Ejji.
Jhanvi Sharma Very inspiring Ejji
Harmaan Raj Madon no job is too big or too small. thank you for inspiring us all, and for reminding us that hard work never killed anybody
Harsha Koda Excellent. ... I've not had the privilege of shaking hands with too many people who have 'cleansed' the world. Cheers.
Srinivasan Periathiruvadi Ejji, All things start small and yours had wheels too. Great journey and Cheers.
Sushila Ravindranath Ejji Domestic Services is still being missed
Shoba S Rajgopal What a great story! Thanks for sharing this thought provoking piece.