Shakespeare certainly didn’t have me in mind when he wrote – “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” The only tidal connection that I happened to have is Madras, the city I grew up in, but the seashore was about 12 kilometres away. It just so happened that life turned out that way.
I grew up in Anna Nagar. Along with me, our 1,200 square feet, two bedroom house accommodated my parents and my younger sister. My parents were first generation immigrants to the city. My dad studied at Madras Christian College and took up a job at Dunlop Tyres. Those days Dunlop was a thriving tyre manufacturing company. They had a great tagline too – ‘Dunlop is Dunlop, Always Ahead’. Maybe my dad did believe that and, that’s the only job he ever took up. So, he had one job, one company, one boss, one wife, one car… all his life, almost nothing changed for him.
Growing up, the best gift that I got from my parents was work ethic and education. They were disciplinarians and inculcated the reading habit in me. Right from the age of nine, I used to read the newspaper every day, religiously.
I wasn’t a particularly bright student though, in my early years, at Don Bosco. Debating I was good at, maybe because I enjoyed it, and was even the captain of the winning school team. Quizzing was another love. But what I liked most about my school was that there were no favourites; all were equals. Even though I was not among the top 5% academically, nobody shooed me away from participating in extra-curricular activities such as debates or quizzes.
That inclusivity was responsible for the success of many students and leading from the front was Headmaster Selvadurai, a class act with his clipped English. His effort was to make us gentleman out of ruffians and he treated each one of us like somebody who could achieve something but needed some help to get there. He always did that, with the occasional ribb