September 05, 2008

Raja Seetharaman: R. I. P

The Gods did love him. And they have called him to be with them.
Raja Seetharaman died on Wednesday night.
And we have lost a young man who worked tirelessly for this city.
He died in an accident on the premises of the Mambalam railway station. And when the news trickled to us from the GH mortuary on Thursday morning, all of us who worked closely with him went numb.
I did too.
On Sunday we had met at the formal release of the first part of a three-volume gazetteer on 400 years of Madras that is Chennai produced by the Association of British Scholars in India, a finale to the Madras Day celebrations. And we had chatted for long over coffee - on how we could, in 2009, take to north Madras an exhibition that he and colleague D. H. Rao had put together at the Rajaji Hall in the Government Estates this year.
Raja was his buoyant self that evening. He was dead three days later.
He had invited me to his splendid house in Chintadripet (chinna tari pettai) on many occasions and here I was at his place to attend his funeral. In a heritage house which had also been a stop for people who had taken part in the Walking Tour of Chintadripet that V. Sriram had conducted for Madras Day 2008. Hardly a fortnight ago.
On Thursday, Iyyah Mudali Street was for mourners.
Raja was a passionate collector of coins, postage materials and wedding invitations.
But he rarely showed off his collection.
Instead, he was a tireless worker and organiser. The sort of man who went many extra miles to ensure that a show on the city's history/heritage was a good one.
He was on stage at Rajaji Hall a fortnight ago, launching that exhibition for Madras Day and rewarding us with a special postal cover he and Rao had helped to bring out.
We will miss Raja.
But all of us who work in small ways for this city hope to do some thing in his memory.
I wish our city-based newspapers would recognise men and women like Raja.
They rarely do.
When I suggested to a reporter of 'The Hindu' that a tribute be published, I was told that since Raja was not a celebrity his editors would not buy the story.
Our media does not believe in celebrating our own people. People who go out of their way to contribute to this city.
It is busy chasing celebrities at nightclubs and hotels.
And this attitude is a real shame.
Tributes to men and women of substance, of our city are a must. I hope our newspapers and our community recognise this.


Rada said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. The way you have described it, it is Chennai's loss, certainly.

May his soul rest in peace!

Lakshmi said...

so sorry to hear this..I did go to the exhibition..very tragic and the attitude of the media is very pathetic..I dont know when they will get out of this celebrity chase..

maybe not the right forum to say this, but Ive just posted on the mount road walk..would appreciate it if you could stop by and add to it .Thanks

Sharma said...

Hello Mr. Vincent D'Souza, I am M V Sharma, friend of DH RAo and Raja SeetaRaman. I heard his fate on the same night. I have completely shifted to my native place AMALAPURAM in Andhra Pradesh from 1st of September and hence I could not participate in this Madras Day celebrations. I have met Raja Seetaraman on 22nd August at Rajaji Hall, who made a himalayan work to promote Madras day among us. The Gods always like good people to serve him. I went sleepless when ever I think of Raja Seetaraman since I know him since the past 13 years.
Mantha V Sharma.