February 13, 2010

Document your life!

When you are in the right place at the right time, a lot can happen.
C. P. Venkataraman was one such man who was in the middle.
Working in the Telegraph department may appear to be an unexciting job.
It was not.
Ask any telegraphist of the old days and a nudge will produce a string of 'believe-it-or-not stories'.
Venkataraman found himself in some exciting spots that his job took him to in the Madras of the 30s and 40s.
Cricket matches, for example.
He was in charge of setting up and running the communications for this sporting event and when the Aussies came visiting they found in Venkataraman a reliable man who ensured they could could talk to their wives and families uninterrupted and assure them back home that Madras was not overrun by snakes and elephants.
In return, the Aussies posed for keepsake pictures that the proud Telegraph person showed off to his colleagues.
There was also a war time assignment when he had to co-ordinate the job of setting off the war raid warning sirens in this city.
He was the sort of man who made friends easily and when he grew roots in the Mylapore area he came to know the biggest and brightest lawyers of the land like Sriman Srinivasa Iyengar. (His family says that Venkataraman pushed the agenda to have a road in the area named after this towering personality).
At Pachaiyappa's, he had rubbed shoulders with C. N. Annadurai who went on to become the leader of the DMK and a state chief minister.
Recently, his family celebrated C. P. Venkataraman's centenary, making a handsome donation to city based voluntary bodies who are doing immense service to less fortunate people.
Dr C. V. Geetha, Venkataraman's daughter had spoken to me when she was making preparations for this milestone.
I took that opportunity to make a suggestion. A suggestion I made after I heard some of the anecdotes that made Venkataraman who he was.
Create a PowerPoint or a slide show on the person and present it to the family, relatives, guests and well wishers at the centenary event.
Dr. Geetha called me soon after the event, keen to share some pictures of the celebration. And she told me that she had worked on my idea and the presentation was appreciated.
I am hoping this adds to the social history record that some of us are building today.
Celebrations, compilations, books and records are not meant only to be on the famed and the successful.
They have to be on people who have led interesting lives.
There should be one or two people in your family tree who have made a mark or contributed immensely.
A engineer who designed the bridges of our city. A doctor who set up a free clinic and ran it for 50 years. A teacher who changed the face of a school.
Please compile pictures and records and jot down information on them.
Circulate them amongst your family and relatives.
Create social records.

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