Did you know Thiruvanarayana Ayyangar?

C. NAGANNA writes: “Did you know Thiruvanarayana Ayyangar?” This was a question posed by the venerable doctor whom I had gone to meet, along with two other elderly gentlemen, in Bangalore to thank for some significant help he had extended recently.

When I asked for a tray after the preliminaries, the doctor correctly guessed that I had brought some “Mysore Special” and said all the same, “Why did you take the trouble?”

I was in a persistent mood. And as I am a believer in the salutary effect of gratitude, I said, “Sir, these things are available only in Mysore and nowhere else; you must kindly accept them.” I could notice that he was pleased with the way I had phrased my sentence and asked his wife to bring a tray.

I placed the items one by one. At the end of the operation there were nearly half-a-dozen things, neatly arranged. These had been recommended by the ever-smiling thindi-vendor at the now-famous Thindi Mane in Kuvempunagar.

Sitting in the verandah of the elegantly renovated Banashankari house, we marvelled at the exquisite manner in which every item is prepared by a band of cooks who cared for quality and, of course, are equally generous in respect of quantity.

The fame of Mysore’s Thindi Mane has now reached even Bangalore. Crisp kajjaya, lemon avalakki, kobbari mithai, special khara, Shringeri balekayi chips—all these formed the fragrant mound in the tray.

Later on, I felt that I should have included Mysore pak and Nanjangud rasabaale, which would have completed the picture. Anyway, there is always a second time.

The doctor wasn’t very keen to eat them and there; he said he would savour everything later.

The conversation soon revolved around Maharaja’s College and the prominent teachers of yore. This was occasioned by the article I had written for the launch issue of the Mysore edition of Deccan Herald.

The doctor knew almost all the personalities I had mentioned in the article and his mind was literally hovering over them visualising each one of them in their specific attire, mannerisms, and depth of knowledge.

Professors Roelho, Eagleton, C.D. Narasimhaiah, Yamunacharya—all became part of the pageant he was picturing so affectionately.

And suddenly he asked, “Did you know Thiruvanaryana Ayyangar?” I tried to recall but, obviously, I had not come across this teacher. Then he described how his nama covered the whole of his forehead and said as if to himself, “A very erudite scholar!”

It’s a pity that nobody has thought of ‘A Hall of Fame’ in Maharaja’s College. We depend, quite sadly, on the obituary columns to learn that someone is gone from our midst. When we talk about people belonging to the past, we are not sure whether they are alive or no more. No record is kept and no one bothers to put it down for posterity.

For instance, Cambridge University continues to send its Alumni Association Bulletin to one Dr K.A. Khan (Khisar Ali Khan was his full name) who was the Principal here at one time. Dr Khan died long back. Similarly, ther are mails to other people who have left this world for good.

The medical doctor who put that resounding question “Did you know Thiruvanarayana Ayyangar?” made it a point to attend the lecture programmes at Maharaja’s College in the early 1950s as a student at Mysore Medical College. He admits with great pride and thankfulness that his association with the cultural events of those days formed his character, giving him a vision of life.

I will certainly ask him to tell me more about Thiruvanarayana Ayyangar and other personalities of his days when I go to Bangalore next time.

First posted on churumuri on 20 May 2006

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