Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVIII No. 21, February 16-28, 2019
My friendship with Charukesi spanned over a period of 50 years. Our first meeting, if I remember right, was at the Ilakkia Chianthanai forum, piloted by the businessman, P. Laskhmanan, and his brother P. Chidambaram (former Finance minister).
After the monthly meetings, during which the best Tamil story would be picked by a reviewer from the ones published in Tamil journals the previous month and a companion lecture on any current topic would be delivered, the writers, artists and the rest of the audience would spill out to have informal chats. Charukesi might not stay long, for he had several irons in the fire. He would dart like a hyperactive butterfly from one person to another and then vanish in a jiffy, as was his wont. He was like a bespoke basketball player, always alert, and here, there on the court.
An executive in a multi-national pharmaceutical giant, he was to me a walking compendium of the Who’s Who of physicians and surgeons in Madras. Whenever a medical issue visited my family, which was (and is) unfortunately often, the names of specialists would come out of his mouth with addresses and phone numbers. He also had very good contacts in the fields of music and education. I should record with gratitude his help in getting my son admitted to a prestigious school (mind you, for free) and also arranging a young and upcoming quartet in Carnatic music for the reception at my daughter’s wedding.
He always had interesting tidbits to share about many of the great personalities of Madras, but not the risqué or juicy. When I was stuck while finalising my copy, regarding the veracity of a bit of information for my weekly column in Tamil or my articles in English, a phone call to him would clear the doubt before those omniscient Google days. It was a Charukesi habit to abruptly terminate a conversation and push off, unlike many who would go on and on, worse still holding your hand, preventing escape. He always gave the impression that he was urgently required elsewhere. This time the ‘elsewhere’ is neither here nor there but to the unknown ‘elsewhere’, who knows where?