A sepia-toned history of my family

Sometime back, I came across a fantastic blog titled The Indian Memory Project and instantly fell in love with the blog’s aim—to “trace the history of India, its people, professions, development, traditions, cultures, settlements and cities through pictures found in personal family albums and archives”. So, recently, when I came across some old family photographs, I thought, why not create my own family’s memory project and share them with you on this blog. So read on…

But first a little geographical background of my family to set the context—we are originally from Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. My father’s side of the family is from Tharuvai, and my mother’s side of the family is from Narasinganallur—both villages in Tirunelveli district.

This family memory project begins with the story of my great-grandfather (my father’s paternal grandfather), T. Ganapati Sastri (1860–1926), a renowned Sanskrit scholar. Ganapati Sastri had very humble beginnings in Tharuvai—a place he left for Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram) in his 16th year for economic reasons.

Trivandrum, c. 1915: My great-grandfather, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. T. Ganapati Sastri

Ganapati Sastri was the Principal of the Sanskrit College at Trivandrum, as well as the first Head of the Manuscripts Library of the University of Kerala. He contributed extensively to research and writings in Sanskrit, and is best known for his discovery of the lost plays of Bhasa in 1912. He later edited and published these plays, for which he was awarded a Doctorate in Sanskrit from the University of Tubingen. In January 1922, the then Prince of Wales, Edward presented a gold medal to Ganapati Sastri for “literary eminence in Sanskrit”. For all these achievements and more, my great-grandfather was given the title of Mahamahopadhyaya by the Government of India.

My paternal grandfather, TG Narayanan (TGN) was the younger son of Ganapati Sastri. TGN (1904–1986), who grew up in Trivandrum, trained as an accountant. In 1931, he left Trivandrum for Bombay (now Mumbai) when he got a job with the Auditor-General’s Office of the Bombay Presidency. His family—comprising his wife (my grandmother, Meenakshi N), a son (my father, Ganapathi), and a daughter (my aunt, Lalitha)—also moved to Bombay with him.

Bombay, c. 1932: TG Narayanan, my grandfather, is seated extreme right. Note the symmetry of the seating arrangement with the 'sahibs' seated in the centre, and the 'natives' seated on either side. Also those seated on chairs are wearing a turban/cap.

In those days, Bombay Presidency covered parts of present-day Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sind (in present-day Pakistan). When Sind was separated from Bombay Presidency in 1936, TGN was transferred to the Auditor-General’s Office in Karachi, the new capital of Sind. The family shifted to Karachi and were there till the Partition of India in 1947.

Karachi, c.1939: Lalitha, my paternal aunt, is seated extreme left, while TGN (my paternal grandfather) is seated extreme right. My father, who was 10 at that time is seated to TGN's right, while Meenakshi N, my paternal grandmother, is standing behind my father. I find it interesting that all the males in the photograph are dressed in Western wear, while all the females are dressed in traditional Indian wear!

Whenever my grandparents spoke about Karachi, it was always with a sense of nostalgia mixed with a deep sense of loss and pain—like thousands of other people affected by the Partition. Meenakshi N (1910–1989) always maintained that the years spent in Karachi were the happiest years of her life. Though they never voiced it to me, I always felt that my grandparents wanted to go back to Karachi.

Karachi, c. 1940. Meenakshi N is seated second from left. I can't get over how casually and gracefully these women have worn their 9 yard Kanjivaram sarees and matched it with puff sleeved printed cotton blouses.

After returning to India, TGN found a job with the Ordnance Factory Directorate in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Transferred to the Jabalpur Factory in 1957, he eventually retired from active service in 1959.

Now, onto my mother’s side of the family. Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs of the maternal side of my family, except for the one below.

My maternal grandfather, NK Raman (1906–1980) was a brilliant man, and a touch eccentric. His idea of life skills for children meant teaching them swear words! Needless to say his wife, my maternal grandmother, Meenakshi R (1919–1980) had her hands full!! NKR came from a very poor family and it was thanks to his brilliance that he got through school and college on a scholarship. He also gave tuitions to supplement the family income. An accounts whiz among other things, he first migrated to Madras (now Chennai) in search of a job and then to Bombay in 1938 to take up a job offer with the US Consulate. He retired from that job in 1968.

Bombay, c. 1942: L to R Padma (my mother), Meenakshi R (my maternal grandmother) and Baby (my aunt). The Kanjivaram saree and puff-sleeved printed cotton blouse theme continues.

As I read what I have written, I realise that my family history is one of migration—from my great-grandfather, to both sets of grandparents, to my parents. My mother, Padma, was brought up in Bombay. But after her marriage to my father in 1956, lived in many places in India as my father got transferred or changed jobs for better opportunities.

My two brothers and I have also lived in many places, and I guess that also makes us migrants. Today, one brother has made Pune his home, while another brother and I have made Mumbai ours. But this is one part of my family history that I think deserves its own post and, perhaps, even written by someone else in the family.

Maybe, the niece?

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62 thoughts on “A sepia-toned history of my family

  1. WOW! I am amazed to read the history and also the pictures. It’s so strange even my dad’s uncle he was in Karachi and got married to a gujrati girl but they moved to India prior partition.
    Nice write up Sudha…Happy Independence Day
    Cheers

  2. I would like to add to what Sudha has written. Ganapathi Shastri did not go to England to receive the medal. His orthodox beliefs prevented him from crossing the seven seas. Scholarship and othodoxy made for an unusual mix. But this was not unusual. Yes, our Karachi connection does attract enquiring glances whenever it is brought up. In these times of distrust and hate, it is definitely not politically correct to bring it up.

    More on Karachi: A schoolmate of mine migrated to Karachi to look after his family’s business that side of the divide. When we met again some thirty years later, he found it difficult to digest the fact that a traditional south indian brahmin family had lived there so many years. Karachi’s cosmopolitanism seems to be lost for ever.

    • I am not so sure if only orthodox beliefs prevented Ganapati Sastri from going to England to receive the medal. It is quite possible that he was ailing and could not have undertaken the sea voyage. In a beautiful obituary written by K.G. Sankar in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (July 1926, pp.584-587), he mentions that Ganapati Sastri had been ailing for a few years. Incidentally, the obituary makes no mention of the medal. Another possiblity is that the medal was never meant to be received in England, but in India. There is not much information on the ‘medal’ as none of the literature that I have come across on Ganapati Sastri (in English only, I must clarify here) even mention him having received one!

      Regarding our Karachi connection, I think it does attract more than enquiring glances !

  3. I simply loved this piece!!! It was an amazing read. You ancestors and their lives come alive among these lines. It is a magnificent story of migration and change. Thankyou for taking me on this journey. I throughly enjoyed reading it.

    I would also like to add that as Indians living in the vast subcontinent of myraid diversity, we all have stories of migration and movement. Of home and destinations. This would be a very interesting exercise for all of us to carry out. There are many discoveries and realisations to be made here.

    • Thank you very much, Arunima.

      You are right when you say that most Indians have stories of migration and movement. And that is what makes the whole “sons of the soil” movement in many states in India so pointless. Every migrant contributes and enriches his/her new environment in whichever way possible—culturally, economically… Just imagine if we had all stuck to our native villages/towns/states/countries… The world would have been a depressing one, to say the least. And India, would not have been India.

  4. What a beautiful post Sudha. Your great -grandparents came alive through this narration. I think the women are really gorgeous and graceful. The men look handsome but enigmatic. The sepia tones of the photos and the flawless narration made this one the ‘piece-de-resistance’ of your blog. I hope you find many more stories and photos..
    Ye Dil Mangay More..

  5. Your Blog on your Great grand parents is very interesting. It provided more info than the google for a search for M. M. Dr T Ganapati Shastrigal, without whom we would not have read Bhasa today. Feel proud to belong to the family tree of such a great Scholar on Teachers’ Day. Ms Malati Ramaswamy gave me this link. Else, I would not have got this much of info on your gg father, whom I remember most of the time when I teach Bhasa to my Students. Ms Malati is my colleague in Bangalore. Nice to see your Blog.

    • Writing the blog post on my family history gave me a lot of pleasure and I am very happy that other people like you find it informative. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.

  6. N.K. Raman, our maternal grandfather was not a touch eccentric, but an absolute eccentric genius with a method in his madness. He was a brilliant man with a graduation in Mathematics, and no one could outwit him in numbers. In fact, the people who at his recieving end were his children and us grandchildren.

    In fact, everyone in Matunga, Mumbai, knew him well including all the vendors and shopkeepers in the Market. His arrival in the market used to be a sort of festive occasion, and an opportunity to exchange a friendly yet heated banter in the choicest possible language. Additionally, every vendor wanted to sell his wares to him, yet could not outwit him on prices or weights or measurements. This was a one upmanship that was worth seeing and I had the oppurtunity of seeing those in close quarters.

    His command over Mathematics even at the ripe age of 74 (around the time he passed away), was striking as I still remember his ability to help me in my 10th standard exam prepartions. His speed was nothing short of lightning in addressing mathematical problems be it Algebra, or Geometry or Trignometry. Sadly, he did not live longer to help me in Integration & Differentials else I would probably have majored in Maths. My love of the subject even now is because of him.

    My paternal grandfather, T.G. Narayanan, was a man who loved all good things in life. He was a gregarious man who also loved himself. It is from him I have probably inherited to like good things in life. He was a good traveller himself with a touch of meticulousness in his preparation for any travel. Even today, this is an attribute that is highly spoken of in the family. Like him, I also love travelling and traversing the country side and the corresponding preparations that goes into it. He also loved good food.

    When I look back at some of these good moments, it is very difficult not to compare with the present day lives which sadly lacks all that our grandparents lived and enjoyed.

    Migrants in our case is a good attribute that I carry as it has only widened my horizon and outlook and I do not mind being known as one.

  7. Hey Sudha,
    This is indeed an interesting piece of write up, if I may call that. Interesting because, it brings up myriad thoughts and emotions. Coincidentally, even my maternal grandpa and his family have lived for quite a while in Karachi, and in fact, my mother was born in Karachi. She has vivid and fond memories of that place. So political correctness be damned, it certainly gives a leg up for Karachi! LOL

    Keep writing,
    Ajay.

  8. I am also a native of Narasinganallur, Now residing at Kallidai Kurichi, Ramachandrapuram street. I am very glad to note that you are also a native of Narasinganallur.
    My Grand Father Shri. NV Chellam Iyer, worked as a Revenue Inspector in Srivaikundam at the time of Retirement (1952) and his 3 Sons 1) NCV Mahadevan ( My father) Village Munsiff ,2) NC Rajagopal Retired Accts Officer from AGs Office now in Puttaparthy, 3) NC Vaikundam, Retd. Prof. of Chemistry now in Vizak.

    With warm regards,
    NVS Raman

    • Hail fellow Narsinganallurian!
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I showed your comment to my mother and she feels that your grandfather and mine, N.K. Raman were cousins of some sort.

  9. Padma’s marriage was held at Triplicane,Chennai in 1956. The real name of Baby (in the photo) is Alamelu, who expired around March 1965. Both Mr. N. K. Raman and Mrs Raman expired within a gap of 10 days (made for each other). Mrs Raman died first. Padma’s aththans, N.C. Kuppuswamy and N.C. Gopalan are staying in Chembur, Mumbai. Padma’s sister, usually caleed as Lalli is also staying in Chembur. Her brother more known as Babu is also somewhere in Delhi. I am not aware about her younger sisiter, Anu, who was in Pune. Her yougest brother Ramnath expired at a very young age. Padma’s sister is staying in Tiruvammiyur, Chennai. A brief mention about the above names would have added clour to the write up

  10. Dear Sudhajee,
    Thank you for the write-up. In fact my ancestral place is also Narasinganallur where my grandparents were living once upon a time. We still go to our ancestral place to propitiate our Kuladeivam( family deity) known as “Aandaman” who is also the Kuladeivam of Sri Raman.
    Sri Raman was related to us through our father Sri K. Somasundaram who was a cousin to Sri N.K.Raman.I am Krishnamoorthy(family pet name “Ambi”)the eldest son of Sri K Somasundaram. I have three more brothers and two sisters younger to me. They are Neelakantan,Kalyani, Mani(Venkatasubramanian), Rukmani, Ganesan.

    My father’s father (my paternal grandfather) Sri S.Krishna Sastry was the youngest brother of Sri Raman’s father Sri Kuppuswamy (real name Venkatasubramanian) but popularly known as Kuppa Sir since he was teaching (Vedas?). In fact I have a sepia toned photograph of my late mother’s marriage (held in 1935 at Vannarpettai, Tirunelveli) in which Kuppa Sir along with his wife Alamelu are present. Sri Kuppa Sir was the eldest of his family and had two younger brothers (Sri Sankara Sastry and Krishna Sastry and a sister called “Chanu” patti). Chaanu patti was the mother of late N.S. Chellam Iyer and the only aunt or athai of Sri N.K.Raman. Sri Kuppa Sir was living in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli.
    Sri Raman, had three sisters Lakshmi(eldest of the family) and two younger(Parvathi and Janaki) and two brothers, Somasundaram(eldest after Lakshmi and elder to Sri Raman) and Gopalan(the youngest of the lot).
    Before the seventies we were living in Matunga (Vincent Road now known as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Road) exactly across the road just opposite to the building(Mani Villa) where Sri Raman lived. I still remember our younger days when we used to go over to Sri Raman’s place to attend family functions. We used to meet Padma, Baby(Alamelu) and Babu( Venkatasubramanian), Lalitha(Lalli). We still remember Padma’s marriage to Sri T.N.Ganapathi in 1956 at Triplicane, Chennai, Baby’s passing away in 1965 at Bombay, and of course those of Meena Chithi’s and Rama Chittappa’s passing away in 1980 within the gap of 10 days, Chithi preceding Chittappa.
    In fact Padma along with Sri T.N. Ganapathi have visited our home in Matunga in August 1960 during the Tamil month of “Adi “. However, since a long time we have lost touch with the families of Padma, Babu and of course those of Anuradha (Anu) and Ramnath who I understand are no more. I hope Padma and Babu and their families are doing well.I am however in touch with Lalitha (Lalli) whom lives in Chembur along with her husband Vishwanath.
    I could write more but I shall reserve it for a later time.
    With Best wishes to you,

    S Krishnamoorthy

    • I really appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to give me more details of my mother’s side of the family. We have absolutely no record, either photographic or as letters, of that side of the family. I am really thrilled that you have photographs of my great-grandparents ! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I will be writing a detailed mail to you soon.

      I am however curious to know how you came across this blog.

      • Dear Sudhagee,

        Thank you for your response. My brother Ganesan (whose comments precede mine) alerted me through E-Mail about the photograph of Meena Chithi and a few comments about Rama chittappa appearing in your blog item. This naturally aroused my curiosity leading me to your blog spot via “google” search. In the rare marriage photograph of my mother’s taken on the fourth day after the marriage one can spot Sri Kuppa Sir, his wife Alamelu and Sri N.C. Gopalan. By the way, the only sister of my Grandfather was called “Seethai’ patti and not “Chaanu” patti as mentioned earlier. You are correct that my brother Ganesan has erroneously mentioned “a sister to Padma living in Thiruvanmiyur”. Probably he must have been referring to “Vimala” Chithi (wife of late Sri N.K. Gopalan) who lives in Thiruvanmiyur.

        After having gone through a few of your comments about a few of Rama chittappa’s personality traits, eccentricity etc. I cannot resist recording a few of his benevolent and helping tendencies. He was the only member of his family who took interest in his youngest brother Sri N.K. Gopalan and his sisters, bringing his nephews to Bombay, giving them shelter, finding a job for them through his influential friendly contacts and seeing them settled in life.

        Yet another instance in 1951, I remember vividly of his help to a little-known young Kannada-speaking lad, Mr. Srinivas from Dombivli. On my mother’s request, he agreed to help Mr Srinivas to find a suitable job to help his large struggling family. I introduced Srinivas to Sri Raman and after satisfying himself with his credentials spoke to one of his influential neighbours (Kannada-speaking?) having contacts with a few stock brokers. Srinivas got a job as a stenographer with one of the stockbrokers and later he progressed in his career and was able to help his struggling family. Of course, he was ever grateful for the initial help given by Sri Raman.

        Though he was not deeply religious he used to give importance to religious rituals especially those of family deity and ‘Sumangali Prarthanai.’ An instance of his queer remarks in his earlier days about Sumangali Prarthanai used to be told by my mother. It seems once he had remarked that “Sumangali Prarthanai’ was a ruse adopted by women to purchase and deck themselves with expensive saris and dress materials and hence had no religious significance. As an aftermath of this statement, he got a high fever getting into a delerious state when he regretted for making a derogatory remark about sumangali prarthanai. From then onwards he never used to question about the ritual but then encouraged the performing of the ritual often.

        In 1952 the Upanayanam ceremony for me and my brother Neelakantan and the sons of my Chittappa Sri Ramaswamy, Krishnan and Subramanian were all conducted in the small chawl apartment in Matunga. While my father did the Brahmopadesam for me, Sri Raman gave Bramhopadesam to my brother Neelakantan.
        I have a jotting in one of my old diaries (of course I am not a regular diary keeper) of the birth of a son to Padma on 6th September 1963 (I think the name of the boy was Sriram).

        I will continue further in my later mail.

        With Best Wishes,
        S Krishnamoorthy

  11. Dear Mr. Krishnamoorthy,

    I am writing this to inform you that I am the Sriram noted in your diary with the birthdate of 6th September 1963. Though I am officially called Sriraman, courtesy my father, I like the name Sriram better. I am the middle (2nd Child) of Padma, my brother Sridhar (Venkatanaryanan officially) is the eldest and Sudha (Sudhagee) is the youngest.

    Having said and read all that you have mentioned, I totally agree that our grandfather Mr. N.K. Raman and Grandmother Meena paati were the most generous of all the people I have come across in my life. To me , I had the added advantage of being a grandchild and could get away with anything. I really miss them even today, 31 years after they passed away. March 3rd 1980 Meena Paati passed away, and March 11th 1980, N.K. Raman thatha passed away.

    Regards

    • Dear Sriram,

      Thank you for your response. It is nothing but a coincidence that we are remembering as well as sharing our thoughts about Sri NK Raman and Meena Chithi at a time which is close to their death anniversary dates.
      Best wishes,
      S Krishnamoorthy

  12. Dear Sudhagee,
    A few details about Narasinganallur which I had posted on 7th March,in my reply to the earlier blog item to Sudhagee do not seem to have appeared. Hence, I am once again posting the details about Narasinganallur.
    I obtained the details about Narasinganallur and about our ancestry from (Late) Sri NCV Mahadevan, who was an ex Village Munsiff and father of Sri NV Sundararaman. He was a knowledgeable and highly respected person in the village and I would say, was the only person steadfastly refusing to migrate from Narasinganallur though most of the natives left the village for better and greener pastures. During 1983 when I had been to Narasinganallur with our family to propitiate our Kuladeivam I expressed a desire to know more about our ancestral village and our forefathers.
    According to him our forefathers originally belonged to Palamadai. How Narasinganallur became our ancestral place is an interesting one. Our great grandfather Sri Somasundareswara Sastry in his bachelor days was requested to teach vedas to the brahmins settled in Narasinganallur by one Pedda Narasayyan who founded Narasinganallur village. Sri Somasundareswara Sastry was a scholar and an erudite person having learnt the three vedas and well read in itihasa puranas like Ramayana, Mahabaratham and Srimad Baghavatham. As a compensation for his service he was given a house to live and also enough paddy on an annual basis for his daily sustenance. He was accorded a red carpet welcome to the newly founded village by Peddu Narasayyan. Later he married and settled in Narasinganallur permanently. His wife’s name (great grandmother’s) name was Parvathi. Thus Narasinganallur became our ancestral village.

    He had three sons and a daughter who were respectively Sri Kuppa Sir (Kuppuswamy but original name was Venkatasubramanian), Sankara Sastry and Krishna Sastry (my grandfather). Their only sister was Seethai Patti (who lived upto ripe old age of 90+) who was elder to my grandfather. Kuppa Sir lived in Palayamkottai. His first wife dying without any issues he married a second time to Smt Alamelu who gave birth to three daughters and three sons – Lakshmi, NK Somasundaram, NK Raman, Parvathi, Janaki and NK Gopalan in that order.

    Sri Sankara Sastry along with his wife Meenakshi lived in Sanyasigramam, Tirunelveli. They had four sons and one daughter – NS Sankaranarayanan, NS Somasundaram, NS Subramanian, Pichukutty, NS Seshan.
    Sri Krishna Sastry and his wife Rukmani (my grandfather and grandmother) had three sons and three daughters – K Somasundaram(my father), K Ramaswami, Parvathi, Visalakshi and Seethai, K Raghunathan (who died when he was 5 years old).

    The house he lived is now all shambles infested by thorny acacia trees and weed growth. However, even now according to our family tradition we are required to perform our Kuladeivam pooja in the place where the house existed. Hence whenever we visited Narasinganallur with the help of Sri Mahadevan we used to clear and clean a portion of the place where the house stood to make it convinient for doing the pooja. After Sri Somasundareswara sastry’s death the house was bequeathed to Sri Sankara Sastry. Sri Sankara Sastry used to work as a sanitary inspector in Tirunelveli. After the demise of Sri Sankara Sastry the house was bequeathed to his youngest son (Late) Sri Seshan. Sri Seshan passed away in August 2003 at the age of 90 years. Even now according to our family traditions we have to perform the Kuladeivam pooja in the same place even if the house does not belong to us.

  13. I was thrilled to go through the “sepia-toned- history” and all the responses! I am Kumar, son of Chellamma -> daughter of Nagalakshmi (my Paatti and youngest sister of TGN) -> daughter of M M T Ganapati sastri. After I read your blog I called my elder sister, Raji, in Mumbai to get the details which I have provided here. So, the world is small! My mother was a teenager in Karachi before partition , and when partition happened they had to leave everything behind and come to Trivandrum in an overloaded ship (this is what I heard from my mother) My youngest Mama was just a few months old then..

    You have mentioned that you are based in Mumbai – so you could meet up with my sister Raji at a mutually convenient time! I am based in Pune and you could ask your brother to meet up with me some time!

      • Dear Sudhgee,
        My name is Mania (Venkatasubramanian – 1945) and I am the brother of both Ganesan and Krishnamoorthy. We are in fact 4 brothers, including Neelakantan, and have 2 sisters, kalyani (staying in Chedda Nagar, Chembur) and Rukmani (Rukku) staying in Kelambakkam, outskirts of Chennai. NKR was always Rama chittappa for us, and we used to see him almost every other day. Either we were at his place or he would come to see my father, his elder cousin. I remember an interesting conversation between the two. Once the newpapers carried a news item about the attack on American Embassy in Pakistan. My father jokingly told Rama Chittappa…. Ennada… ippo enna chollare… Will the pakistanis pay you compensation?…. NKR was always ready with his wit….. Ennada pochu… they will ask the Americans to deduct the cost of all damages from the next Aid amount….. it was so spontaneous, and only NKR could do that. Our mother Lakshmi (1920 – 2007) was the eldest among the females from the erstwhile narasinganallur migrants, and well respected by other females of the large family of migrants. Meena chitti would always be very cordial towards our mother, and consult her for guidance for issues like Sumangali Prarthanai. She will ask our mother to be present the previous day at their place to make sure that things are in order and to guide them all. That was the greatness of people of that generation. They always wanted others, particularly elders, to be part of their family functions, and seek their help.

        • Sudhagee,

          The rate at which the NKR Family and Fraternity seems to be bonding and familiarising, it is to convert this Blog into a Book

          I can assure you it will sell

          • I would love to, but it needs to be a joint project will all of us contributing. Just yesterday, Sridhar remembered an NKRism, which typ[ically cannot be shared in public space ;-)

        • I was just 8 when NKR and Meenakshi Raman passed away, but my memories of them are strong even today. They were such wonderful people. Thank you for sharing your memories here. And yes, there was only one NKR and nobody can replace him :-)

  14. Though the rate of the responses are not so fast, yet you seem to be bringing a lot of cousins and other relatives together. The more I am trying to understand the connections, the more interesting and facinating it is becoming

  15. Fantastic post, Sudha!!! loved it… and looks like you uncovered even more relations through this!! am tempted to do a similar series too… but balk at the thought of the research i would have to do! i guess we are all migrants in some sense or the other… having left our ancestral homes about 3 to 4 generations back, and shifting bases every generation or so!!

    • You must do it, Anu. Don’t be daunted by the research you have to do. Think of the legacy you’ll be leaving for your son. And of course, discovering long-lost relatives and extended family members :-)

  16. That sure was a voyage of discovery! And look at the number of new relatives you have found through it. Living in Kararchi and leaving it on Partition? Sure must be one of the very few south Indian families to have done so. Very interesting. The sepia toned pictures remind me of the ones in our family too. Weren’t the womenfolk pretty ‘fashionable’ by the standards of those days?

    • Absolutely. I just love the casual mix and match of blouses and sarees. I remember that for a long time my mother also kind of did that till I grew up and put an end to it :-)

  17. Very interesting post and comments. I loved many aspects in this. 1. The photograph with men in western wear and women in traditional south Indian brahmin wear, 2. The photograph of four south Indian women in typical south Indian brahmin attire in Karachi, 3. The comments from people who are so close to you whom you wouldn’t have got an opportunity to know if you hadn’t written this piece.

    • Thank you, Bharathiraja. This post is very close to me as it is about my family but more so imagining the people I knew at a time I wasn’t there. And yes, I am glad that you liked the post too. :-)

  18. I wonder if anyone of the descendants of Sri.Ganapati Shastri even studied a little bit of Samskritam ? The larger story is the loss of the intellectual tradition and scholarship – not of migration. migration is the trivial aspect. I am glad that Sri.Shastri did not go to England – what would a brit know of Indian scholarship tradition and how qualified are they to give an award anyway. Sri.Shastri must be recognized for his own achievement, not because he got some useless prize from some I read about the achievements of Sri.Ganapati Shastri first in a samskritam text book many years ago. I hope that people like him are born in Bharat in future.

    • Welcome here, Subramanya, and thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I think that you did not read my post fully or carefully, as you seem to have missed the crucial point about my reasons for writing this post in the first place. I was inspired by the Indian Memory Project, and wrote this post to “create my own family’s memory project and share them with you on this blog.” It is a post about my family from as far back as I could trace it on both my father’s and my mother’s side. It was not and is not meant to be about loss of scholarship or intellectual tradition — I prefer to leave such debates to the experts. And though I have a basic knowledge of Sanskrit, an expert I am not.

      Migration may be trivial for you, but it is not for every generation of my family. And from what I have heard about my great-grandfather, T. Ganapati Sastri, from my grandfather and father, he was very happy to have migrated from our ancestral village as it gave him the opportunity to pursue research and writing. And that was something which was ultimately responsible for bringing him recognition, fame and awards.

      I do echo your hope that more people like him are born in India.

      • I think that you missed the point on migration. Many posters were talked about Karachi , mumbai and the migration involved there – so my response about that.

        Yes your post was about – your family !. (no one questioned that) I was wondering whether this individual experience also indicates larger issues in Indian society – the anglification, loss of scholarship by moving to wholesale english, India becoming a country of copycats, lacking originality and bringing nothing of their own to the ‘world table’ to share.

        Btw: just a little feedback – Fwiw – just some input related to language. The word ‘mythology’ should not be used to refer to Puranas and Itihaasa (ramayana & mahabharata). The word mythology is a value-loaded word and not an accurate description of the Hindu tradition. Of course, eurocentrists use such negative words to refer to Indias traditions and unfortunately, Indians also follow that without thinking. I hope more Indians start using indic-terminology with English rather than indulge in wrong translations. Many Indians think that they are good in English without knowing and understanding the background/meanings/cultural baggage that some english words carry.

        BTW- these comments are not about you in particular – its only a general observation on all english-speaking Indians.

        • Thanks for commenting again, Subramanya. This post traced my family’s journey over the last century or so and the single leitmotif that emerges is one of migration which I have presented in brief. I must confess to being a little puzzled here here about your comments on migration: in your first comment, you said that migration was a trivial issue, and now you are saying that I have missed the point on migration !

          I am also puzzled where your comment on mythology came in here. I have not used the word in this post or as a tag or category. Neither have I referred to the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Puranas here. Yes, the word itihasa can fit in here as an itihasa of my family.

    • Ah ! Now I understand :-D

      Sorry Subramanya, this post is not on mythology and I have closed comments for that post on my review of I, Rama. (If you have read the post and the comments/discussion that followed, you will know why) So, I’m afraid you will have to wait to have the discussion on mythology and itihasa for another post. And there will be another post.

      Cheers :-)

  19. my father k n ramakrishnan (kadaym narayanan ) too lived in karachi. it seems my grandmother ( knr’s mother) nanga patti lived there with him. she used to do the grocery shopping even though she didnt know the local language. she would take little quntities of the things she wanted to buy and tell the shopkeeper the quantity she wanted to buy.
    later k n r worked for rallys india in lahore. lived in lohore till 1938,
    i have photo of my mother with her ladies club members. this photo was published in sudeshamitran tamil magazine in 1937.
    k n r retired from military engineering services , pune. kumars family was our nextdoor
    neighbours in pune.

    • Hello Hema, welcome here and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s Karachi/Lahore connection. I’m always delighted to discover each new Karachi connection. The Lahore part is new as I did not know of any South Indian families living in that city.

      Kumar’s mother and my father were first cousins.

      • Here is some more information: Hema’s mother , Kalyani Mami, is the sister of Raji’s mother-in-law – Sankari Mami! We lived as neighbors to Hema’s family at Pune for around 14 years (1966-80) but I never knew about the “Karachi” connection of Hema’s father – may be my mother knew!

    • I am so glad that you liked it, Umashankar. I always thought that both my grandfathers were very brave to venture out into unfamiliar lands and continued to be the only ones from their siblings to do so. They certainly had many interesting tales to share.

  20. Wonderful post, I am a big fan of Ganapati Sastry, I have almost all books edited by him. Except Sasnakrit Reader No. II.(dviteeya paatavali). you are being a lineal descendant, you must have saved that Volume 2. Please share with us too. God bless.

    • Welcome here, Krishnaji. Delighted to see you here and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I wish I could help you, but I do not have the book that you have requested.

  21. Sudha, I have an article called “A scholar’s delight” written by one K.K.Sankaran which describes an inspiring incident from our ggf’s life. Is there a way I can attach that WORD document or I should copy the contents of the document and paste it as part of a message?

  22. Pingback: Personal History Projects | Towards Harmony

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