Brick by brick, the Vidya Mandir story

I felt like Benjamin Disraeli when he acquired the Suez Canal shares – Madam you have it, he is reported to have said to Queen Victoria. Only in our (Karthik Bhatt & me) case, Madam had gone, taking her last bow on February 2, a day before Vidya Mandir completed 60 years. I refer to Tara Satyanarayana beloved Principal of the school during the time when I was a student. I would have loved to have met her with a copy, but that was not to be.



For some reason, posting two images in WordPress is like having twins – the one that comes out later is the older. Similarly, the back cover has come up first.

The book was released this morning at the school following a rollicking speech by Justice V Ramasubramaniam. To me, VM was the only school and I look upon my Calcutta alma mater as a penitentiary in comparison. But let us not get into that. I am glad both my sons studied at VM for the full duration of their schooling and emerged typical VM-ites- fun-loving, multi-talented and with a whacky attitude to life.

By way of what the book has to offer, I give below the preface that Karthik and I wrote for the book. I also give my profile as it appears in the book, which I hope is in the true VM spirit. This morning I got to know that the book title, which was suggested by our editor Minnie Amirapu, is very similar to that of the IIM-A book. To that I would only say ‘Ah yes, the other centre for excellence on the west coast.’

For those who want to read the book, an e version will soon be out.

By the way, given that we grew up singing The Animals went in two by two, it is appropriate that two of us wrote this book.

And now for the Authors’ Note:

“The two of us had always hoped that we could co-author a book. It was also always a dream for each of us individually that some day a book on our school ought to be written. We never ever thought that these two would become one project. We deem this to be a blessing of our alma mater and the teachers who taught us while we studied here.


We thank the Committee of the school, in particular V Srikanth who mooted this idea and helped us throughout the process. Our gratitude is also to Shoba Raman, the Principal, who came forward generously with permissions, access to archival material and arranged with the school’s secretarial staff to fix interviews with various teachers, students and other associates of the institution, past and present.


The people who opened their homes and hearts to us while we went about the process of interviewing and collating information were many and our heartfelt thanks to each one of them.

At this moment, we also recall with affection the many teachers who are no longer with us and who therefore we could not connect with. We also record here that not all past teachers could be contacted and we assure them that though their voices are not in the book, their presence looms large in every line.

Our thanks to Rukmini Amirapu, our editor of many books, for having suffered our prose once again and converted it into this readable format. Many thanks to Shweta Joyson for photographing the school as it is now, and to Malvika Mehra who despite the short time duration available, came up with this design. Our thanks are also to Sudarshan Graphics for printing the book.

Having said all that, we now feel like a couple of school children who having submitted their answer sheets in an exam, are eagerly awaiting the teacher’s feedback. We hope that the reader, like the Vidya Mandir teachers, will look upon this work kindly and give it an A. Can we hope for an A+?



Sriram V.

Karthik A Bhatt





February 3, 2016.”

My profile as it appears in the book:

“Sriram V, born in 1966, studied at Vidya Mandir from LKG to Standard VI and was then exiled to Calcutta, Delhi and other places, where he finished schooling, did his engineering and acquired an MBA. Having never grown out of the VM influence, despite the best efforts of other schools, colleges, universities and the organisations where he worked, he now runs his family businesses which are into industrial hydraulics and software. He is however better known for his work on the histories of Carnatic music and Chennai city. The author of many books on these subjects, he is also a columnist with The Hindu and the associate editor of Madras Musings, the fortnightly founded by historian S Muthiah, that keeps alive the heritage of the city. Sriram’s heritage walks/tours in Chennai and other historical locations of Tamil Nadu very popular events.”

Coming back from the event today I thought I should have collected some sand from the playground in a small jar and worshipped it at home. I owe everything in life to my grandmother and this school in that order.

All right Karthik, you can let the autograph seekers in.









7 responses to “Brick by brick, the Vidya Mandir story”

  1. Vidya Nagarajan Avatar
    Vidya Nagarajan

    Congrats Sriram and Karthik. Where can I buy a copy of this book?

    Best regards, Vidya


  2. Sivapriya Krishnan Avatar
    Sivapriya Krishnan

    congrats Sriram. Great effort !

    I have two VM ites at home… Meghana and Hamsini… and i fully appreciate what you have said about the school. The school teaches you have spunk and be street smart ! not just a pusthaka puzhu, as they they say in Tamizh !

  3. Ashok Avatar

    To me the first time i attended a meeting of the Principal and parents of KG in VM was memorable. The Principal told us: “We know how to bring up students, please don’t come and tell us that in other schools they are counting to 100, writing A-Z…all in good time. We want children to have fun from KG to 6th and then we will shift gears..”.I knew we had nothing worry!

  4. Maheshwari Natarajan Avatar
    Maheshwari Natarajan

    Waiting to see a copy! And eager to read the details and snippets that will surely be a part of this book! Glad that a book has come up about this great institution. Dint firg bro send the VME library a copy!

  5. Maheshwari Natarajan Avatar
    Maheshwari Natarajan

    That was “Don’t forget to send VME library a copy”

  6. Radha Ramani Avatar
    Radha Ramani

    Congratulations on successfully bringing out a book you always wanted to…I will never forget the warmth, affection & fun of those days when I was a teacher, more than three decades ago!!

  7. […] then been a member of the Madras Legislative Council as well. She had also been co-founder of the Vidya Mandir School, which today is a landmark institution in the […]

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