KVK’s bust being unveiled at the Academy lobby in 1976 by Dr PV Rajamannar. Also present are K Chandrasekharan, T Brinda, TS Rajam and Dr V Raghavan. Most of them were walking encyclopaedias in music. Pic courtesy Music Academy

‘Tis that time of the year when I continue with my reminiscences of Seasons past. Today’s story is of a time when I was not yet ten. I had accompanied my grandmother to the Music Academy and after a concert was over, the crowd debouched into the lobby. This was a time when the VIP lobby to the right of the auditorium had not yet been built and so everyone, be they vadama, vathima, ashtasahasram or brhatcharanam, not to forget vadakalai, tenkalai, Mudaliars, Chettiars and just about everyone else squeezed out together.

My grandmother sailed down the lobby, now nodding to someone, now pausing to talk to someone else, sharply avoiding the Kamakoti Mutt types and raising her eyebrows at someone else who in her opinion did not quite make the cut. “All kinds of new people these days at the Academy,” was her damning evaluation of such parvenus.

We were nearing the toilets when we were accosted by a couple of clearly some pedigree. “Justice KS Venkataraman and his wife Dharma,” hissed my grandmother into my ear. “Make sure you greet him with a proper namaskaram. Don’t let you mouth hang open and don’t shuffle your feet. If you need to go to the toilet, do so after they have moved on.”  All this was said in one second flat and I was pushed forward. The judge, in a closed neck coat, patted me on my head. Dharma beamed. Grandmother beamed. Conversation was made.

Suddenly, in a voice of rolling thunder, his Lordship, apropos of nothing, said “Dharma, bathroom poiTTU varEn (I am going to the loo).” This coincided with a general lull in the lobby and so Justice KSV’s announcement was heard as though it was an order that the Court shall rise. Everyone knew where the Judge was going.

It was a moment fraught with embarrassment but Dharma handled it with aplomb – “Mama is such a good man that he will tell me before he goes anywhere,” she said to my grandmother. And on that note we parted – me to join His Lordship at the urinal and my grandmother to continue her conversation with the Judge’s wife.

You can listen to stories like this and more during my forthcoming heritage walk of the Music Academy. Click here to register

This article is part of a series that I write each Season, when my creativity always peaks. You can read the earlier tales here –

Abdul Kalam at the Academy

The Mridangist has a Malady

A Hairy Tale

Trouble with the Tambura Man

The Vanishing Violinist

How Kannan entered the Academy

Trouble at Tamil Isai Sangam