Pattabhi Raman As I Knew Him

Death has a finality, which forces one to face things one may have taken for granted earlier. On hearing that Mr. Pattabhi Raman was no more, I suddenly realised how much I had assumed on his permanent presence in Sruti. For a long time, even as I contributed to Sruti, the accent in my work being on happenings in Delhi, Mr. Pattabhi Raman was a distant figure—the Editor-in-Chief of the journal I happened to write for. My first direct contact with him was when the Sruti Foundation mounted the National Seminar on Bharatanatyam Dance Traditions, at Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai from 8-14 December 1989. Watching Pattabhi Raman's tireless efforts given the exhausting schedule of events from early morning to late evening, two facts were brought home to me—one that the man had rare capacity for organisation and secondly was a beaver for work. In later years, on the many occasions when we happened to participate together in seminars or festivals, as at the Houston event mounted by the Indian dance diaspora in 2001, my earlier impressions about his abilities were only reconfirmed. At Houston , as I came down the staircase of the stately house we stayed in, winding my way to the kitchen downstairs for the inevitable morning starter of a cup of filtered coffee all south Indians are so addicted to (fortunately for us, our charming and hospitable hosts were South Indians), it was to see Mr. Pattabhi Raman already seated in front of the computer in the study, going over his daily 'dak', shooting off messages to Sruti staffers, and making notes on all that had happened the day earlier. He and my colleague Sunil Kothari had a daily race for the computer and whenever the result was a draw, an amicable solution was worked out on how best to use the computer at different hours, so that both were, at least partly if not fully satisfied.