Friday, October 16, 2015

How I stumbled at Ravi, old mate

"Ravi" has always been my favourite name.  I have always wished it to be mine, so much so that on certain occasions I have even answered my name as "Ravi", of course where it has not mattered.  In Sanskrit, both names mean the same, 'Sun'.  No wonder Ravi is such a common name.  It may not be as common as 'Smith' in London's telephone directory!  This piece is about a dear friend of mine, one of the many Ravis in my list!

"H.R.Ravi" was my brilliant classmate from Class 1, up to 10, with the exception of a few when he studied in some other school.

Class 2 Photo - Me in front of Ravi, coincidence. Me, next to suit-boy Ramu.
{Click to enlarge all images}

My fondness for this fine fellow is from a young age.  Reasons may be for his brilliance, neatness, gentleness, his crop of hair, skill with drawing, handwriting and soft speech, to name some.  He was often a topper in class, shuffling with Zakir or Sujaya but I was never one that fought to dislodge any of them at the top which appeared to be way beyond my reach!  Only once in Class 4 or 5, my rank was 4th and that too in a class test.  I had literally ran home all the way with the report card in hand, in glee, to show it off!  The next highest I can recall was #12.

Many of us had exchanged little messages in our little autograph books when boys had to leave the "Christ the King Convent" after Class 7th. I remember having taken his in mine and he had written something like this (unclear recollection): "Forget me not.... HR Ravi". 

We found ourselves in the same class at "Sarada Vilas High School", for Class 8.  On many Saturdays Ravi and I used to play chess in our house and at times Gopi [another mate] would also join. The Saturday morning school closed at 11 am allowing us plenty of play time, homework, "afterwards"!  After Class 10, we separated for college and lost contact.  I had also lost my invaluable little autograph book at the very end of 10th.  In it were all the lovely words my little mates and teachers had written.  I miss this.

Ravi and I seemed to have a fine rapport. He was good in whatever he did. His Gandhi face caricature was highly impressive.  I can never forget how beautifully he drew it on the middle-school blackboard during the short period breaks.  I have kept imitating this all the way through!

Two pages from my wild sketchbook, 1983.  

CKC Alumni Meet, 2011. Ravi does what he used to do, same class room, 35 years back.

Around the mid 80s, I was on a stroll on Avenue Road in Bangalore, trying to locate uncle Chandu's office. League cricket had taken me there and I made use of the evenings to meet relatives.  A familiar face appeared to cross me.  I knew it was HR Ravi.  We stopped, exchanged excited and happy faces!  His home, an old one as I can recall, was a few feet away, upstairs, entry to which was not easy to locate as it was among the long row of shops in that busy road.  He took me in.

If my memory serves right, he was studying for a post graduation degree in medicine at that time. Such things are suited to people like Ravi's intellect!  I was really happy he was in the process of becoming a specialist-doctor.  We exchanged some school memories and then I left.  He had come down to the street on some errand which proved lucky to me to find him, but this luck ended there!  Mistake - not taking his address, to keep in touch further. So I lost him again thereafter.

Many years clipped past.  Ravi's welfare and whereabouts remained a mystery to me.  Each time I drew a Gandhi face in the sketch book, I remembered Ravi.  I could not think of any common friend to inquire.

Came 2004 September.  I was in Bangalore, again for cricket.  Our Guest House was opposite Manipal Hospital where we stayed for 4-5 days.  Each evening some of our team mates would go either to the telephone booth in the hospital premises to call our homes or to eat something in the adjacent canteen for a change.  Cellphones were slowly arriving at that time.  The telephone booth was attached to the hospital building.

One night, I was waiting for my friend using the booth.  Casually looking here and there in the eerie corridors of the huge hospital, a board showing "Dr.H.R.Ravi" caught my eye.  My joy knew no bounds. To me, there could be only one HR Ravi!  Immediately, I went to the inquiry desk and got his residence telephone number - landline of course.  I called from the booth the very next evening.  "Did you study at CKC in Mysore?"  I knew he would say 'yes'.  Hurray!  In turn, he was astonished the way I found him, yet again. In fact, in the preceding 4-5 years, I had hunted and gathered old mates back, after a gap of 30-35 years and in the next 5-8 years many got added, much to the delight of everyone and to my own satisfaction of seeing many old mates reunite.

With communication facilities expanding everywhere, we have since found it easy to keep in touch.  We have minded to do it, also with many of our mates from Class 1.

Dr.Ravi visits my home, 2008.

Ravi and I met on a few occasions thereafter, also visiting each other's homes.  He has earned great respect among his patients in various hospitals he worked as a surgeon.  Talented, intelligent and skilled as he is, it is no surprise he has earned a high reputation in his specialized profession now and it makes me proud to have him as a friend and having known him for this long!  He has not changed. He did not.

Some pictures and short notes:

2011 Alumni Meet, we meet the most feared Maths teacher. Ravi shows Sr.Prudentia her own signature/autograph he got in 1970. Rajaram, Ebby and yours truly look on.

Ravi shows the same to Miss Leela, the much loved Hindi language teacher. Her expression and mate Rajgopal's need no description

"How to be good". This is a book Ravi presented me in 1970. 

Though I lost the autograph book, at least his writing remains here in this book, on morals. 

Here is a sample of a couple of pages.  I must admit I have never read the book. May be if I had done so, the world would have seen a better person!  But I can guess why Ravi was so much better at that age and later became a respected surgeon, teacher, person.  It is my privilege to have known him. 

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