Lunch with the stars in Pallavaram, courtesy Heidelberg

Last week after a hurried trip to Palakkad in Kerala, it was back to work. Mid-week, I drove on to Pallavaram to meet up with the head of the Print Media Academy India, which takes after the reputable PMA in Heidelberg.

Professor Rajendra Kumar Anayath has turned out to become a good friend of mine, and he has been doing some good work setting up the academy in Chennai, backed by Heidelberg support. The PMA in Heidelberg is a worldwide knowledge forum devoted to offering experts and managers in the print media industry a wide range of training opportunities, from colour management and production processes to marketing for printing companies and motivating employees and winning new customers. The widely traveled Prof Anayath is a senior consultant at Heidelberg but he operates in a world of freedom. If knowledge is power, he has demonstrated it in ample measure. For all that, he is unassuming and that again is his strength.

The day began on a rather mad note with me taking a U-turn instead of a simple right, and then taking a U under a flyover to hit straight into oncoming traffic, facing the wrath of MTC bus and all sorts of drivers, and finally managing another U-turn and yet another to head where I had to. I was thankful I didn’t get booked for a stupid traffic offence, with a cop standing right there even as I was doing all the turns. What was he doing and how did he miss a morning scalp, I have no idea.

Well, after a couple of Heidelberg coffees and a long recording session with the professor, he offered to take me out for lunch next door. It was Karaikudi but there was a surprise in store as I ambled up the old wooden staircase. Larger-than-life pictures of Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari and others welcomed me indoors. There was a captivating one of Madhubala and I kept turning around to look at her again and again. There must have been a Dilip Kumar somewhere, but if he was, he wasn’t close to the lady he once loved.

Food was wholesome, with jeera water as the appetizer. But with Dev Anand right behind me and Madhubala casting furtive glances from two tables away, it was difficult to concentrate on the job at hand. Perhaps some old Hindi film melodies would have complemented the ambience.

In order of appearance: Dev, Meena, Raj and Madhubala… and jeera water, hot condiments and papad to kick-start the luncheon.


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