I had registered my name in the Post Graduates Employment Bureau in the Madras University Campus, and immediately after registering I got my first opportunity to step into my long, chequered career.
I was called to sit for the entrance examination to enter the Defence Accounts Department. I sat for the test and dashed off my answers to the questions on my test paper, and was shortly called to attend the interview at Poona. My father took me to Poona and I was selected as a Temporary Upper Division Clerkto take my seat in the Travel Allowances Section of the Department.
I carried an introduction to a family on Jew Street in Rasthapet, who found me a room in their landlord’s big house. I shared my room with Christopher, Suri, Krishnamoorthy, and when Krishnamoorthy vacated from the room, with a Christian named Dhanapal. Later when Suri drifted to a bank job, his place was taken by some one else whose name I cannot recall now.
Ours was the only bachelors room on the groundfloor, and on the first floor rooms, looking out to therear part of the building where the bathrooms and toilets were placed. I remember only Santhanam and Ganesan from the first floor and there were another six to seven people there. One of them I remember was working in the Intelligence Department.
We used to have our meals and breakfast in a mess nearby. I remember the name of the man who was running the messroom as Guru. Guru was also the name of our landlord and I presume they were either Maharashtrians or Konkanis. We used to assemble in a room on the first floor in the evenings after having our supper, and most of the days the others used to play rummy while I stretch on a cot and read some novel. I was never interested in playing cards, and the only times I have played cards was an occasional online Solitaire after I retired from service.
Sometimes we used to have tiffins in a Udipi hotel nearby, and the items I liked were kadak dosa eaten with spoon, knife and forks, and uppit which is what they call uppuma there.
I walked to my office which is perhaps about a mile away. I had tiffins in the afternoons in the office canteen. A few people I remember from my Section were among others whose names I have almost forgotten now, Mr. Chipulkatti and Mr. Gujar, both of whom were far far aged, but were friendly with me. I struck a strong friendship with Mr. Chipulkatti. That was betwenen 1967 and 1970.
My pastimes were regular weekend English movies generally at the West End or Empire Theatres, which were on the way to Camp area, and on the way we have to pass Atul House which was a big bungalow with a wall to wall glass from their hall or lounge facing the street. It was a compounded house, and on one occasion I caught a glimpse of a bikini clad young girl through the glass wall. She must have become an old person by now if she is strill around. The image stuck in my memory.
During the second year of my life in poona, I started to sing in the Methodist Church choir, along with my friend and room mate, Samuel Dauson Peace Thanasingh Christopher, Christopher for short. Let me catch my breath. I was a first tenor and Christopher possessed a booming bass voice, and our conductor was Mr Daniel Manoharan.
I did the most foolish thing in life. I shifted my residence to a new place and was the cotenant of one Thangaiah who was the manager of our mess. From the time I shifted to share his apartment, he never came to the apartment and after a few months during which I was paying the rent to him as his subtenant, he disappeared suddenly, and the landlord was on my neck asking for four months’ rent. Since I had already paid the amount to Thangaiah, I would not pay the landlord also, and in protest shifted back to my previous premises on Jew Street. Life took a very bitter turn with the landlord phoning to me in office frequently and threatening me.