Nonagenarian's reminiscences

Nonagenarian's reminiscences

Dr M V Kamath (centre) with Jawaharlal Nehru eager to take his interview.

Now grandparents describe proudly to their grandchildren about the black and white era which has almost got blurred with time.

But surprisingly one can even spot a man who is still fascinated about all this. Waking up early in the morning and waiting patiently for the Doordarshan’s onset theme “Vande mataram” had been a regular exercise for this nonagenarian for the last several years.

“There is hardly a day when I miss the chance of hearing ‘Vande mataram,’ in the morning on television which gives immense pleasure to my ears. I can’t imagine starting a day without it,” says Dr Madhav Vittal Kamath, popularly known as M V Kamath, who turned 90 on September 7, 2011.

Born in Udupi on September 7, 1921 in the family of M Vittal Kamath, an Udupi based lawyer, his ancestors migrated to Udupi around 1760 at the height of inquisition and continued to stay in the region where he spent his early childhood days. The love for his birthplace dragged him to settle here after devoting more than five decades for journalism.

“I was born in Udupi and Udupi is in my blood. No matter where I went, it was Udupi that I have always wished to return because that was where I learnt the ABC of my life, made friends and tasted colours of life,” he says with pride.

One can easily spot the veteran-journalist sharing stories of freedom struggle with the young generation, being engaged with reading newspapers or compiling his ideas through his old type-writer in his college cabin. When asked why in this 21st century era, he still uses his type-writer, he says, “It has been always loyal to me and gave me success in my life,” he smiles. “Will you discard your old loyal wife if you get to see a beautiful modern girl?” chuckles Kamath.

The Padma Bhusan awardee is one of the rare personalities in the present day who has closely witnessed the freedom struggle and got the privilege to interview and meet noted personalities of that time including-Jawaharlal Nehru, Moraji Desai, Jay Prakash Narayan among others. But fortunately or unfortunately, he has hardly any friend of his time to get nostalgic about his old times. “I hardly see any of my friends and relatives who are of my age. Almost all have died. I still feel young by living amid the young people and learning from them.”

The author of more than 45 books opines that the country has vastly transformed in the passage of 90 years. “There is a clear transition of people and the way of their life. Unlike earlier days, now the concept of joint family has been diminishing. The younger generation has lost connection with their past. I sometimes ponder where actually we are heading. Is it modernisation or westernisation, how can one forget their glorious past,” asks Dr Kamath. “It gives me immense pain when I see the young generation can’t even recognise people like Sardar Patel and Rani Laxmibai and others who paved the path for a free country where they are breathing freely,” he laments.

Meanwhile, Dr kamath also shows astonishment over the overall change he has been witnessing in all aspects of life. He feels happy how India at the same time developed economically and is still spreading its glory all over the globe. “When I started my work as a reporter at the Free Press Journal, I used to get Rs 16 a month and now one can hardly imagine it. At present, one can’t even get a good chocolate for Rs 16. It’s a very different kind of feeling to see all kinds of transition the world around me has undergone,” says the veteran-foreign correspondent.

Dr Kamath had also worked as the chairman of Prasar Bharti and at present he is leading a journalism college based in Manipal which according to him gives him a chance to be more active and regular.

When asked about the secret of being in the 90s he says, “I practice what we were preached when we were children. Waking early in the morning and relying on vegetarian food had become an obligatory part of my life.”