A friend for all reasons

As a brilliant actor in theatre for 40 years, Mohan knew his exit had to be dramatic.

Mohan C Padman was known among his friends and foes as MCP. The truth is that he was the very opposite. He was male alright, proof of which was his constant chatter, but chauvinist he most definitely was not.

He was as gallant as Sir Lancelot, always ready to come to the rescue of any damsel (or for that matter any human or animal) in distress. He was never a pig. He was extremely clean; in fact, to prove it, he died with gloves on his hands and a bucket of water in his vicinity.

Mohan was old school and very ‘propah.’ The English language had no greater proponent; Mohan as a child, had learnt fully well from his wonderful English mother, to pronounce the phrase, ‘The rain in Spain, stays mainly on the plain,’ exactly as it is meant to be pronounced in the Queen’s English. From his dashing Keralite father, he learnt the complexities, perplexities and joys of being Indian. So, in other words he was a ‘Queer mixture of the East and the West,’ which made him a fabulous and rare human being. Added to which was his amazing and quilted journey through life. And the rest is history.

His tales from his teaching sojourns in Iran, Dubai and England were fascinating. However, like a homing pigeon, he decided to come back and retire in the vanishing gardens of his beloved Bengaluru. And this is where on April 20, he hung up his hat rather hastily and slipped away without any lengthy goodbyes.
As a brilliant actor in theatre for 40 years, he knew his exit had to be dramatic and leave the audience gasping for more. He knew the cues, and he definitely kept dancing until he hit the wall.

No half measures for Mohan. Whatever he did, he did with the flourish and signature of an expert. Whether it came to painting walls in his favourite bold colours of azure blue or sassy saffron (a combination he made work in my brother’s kitchen) or using his deft strokes on his beautiful paintings of English gardens, he was creative and artistic.

Mohan had no dearth of talent. Proof of which is in his writing, a love affair that lasted his entire life. His words were his minions who, at his bidding, danced beautifully all over the pages of his novels, serious articles, funny middles in the Deccan Herald and reports he filed for many international journals.

Every time I met Mohan, whether it was in Dubai haunting the souks, or foraging in South Hall in England for coriander to make his marvellous chicken biryani, or scavenging for bronze antiques in crowded alleys near City Market in Bengaluru, it was a riot. He always had a joke for every occasion and his rendition, timing and punch lines were perfect. He was my eldest brother’s friend for almost half a century, and he was my brother and friend for a large part of my life.

Mohan proves that blood is not thicker than water. He was most certainly family. And sitting in Georgia, USA, half a world away, when I heard MCP decided to suddenly vacate the premises and go off on a solo adventure, leaving us all behind (gasping for more), my world dimmed. The square tables at Koshy’s Parade Café are definitely going to be missing a knight. However, knowing Mohan, I am sure he left with a grin on his face, laughing at our misery of missing him, and ordering us to ‘Chin up and not be so damn miserable.’

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