Mind changer incorrigible

Mind changer incorrigible

My uncle R K Narayan was a legendary mind changer, herewith called MC, because on every decision he took, he changed his mind in a jiffy. His MC abilities were constantly questioned and criticised by most people. However, he believed: “I made my mind and I will change my mind”. For him, his MC was a birth right and he utilised it repeatedly! I would like to quote a few such instances where I was mostly present.

He was appointed as an English teacher in Channapatna High School (before I was born). But within four hours of reporting to duty, he changed his mind and came back to Mysore stating he could not accept the concept of class timetable.  Only many years later, I understood that his mind changing was mainly because he had never worked under a boss.

He was staying with me while on a visit to Delhi. We were invited to a breakfast meet with then prime minister Indira Gandhi. I drove him to the PM’s residence where the south Indian breakfast was a fantastic hit with RKN.

However when Mrs Gandhi asked him about the breakfast, he firmly said, “the south Indian breakfast was excellent but your cook doesn’t know how to make coffee”. “Nair!” shouted Mrs Gandhi. (We don’t know what happened to poor Nair).

After breakfast, the PM invited him over to her car and said “We will now drive down to my office where I have asked Delhi’s literary people to assemble.” The moment she said it, I knew RKN would change his mind because he hated formal meetings of literary bigwigs. He told Mrs Gandhi that he had missed that day’s walk and he would come walking straight to the PM’s office at 10:30 am. Then, he walked along the Rajpath, looking at the trees and enjoying the beauty of December Delhi. He also spoke to whomever he could converse with in English (like me, he never spoke Hindi). He landed at the PM’s office at 11.30 am! The meeting had been delayed and then cancelled. RKN loved the fact that only Mrs Gandhi and H Y Sharada Prasad (PM’s press secretary) were now present.

One day, he received a letter from actor Dev Anand from California stating that they would be in Mysore in 10 days time to talk about making the movie Guide. But Dev never waited for an answer and landed at RKN’s Yadavagiri house accompanied by Vijay Anand (his brother) and his friend Yash Johar (Karan Johar’s father). I worshipped Dev Anand as an actor. So after settling them down, I went to Raju Hotel and brought set dosas for the whole group.

After breakfast, Dev made a request to draw out a contract and also offered a big cheque to RKN, who accepted it but postponed the contract signing saying the shooting locale for the movie will have to decided.

While RKN was partly fine with shooting Nanjangud as Malgudi, when he later discovered that the location was going to be Udaipur, he almost returned the cheque and changed his mind.

But Dev was an equally legendary talker. He came down from Mumbai and convinced RKN to sign along the dotted lines. Guide became an absolute sensation. But a couple of months after release of the movie, RKN disagreed again, changed his mind and wrote a scathing article in the ‘LIFE’ magazine called “The Misguided Guide.” It was a fantastic piece of writing but it came too late. Dev and Guide had already smelled success.

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