let's get back to the main theme here--PMI!!
PMI is very well known for his reticence-long before Media became so ubiquitous and intrusive,by nature he was not into any kind of championing of a theory of mridangam or any lofty pronouncements of what has to be done to preserve/foster and improve CM. In one of his speeches he virtually downplays the art of playing mridangam by claiming that to "pass F.A.--the old Intermediate or B.A. is much more difficult--you have to study by-heart(his words) for a long time-night and day--whereas in Mridangam one needs to study only some basics,learn them well and practice assiduously". Before a concert be it in Chennai(where he used to stay with Babu Sir-CKV--Secy of Music Academy --identified in one of the group photos posted before) or in Bombay(where he would stay in the Shanmukhananda premises),if people drop in to see him--phones were not ubiquitous and his "Old" friends many from Palkkad would take the liberty of dropping in without notice. PMI would politely greet the person and the next couple of minutes will be nothing more than Hmms and OHs--an icy monologue with PMI an indifferent listener . If the caller has a particular personal issue on which he needs some guidance he would give it but very concisely and tersely. If not if it is about the state of CM ,what he(PMI) thinks of present day musicians etc etc PMI would make a noncommital remark--his famous words whenever he is faced with having to give an opinion -- when he did not want to --would be in Tamil" EDHU EDHU EPPADI EPPADI IRUKKANAMO APPADI APPADI IRUKKUM"(whatever is meant to be will be!!). By this time the visitor would get the hint and bolt.My father has told me that it has happened to him on some occasions(knowing my father--the journalist hound in him would have tried to provoke/elicit some comments from PMI on some heated topic of the day only to be deftly deflected and parried much to my father's amusement and chagrin!!).
LGJ once told of a famous Veena artiste(name withheld) who had visited Tanjore for a concert--hearing of PMI's presence there(PMI had his establishment in Tanjore for a couple of years) decided to drop in unannounced and unexpected . I believe beyond just greeting the man PMI did not speak a word and despite desperate attempts by the artiste to coax PMI into a conversation PMI maintained a sphinx-like silence and the artiste took leave naturally disappointed but did not blow it into any big controversy--only because everybody knew it was not personal.From PM's perspective he simply was not given to idle talk and like a master chess player would anticipate in advance what the other person would do with a chance remark by him and avoid it. On this he did not discriminate-it was not as if he would be gushing all over with ARI or Raghu or KVN just because he happens to like them. He appreciated this trait of studied reticence in persons close to him--an anecdote, as told to me by my father.
When Palghat Raghu returned from Edinburgh (where he had accompanied KVN) to Chennai it appears organisations like NGS or MFA( I do not remember which one) were planning to give him a reception but when they met him after his arrival from London to propose the reception,he demurrhed and left for Palakkad the same day. Apparently one of the Secretaries lamented to my father about Raghu's indifference. Some time later when PMI had come for a concert in Chennai,my father went to meet him and while chatting remarked about Raghu's turning down the invitation hoping that PMI would show surprise or hear the account fully. No sooner had my father broached the subject, PMI cut him off saying "AVAN SENJADHU DAN RIGHT"(What he did was the right thing). Why all the fuss about being honored abroad as if our music needs validation by foreigners--I would rather be appreciated by a knowledgeable Palakkd or chennai crowd-- Raghu I am sure feels like I do--end of conversation. Now this could be debated ad nauseum whether it is the right thing--he did not go on to a soapbox advocating his philosophies on Public relations or Publicity nor did he pooh-pooh Institutions choosing to honour Muscians for what they believe to be worthy of pride and recognition .
Whenever he did choose to respond to a wise-aleck remark he would do it with a sting that would singe you for ever--I have been the recipient of one such whiplash!!
More later-- the third bell for my Dinner has been announced --I better rush!!