Jobs had famously described the crazy ones as “the ones who see things differently”. This series is in honor of a few such crazy people that I have met.
At the top of the heap has to be my uncle (Mausa) Dayanand Sanvordekar. Came to Mumbai from Goa, worked his way up from a job in sales tax, then in the B.E.S.T as a conductor and finally as Managing Director of Business Press — the chaps that brought out a host of magazines including “Imprint”. He also managed the affairs of the bookshop at the mumbai Taj called Nalanda. I have spent many a Sunday afternoon there reading all that I could lay my hands on. He was an extraordinarily generous man, his house at Andheri was forever full of visitors from Goa. Some of them would come to get well from an illness, some of them would come over to study and some for no reason at all. No one was turned away.
Growing up he would buy books from the pavement bookstores dotting South Bombay; selling the ones he read and then buy another. Reading remained his passion right through and I guess inculcating the reading habit in others an even greater mission. I was the prime beneficiary of this; he would turn up with cartons of books — Hardy boys, ACK, Tinkle, and The three investigators- are among the books I remember. Visits to Nalanda every Sunday would mean a day of reading non stop, the spell broken by a quick lunch at Olympia.
He had a unique method of teaching me how to write — back in the day — letters would have to be written/dictated for typing later. Just as an aside, most letters would start with “I beg to bring to your notice”; that was the style of the day. So phase one was to read the letters, next summer, phase 2 was to spot the spelling mistakes. The following vacation, I had to write as he dictated and finally graduation was for him to just give me a situation and I had to write the letter. Till date, I can spot a spelling mistake even if don’t really understand the meaning of the word.
He listened to a wide variety of music; all the Indian classical greats, Pop groups like ABBA and Boney M, Marathi and Hindi films and for a few weeks Bhojpuri sangeet. Everything played in our house, first on vinyl records and then audio cassettes. We had an enviable collection of music and were taught to appreciate anything good no matter the genre. I remember we had cassettes which featured movie dialogues, not just a few but the entire movie in audio form. We grew up reciting dialogues from Sholay and Mughal E Azam.
Similarly movies, it was a family tradition to watch a flick every Saturday followed by a visit to Juhu beach in our cavernous Ambassador. Always accompanied by our friends, we must have held the record for stuffing maximum bodies in an Ambassador for a rather long time. He was absolutely nuts for Hema Malini — complete fan boy. When we got a VCR, he would pop into the local video library and rent out Hema malini movies almost always. Prem Nagar to humne at least 300 baar dekhi hogi. Finally someone gifted him the video cassette.
The number of people who benefited from his generosity is staggering, a tuition paid, a marriage done, a kind word, a visit when someone is not doing well. It was just amazing to experience this. Growing up, I could never understand why he helped without any expectation; i now realize that this was the crazy part. Reaching out to someone in their darkest hour is an ability few possess, even fewer do it with a sense of duty of paying it forward. In a way he was simply acknowledging the help he himself received throughout his life.
The only quibble i have against him was his inability to figure out the scoring system in tennis. I had to explain this, every single match we watched together. The other thing that will always stay with me was the way he would pronounce — Detroit — always “Det roo aa”. And the trunk call booking, with the name being broken down into alphabets — then the A for Alpha, B for bravo, R for Roger explanation. And one last thing, we were watching Siddharth Basu’s quiz time — Mausa had just started off with his first drink of the night — Golconda brandy. The quiz master asked a question about Pele’s last club- I got the answer and he simply exploded with joy. One would think I had won Quiz time. I remember the brandy soaked hugs to this day.
Dayanand Sanvordekar passed away into the ages a few years ago, leaving behind a legacy of an appreciation of good music, of good literature and unparalleled generosity. A legacy of always helping someone in need, of not being afraid of the consequences to oneself. A simple life, a beautiful life.
They don’t make them as crazy as him anymore.
Absolutely overwhelmed by the feedback to this article, so many people came up with their memories — Its just fair that I include them in this article:
- “Oh yes, I did read top to bottom. The copy of IMPRINT at the back ground sent me memories of Business press office at Kala ghoda where I worked with persons like HP, srikant, Mrs Nair, sheela, Pai, tankam and her fiance rajan,, Manuel dcosta,, bunch of office boys in circulation team, ramesh parab,, gulfan, Sadanand. Many more I forgot their name. And your pujya pita maha dad known as DSS, on helm of affairs. I still ponder on the longest signature in coil like wording signed by your dad. I know gaggi, very well. He used to come on stock taking at Nalanda whole night cracking jokes and singing. I meet Deepak sanvordekar few years back visiting his apartment at bharat nagar. In grant road. Those are the days man. It brings tears in to my eyes as I miss those beautiful days”.
- “Omg. Such a lovely tribute to daddy. And yes I had got premnagar ka video cassette for him from my first diamond walla salary ka job”.
- “Great, really he also helped us in those days in different way ,my job ,many times u with some family folks visited our house, our Goa visits, number of times we had lunch at u r place this list will go on. I am really thankful to GOD for meeting u r family”
- “It’s written in such a beautiful manner… Such a good human being”
- “Made me teary eyed, Heartfelt and endearing”
- “Very nice and aptly description for Dayu.😍😘👏👏”
- “I am happy to read about our Dayanand Sanvordekar, whom we called आजॉ ! though he was not that old.
He had donated wonderful Indian and Imported Reading Books to our High School in Anandwadi Sanvordem.
He was a wonderful personality.
He has helped many people to study and helped those who came to him for Medical Treatment from Sanvordem and other parts of Goa.”