Posted by Elithraniel Arawion on Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Till this very day, i thought i wasn't a judgmental person. I thought i was a person who could determine people's characters well since i observe alot, by default. But i proved myself terribly wrong and bow my head in apology to a man i learnt to admire today.
V.A.K Ranga Rao. He's in his late 70s' and i decided to interview him for my paper. What is so special abt the man? Well, his impeccable english though he's just done his 12th std is one. Apart from which he owns the largest collection of gramaphone records in the country (42000) to be precise. Whoa!
Anyway, the guy was haughty and threw an attitude on the phone and i braced myself for this meeting, thinking i was about to face a 'cantankerous' old man, as he himself told me later. Well, when i reached his place and called him, he told me to come ten minutes later. Of course he didn't know i was waiting outside his place but it put me off. It worsened the already bad impression i had on him.
But as soon as i went back ten mins later and knocked on the very old house he lives in, i knew i was wrong. He invited me inside graciously. He sported a smart orange kurta and white pyjamas. He looked scholarly and a little weathered. As soon as i entered the house, i found is ironical to his sophisticated, impeccable behavior. The house was MESSY! it was full of dust with gramaphone records, books, papers, envelopes lying all round the place and a table right in the centre. The house had 2 floors.. .all three levels containing more books and more records. I was mesmerised!
As he started talking about him as a critic.. the amount of mistakes he found in every book, i was hooked since i was a voracious reader myself. I found his knowledge on varied subjects to be absolutely stunning. He's what one would jokingly call 'walking encyclopedia'. And by all means, he justifies the nick name.
After a tour of almost 5-6 rooms in his mansion dedicated to books, books and more books, videos and records, i wondered if they were his only company. He seemed chatty, asking me a few personal questions here and there but not altogether unprofessional. He was blunt, straight forward and did not mince words at all.
I find bluntness in men a very admirable quality. And this old man was right on target. If i spoke softly he would say "i'm sorry, i'm deaf, could you be louder?". If i stood up and continued the interview he would shoo me to a chair "i can't talk to you if you stand. Please sit or i won't be able to hear you". If i asked him a particular question and didn't write it down he would say "i don't tolerate factual errors". it made me scribble steadfastly across my book even though i didn't understand what i wrote.
He said to me "just wait 5 mins. i 'm making tea". When i refused it he said "it's not for you. It's for me. in the process, i'll just give you half a cuppa"... and he made me drink the drink i despise so much i've not even smelt it in years!
Well, by the end of the our interview session, i had become his ardent admirer. The guy is an expert, not because he has to be but because he wants to be one! It was superb and though i didn't have an ounce of the knowledge he had, i felt as though i had achieved a great feat by interviewing this man.
He was not such a cantankerous old man after all, just a guy who can-carry-tank-sized-info and had a computer like amazing memory. Kudos! to this walking encyclopedia.