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An experience to cherish in a musical journey
CHENNAI, July 12: Mohan Swaminathan is veritably an example for many senior citizens. In his late seventies, he still retains the joy-de-vivere of life with a capital L. Like many of his ilk, he goes for his morning walks regularly even in the height of enervating heat of Gurgaon where temperatures hover in the forties. He loves to chat up with other morning oldies of his group who have all become fans of Mohan Swaminathan (we will call him just Mohan from now on) because he has earned a reputation as a good singer of not only old Tamil film classics but also of many beauties from Bollywood. In fact, Mohan enjoys fully of whatever he is doing - be it singing ``Chindanai sei maname'' or ``Dil tadap tadap ke keh raha hai tu aabhi ja'' or just narrating some memorable anecdotes from his early childhood days.

Whatever he does, he does it with gusto and sheer exuberance. That's why many of his new-found pals in San Jose say to him to stay back. And, one of them even offered him a job in a local Krishna temple. But Mohan declined because he wants to be connected to his roots in India, especially the southern part of India about which he has many fascinating tales. One such is the memorable childhood experience when he came first in a school music competition and won the coveted prize from none other than the then Governor-General of India C. Rajagopalachari.

Mohan vividly recalls the two books C. R. presented him: one on Shanmukha Kavacham and the other on Vedanta Deepam, penned by the great CR himself. Mohan is effusive when recalling this personal treasure of sweet memories. This is what he says reminiscing about the school, the music competition, the prize he won and his journey then on in life.

"I, at the age of 12, studying in standard 8 in The High school for boys, Srirangam, won the inter-school music competition (boys category), and was awarded the first prize by C Rajagopalchari , the first Governor-General of India. I learnt it from the kada kalakshebam mastro, Embar Vijayaraghava Chariyar, who happened to be the father of one of my classmates, and he volunteered to teach me music for a few months. The prize consists of 2 books, Shanmuga Kavacham and Vedantha Deepam written by himself (CR). The song sung was " Sarsijanabha Sodari, Shankari, Paahimam" in raga Naga Gandhari set to Aadhi thal. Later I migrated to Bombay in 1953, and finished my education their and settled down. I did pursue learning music with a couple of local bagavadars in Chembur and IIT Powai while in Vikroli for a few months. I learnt a number of kritis, and a bit of raga alapanas and swara prastaras. Fortgot most of it now! It still continues in a haphazard way, thought. But very much restricted to Bollywood songs."