Met my Vimala Atthai, a few days ago. She is Appanna Thata’s 89 year old niece – daughter of his second youngest sister, Bala (Balatthai to all the younger Dores).

She is Vimalatthanga to the Dores. She is a year older than Ramanna so that makes her our clan’s oldest living member!

Five photos too.

Suguna / Atthai

I realised last week that it’s been more than two years since I met Vimala Atthai. This is a shame because we live in the same city, Chennai and we have always been good friends. She is also my father’s only living relative from his generation. (I count the Dores as my cousins, not my father’s – though they are that. Those who do not understand this complicated and somewhat inbred relationship, go figure…or go to the family tree in the ToD archives). Most of all, she is a lively and warm person and a great conversationalist.

I called Atthai a couple of days ago. We were both very happy to talk to one another after such a long gap. We fixed a time to meet the very next day. Off I went and there she was, ready with her lovely and welcoming smile.

She has been suffering from a weak heart since 2006. A salt-free diet has made her very thin and frail. Probably because of osteoporosis, a few of her vertebrae have got fused as a result of which her spinal column is bent and painful. She also said that the bones around her left shoulder have ‘dissolved’ – ‘karanji pocchu’ . She gets up from bed only to go to the bathroom and to get a little exercise walking around the house or in good weather, in the spacious garden.

Her daughter, Pattamma, whose home is five minutes away, spends all her spare time with her. Vimala Atthai also has a 24-hour companion and help, a bright and friendly young Tamil girl. A young Bihari boy cooks for them. Atthai’s daugher-in-law Padmini, who divides her time between her son’s home in Philadelphia and her own home in Chennai with Atthai has thoughtfully made all these arrangements.

For all her illness, Vimala Atthai is as spirited and hospitable as ever. She even had tiffin, coffee and a gift bag filled with goodies ready for me (at just a day’s notice – I have no idea how she put it together so quickly). No complaints, none of the cynicism one associates with old age, just brimming with affection and goodwill, with eager questions about my family, my brothers, their families and my Dore cousins – even as she just kept on feeding me with Gokulashtami batshanams.

She asked me about my husband and my boys. When I mentioned that my younger son Nikhil and his wife lived in the US, in Seattle, she said with a big knowing smile, “Oh, Seattle!” I thought she was only being polite.

But she shamed and astounded me by adding, “I know Seattle, it is in the Pacific North…Padmini has a relative there, Dr Ramamurthy, with an American wife… Caroline Ramamurthy she calls herself. They used to have a house facing the ocean – I have visited them! Their daughter is named Kanti Caroline Ramamurthy!”

I was flabbergasted! (‘Pacific North’!!). I hope I have such a keen memory when I am 89, which is how old she is. At 68, I am often unable to remember names of places and people from six months ago.

I took some photos and told Atthai I was going to post the pictures and an account of my visit on the ToD. (Please do notice the photo of the goddess Saraswati in the backdrop in the photo of her and me. She was delighted to see it had figured in the picture).

This prompted her to take out a photocopy of a childhood picture of hers. (She knew exactly where it was among her many papers and folders). It was taken when Atthai was seven years old, in Hyderabad Sind. She added that Ramanna had given her the copy years ago.

She went on to tell me the back story to the snapshot. When it was about to be taken, her mother Balachitti (Appanna’s sister) decided to line her eyes with ‘maii’ (a traditional home made kohl made with castor oil soot). The little Vimala had never worn ‘maii’ before. Her eyes started to sting and tears rolled down her cheeks. Appanna chided his sister and told her to leave the child alone and went on to take the picture. “That is why I look so serious and tearful in the photo!” explained Vimala Atthai, laughing at the memory and her immense love and regard for Appanna.

My father Annaji used to say of my aunt Leela Chitti that she was such a good person that she was worthy of worship in a puja room.

I think the same can be said of Vimala Atthai. Such a zest for life, such unconditional love for people, such courage in the face of serious ill health, such genuine and all-embracing kindness towards everybody is indeed rare.

She has said to convey her love and blessings to all the readers of the ToD, especially the senior Dores. So here you go! Suguna Swamy



By Suguna Swamy



Vimalathanga Part 2

After my last visit to meet her and the last ToD feature, I dropped in on her again with my iPad to show her the article and photos online. She loved it!

She gave me many new interesting tidbits.

  • She was born to Balachitti on 25th May 1925 at 7.30 pm. at their home in Singapore. Her father, M. Kuppuswamy Iyer, a linguist, had a job in that polyglot city as an Interpreter in the Police Court. (Balachitti was his second wife as his first wife had died in the course of a fourth childbirth).
  • The attending nurse gave Balachitthi a shot of brandy after the birth. She recalled that Balachitti said that she had felt woozy soon afterwards. The orthodox family became very nervous as they feared that her brain had been addled by alcohol: ‘’moolai kalangiduttho ennamo?’! Of course it was no such thing. Just the neat brandy doing its job!
  • Atthai had had an older sister, Leela, who fell very ill with double pneumonia at the age of about 18 months. A neighbouring Christian family suggested a diet that involved eggs, for the frail baby but the Brahmin family couldn’t dream of it. Soon after that little Leela died; before Vimala was born. The family felt miserably guilty for years wondering if they had done the wrong thing by not accepting the suggestion of feeding eggs to the baby.
  • Leela was said to be a beautiful and smart child. Relatives kept comparing Vimala Atthai to her and found her wanting. I, for one, cannot imagine a child who could have been more charming than our Vimala, she of grace and a sunny temperament!
  • In 1929 her father died. He left a legacy of $10,000 for his unmarried son and daughter’s education and weddings. He was against taking or giving dowry so this was for their expenses alone; and for the upkeep of Balchitti and young Vimala. Before he died, he made Vimala Atthai’s kind, loving and generous step brother, Dr N K Sharma promise to take full care of Balachitthi and little Vimala. This gentleman seems to have been a person of great integrity as Atthai says he was as good as his word.
  • In 1936, Dr Sharma, an ophthalmic surgeon, had to go to London for higher studies. War clouds were looming so he decided that Balachitti and her daughter would be safer in India. They sailed for Madras and he set up a household for them with a relative in Kodambakkam. Vimala was taught at home by an Iyengar lady till the 2nd form.
  • It was her first trip to India. I asked her about her young impressions. She said she just loved travelling in a bullock cart. She also found it curious that men wore earrings (kadukkan)!
  • My father Annaji , her much older first cousin, visited Madras around this time. He drove from Pune in his new Wolseley car. (Must have been grand!) Vimala, about 10 years of age, had just passed the 2nd form. Annaji gifted his little cousin a Blackbird pen; and an alarm clock to encourage her to time her studies! He then drove her to the Marina Beach for a treat. A friend joined them there. She recalls wearing a sky blue frock and enjoying the ride and the beach hugely. The friend said in surprise, Why, Subrahmanyam, I didn’t know you had such a big daughter! Annaji laughed and said, She is not my daughter, she is my Chitti’s daughter, my young cousin.
  • In 1937 she and Balachitti went to Hyderabad Sind for two months. Rajah Chittappa escorted her and Balachitti back and had her admitted to the Lady Sivaswamy School in Mylapore where she went on to study in the 3rd and 4th form. They stayed in the house of Dr N K Sharma (who by that time had probably returned from London?) in Solayappan Mudali Street in Mylpore. Appanna sent Rs. 60 every month (a generous sum in those days, when rice cost under a rupee per maund) to Balachitti for household maintenance.
  • When Vimala Atthai was 14 there was much anxiety that she may not find a suitable bridegroom as she was born with sevvai dosham (i.e.under the malevolent astrological influence of Mars; a Manglik ). When a proposal came from a fine man with the same dosham, V G Krishnamurthy, Appanna and other older members of the family considered it seriously as two such doshams cancelled one another! So they went ahead with the marriage even though VGK was 14 years older than young teenager Vimala. She recalls that Appanna gifted her a beautiful green georgette saree with full zari for the wedding!

-Suguna Swamy

Notes on some of the photos

  • Murali was a nephew of Vimala Atthai in Singapore. The bride is his Chinese wife Gloria whom he married in 1970.
  • The book launch referred to is that of Balachitti’s volume of poetry titled ‘Garland of Verses’. Vichanna, along with C R Pattabhiraman,eminent advocate and politician, Vimala Atthai’s sambandhi and a leading figure of the North Arcot community was present at the launch.
  • Seethamma was Vimala Atthai’s daughter in law Padmini’s sister. She and her husband Thyagu (‘Burmah Shell’ Thyagu) were drowned in quicksand in Marwe Beach near Mumbai on 17 September 1958. The photo shows the couple and VGK and Vimala Atthai, in happier times.
  • Incidentally, Thyagu was the son of a not very honorable judge named A K Ramachandran. One should not speak ill of the dead but this is now history so I take the liberty of saying this: apparently my father Annaji referred to this person as ‘Akrama Ramachandran’!


Family pays Tributes to Vimalathanga



     It’s with a heavy heart that I watched
     Mami’s grand-nephew Suresh Kumar
     complete her cremation 3 days ago.
     Dr Nanditha, Dr Chinni Krishna, Krishna
     Kumar, Subramanian & Manohar were
     there among others at hand, as moral
     support to Ramaa, Pattamma,Nagu,
     Bhawani & young Siva. An era ended
     that day.
     Today Pattamma called to inform about
      the ‘Shubha-Sweekaram’ to be held at
      Mami’s residence on Sun 29th April.We
      shall certainly attend & pay our respects
      to the departed soul.
     Ultimately we’re overwhelmed by what
     the Almighty has chosen for each of us.
     And we have to accept that verdict in a
    state of “surrender”.
    With her endearing kindness, charming
    transparency & embodiment of child-like
    love ,Mami won & ruled our hearts for
    decades; and shall remain a role model
    for our lives.Equally notable was the total
    dedication and love showered on her by
    you, Ramaa & Pattamma to look after her
    at The Grove over the years.
     We close with a prayer and hope that we
     all get strength and courage, to deal with
     the irreplaceable vacuum that Mami has
     left behind.May her ‘Atma’ merge into the
          Yours in mourning,
                                           Kartik- Lakshmi
                            ( with Poornima- Sourav )

Padmini Balagopal

2oth April 2018

Dear Karthik and Lakshmi,
What kind words, expressions and thoughts have been expressed by you , Karthik. Thank you and thank you both for always treating her with such respect that she always felt very good about her family and their treatment of her.
She is being sorely missed every minute of the day
Ever fondly

Nandu Dore
20th April 2018

Very rich tributes my dear Anna.

She was very popular within family circles




Every poll has their mark

A Handful Of Senior Citizens Has Voted In Each General Election Since 1951

Vimala Krishnamurti rarely steps out of her house on Eldams Road in Chennai, but the 88-year-old has been doing her physiotherapy exercises twice a day so that she can make it to the polling booth on Thursday.  “I want to be fit enough to go there using my walking stick,” says Vimala, who has not missed casting her vote in any election since 1951. “I remember how excited I was about casting my vote for the very first time,” says Vimala. who first voted in Mumbai for Congress.

Vimala admits she is today confused (about which party to vote for). “I want a good administrator who will work for the people and the welfare of senior citizens and respect women”, says Vimala.

More photos from Suresh Doré:


Taken on Mother's Day May 6, 2016. On her left is Geeta Rao Nyapathi. She is Ashwin's wife Sharda Modur's grandmother. She and late Vimala mami are great-grandmothers to Padmini's grandson.

Jaya Mami


Jayalakshmi Sitaram
(?? 1925 – April 17, 2018 )

Dear family
It is with great sadness I am writing to inform you that Shashi and Kanchana’s Ammaji, Jaya mami to many of you, passed away a couple of hours back in Los Angeles. She will be a huge loss to us all.


Shalini Doré – Apr 17


And this morning we woke up to the news that Kanchana and Shashi’s mother, Jaya mami, passed away overnight due to pneumonia. It caused a second heart attack.

Shalini Doré


Ganesh Doré – Apr 17

Subject: Mrs Jaya Sitaram passed away a short while ago

My Dear PremChithhappa

Mrs Jaya Sitaram passed away a short while ago.
A pioneer bridging the path to modern life from rural Vellore. And a truly nice person.
She was 92.

Shashidhar is here.
Malavika is here from Los Gatos.. Jaideep from Torrance. ( Uma and Shyam also. They have left for Torrance.)

Kartik Doré – Apr 17


Chennai/ 17th April ’18
Dear Shashidhar & Kanch,

We’re sad & shocked to learn that
Jaya Mami is no more.Words seem
to fail us, for a lady who thought &
acted ahead of her times.She was
always composed & dignified, even
during difficult times & her own
ailments.We’ve had wonderful times
and conversations with her.We shall
certainly miss your ‘AMMAJI’.

We all pray for her soul.

Kartik Anna-Lakshmi Manni
(with Poornima & Sourav)

P.S. It’s a double tragedy that we’re losing
two worthy contemporaries on the
same day. We’re both going to Vimala
mami’s home at Teynampet shortly to
pay our respects.


Srinath Doré – 17 Apr


Dear Ganesh Anna and Kanchana
Shashi and Sukki
We are so sorry to hear the sad news . We pray that her soul rests in peace. We will always remember her as a lady full of energy and zest and am glad she didn’t suffer too much in her last days .


Srinath and Shyama on behalf of Prem Chitappa


Nandu Doré- Apr 17


This news took me by surprise for sure as Jaya mami’s most recent pics showed her up and about without any external aids.

Reminds me of my own troubled times when we lost my Appaji and Priya
manni’s father within days and I do share the pain.

Its a sad loss indeed and its their everlasting smiling, cheerful
faces is what I’ll remember them by.


Ganesh Doré – Apr 17

Two stalwarts from the 1920 Era


Suresh Doré – Apr 17


Dear Ganesh and Kanchana,
We are deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Jaya mami also known as Ammaji. We have met her a couple of times during Malavika’s and Brian’s engagement function at Madras Gymkhana in 2007 and Jaideep’s and Uma’s Meet and Greet function in Bengaluru in December 2009. We got opportunities to really know her well only during these instances since she had already migrated to the US.

She was a bright lady with a refreshing smile and always ready with a a family anecdote or two to build an instant bond of friendship. Priya also remembers her as an excellent singer doing several group bhajans as part of satsangs. It is amazing that both the matriarchs who passed away today, Vimala Krishamurthi and Jaya Sitaram were at ripe old age of 92 across the continents.

May their souls rest in peace.

Suresh and Priya

Kanchana and Jaya mami(partly hidden) watching Jaideep-Uma ceremony




Vimala Krishnamurthy

( May 25, 1925 – April 17, 2018 )

17th April 2018 / CHENNAI

Dear Family,
              We just got the sad news that Mrs Vimala Krishnamurthy, w/o Late VG Krishnamurthy passed away a few hours ago, at her ELDAMS ROAD residence. She had been ailing for months.She is survived by her 2 daughters Ramaa & Rukmini( Pattamma) and daughter-in-law Padmini Balagopal.

Further details are awaited.

We pray for her soul. KARTIK-LAKSHMI

Rupa Dore&acute – Apr 16


A great lady! May her soul rest in peace.

Famous quote from my father and Vimalathanga .When she got married and
was about to leave she asked Appanna to give her some “nalla buddhi”
and he said ” Just keep your own buddhi!”-That is all you need!

Thanks for the rare photos, Suresh. She was very pretty all her life
till the end.


Shridhar Subrahmanyam -Apr 16


A wonderful woman who was always smiling and our last link to that generation. My condolences to the near relatives. May her soul rest in peace.


Suresh Doré – Apr 16

k-anna, sad news indeed. She was the only north arcot link between my father and mother prior to their marriage. My condolences to the bereaved family.

Caption: Vimala mami, Padmini Balagopal(Vimala mami’s daughter-in-law) and Priya unable to decide on the menu at Creams Centre restaurant August 2009

Vimala Krishnamurthy and singer Parimala Gurumuthy share a quiet moment together in Saraswathi Akka’s centenary celebrations in December 2010 at Eldams Road

Shalini Doré – Apr 16

So sorry to hear this. Condolences may be sent to Rama Rajagopalan.

Satisch Doré – Apr 17

A great and graceful lady blessed with wonderful good cheer, mirth and laughter. Her Eldams Road residence was a must-unannounced stop for Babaji on our returns to Venus and the doors were always open. I have only good memories of my time with Attai and family, not just in Eldams Road, but also in Tarrytown NY with Padminiji and family who were kind enough to host me in the 80s for a brief visit. It’s a huge loss! Condolences to the family, may her soul Rest In Peace.


Raj Doré – Apr 17

Sorry to hear that please convey heartfelt condolences.

Srinath Doré – Apr 17

Sorry to hear Appaji and all of us send our condolences and we pray her Soul rests in peace

Sameer Nagarajan – Apr 17
So sorry to hear this. Our heartfelt condolences.

Mixing Religion & Politics


By Suresh Dor&eacute


    In the Indian way of life religion plays an important role and the basis of our day-to-day life is religion. Political leaders right from the beginning felt that if there is any possibility of retaining unity in India, it should be by remaining secular. That is why Gandhiji had been preaching brotherhood among the different re­ligious groups. Nehru was a strong supporter of secularism. Their efforts could not divorce religion from politics rather in politics the vested interests started exploiting caste and religion for gaining political advantage.

    With the passage of time India was divided into Pakistan and Bharat only because two nations theory was accepted by the Britishers. Even after Independence, the religious fervor could not be finished because the trail of the memories of the partition haunted the minds of the people, Still India managed to keep the communal forces under check. But the opposition parties exploit religion and theocratic States established in Pakistan and Iran encouraged fundamentalism all over the world. Recently in Punjab religion and politics are so closely interwoven that it has become difficult to separate them.

    Religious places are used for political propaganda and the religious sentiments of the people are excited in order to gain political control of the State. This emer­gence of religion-political party has threatened the secular character of India. It is feared that if it succeeds there is a possibility that many other political parties with caste and religion as the basis may come up.

    Mixing of religion with politics is a dangerous trend because religious attitude is diametrically opposed to democratic feelings. Religion encourages fanaticism and suspends our reasoning power and we repose full faith in leaders. We are prepared to make sacri­fice because sacrifice will be considered martyrdom. This mental attitude is directly opposed to democratic spirit. Democracy de­mands open mindedness, universal brotherhood and thinking based upon reason and capable of taking its own decision. In such cases, there is no herd tendency and the person is liberal in outlook.

    If religious forces are allowed to become powerful there will be disintegration of the nation and sovereignty of the State will be in danger. There are a large number of religions, castes and sub- castes in India, and unfortunately some of them are opposed to one another as far as their practices are concerned. Under such circum­stances, there is no possibility of keeping them together if once there is fragmentation.

    Religion is a private affair and if it is allowed to appear in public affairs it will corrupt politics. All the crimes committed in the name of religion in the past as well as in the present one cannot forget. A large number of people have been put to death in Iran only because they do not follow the Islamic religion up to the last Point. So religion makes a a man blind and it will never encourage opposition.

    So if we want to consolidate democracy give firm foundations to it and make its working successful, it is necessary that the people should keep religion apart from politics. It is wrong to think that with the help of laws it is possible to divorce religion from politics. Till the attitude of the people is changed, and till they rise above the petty considerations it is not possible to keep religion and politics apart. By keeping them independent of each other, we can retain democratic set-up.




Sharat Wins Award


By Sharat Chander 

For helping get 5G done in a hurry.
5th Generation of Mobile Wireless.
The next step to your 4G & LTE and such that you use on your mobile.
All due to your blessings!
Thank you, Ammaji, Mami (Mrs. Jay)& Mama (Dr. Jay).


Rupa Doré - 10 Apr


I am bursting with pride! Bless you !


Nandagopal Doré - Apr 11


I think you got the rough end of the stick.
I would not have settled for anything less than a Noble prize!

Good job regardless.


Sharat Chander


Novel idea, yaar.

But, it wouldn't be the Nobel Prize, it would be the No-Bull prize - haha!

On second thought, it would be the Full-of-Bull prize 😂


Gippy’s Galatta



By Gippy Doré




Our usual meet scheduled for 25th. of March was postponed to 1st. April leaving many wondering if it would be an April fool prank. But then we are serious minded fools and do not play with pranks. The date was shifted as Dore said that his door will be shut as he would be away for a reunion with his brothers in Dubai. We recall General Douglas MacArther’s famous words, “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” Some with age grow younger and turn out like Giri for whom,

“A boy’s will is the wind’s will,

And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

Giri and his brothers can be imagined in moving ahead as the young with their flag and their slogan: “Scale the dunes and conquer the desert”. But let’s wait for his sparkling narration on his return.

One fine day things went haywire when Dore’s phone got cross connected to some chap infesting a flat near CCI. The fellow (whose telephone, no doubt, covered by a laced embroidered cloth was silent as a tomb for he rarely received any calls) was very cross as dozens of Giri’s phone calls had been disturbing him night and day. At the height of his anguish PG unknowingly phoned Dore where upon the victim roared like a wounded lion “Who is this Giri? Where does he live? I have complained to MTNL and I am tired of getting up to rise to the occasion to hear all and sundry asking for Giri Dore. PG pacified him with a soothing syrupy voice thick as Calmpose, and enlightened him that Dore lives just across the road. “I will go and see him just now”, he declared. The incident is not very different from the scene in Psmith Journalist where Psmith had joined the staff of Cosy Moments, New York’s sanitized magazine, bought regularly by the father of the family to read to his chicks at bedtime. It contained contributions (as Plum described) from the bright offspring about the nursery canary by Jane (aged 6 years) and other pure bilge by a handful of lousy writers who relied on the good old copy-paste technique. Psmith assists the acting editor in sacking the writers who, on receiving the missive turn up at the journal’s Office, collectively demanding, “Where is Windsor?” Psmith, with his customary tact and savoir faire  not only defused the noisy crowd but turned them into a jovial bunch before hosting a lunch where, conversing happily, they forgot about the purpose of their visit and repeated their stale jokes and stories across the table. We are eager to learn how Dore handled the CCI chap or did he leave him to be taken care of by the society’s bouncers.

One of our regular members was unable to attend as he had the dengue which, as we all know, is a terrible mosquito borne illness. Our friend is recovering fast. However, it is reported that the mosquito who was the culprit had high levels of alcohol in its blood also developed high fever with aches and pains and is struggling in the ICU of the Mosquito Ward. The long arm of retribution is never far.

There was much heated discussion on Aadhaar card, its uses and potential dangers. For those who like Abou Ben Adhem just awoke from their deep dream of peace, they must understand that Aadhaar is a mandatory requirement under the present regime and there is no moksha without it. That apart, mere survival on the face of the earth is out of question unless you have the card with proper number which must be linked with mobile, banking, doctors, etc., failing which you can be disconnected from your mobile, gas  connection, banking, internet, passport, visa, marriage, divorce, hospital, and burial / antim sanskar. Here comes the problem. Many find the linking is not possible as there are no finger prints. Perhaps they never had any in the first place. Now some regret their sterling character in not having committed some useful crime like house break for they could have easily escaped without leaving a trace of a single finger print. So all please note, Aadhaar will hereafter be every person’s companion, the staff and the support, on life’s long journey through days sunlit as well as the nights through dark and deserted ways till he or she joins the dust. A faithful companion not just from birth to death, but from the womb to the tomb. Members gravely nodded saying that this might well be so!!


— PG