When life becomes so beautiful that you wonder if it’s really you and not some stranger living it #coonoor #coonoorclub

Coonoor club


Morning coffee to this view #coonoor …to quote Jane Austen, “Can there be any felicity in the world superior to this?” #Coonoorclub

GrandparentsThe day before my grandfather, 85, died of massive heart attack, he had this conversation with my grandmother — which she treasured for many years later. They were sitting down for a cozy chat in the living room after tea, when my grandfather looked at her and said, “You know I have cause to be eternally grateful to my father. He left me the most valuable thing he could possibly have!”

(Now a little backstory — so that my readers appreciate the poignancy of the moment: My grandfather – Dr Ernest Jesudan Chandran Job had many siblings. And his father G V Job — in his own progressive way — felt that his four daughters might have more need for his property later in life than his sons. So he divided up all his property among his girls and gave his boys nothing more than a solid education. Being the headmaster of the Chengalpat Government Higher Secondary School, Kancheepuram distict he, of course, ensured that all his progeny excelled in academics)

So my grandmother recalling this asked, “But how come you haven’t told me about this in all these years? Is it a piece of land or house? Where is it?”

My grandfather replied, “The most valuable thing my father gave me is sitting right here — in front of me.”

And my grandmother’s eyes would mist every time she retold this tale. To be in love is magical enough, but to be in love with the same person for a lifetime is the stuff of legends!

(The memories of their love and loyalty to each other over their 50 years of marriage washed over me as I cleaned and sorted out my grandfather’s papers today. Nestled among his many Army papers, Naval orders, mark certificates of children and grandchildren — was the testament to their love story — their wedding certificate, dated May 26, 1950)

Wedding certificate

KotagiriBeing now a regular on the Bangalore-Ooty-Coonoor trips, the driver cautioned me this Saturday to get to the main bus stand by 6 PM. I knew the seriousness of his warning as if the KSRTC bus KA05 F1111 didn’t reach the checkpost by 9 PM we’d be grounded for the whole night and wouldn’t be able to cross the reserve forests till 6 AM the next day.

But as luck could have it I missed the 4.10 PM connecting bus from Kotagiri to Ooty because of an idiot sedan driver — who caused a road block not having the good sense not to attempt a U-turn in a road less than 8 feet in width. I waited one whole hour for the 5.10 PM bus hoping I’d make it. The bus came and the driver started taking the notorious hair-pin bends with dexterity and as much as speed as could be considered prudent on a treacherous mountain stretch with muddy, skiddable banks and steep slopes. By 5.45 PM we were still 5 km from Ooty and the calls started coming in.

The KSRTC driver was impatient. At one point he lost it and wanted to talk to my conductor. One talked solely in kannada and The other solely in Tamil and yet they understood each other. The TN SETC conductor told him we were crossing Doddabetta and it would take us 20 more mins to reach the main stand. Meanwhile my plight had been communicated to all other passengers by the ones near me. As the driver took each bend, passengers kept urging him on – it became a matter of general concern like the world cup footfall final – that I should reach my goal.

Urged on by the crowd, the driver did his best as we crossed tea factory. By now it was 6 PM, more frantic calls from the KSRTC crew – with them threatening to leave. The SETC driver fully aware of the 9 PM looming deadline for him — realised i cant make it to the Ooty main bus stand in time — and offered to set me down at Charing Cross for me to take a rick to Finger Post.

By now the entire bus was giving me directions. “Get off at Charing Cross. Get into the first auto. Don’t bargain with him.” “It’s an emergency. Pay him Rs 50, Rs 100 or Rs 150. Just do it.” Conductor chipped in – “Do you have the money or do you need it?”. Was stumped at the question and the hidden offer of help. Assured him I had sufficient cash. I was given more instructions by all around, urged to wear my bag and stand near the exit door. Even as my KSRTC driver made more calls.

Charing Cross arrived. Got down and sprinted across the square to the cheers and exhortations of all my bus passenger friends. As I negotiated and my auto took off turned back to see the driver, conductor and all wave at me. I waved back – wishing it was socially acceptable to wave kisses in goodbye as I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Meanwhile the KSRTC driver and conductor got back to incessant calls. Pissed with me they demanded to speak to my auto guy. They kept threatening to leave as my auto driver tried his best to cover the distance of 1.3 km in 10 mins. Suddenly traffic held us up on the narrow roads – 2 mins gone.

More calls. More desperate pleas on my end. Finally even as traffic doesn’t clear, I spot a white bus 300 metres ahead. Something tells me it’s mine. I shove Rs 130 into my auto driver’s hand even as he weakly hollers after me that he wanted only Rs 100.

I sprinted ahead – faster than I ever did in school. And banged my hands on the bus even as I kept running ahead. Got in. The driver, conductor and everyone were glaring at me. The conductor gave me a rare dressing down – gave me a worse scolding than even my school principal Ms Nalini Wilson when she wanted to see “Rachel Chitra in the assembly room after prayers.”

I tried to live down my ignominy….after a few hours we made it past the checkpost by 8.35 PM with time to spare. I snuggled up and as I settled down to sleep, the memory of the SETC bus passengers, conductor and driver waving came back – and it warmed me. That people will help. Not knowing why or who. But they will. #kotagiritales

My grandmothers’ great-grandfather David Ananjann was a legendary figure in Vellamadam, a small town in Alwarthirunagari Taluk, Tuticorin District, Tamil Nadu. David Ananjann was a self-made man; a person who started from scratch and became a huge landowner within the next 50 years through sheer willpower and hard work.

His story starts around the year 1825, when he was born in a village called Nanganeri
in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. He was just another illterate field hand like the
lakhs of other poor farmers in India. But what made him different was that he strongly
believed in justice and had a sense of fairness. Trouble came to the young man when he stood up for the rights of a fellow worker with his zamindar (landowner). He was swiftly dismissed, his rented land seized and he was given marching orders to leave.

Ananjann, a young man in his early 20s, then left the land of his ancestors to come to the little village of Vellamadam with his wife, daughter and son in tow. His wife, unable to adjust to the change, swiftly succumbed to illness and dies. Shortly afterwards his teenage daughter (*1)  whom he had given in marriage to a fellow labourer also died.  Ananjann was now left all alone in the world with a young son to care for, virtually penniless and grief-stricken with sorrow.

Ananjann’s love for his wife was so deep that he never again got married. His tombstone in fact reads that he was “a man of virtue” – a startling innovation in itself as in those days it was a wife’s virtue (in not marrying and being “immune to desires”) that got praised or highlighted.

He worked hard and wanted to leave an inheritance for his grandchildren. Something he felt his son Gnanakannu was incapable of. Nevertheless the young man did pass himself off creditably, so much so that his second daughter Anamuthu   (his other two girls were Chellam, , Nallamuthu) – named two of her children Gnanmbal and Gnanadoss in memory of her father. This Gnanmbal Sundaram is my grandmother and a fierce, redoubtable doctor, who served for decades with the government; who overcame widowhood; the handicap of providing for four children to finish her M.D. and D.G.O in medicine – but that of course is another tale – to be told another day.

Now I am not sure how much the next half of my ancestor Ananjann’s tale will go down in secular/revisionist India. For the record – I think religion is the root of all evil – and am an avowed atheist. And for the record, I do find Hindu mythology more intriguing and fascinating with its myriad of interweaving tales and its moral ambiguity than Christian mythology with its linear narrative and black and white definitions of morality and heaven and hell.

So here goes…So one night, when my ancestor was sleeping, the Goddess Esaki, whose abode was nearby started haunting him. She was apparently displeased (let’s all politely bear with the story) because Ananjann had heard the gospel first from some Christian missionaries in the Salvation Army. A British missionary by the name of David Cott guided him through his initiation into the new religion. Ananjann with the whole-heartedness of the new convert changed his name to David as that of his mentor and started attending the Salvation Army church in Nagercoil; a church to which many of his great-great-grandchildren still attend to this day.


Now when the Goddess Esaki kept haunting his dreams, he told her, “I have now found the one true god – and I will not be your disciple anymore.” The saddened goddess apparently ceased to pay visits to him after this.

My ancestor linked her departure with the rise in his fortunes. He first started working in the other fields as a “pattan” for kuthagakai in Vellamadam village, Karayankulli. In those days, landowners were atrocious sorts who’d rent out their land to a more enterprising labourer and then that poor man would have to borrow huge sums of money to pay for labourers, equipments, and the inevitable increasing rents the landowner would capriciously impose. But despite having the cards stacked against him, David Ananjann got a reputation for being able to turn even a field of thistle (mullu veli nilathayum) into a fertile paddy outcrop . Ananjann would often quote Genesis chapter 6 that when Issac sowed he got back a 100-fold.

Now our man apart from being a devoted servant of God, was also a canny mortal. There was no bus service back then, so travellers would go from place to place on their bullock carts. Now Anajann built a “pettai” so that both man and beast could shelter there. He also had water pits and pots of buttermilk kept there for those weary with travel. And the next day, when they left he’d have half a cartful of manure to be be sown into the rich alluvial soil of Palayamkottai.

In his later years, when he’d earned as much as he could ever want, apparently his interest in the pettai changed. He no longer viewed it as a source for free natural fertilizer, he started empathising a lot with the wild swings of fortune and the general vulnerability of the human condition. He started offering food, shelter and buttermilk free of cost to anyone who’d come by. In his will, he provisioned for the produce of two fields to go only towards this “annadanam”. A tradition that remains to this day – carried on by his ancestors – though only once a year, unlike the everyday affair it was in David Ananjann’s time.

Adjoining the shelter for travellers, there was another pettai – and the front two rooms of these were always let out to shops to sell their wares. One of his other trade secrets was that he always worked along with his labourers even after he had made his fortune. While mean minded people could think that he did this to spy on his workforce, for him it was because he enjoyed the work and the camaraderie of other workers. For years later, he would tell his grandchildren “work together, the hours grow short; work apart and the day will never seem to end.”

Anajann’s one great wish was to see all of his grandchildren married splendidly. And he did just that. He died at the ripe old age of 101 years, after his daughter Anamuthu got married and he got into tonga to see off the marriage party. A life well lived and with no regrets, except to meet his maker.


Currently reading “Jinnah-Creater of Pakistan” by Hector Bolitho. Treasured this little anecdote about the love of his life:

///Mrs Ruttie Petit Jinnah was spirited and told off more than one Viceroy.

When Lord Reading told her “I am very anxious to go to Germany, but I am afraid I cannot do so”
Ruttie asked: “Why not?”
Reading explained: “You see the Germans will not like us, the British, any more after the war and I cannot go there.”
Ruttie said “Oh!” adding, “How is it then, that you came to India?”////


 I also love this little vignette in their love story

///Mrs Jinnah wore a low cut dress that did not please her hostess, Lady Willingdon, who asked an ADC to bring a wrap for Mrs Jinnah, in case she felt cold. Jinnah rose, and said, “When Mrs Jinnah feels cold, she will say so, and ask for a wrap herself.” Then he led his wife from the dining room; and, from that time, he refused to go to Government House again.”///

By SJ Jeberson

The Following Personalities have excelled in United States Of America and other countries in various Fields. But a many of them dont know that Their ancestor E.Benedict DeLannoy Lived and lies buried in Nagercoil, India. He(E.Benedict DeLannoy), hailed from a small town in northern France called Lannoy near Lille, the same ancestral town of Roosevelt. 
E.Benedict DeLannoy first arrived in India at Cochin in 1737 as part of the Dutch army. He had been a part of the Dutch force that invaded Colachel harbour in a move to capture it but later withdrew in May 3, 1741. On learning of the Dutch armies defeat, he deserted the force and joined the forces of Bala Marthanda Varma. There, he trained the forces in European warfare and rose to the position of commander-in-force and was known as the architect of the Travancore dynasty. His maternal forefather Philippe De Lannoy was a direct ancestor of Sara Delano, mother of the American President. Famous persons who share the common ancestral lineage with Roosevelt and Eustache B Lannoy through Philippe De Lannoy include President Ulysses S Grant, President Calvin Coolidge and actress Diane Delanoto to name a few. Over the years the name DeLannoy had got anglicized into Delano. Though these personalities are spread over many countries and are hailed in many places, their ancestory E.Benedict DeLannoy lies buried in his tomb in the yard of a church in Nagercoil, India. The following are from E.Benedict DeLannoy’s lineage.

(From Left-Right: Franklin.D.Roosevelt, Diane Delanto, Ulysses.S.Grant, John Calvin Coolidge, Columbus Delano)