A hot chase. Me on a Luna trying to catch up with K J Yesudas in his ambassador

              A hot chase. Me on a Luna trying to catch up with K J Yesudas in his ambassador. 

I’d seen him on the screen singing “Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara”. He has discomfort in his throat. Takes lozenges. His throat gets cleared and he goes on to sing without any hitches. The song was from the film “Chitchor” released in 1976.  During the years following the release of the film, the advertisement of K J Yesudas recording the song in the studio and taking the lozenges was a regular feature. The image of Yesudas stayed in my mind.

Cut to 1988-89. The singer gave me a harrowing time, if I may take the liberty to use the fact. Or let me say it this way. It was an uphill task catching up with the man from whom I was seeking some answers.

I met Yesudas at the Press Club at Basheerbagh where he had come to address a press conference along with the Kerala community leaders in Hyderabad. They were holding a fest. I approached Yesudas and said I would like to interview him for the newspaper. He agreed immediately. But there was a hitch. Those who brought him told him that they had another programme to attend and that they had to leave. “Then where should he come?” he asked the organisers. “To Safilguda,” they said. “Will you come?” Yesudas asked.

There was another hitch. There was no space in the old ambassador car they had come in. “Never mind, I will follow you on my vehicle,” I told Yesudas. “Very well then. We will meet at Safilguda,” he said. What was the address? They did not tell. I did not know. The only way forward was following the car on my luna.

Luna, for those who do not know, was a moped. I had a 1978 model which was bought by my father from someone who had used it earlier. There were no google maps. No GPS. No location pin. No actual address known. No directions given. I started my luna even as the ambassador roared and picked up speed. I caught up with the ambassador at Basheerbagh cross roads. The car picked up speed again. The roads were much relatively clear than today. So there were no traffic jams. That became a disadvantage for me.

Which side was the car turning? Sometimes I was able to just be able to catch a glimpse of it and catch up raising the speed of my luna. It quite literally was a chase. The ambassador driver showed no compassion on me. I was sure he had no knowledge that someone on a luna was following the ambassador and that he could drive slowly just so that I could be in a position to catch up with it.

It was now beginning to become a race. A luna chasing an ambassador. I could not allow K J Yesudas to escape. But it was getting tough. Impossible. Do I give up on him? “No way,” I told myself. So, then what was the way? “Why take this trouble?” a part of me asked me. I was not required to do the interview. I was not asked to do it. It was not a job-assigned. Why then go out of the way to go through so much difficulty in trying to catch up with a speeding ambassador on a luna?

I refused to listen to the part of me speaking logic with me. It is unreasonable people, those who are impractical and those who refuse to understand the reality who make the world what it is. That was my response. When there is no way, they find a way. Here, I was losing track.

Now, I was literally at the cross roads. I had reached an area that I was not so familiar with. Which side could the car have gone? Do I give up? No harm. Best thing to do. Ideally. No choice. I got these answers from within. Now it was no longer about me wanting to interview K J Yesudas. Now, it was no longer about a luna chasing an ambassador. It was now about have a strong will to achieve what I had embarked upon. If I did to reach my goal, the milestones would remind me how far I had come despite the odds stacked against me. To my mind, the last mile stone should acknowledge the fact that I had done my best in the most trying of circumstances to reach the farthest possible.

The milestone did not say it. The railway gate at the Safilguda railway station said it. The car had driven past and the railway gate was down preventing motorists from crossing the track as a train was expected. Only a railway gate could stop the unstoppable me. It was here, after the gates lifted that I told myself that I had given my best try as I had no clue where the car had gone beyond the gate.

I turned back.

The chase continued. A different route. Through the Malayalee community, I learnt where Yesdas was staying. I was able get the landline telephone number. It was evening. I called up. “I could not catch up with you,” I told Yesudas. “But I do want to meet you,” I said. “I am leaving tomorrow morning,” Yesudas told me apologetically. I took the apologetic tone as an invitation. “Then I will meet you at the airport,” I told him. Starting a bit early from the place where he was staying, Yesudas reached the Begumpet airport to catch a flight back home. I saw him waiting in the lounge for me. I asked him all what I wanted to for the interview. It was now a done deed.  

Video of K J Yesudas singing 

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