This book is specially compiled to mark the 75th birthday of a remarkable man Krishna Kumar Sood Papa, this is a dedication from the whole parivaar to you Ginny and Sharad Kunal and Lalita िपता धम�ः िपता �ग�ः िपता िह परमं तपः। िपत�र प्रीितमाप�े प्रीय�े सव�देवताः॥ - Padam purana Father is compared to Heaven, Father is Religion, Father is Ultimate Sacriﬁce, He is placed at a higher pedestal than all Gods combined.
Krishna Kumar or Guddu, as he is a ectionately called by his family, and close friends, was born on 30th June, 1945 in Calcutta. He is the ﬁrst-born child of Shri Prakash Chand Sood (Pitaji) and Shrimati Kamala Devi (Mataji). His birth was followed by his three siblings – Kanchana (1947), Shivji (1949), Ranjana (1951) and after a considerable gap the fourth sibling - Kalpana (1963). Those were the halcyon days of Calcutta, a city known for great food and genteel culture. The family resided at 5/2 (paanch bata do) Harish Mukherjee Road in a rambling badi complete with an aangan. To this day a part of the family still resides there. A badi means you live not just with your family but also with your neighbours, who become extended family. Stories about the four Sood siblings plus ten more neighbouring kids getting up to all sorts of fun are legendary. They are always interspersed with hilarious interludes of a strict disciplinarian Pitaji reprimanding them or them trying to keep their hi-jinks out of his purview. The friends deserve special mention: Rohit, who was practically a brother, Ratish Burman, who was known for his sense of humour, Kulbhushan and Vinod Sheth. This was the core group. The others included Subhash Chabra, Kapoor, Praveen Jain or PJ as he was called, Sidharth Shah, and Adarsh. Ralli Singh was a famous eating joint in New Market patronized for ﬁnger lickin’ chole-bhature and delicious sharbat. It was situated as a two-part restaurant with a gully between the two parts.Once, for a lark, Guddu, Shivji, Rohit and others entered the dhaba, ate with gusto and quietly slipped out into the gully, leaving without paying, in a classic dine and dash!
Unfortunately, Shivji decided to broadcast this particular prank to Pitaji, who after giving the boys a dressing down, marched them to Ralli Singh where they had to apologise and pay the bill. While in school when exams were on, the siblings were studying late into the night, under Pitaji’s strict instructions. Hearing the cries of “hari bolo” from the street, they went out to see a funeral procession, as it was auspicious to do so. Curiously, the body had glasses on and was equipped with an umbrella. Shivji questioned why a dead person required either of these things, and then with his characteristic sense of humour explained it with “Raat ko dikhai nahi dega…itna door jaana hai”. Once when Mataji and Pitaji were in Delhi, the foursome received news that an aged relative had passed away. They all decided that the proper thing to do was to send a telegram expressing condolences on behalf of the family. Shivji was asked to look up the telegram number that would convey a suitable message. He mentioned a number suppressing a cheeky smile. Guddu, ever alert, checked again to see that the number was for the message “Wish you a happy journey”. Guddu was implicitly trusted by Pitaji to look after not only his siblings initially, but also their home and business during his teens. The whole family barring Guddu went on a three-week holiday to Kashmir. Even the family helper was taken along. True to form, Guddu, without question, took on the challenge of looking after the home, handling the shop, while also attending college for almost a month. Quite a responsibility for a boy of 16 or 17. After Hindi High School, Guddu attended the prestigious St.Xavier’s College. Sometimes college life consisted of him supposedly leaving for St Xavier’s on his
Lambretta but taking a slight detour to go rowing instead. Every Sunday the siblings plus ten friends would climb into Pitaji’s Ambassador 3897 to go swimming at the Calcutta lake. After swimming, they would stop by Maharashtra Bhavan for idli-dosa. Once, while Guddu was driving the gang, the car met with a minor accident. The other driver stepped out in a great hu only to have his eyes pop out as fourteen youngsters of varying ages climbed out of the Ambassador one by one. As young adults Guddu, Shivji, Ranju and gang would go to Kalyani brewery in Kalyani, a town about 40-50 miles from Calcutta, which was not entirely kosher, and hence a most coveted hangout. They were supported in this endeavour by the fact that their cousin Binny was the brew master and was lodged there in a palatial bungalow. Anytime the draught “tasting” sessions were overly enthusiastic, the gang would happily stay over at Binny’s place therefore saving them from Pitaji’s wrath. After graduating from St. Xavier’s Guddu started travelling to Madras in search of new business opportunities. Shivji and he were pretty busy going back and forth between Calcutta and Madras. Pitaji was very proud of the fact that both his sons were working hard and would often mention this to Kitty’s parents causing her mother to politely enquire “will Damadji be free enough to attend his own wedding?” Guddu married the beautiful Renu, fondly known as Kitty, on 18th July, 1972. They were and still are literally the tall and short of it. Kitty is as petite as Guddu is large. It was a matching of minds and souls. Both of them are deeply spiritual but also love to have a good time. And together they make sure that the family always comes ﬁrst and stitch us all up in a blanket of love and purpose.
Guddu used to fast on Tuesdays and his wedding day happened to be a Tuesday. He was asked by friends and family to break his custom and enjoy the wedding feast. Guddu just smiled without comment. On the day of the wedding he took a plate to appease the family but did not eat. Such is his conviction in what he does. Gautami aka, Ginny was born in 1973 followed by Kunal aka Bhaiya, in 1975. The family was complete. Business brought them to Madras. And Madras saw the emergence of KK Sood. Steering away from the family business of trading in steel products, he established a steel processing unit: Alan Bright Steel in 1977. It was quite a challenge managing a young family and a company in a new city where he knew neither language nor custom. Unfazed, he quickly created a network of friends in the community who remain close even after 43 years. He became a member of worthwhile organizations like the Round Table and Lion’s club. Since then by the divine grace of his Gurus and his hard work, he has expanded his businesses and created a legacy. He has enjoyed his fair share of partying and social interactions – one such episode revolves around an Usha Uthup show held at the erstwhile Chola Hotel. Kitty and Guddu were accompanied by Ravi and Ranju, who were visiting Chennai. Ravi, ever the sailor, had a bottle of whiskey which could not be consumed at home due to Pitaji’s presence. It was decided that they stop by the beach for a quick pick-me-up before heading to the concert. Somehow the entire bottle was imbibed by the two gentlemen and needless to say only a couple of Usha Uthup songs were enjoyed before they weaved their way back home. Guddu was spiritual from an early age and after marriage was introduced to the Divine Life Society by Kitty, whose family had been devotees ﬁrst of Swami Sivananda and then Swami Chidananda. Around 1994, at Kitty’s request Swami Chidananda graced their home and Guddu realized that he was in the presence of divinity.
Subsequently, Swamiji always graced their home by staying there on all his visits to Chennai. Guddu soon became a bhakt and started inculcating Swamiji’s teachings in his daily life. Swamiji made him the chief trustee of a charitable hospital that the Society runs in Pattamadai, a sleepy village in Tamil Nadu, which is the birthplace of Swami Sivananda. Thus, began his spiritual journey, the path which he has never veered from since. Today, KK Sood is a name that generates goodwill in Chennai. Over the years the strength of his character, generosity, perseverance, and willingness to help anyone in need - family, friend or sta - are widely recognized. It is a custom in our home that any visitor or service person who visits for any reason is given something to eat or drink. There is a shelf in the kitchen that is stocked with foodstu that will be given away. We sometimes think that if a thief came to rob us, even he would be politely o ered rooh afza and a packet of biscuits. 9
Guds: All that you are is all that I ever need. I have the distinct memory of meeting you the ﬁrst time. I was still a school girl travelling with Susam from Delhi to visit Chotapapa in Calcutta. We landed at the airport to be greeted by a lanky young man with “Are you Susam and Kitty?” Susam, true to form, took a worried step back muttering “yeh kaun hai?” I remember asking smartly, “Who are you?” “I am KK”. Is the rest history? No, no. “Abhi to picture shuru hui hai”.
It so transpired that you had come to pick us up as my brother’s ﬂight had been delayed. After having dinner at Harish Mukherji road that evening, we met once more for lunch. You later told me that you had then decided that “Shaadi karni hai, to sirf Kitty se”. As destiny would have it mataji saw me at Rumani’s wedding and marriage talk began. I cherish the letters that we wrote to each other during our brief engagement. Also, because I have not received another letter from you since! Everything was a great change for me - from being the youngest in my home to being the eldest daughter-in-law in my married home. But I navigated those strange waters with you steadily holding my hand. The children came along and we moved to Chennai. That was new step we took together out of the safety of a joint family, to strike out on our own. I remember our ﬁrst trip abroad - literally around the world, in 1980. Staying at the Y, penny-pinching, travelling at night to save on hotel fares. It was as much fun as an education. Our round table fund raisers and parties were another facet of growing together as a couple and a family. We have had many a memorable holiday with family and friends. The biggest turning point in our life was our fortuitous meeting with Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj in 1994 at Nandan’s wedding. Swamiji had blessed us at our wedding, but meeting him after all those years I beseeched him to grace our home in Chennai. Once he became our Guru and guide our lives took a di erent direction. We received his benefaction in the form of Diksha in 1995.
The abiding sense of duty and emotion that you have towards your family and the sheer hard work that you have put in all these years to build the business always amazes me. What binds us together is our commitment to grow as people, and our deep sense of spirituality. Your seva is unmatched and I have been a follower, learning all the time. Ginny and Kunal do not have to look far for a role model or a life model. It will be enough if they mirror your actions. We have had many ups and a few downs, but you have never let me feel insecure. You have taken care of my every need. You have never stopped me from pursuing my interests even if they are not yours. For that I am grateful. Today that 15-year-old girl from Delhi and the lanky, young man, from Calcutta are grandparents who have travelled the world and life on our own terms. We have accumulated among our treasures, another son in Sharad and a daughter in Lalita and our three stars Advaita, Vivaan and Siddhartha. That is all anyone can wish for. To ask for more would be greedy. Guds, you are my best friend, my greatest support, my biggest comfort, my strongest motivation, my deepest love, my forever. Entirely. Forever and ever, Kitty
Dearest Papa, The mind ﬂits between hundreds of thoughts, memories, feelings, emotions and experiences, and I personally would like to mark the occasion of your 75th birthday with an attempt to crystallize some of these myriad pictures in my head, some more constant and deep rooted and some ﬂeeting and ephemeral. There is a black and white photo of a young man holding, in his arms, his baby daughter, with an expression of pure joy and love on his face. To this day whenever I see that picture I feel your love and happiness surround me. My most vivid childhood memories are tinged with rosy glasses and huge shaped hearts. The weekend evenings spent on merry-go-rounds at Marina Beach. The many family holidays all over the world. From idyllic ones in Ooty as a 9-12-year old, where I would spend hours swinging on the swings in the Ratan Tata Guest House and the fascination of sitting down to a proper 3 course meal for dinner every evening. As a 13-year old, to America to experience the exciting world of Disney, theme parks and roller coasters, and shopping for girly things. To the cultural European holiday, where we got to see 5 countries in 10 days. It was your energy and enthusiasm that got us through that one. As a 15-year old to the fabulously fun vacation in Thailand. And the most amazing holiday experiences continue to this day….now as a grandfather, you indulge the boys along with us, with the best of them. My fondest memory: As little kids you would take Kunal and I swimming to Connemara Hotel on Sunday evenings, and then to the restaurant in the hotel for our weekly treat of a dinner feast!
It was our time with our father, the fun games in the pool, the splashing of water, the laughter and reckless joy. I remember how I would take FOREVER to get showered and dressed after the swim, but you would patiently wait and never have a cross word to say after! (Now that I recall that memory I can picture myself being so cross with my young self for making the family wait so long) It was the love of a father for his daughter, that indulged her…(and the patience of a saint). Through the eyes of a young girl I see a father who was constantly busy with work and may not have been at every school event. But through the eyes of a grown woman I view a man who worked tirelessly to provide the best life for his family. A self-made man in the true essence of the phrase, who built a successful business from bricks and mortar, literally, that will be passed on to coming generations of the Sood Parivaar. Through the eyes of a young girl I witnessed our home being opened up to an endless succession of people known and unknown, who would come and stay, for a day or for months. But through the eyes of a grown woman I see your large-hearted nature, your ability to see the good in everyone, your generosity of spirit. And your selﬂess desire to help and share with everyone who came into your life. You never refused anyone. Through the eyes of a young girl I see a father dragging the family to temple after temple, so many of our childhood holidays were more like pilgrimages. But through the eyes of a grown woman, I see a man with a higher purpose in life. A man who lives a dharmic life, a man who has performed his karma yoga, and a man who has set an example of a human life not wasted, for the extended family to follow. Your single-minded focus and attention on every task you undertake is incomparable, whether it be the hard graft of running multiple factories or your personal spiritual journey.
Through the eyes of a young girl I see my tall dark and handsome father, and through the eyes of a grown woman it is the image of your namesake, Lord Krishna. Kunal and I are blessed to have parents who are the human embodiment of Bhagwan. According to Vedanta it is known that parents don’t choose their children, in fact the opposite is true. A child’s soul chooses to be born to a speciﬁc set of parents. And this is not by luck or chance, this is the result of the past karma of the child as well as the parents. I do believe I must have done something right in my past lives, to be born to you and mum. And I also know that you are my father for the speciﬁc reason of showing me the way to the true purpose of a human life. Vedanta also tells us that we are blessed to be given a human birth, which we as humans take for granted. You are the ideal I want to follow in this human birth, you are the example of how this human birth is a gift not to be wasted. Your life’s hard work and tireless endeavours have given Kunal and me a life of limitless opportunities, materialistic comforts and joys, but more importantly, your life has shown me the way to my own spiritual journey and the ultimate goal at the end of it all. You are the only reason I have been blessed to have found my way towards my personal spiritual journey, and I am ever so grateful for it. I am not sure if everyone who reads this will understand what I am trying to say, but I know you will. You are the head of the extended Sood Parivaar, you look out for everyone’s well-being. You are there for the whole family to help with their troubles in their times of need. You are selﬂess with your time and sage advice. You are Guddu Bhaiya, Tauji and Mamaiji, you are all of these, but most importantly you are my papa, and I could not have been more lucky or more blessed.
I wish we could’ve been together to celebrate this wonderfully happy occasion, but in this strange world of the year 2020, it will be a virtual celebration for now, till we can meet again. Happy, Happy Birthday Dearest Papa! Lots and Lots of Love, Ginny 30.06.2020
Tuesday, 30th June 2020 Dear Dad, Hari Om. On this auspicious day, here’s wishing you a Very Happy 75th Birthday. Although we are unable to meet, we will not allow this to get in the way of celebrating this wonderful occasion with the same joy and fervour as if we were all together. From our numerous visits to the lovely temples of South India in the early part of the last decade to the pubs in London, your peaceful home in Chennai, and our wonderful get togethers spanning Dublin, Scotland, Europe, Vegas, Phuket, Bali, Dubai, Singapore (and many more!), thank you for this superlative innings with a treasure box of great memories. In these 18 years, I have learnt a tremendous amount from listening to your thoughts, views and deep insights – a masterclass in how to live our lives with positive thought, positive energy and unequivocal optimism, all underpinned by a deep sense of connectivity, relationship and family bond. They say what one believes shapes how one acts. To me and to our family, you have always been a very strong pillar of support. There is much to learn for me, all of us and generations to come, from your wisdom and purity of thought. Steeped in tradition and spirituality, these hallmarks lie at the core of everything you aim to do and achieve.
Have a wonderful celebration and look forward to many more happy family get togethers! A ectionately, Born on Saturday, 30th June 1945 10
When it was decided to make a book commemorating Papa’s 75th birthday, it took me a long time to pen down my thoughts. How do I convey my gratitude, admiration and respect for Papa in a few paragraphs? These are a few words that I put down but it will deﬁnitely fall short of painting the full picture. I am grateful for the life we have been given. Right from our childhood, through our school and college days, the memories I have, are joyous and heart-warming. During some of the toughest years that Papa and Mama have been through, Ginny and I, as teenagers, were shielded from it. We were given all the opportunities that we could hope for. I am grateful for the lessons that I have learnt from Papa – not just from working with him but from the time I was a young adult. And these lessons have been learnt just by following in his footsteps. I am grateful for his advice, which is always available to me, whenever I ask for it. I admire what Papa has been able to achieve. We, as his children and grandchildren, are enjoying the fruits of the hard work he put in over the last 5 decades. Setting up factories in Chennai and Pune, which I can say he has done single-handedly, is no mean feat. And he is constantly looking for new ideas and opportunities – I am amazed at the vision that Papa has. I admire the way Papa lives his life. He is a role model for me and I hope to be able to be a similar role model for Advaita and Vivaan. We have all seen his devotion to Mataji and Pitaji, especially during their ﬁnal years and that is a lesson that I hope we can all learn. 10
My respect for Papa has kept on increasing over time….and still does. He is always ready to help anyone – be it our family, his friends or people we work with. I don’t remember anyone ever having to ask twice. Papa lives by his principles and has high standards for himself. However, he never imposes these on anyone else. He is ever ready to share his knowledge and it is left to each one of us to understand and accept, for ourselves, what he has shared. No questions asked whether you do or don’t. On this wonderful day, we cannot be physically together to share our joy with Papa but these online celebrations with the whole family is the next best thing. Wish you a very happy 75th birthday, Papa. And cheers to having a proper celebration once things get back to normal. Lots of love, Kunal 10
My father-in-law and I did not start o on the right foot. I was not his choice of bride for his only son. He had expressed his reservations on several occasions and so to my mind he was going to be stereotypical north Indian Baoji – conservative, regressive and the family would be steeped in patriarchy. Why then, you may ask, would I wish to marry Kunal. Well, to quote the bard, “Love is not love which alters it when alteration ﬁnds”. Anyway, we went against the grain and marry we did. He was understandably shocked and very upset that his son would defy the family’s wishes. But what was heartening is that from the very ﬁrst day he never once made me feel unwelcome, unwanted or like an outsider. I am, as you all know neither a pahadi, nor a Punjabi and in 2003 had never heard of Palampur. Both he and mom graciously ushered me into the family formally with another wedding. Somewhere over the next few months Kunal’s dad became Papa. He has never treated me di erently than his beloved Ginny. This is something that only a very large-hearted, unbiased, in-law can do. Any time Mom and he travel, they always bring back similar gifts for us both. That is something that has really touched me and I love them for it. Very early into my marriage they entrusted dear Pitaji to my care whenever they travelled, and he and I quickly became thick as thieves. It was a lesson in duty and devotion to witness how lovingly they both cared for Pitaji when he was ebbing away. While Papa is devout and immersed in Indian ethos, he is certainly very broad minded. He does not impose his wishes on anyone. He is also very mindful of how others feel. 10
He and I may not agree on certain matters but I know that I can boldly stand my ground assured that he will not judge me nor censure me for it. Papa constantly strives to achieve a higher purpose in life, delving into the holy texts, understanding their myriad interpretations and choosing the best possible path. He can keep himself endlessly busy, a character trait I am happy to say has passed on to my boys. He is an ideal grandfather: indulgent and readily impressed with his grandsons. When I visit Chennai, I stay at Marshalls road and look in on my parents. Neither my in-laws nor my dear parents ﬁnd it strange. It is simply an attestation of my emotion for Papa and Mom. Dear Papa, I wish you a wonderful 75th birthday. May we all be blessed with your grace. Love, Lalita 10
The grandparent advantage As some may know Is that when the tantrum starts You can just get up and go You'll tell them not to pamper the baby Not to run to each and every cry Not to help when they're down and lazy Not to keep singing a lullaby For parents don't do it correctly So as stupid brats they'll leave the nest And if you want to spoil the baby You'd better leave it to the best For Daadu knows the right amount To shower us with both kinds of gifts Those that satiate us on all counts And those so invaluable that we are lit Happy Birthday Daadu, Advaita
My fondest memory of Daadu was when he took me with him and Daadi to Goa for their anniversary. I distinctly remember how much fun I had over there. At the time, I was ecstatic to be parent-free, and Daadu added to that by helping make my overall experience a blast, whether it be through treating me to nice dinners or helping me in my endeavours to shoot a Dominoes video at that time. One of my more recent travels with Daadu was when we went to Singapore last year, in which he, along with Daadi, made my trip there a wonderful one, by both helping me explore the city and showing me a good time. Overall, I thank Daadu for all the great experiences he has given me, and how much he has taught me throughout these experiences. Happy birthday Daadu! Love, Vivaan
You are very tall And you give great gifts to all You are my nano, and I want to be like you. Happy birthday, dearest nano. Lots of love, Siddhartha
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