Fond memories of a wise dad

(This article was published by Mariambi in a local Newspaper in USA, Camillus Herald Amerian, on Sunday, June 18, 1995)

I don’t know whether any other country in the world has a day set aside as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day other than the United States. That was something that intrigued me when I emigrated from India, where there is only a day set aside as Children’s Day - to make people aware of the many neglected children.

This Father’s Day I want to pay tribute to my father, Abdul Majeed Marikar. Though he never came to this country, he had many ties to it. Our family ties to United States started when my grandfather, in the 1930’s became the first businessman in India to be a dealer for Ford cars and trucks and the Eastman Kodak Company. My father grew up learning about and loving the United States and its people. It was an affection that lasted his life.

Our home in southwestern India was haven for Peace Crops volunteers, and my father was like a father away from home for them and to many other young people. Nobody who came to our house ever left empty handed. because of father’s generosity. In addition to his own eight children, he always had room for someone else’s child to stay in our home and go to school.

Education was very important to dad. He believed that a country’s strength lay in the hands of its educated citizens. Every now and then, I come across a doctor or engineer from India, in this country, who benefited from my father’s generosity. What made my father a very special dad for us was that, to this day, each of us thinks that he or she was his favorite son or daughter. He loved us, trusted us and gave us the freedom which none of your peers enjoyed. The only condition was a responsibility, which we owed to ourselves. That was if you are not proud of talking or thinking about something that should deter you from doing it, whatever the temptation.

My father was a wealthy man who believed in sharing his knowledge and money with others. He enjoyed traveling, and I still wonder how he managed to travel with all of us. He took the time to show us the sights and to explain to each of us.

He also taught us to be adaptable and not demanding. This trait, I would say, has stood all of us in good stead in our different walks of life. My father believed in kindness and consideration and always said, ”These qualities begin at home, but shouldn’t end there”.

My father made many people’s dreams come true, but he always regretted that he had to give up college after two years to take over my grandfather’s business. He wasn’t cut out to be a businessman. He always dreamed of being a judge. In a way this dream was fulfilled because people in our town, who loved and trusted him, brought their problems to him instead of going to court, and most of them my dad resolved amicably.

He was actually involved in all community activities. He was sought by universities and industries to share his wisdom and knowledge on a variety of topics.

When he passed away, he left his children with his values plus a professional education. His vast collection of rare books and magazines went to universities to benefit others beyond the family ( a practice he always had followed).

I remember and admire him for the unconditional love he had for his own family and for others.  I consider him as a true citizen of the world.

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Mr. Abdul Majeed Marikar was the eldest son of our founder Mr. HOL Marikar. He was born on the 10h of July, 1914, in Peerumade. ldukki district.

Before joining the family business, he helped his father by assisting in the management of the vast family plantations. Soon after the demise of his father in 1944, Mr. Majeed Marikar donned the mantle of the Chairman of Marikar and Sons Ltd. Though blessed with great business acumen and foresight, he was dominated by his interest in working for the society. In 1970 he relinquished his position in the company as the Chairman Director of Marikar and Sons Ltd and lvlarikar (Motors) Ltd and devoted himself to social work.

He was a member of the Travancore - Cochin Legislative Assembly from 1948 to 1952. In the following years, he also served as the President of the Travancore State Mustim League and the Jamaath Federation and headed the WAQF Board as its Chairman.

Mr. Majeed Marikar. was a voracious reader ard a good public speaker. His phenomenal knowledge and mastery over four languages, despite not completing his college education, bore ample testimony to his intellect and brilliance. Even in those days when gender discrimination was common, his writings and speeches often reflected his staunch support for women's education as well as equal status in the social fabric of life.

Being well versed in the teachings of all major religions, Mr. Majeed Marikar had a profound insight and deep compassion towards humanity. He was a deeply religious man and continuously strived for the upliftment and the betterment of the Muslim community in Kerala, which was, at the time, both educationally and socially backward. He was the pioneer in the translation of the first fifteen chapters of the Holy Quran into Malayalam & wrote several books on lslam.

He was an active member of the Madyanirodhan Samithi, Tamil Sangam & Asan Smaraka Samithi of Perambavoor, where he lived most of his life. He was also founder member of Akshara Sloka Samithi and the Swathi Thirunal Music Association of Perambavoor as also a member of the Alwaye Sangeetha Sabha

Mr. Majeed Marikar passed away on the 30h October 1984 in Trivandrum, and is survived by his brother, wife, six daughters, two sons and several grand children and great grand children.

Marikar Newsletter "Behind the Wheel (for Internal circulation only)"
[Vol 2 (April-June 2005) Page 2 & 4] - Collector Mariambi  

Did Vappa live ahead of his time?

Can anyone live ahead of one’s time? According to Vappa’s friends and those who moved along with him say he did.

Since I cant agree with this, I wanted to check why they say so. But I could make an analysis of it only after Vappa departed us and that too recently. I had to study about it because he still lives with me as a man of today and not as a man of yesterday! If any doubt arise on any matter that looks complex to me, I imagine what Vappa would have done to get over the problem. I used to get the right solution in nine out of ten cases.

The reason for people to think he was a man of tomorrow was that he was a living encyclopedia for them. He had deep knowledge on many matters because he read books and all popular magazines, Indian and foreign, his books library was a very large one. Above which he used to travel a lot and mixed with people of high intelligentsia.

Though not that rich, very unique home appliances, communication tools, cameras, cars and motor bikes went through his hands. Mind that it was a time there were no computers or mobile phones. Every thing was mechanical and electronics was just showing its head up here and there. He had very sophisticated mechanical wonders for playing records, for talking to people working elsewhere, for taking photographs, printing and processing, stitching clothes, knitting etc. Apart from these, Vappa was a good shooter  and used to play Tennis, Billiards etc. Even the very rich and the Britishers who were ruling India at that time didn’t have all these together at the same time.

In short he was a extra ordinary man even by today’s standards, but was so simple and unassuming that every one who met him liked him. This was what our Vappa was.

Vappa was more or less a hero in our region and could end disputes of people regardless of what faith they followed. There is no wonder why he was nominated by the then chaste and undevided Congress party to stand for election and became MLA of the first ministry of Travencore Cochin State. (Kerala State was formed later). He was also chosen as a religious leader. He became President of Jamaath Federation of Kerala but also became the Waqf Board President.

I think all these factors lead people to consider him as a man ahead of his time.

- Thampi

(Look elsewhere in this blog on Vappa's reading habits, unique items he possessed and his approach to people of his time).

The cars Vappa had

Vappa was well known for the Studebaker cars he owned. The olive green colour 1947 model Studebaker Champion (TCK 1111) was his favourite. He did not change that car for nearly 5 years. Driver Kuriakose was considered part of the car!. He later had a1948 model Studebaker commander along with a huge 1947 model Chevrolet. A1955 model Studebaker Commander was with him for some time and and the last one was the 1956 model Studebaker President. This metallic green colour car with white band on the sides was so majestic that the only other car in Kerala state was owned by the Maharaja of Travancore..

He always had more than one car in his possession, which very rich people at that time could not imagine of. Some time in 1953 he had a Hindustan Ambassador, a Chevrolet, a Ford war time jeep and a Desoto station wagon. Though not owned the rarest of the rare Armstrong Siddeley was in his hands for a long time. The car made by a British aircraft company was of all aluminium body with a very long hood powered by rare straight eight cylinder engine with a reserve tank for petrol since the mileage was very low (3Km per litre).

(Request someone to send a modified article on this topic)

Vappa’s craze for music and dance

One of my childhood memories of Vappa was his craze for dance and music. Though not  heard him sing any song completely, he used to hum songs and talk about songs and dances to us and his friends.

He could tell out raagas of classical songs and could easily locate whenever the artist mixes up ragas or goes wrong while singing.

 Many time I found him analyze the lyrics especially of “thathuva paadalkal”.

When I was too small the songs put in the house was mostly classical. 

M.S.Subbalekshmi was his favorite artist. If I remember correctly he took the car and headed to Madurai just for attending a concert of hers (Madurai was  280 Km away from Perumbavoor). He also had the full collection of M.S songs  in the form of 10” and 12”  78 RPM records. 

To listen to the songs repeatedly without bothering about the size of records,  he had a very sophisticated Swiss made “Thorens” record changer. It could play a set of 10 records on both sides repeating any side to number of times set manually. We had this mechanical wonder in the 1950-55 period, a  time everything was  mechanical  and electronic controls were unheard of.

Other artists he was interested in was M.L.Vasanthakumari, D.K Pallammal, K.B Sundarambal, M K Thyagaraja Bhagavather and S G Kittappa.

Talking of Hindi, he was a fan of K M Saigal, Pankaj Mallik and Suraiya. I am told sister Zulaiha will not go to sleep unless she was put  “Soja Raja Kumaree” sung by Saigal.

Vappa  was crazy of dance also. Then famous were Kamala Lakshman and Alleppey sisters (Lalitha Padmini and Ragini).

I remember having gone with him for the film “Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955)” a super duper dance and song movie which won the Filmfare Best Movie Award acted by Gopi Krishna and Sandhya.

More will be added to this log book later.

- Thampi

Unique Audio equipments we had

Thorens Record Changer (Double side player) had auto record sensor, repeat play, auto speed selection for 10" -78rpm, 7" -45rpm  and 12" - 33 rpm records with auto settings for skip, repeat etc at a time all mechanical (no electronics)

Zenith Record changer with Snake's head oick-up
Ecko Valve Radio

The first Grundig Tape recorfer we had
Wire recorder (Which came before the Tape recorder)
*  *  *  This blog is incomplete (needs additions and re-arrangement) *  *  *