If you were to ask me where I’m from, I only have one answer. If you were to ask me where I grew up, again, I have only one answer. That’s because, even after travelling to different places around the world, I always trace my roots back to one or two places; places where my heart will always be.
Recently, I was in Mangalore for a marriage function. I was invited there by my friend, a well-established real estate businessman, whose daughter/son was getting married. When I reached there, I learned that there was a family event the day before the marriage in his village in Kundapura. What amazed me was the fact that he made arrangements to bring all his relatives from the village to attend his daughter’s/sons marriage ceremony the next day. This gesture of remembering one’s roots, regardless of who we end up in life, is what I believe makes us a better human being.
The journey of life should be remembered, no matter what heights you attain in life. You should always remember that your roots are not just the place where you were born or brought up, but the people of that place; people who will always be with you for life, whether you realise it or not.
Although I call myself a proud Bangalorean, my roots lie elsewhere. In a tiny dot on a map, somewhere between Rajahmundry and Kakinada lies a small town called Peddapuram, my mother’s hometown. A town that had a special place in my heart ever since I was a kid. That’s why I decided to set up a blood bank in the town because the place saw a sudden increase in road accidents ever since the Rajahmundry-Kakinada road was widened. What better way to honour one’s roots than facilitating the gift of life given through blood donation?
But that’s not all. I also opened Sri Chanakya School, a centre for education, in Peddapuram. Apart from that, I built a residential hostel for students from the backward community in Gudivada, where everything from their food, education and accommodation is taken care of.
Once, while I was in my mother’s hometown, someone asked me, “Why are you doing all this?” to which I replied, “These are my people.” I couldn’t think of any obvious answer than that because I feel at home with these people, just the way I feel back in Bangalore. Most importantly, it reminds me of my mother. Her language, her dressing and her cooking always had a touch of this place.
Success and fame can happen to anyone, but the one who never forgets his roots will be able to hold on to the same and grow further in life. And for me, bringing in change all around the world while ignoring my roots, just doesn’t happen. I have often marvelled at the way my life turned out, but then again, if my parents hadn’t moved to Bangalore, then maybe I’d be living amongst the people of Peddapuram as one of their own. If that’s not a motivation for me to reach out and help them progress, I don’t know what is.