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Kamat on TV

Bangalore
July 15, 2000

Dear Vikas,

While we have tried to keep a low profile and lead a private life, the fame is not letting us be! Apparently Uday Television has a program of introducing accomplished persons. The anchor of the program, Mrs. Shailaja Santosh called Amma and asked both of us to come to the studios with our resumes and awards, so we could be featured. Amma told her Kamat doesn't solicit publicity and there is no way he would come to the TV studios. If she was keen, then she would have to come to our house to meet me. This lady is a sweet, generous woman. She paid us a visit to request our biodata and to invite us to appear on the show. 

Then on a designated day she met with both of us for over an hour and recorded interview. However, I don't think she had read any of our books, so the interview was rather shallow. But the subsequent day,  the producer, a camera man, and an editorial assistant came to our house and took pictures of my art, paintings, photographs to provide some depth and more footage. I have no idea how much of it they are going to use. 

This week our interview was broadcasted  (February 22, 2000) and people all over the state of Karnataka enjoyed the program and I am no longer anonymous! You remember the guy from I buy cracked coconuts, right? On the day of broadcast, he was taking a shower when his brother yelled at him, "Yo! Your cracked coconut customer ("Seelukai Swami") is on TV, come quickly!" He rushed out to see the interview, and surprised that they focused the camera on me for such a long time. The shopkeeper next to the copy shop I visit frequently, said that he felt as if he knew the guy on the TV, exclaimed "It was you!"  Sunita, the girl at the "PhotoFlash" studio complained that I had not informed her about the interview ahead of time.  "I was working at home, and suddenly you appeared on TV," she said accusingly. 

Wife of Prakash, who has been supplying milk to us for many years saw the TV program and asked her husband to find out who's the famous writer living in Shashikiran Apartments, and if  the writer has been buying milk from them. Prakash apparently asked the watchman about the "writer living in the building", and he didn't know either. Then they guessed that since ours is the only house with so many books, it must be me, and contacted with compliments. Amma's friends who have been performing yoga for two years with her everyday exclaimed that they didn't know Amma and I were such "talented people". Many of Amma's friends called via telephone to inform her that they saw the program and enjoyed it. My publisher S. Gopal has been inviting me to his house for some time, but I have had no opportunity to visit. He said that he welcomed me via TV. A couple of friends felt that the questions they asked me were not satisfactory, and some yet felt that they should have interviewed me and Amma separately. Many admirers are writing letters to indicate that they are happy to put a face to the name they have known for long as a writer. Professor Upadhyaya Hiriyadka has written that he was as happy as me and Amma visiting his home in Udupi. From Davangere, Leela Kesari has written that in the middle of the interview, the power in her house failed and she had to go to neighbor's house to finish watching the interview. In Ushapachi's house, apparently lots of people gathered around TV to watch the show. 

July 25, 2000

The day after Ganesh festival the TV station re-broadcasted the show. Since it i a holiday, a lot more people got to see the show. 

But all this publicity has brought new problems! The day before yesterday someone stopped his vehicle right in front of me, greeted me with a Namaskara and wanted to talk. A lawyer in front of whose house I have walked for last twenty five years started "You are Mr. Krishnanand Kamat?" in English and continued in Kannada. My grocer said, "Sir, I had no idea that a man with so many shopping bags hand-carrying the groceries home is such a famous man!" The owner of "Popular Drug Stores" who has been selling me medicine for a long time recognized me from far away and said, "I told my wife, this man on TV is my customer! I know him!" -- he seemed  as happy as he himself was on TV.  Remember "Cynosure" circulating library around the corner you had subscribed before you left for USA? The librarian who never greeted me all these years has suddenly started inviting me to his house.

After I graduated from college, my elder sister Bayekka wanted me to find a job that would make me famous, and hence make her proud. When I worked at C.I.B.C., my boss Dr. V. P. Rao had told me to work very hard that could become famous one day! After all these decades of hardships, now I have gotten some publicity. Unfortunately Dr. V. P. Rao is not living, and even Bayekka must have forgotten her wish. In today's material world, not many would believe that there are still people who are willing to labor without a profit. Just today I spent five thousand Rupees (about US$ 100.00) to print a black and white film that I had exposed a long time ago. A common man may not be able to appreciate the value and the labor behind every photograph. But in their eyes, now I am a big man just because I appeared on TV screen.

Yours affectionately,
Bappa

___________________

Epilogue by Vikas Kamat: Kamat did not have a television and never saw the interview himself. He refused to go to other people's house so he could watch television or video recording.

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