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Verve People
October 20, 2018

All By Myself: Hrishikesh Kannan

Text by Meghna Pant. Photograph by Joshua Navalkar

As a society, we often mistake being alone for being lonely. Women travelling alone must be pathetic. Men eating alone must be sad. We forget that silence isn’t empty but rather full of answers. In the fourth part of our series Radio Personality Hrishikesh Kanan reveals how escaping from his surroundings is sometimes the best way to find himself

A Home Away From Home
There are few things to be thankful for when you’re stuck in Mumbai’s terrible traffic. That is, until you turn on the radio and Hrishikesh Kannan’s voice streams through. After that, no matter what cow or pothole or bike comes in front of your car, you can’t help but feel cocooned by the rich timbre and tone of his voice, and by his rare ability to converse with highbrow or provincial guests with equal aplomb. In those moments, the semantics of time and road rage are all but forgotten.

The award-winning radio presenter and producer, Hrishi K, as he’s very popularly known, has always possessed the courage to think differently. Hosting show after show, day after day, without diluting his intellect, Kannan has elevated radio to the next level. His voice carries to places beyond our urban realm.

More importantly, he provides an escape to his listeners. But where does he go to escape and to recreate that similar sense of serenity? “It has to be my parents’ bungalow at Whitefield, Bengaluru,” he tells me over the phone. “That is the only place in the world where I can savour each hour of a 24-hour day instead of cramming in voiceovers and radio spots and interviews into one day.”

The visceral pull of family and comfort draws him to Bengaluru whenever he gets a chance, sometimes getting back to the studio in Mumbai only in time for his Monday morning show. “When I’m at my family home, time stands still. I relax.”

Stillness to a Mumbaikar is what kryptonite is to Superman: an undoing. So, does he get bored without the addictive rush of the island city? “Not at all!” Kannan clarifies. “I read, sleep, eat, garden and play tennis. I’m too busy doing nothing!”

He reveals how his father has mini libraries all over the house piled high with a vast collection of books. “It’s Harry Potteresque. I sit with a book on the front or the back lawn, or on the terrace sunbathing under Bengaluru’s relatively mild sun. My mother loves cooking, so she makes recipes passed down from my great-grandmother. The smell of sambar wafting through the air takes me home. At other times, I fiddle around the lawn where she gardens, and become her assistant, handing her manure and water.”

When he feels like company, Kannan walks down the road to Palm Meadows Club to play a round of tennis or have a cup of tea with his father’s friends. “I sit down with these gentrified retirees who are ex-civil service officers, business tycoons, film-makers and writers, and seep in their knowledge and intellect. It is enlightening.”

At times, the best way to live is by vicariously leading the life of a retiree, even if it’s just for a weekend. Some of the best journeys in life take us to our future while rooting us firmly to our past.

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