Guru Uncle!


Doing the same job day in and day out for twenty-four years and still not be blasé about it ain’t a piece of cake. When someone sticks to something for so long, without being appreciated in its full measure for it and jovially says “Service is my duty” when asked about it, you know that you have bumped into an amazing person! This is none other than Mr. S. Palanivel, one of the four brothers who own ‘Gurunath’, one of the popular landmarks in insti. Read on to see what interesting stories we have unearthed in yet another Humans of Insti piece…

Mr. Palanivel in front of Gurunath shop
Mr. Palanivel in front of Gurunath shop

Gurunath started off as a family business by our father, Mr. K. Srinivasan. Back then, although it was just a small shop in Saidapet, we fared fairly well.

I am a B.Sc. Mathematics graduate from Guru Nanak university (Velachery, Chennai), Batch of 1985. But after that, I decided to start handling my father’s business rather than studying further. It’s quick money, you know!

And from that day on, I didn’t look back. Under the able guidance of my father, I handled the business in Saidapet for six years and over a period of time, as my brothers chipped in, the business prospered.

It was a Hindu classified from 1991 that opened the IIT gates for our business.

It was a really big step for all of us. We submitted a tender to the authorities from the institute and secured it only after a strict audit at Saidapet. There were as many as 50 applications for securing the tender. It took a bit of time back then but it was well worth the wait. We were happy that we got a chance to serve some of the best minds in the country!

After the IIT tender was sanctioned, over a span of ten years, Gurunath reached Anna University, SSN, IIIT- D & M, NIT Trichy and SASTRA University, Thanjavur. And that’s not it! We opened eateries at PSNA, Dindigul and SASTRA engineering college, Poonamallee followed by the one in insti.

Upon hearing about all this, we wonder how he manages so many outlets. His explanation for that is one that inspires.

We brothers have distributed the work amongst ourselves. I live in T-Nagar; so I manage this shop more than the others. But I ensure that I visit each shop and eatery biweekly and have a thorough quality check for the higher-end products. Now, it has become a routine for all of us. We manage it together and that is what makes this daily grind easier!

“Together towards” seems like the motto he really lives up to when it comes to the business. When asked, “What has changed over the period of time?” he chuckles and replies-

Not much for us! Students pass out, new batches come in! And with every rising sun, we are better equipped to help them to our fullest extent. It is commonplace, but never tiresome. Helping such bright minds accomplish their dreams, in however small degree, can never be a burden! I am simply doing my part.

Then the talk diverted to Saarang.  

It’s business as usual even then. Just that Mardi Gras has become Saarang. I liked the previous name better!

We chose this point to drop the question which we desired to ask the most- Chennai floods! Yet again, we found something really mind-boggling about him as a person when he opened up.

Those three days were like never before! They taught me a lot of lessons. I was here in the institute helping students reach their home or providing them food. There was no power for three whole days, which I do not recollect happening in this place before. There was no drinking water or milk either! So I cooked food myself at times to help students and gave them hard cash on credit or ID cards. I gave away almost 1.5 lakhs from my own pocket to students and I never expected them to return the money. Their safety is my first motive. Their happiness is umpteen, money comes later.

We have to help each other in such times, this is humanity. After all this has died down, today, when students come back to return the money they have taken and say ‘thank you guru uncle’, it ushers happiness and content! People remember me; what more can I ask for?

We could see the gratitude and delight on his face as he recollects this incident. T5E earnestly requests all those who borrowed money from Mr. Palanivel to return it with thanks at the earliest; for it’s thanks to people like him that insti is what it is.

Sometimes I get phone calls from alumni students and I don’t even recognize them. But they tell me about themselves and enquire about my well-being and thank the ‘guru uncle’ and it rejuvenates my energy to work harder!

Then we ask him the one question without which any Humans of Insti piece would remain woefully incomplete. Guru uncle, do you have piece of advice for insti junta?

All of you are brilliant young minds. You have worked hard to be in this place. But I often hear about students thinking about/taking the fatal step of committing suicide. Killing yourself is never an option. Do not waste whatever you have rightfully earned. There is a long way ahead once you graduate. Don’t let failure deter you from your goal. When you’ve come this far, you can travel the extra mile. Have confidence in yourself. Stay humble, stay blessed!

We see the slightest hint of welled up affection in his eyes as we bid adieu. We had discovered a brilliant person today without whom our insti life would not be as comfortable as it is.

Thank you guru uncle!

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