Thursday, March 17, 2016

Prof.K. Ramachandran (1947- 2016), Emeritus Fellow IDC IITB, passed away on March 17th after a brief illness. An alumnus of IDC, Prof Ramu contributed a lot to the design community as a design practitioner, academician, administrator and mentor.

Before joining IDC, IIT Bombay as a Professor in 2008, he was a Professor and HOD at the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati from 2001 to 2008 and was Chief Designer with Crompton Greaves for many years. We as IDC family extend our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. May the almighty give his family strength to bear the loss. May his soul rest in peace.

Prof Ramachandran was one of the most gentle and kind human beings I have met.
There was a different aura around him, he was very approachable, very friendly and accomodative. As a prof, I have never seen him shouting at anybody or firing anybody. There was this calming presence about him. Whenever we were in a difficult situation, had good suggestions to offer.

During my student days at IDC, Prof Ramachandran taught me as a visiting faculty at IDC during our ADS course in 1990.
Later, in 1998, we met in Vashi and I introduced myself. We became friends there and at that time he was with Crompton Greaves. Later, I joined IDC as a faculty and he joined IIT Guwahati. During my first interview at IIT for a faculty position, he was one of the jury members along with Prof R.K. Joshi. I interacted with him a lot during my teaching trips to IIT Guwahati. They had just started the course there, construction was going on and classes were on sheds with asbestos sheets as roof.  Summer was quite bad there and it was a challenge to brave that heat and teach. Lots of portable fans were put up on those sheds whenever we had a class. Everyone had to drink water frequently to survive in that climate!

We shared the guest house (which was actually a bungalow with four bed rooms) and one staff called Deepak was the lone staff-receptionist-clerk-supervisor-care taker-cleaner-cook-peon in the guest house.
Our friendship grew in those days, with dinner over Royal Stag which was the popular drink at IIT G at that time.
He bought a second hand Maruti 800 car through the "Discuss Faculty" mailing group.
All staff members had to go to the city once in two weeks to buy all grocery needs.
During all my subsequent trips to IIT Guwahati, he became a kind of local guardian to me, picking me up everyday from the guest house for the classes, droping me back after the class and then dinner.

We met each other during all his vacation visits to Navi Mumbai and had a few lunch meetings at a favourite restaurant in vashi. They were quite memorable, because there were no time limits, we had open ended discussions and he used to talk a lot about his days in Crompton, his student days at IDC, his new life as a professor at IIT etc.

His family visited us many times at my house at New Bombay when his son was getting married. They wanted me to design the wedding invitation and made this special request: The invitation should look like a magazine, with a large photo of the couple taken during their engagement. I designed the card accordingly and really wondered how people would react to a radical invitation card like that. It became a hit, with lots of his friends and relatives showing surprise and appreciation for such a card.
At the wedding, Prof Ramu introduced me to many guests as the friend who designed the innovative card! Suddenly I was a celebrity!

Later, he left IIT Guwahati and joined IDC and I still remember his first day at work. I took him around IDC and then to Prof Kirti's room where Kirti hugged him and wished him all the best for his tenure at IDC. He was very close to many of his classmates at IDC from the 1977 batch (Which produced so many faculty members : Kirti Trivedi, Kishore Munshi, Bhaumik and Ramu).
He invited me for the end sem presentation of his students every semester and was very keen to know about my feedback to his courses and the work done by his students.

Gave me quite a lot of knowledge -- not only about about rendering techniques, visualisation, design  but also on meditation, ESP, handling Human Human Interaction, motivation etc.

He was the CEED coordinator for a couple of years and we had quite a nice time facing the boring but challenging administrative work of the CEED exam.

After his yearly visits to USA to meet his son and family, he used to call me to his cabin and show me all the photographs he took in the US.

Later, as life got more and more complicated with more and more non-teaching work load to both of us, our HHI also reduced considerably and our only interaction for the last one year was during the faculty meetings where both of us exchanged the doodles made in our writing pads and then at tea breaks at Descafe in the mornings.

Yesterday, when we entered the Balaji complex at Kopar Khairane on our way to his building, I saw the nice garden where we used to sit and discuss  many things- from the intricate details of Crompton Greavesan to the future of IIT Guwahati. That well behaved, friendly, soft spoken man who was very much an artist at heart will not be there any more. That really hurt.

In prayers for his soul

Sreekumar