Meeting a man with a chisel

One the the great things about being a member of Rotary is that there are Clubs in most cities in the world at which you are made to feel welcome, and Mysore is no different. Last night we joined with the members of the Rotary Club of Mysore at their weekly meeting in their building on Krishna Vilas Road.

We met Club President Chetan Vishwanath and were introduced to Secretary Ravi and other members before enjoying a simple but enjoyable meal served outside. The Club sponsors a school in the adjacent building, and has a long and illustrious history of service to the local community, having been formed in 1944. We were warmly welcomed by everyone, and several members shared their experiences of visiting the UK to holiday, work and study.

We also met the speaker for the evening, Arun Yogiraj. When the meeting convened, Arun told us about his work as a sculptor, having learned his trade from his grandfather. Arun has gained much recognition for his work, including a visit from former Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, to his workshop in Mysore.

Arun’s slideshow gave us an idea of the range and scope of his work, and we were amazed by the skill of this modest but hugely successful man. Arun had brought an example of one of his smaller sculptures, a detailed representation of a gentleman who had passed away last year aged 107. Arun showed a photo of him with the man, adopting the pose he had portrayed in his statue. Some of his larger works can take several months of sustained effort with a hammer and chisel, often for 12-14 hours a day. He is clearly a master of his craft.

I told Arun how much our members in Loughborough would appreciate knowing about his work, and he kindly shared his presentation with me to use when we’re home.

The meeting closed with the traditional gift of a Club banner to me from Chetan, although I was unable to reciprocate having been unprepared with a banner from Loughborough. Good reason for another visit?

I thanked the members present for their hospitality, and mentioned the reason for our trip to Mysore, being our intention to visit the Odanadi Trust as mentioned in an earlier blog. Rotary can achieve great things when Clubs work together, and possibly there may be scope to do so in the future. I was pleased to have been able to meet Chetan and his members and enjoy their friendship.

It had been a very long day, having arrived at Bangalore at 4.50 am in the morning before making the 4 hour journey to Mysore. In all we’ve had about 2 hours sleep in the last 40. We gratefully climb into bed back at our hotel and are oblivious until morning, having had a fascinating introduction to this unique country.