K C Janardhan: A self taught Calligraphy maestro, his first Impression makes the best Impression and his last Impression sure leaves you with a lasting Impression!
As an eight year old K C Janardhan first learned his hard way out that being born with a challenge like epilepsy is just a social stigma; That it was sure a negative aura difficult to overcome, but if you focus on finding your strengths and natural abilities then you can draw positive attention of the society. Thereon he also understood that there is no business like the show business.
His Motivation on field: “Showcase your skills to delight the onlookers and you will experience the extraordinaire”
During his school days he had his first brush with pleasant experiences when he hand-lettered record books and maps for his classmates. They surprised him with ice cream treats, imported felt pens, scented rubbers, comics and what not. “My handwriting was nothing great in 1976. It had many flaws but slowly and steadily it got better,” he recalls. In 1978 his handwriting got him extra marks in his exams! Ten years later, his handwriting further changed dramatically when he decided to plunge into a self a directed research on handwriting problems and solutions to improve on it. Then, there was no looking back.
However the unexpected experiences came in much later – like the silver lining in every dark cloud – when he launched himself as a professional calligrapher. There were few people in the Advertising agencies alongside his other clients and the Media who became his admirers and gifted him pens and books and treated him to lunches and dinners. All that he did for them was write their names beautifully in their books and pen messages on greeting cards.
First Break on A Bandh Day!
In 1992 he visited CIEFL Hyderabad to meet his co-author Prof. Sasikumar along with his publisher P T Rajasekharan of Panther Publishers when a two-day bandh was declared unexpected and his publisher had to leave the city as soon as possible. All flights and trains to Bangalore were cancelled. At 3.30 pm, their only hope was an APSRTC bus at 5.00 p.m. They rushed and reached the bus stand by 4.30 pm. His publisher wrote out a ticket booking form but the booking clerk at the counter gave him no hope. “You are coming at 4.30 pm on a bandh day. Sorry no seats available. All are full” they was told. By then the Maestro K C Janardhan wrote out another form and gave it to the same booking clerk who exclaimed “Did you write it? It is so beautiful!” Janardhan answered “Yes” the clerk asked “Please write one more I want to see you write!” Janardhan wrote one more time and also wrote the clerk’s name in three different styles. The clerk was so enamoured by it and said “I have never seen my name written so beautifully in my life”. Confident, the calligraphy Maestro risked a quick request for his publisher “Can you please try two tickets for us”. The clerk looked into the first generation XT computer’s green screen and said, “I have seat number 4 & 5 for you, It is MLA quota, it is in the front with more leg room for comfort”.
Impressed, relieved and excited all at once, Mr. Rajasekharan had an unbelievable look and said “I know what to do henceforth when I don’t get tickets!” That day Maestro KCJ (as he is fondly called by most of his friends and students) also learnt that in government buses, MLA quotas are available in emergencies and used them to the fullest whenever he wanted tickets at the last minute by charming the booking clerks with beautiful handwriting at various bus stations in the country.
Handwriting His Memory Lanes:
KCJ also recalls another fond experience when he went to book tickets in Indian Airlines. The lady at the counter appreciated his handwriting on the ticket booking form and said “If you don’t mind could you please come over to the private chamber we would like to talk to you”. By then she had called half a dozen colleagues of her, who were all enamoured by the handwriting. On their request he had to pen their names on some books and greeting cards.
Then came their special gift for him: “Don’t worry about your ticket sir. We will give you one even if the plane is full.” And HOW? “We will release an MP quota for you!” From that experience, his publisher made him his unofficial travel agent who almost always got the job done with just his handwriting on the booking form.
Interestingly in those days of the Indian Railways he even managed getting almost all his tickets WL (wait listed) or an RAC (Reservation against Cancellation) instantly confirmed or sometimes even upgraded to “First Class” on submitting the regular request letter in his handwriting to the PRO of Southern Railways.
Passing The Passport Test:
In 1993 KCJ wanted to apply for a passport. That was a time when getting passports in India was not just `very’ tough but also short in supply. His friend Sundaram took him to an IAS officer in Vidhana Soudha (the Karnataka State Government Secretariat located in Bangalore) who advised him to get a letter of recommendation from an MP or an MLA and also a bribe of `just’ Rs 100 for the policeman. The hitch: KCJ then knew no MLA nor MP and also did not like the idea of bribing!
He then tried to use his only influence – his handwriting. Not only did he fill up the application form but also attached it with his handwritten letter of request to allow him to write his own passport! The clerk at the Passport office was stunned by the beautifully handwritten letter and asked him to meet him inside the office. The maestro charmed the clerk further by writing name in a few styles and he immediately got the permission from the Passport officer to both: His Passport and to write his own passport. As passports were a shortage he was asked to clear the Police verification by the time new blank passports arrived.
K C Janardhan had the police inspector and staff also impressed by his `power’ handwriting when summoned by the Police Inspector to verify his background. He wrote their names beautifully for them and was cleared with absolutely `no bribe’ asked. One policeman was so charged up that he took the Maestro’s application and left immediately to the passport office to submit it personally. After 15 days he got a call to write his passport and also enter it in the log books for signatures and counter signatures by the officers to formalise it.
However his handwritten passport wasn’t too readily accepted by his travel agent Nagaraj Gupta, owner of Travel Air who refused to issue tickets claiming that his passport was fake! “I did not know that you were into fabricating fake passports. I don’t want to issue tickets to you and go to jail,” he had advised. KCJ had to request him to join him to the Passport office. When Mr Gupta met the officers and saw the log book he was astonished and also apologised repeatedly.
At airports in Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong, his passport was highly appreciated and K C Janardhan was welcomed with an amusing broad smile by the immigration authorities. Even today it remains as the only such passport in the world. KCJ also recalls how even in recent 2017, one Mr Virendar, an External Affairs Ministry official researching on Passports called him up as it was very unique and asked him if he could go over to Delhi and narrate his experiences during the “PASSPORT DIVAS” celebrations.
Braving The Rough VISA Days His Way:
In 1997 KCJ went to the British Deputy High Commission and the United States Information Service in Chennai to apply for a visa. Those days getting a US visa was, one in a hundred chance. He stood in the final line of ten applicants in front of the counter. All the nine before him were turned down for some reason or the other. When his turn came he felt like a lamb at the alter for the next slaughter. Putting up a brave face he presented his handwritten application. “My heart sank for a moment when the officer asked me how I managed to do this! Moments later I realised it was yet another heartfelt appreciation for my handwriting on the application form. I was asked the purpose of visit and my quick reply: I believe people in your country are suffering from bad handwriting and I have been invited to help your countrymen to improve their handwriting! — No more questions were asked and I was given a multiple entry visa with a compliment — Welcome to the US and we hope you will help our countrymen to write beautifully”. The rest of the crowd behind me in six counters waiting for their turn, were astonished with what they has just witnessed. They requested me to talk about my handwriting and I was glad to treat them with a half-day free seminar on Handwriting at the USIS till their visas were ready by evening,” shares the man who still continues to weave such beautiful bonds with people through his master strokes.
Handwriting Seminar @33,000 ft Up In The Air:
In November 1997 on one of his `arduous’ journeys of delayed flights from Bengaluru to Amsterdam via Mumbai. Due to air Traffic controller strikes, Terrorist attacks on US Embassy in Karachi and a delayed departure to Amsterdam from Mumbai, he had enough time to meet-n-greet his fellow passengers from Europe, UK and US. On learning about his profession they requested him to do a on-the-spot seminar and demonstration on Handwriting & Calligraphy. Thus came his opportunity to do it all at 33,000 feet above sea level in mid air. Few weeks later he had to repeat the same feat flying across the Atlantic while on a flight from London – Amsterdam – New York.
Calligraphed To Fame:
At Schippol Airport Amsterdam the airline officials appreciated his passport with superlatives. Later at Stanstead airport in London and at JFK Airport in New York the immigration officials were again pleasantly surprised to see his beautifully handwritten passport. They exclaimed “Wow we never knew that India started issuing such beautifully Calligraphed Passports”.
His most surprising experiences were in UK and US, when unknown people hosted him at their homes and hotels. They drove him around to Schools and places of Tourist interest, all because of his handwriting charm and in turn he gave tips to improve their handwriting as well as of their children. These experiences made him coin the word ‘Power handwriting’ as it was doing wonders for him in many unexpected ways when he was faced with hurdles of his apologetic original host not turning up due to unfortunate incidents in their lives. He was on a shoe string budget to and could not afford hotels.
In US he delivered lectures and seminars on Handwriting at Schools, Libraries, and various gatherings in New Brunswick, Princeton, Baltimore, Bethesda, Bellafontainne and Jackson in Tennessey. He visited Farhney’s Pen shop in Washington D C.
An immigration attorney told him that he was a fit case for an “Extraordinary Permanent Visa under Exceptional Skills” which would be transformed into a full fledged citizenship, if he stayed back for a year to process the papers, but he had to return to India owing to his father’s ill health and the birth of his daughter.
K C Janardhan was heaped with a variety of gifts in US and he had an excess baggage of almost 32 kilos! At Memphis airport Ms.Melissa of Delta Airlines was so enamoured by his handwriting that she through checked his baggage from Memphis to Bengaluru without extra charges, all that the Maestro had to do was write her name in few different styles!
His later visits to UK, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal, his handwriting on his passport had given him a very special status which made the immigration authorities spend a lot of time admiring, appreciating and extending a warm welcome to the Maestro.
Where ever he went and wrote on forms or entry registers or visitors books or gave his autographed copies of his book on handwriting, they are being preserved with great reverence. The Maestro had written in the visitors books of various Rotary Clubs in UK during 2001 when the Maestro went as a Rotary Scholar on a Group Study Exchange Cultural Ambassadorial visit. It was a pleasant surprise from 2013 on-wards whenever he visited those Rotary Clubs or Rotarians, they would showcase his handwriting in the visitors book from time to time to all other Rotary members and pull out his autographed book to show it to the gathering and introduce him.
The Seminar Route Back Home:
Back home in 1998 K C Janardhan had an opportunity to do a seminar on Handwriting & Calligraphy to a group of passengers travelling from Coimbatore to Bangalore in a Bus. Later he had also done similar seminars on few train journeys when co passengers requested him for clarity on this subject as well as few tips on good handwriting. Thus he has done such seminars on Handwriting & Calligraphy on Air, Land, Rail and Road. Presently KCJ is looking for an opportunity to have his maiden seminar venture on board a Cruise Ship.
In 2001 when he returned from England along with a GSE team member Anish a IPR lawyer, he had to collect his unaccompanied baggage from the Mumbai Customs. He had the horrifying experience of losing many contents of the unaccompanied baggage. Almost everybody who sent unaccompanied baggage had the same experience at the customs godown. Adding salt to injury he and Anish were asked to cough up Rs 18,000 plus for declared articles which were missing from the baggage. Finally the Maestro’s handwriting on the declaration form bailed them out with a pleasant surprise from a senior customs authority who had bought a copy of his book and had become a fan of his handwriting. Though they had lost some articles to theft they only had to pay a nominal Rs.418/- as customs duty. Even today Anish remembers it vividly.
In 2014, K C Janardhan was accompanied by his friend Bharathi Singh, founder of a youth NGO in Bengaluru to attend a summit at the British Houses of Parliament. At the immigration in Heathrow the handwriting magic worked and Bharathi Singh a first time visitor to UK recaps vividly how animated the lady officer’s appreciation was as she welcomed both of them to London. These have been some of the most unforgettable experiences of the Maestro etched in his memory and captured for posterity. This Pied Piper of Fort Bengaluru continues his work power-packed with his handwriting skill and team of ardent admirers and long-time dedicated students.
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