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09 Dec 2023, Edition - 3070, Saturday

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A bureaucrat’s date with Coimbatore and history

Covai Post Network


My Beautiful Journey – Kashmir to Kanyakumari – is a piece of history traversing the almost 50-year service of multi-faceted bureaucrat, Dr C K Gariyali.

Interspersed generously with anecdotes, the book will take the reader through a journey that begins in Srinagar where Chandra Kanta Gariyali was born and Old Delhi where she grew up. The journey continues, making a brief stop at Mussoorie, where she trained at the National Academy of Administration and then Tamil Nadu where she devoted her entire career.

The Coimbatore launch of the book was held at the Brookefields mall, where Dr Gariyali, recalled with fondness her life as a young bureaucrat in the city.

District Collector T N Hariharan was the chief guest at the event, which was followed by a book-signing event at the mall’s Odyssey book store. The collector released the book, which is also available on Kindle and Amazon, and received the first copy.

A highlight was the presence of Dr Gariyali’s long-time friends who had taken the young bureaucrat under their wing when she stepped into Coimbatore as assistant collector.

The book reflecting a public life worth emulating, presents many moments in history and in the bargain provides momentous, light-hearted and entertaining interludes, which is also reflective of the challenges faced by a bureaucrat.

Some references in the book include:

“The young and handsome Saddam Hussein” who “had made Baghdad a very safe place and we were freely travelling in cabs to different venues and returning from dinners and events at midnight without any fear”.

Dr Gariyali who started the dance festival Natyanjali in Tamil Nadu, wrote: “How can there be a Nataraja without the dance?”

“I decided to bring dance back to not only to his temple but to all the temples of Tamil Nadu.”

The book talks of a dinner in Karachi that served up “mouthwatering sag chicken, shammi kababs, and the sheer chai, the salted Kashmiri tea garnished with almonds and cardamom.”

In a typical example of workplace tussle, the writer recalls, “I had no knowledge of Tamil film songs.”

“My mischievous Joint Director (who disliked women as well as North Indians) tried to get me into trouble by playing a song written by Karunanidhiji as soon as MGR arrived. But MGR merely smiled at me and very politely enquired, “Kalaigner’s song, isn’t it.”

Speaking to The Covai Post, Dr Gariyali said “My Beautiful Journey – Kashmir to Kanyakumari” is an honest account of the triumphs and tribulations of a bureaucrat, a reflection of the support and love people had for me.”

It’s a tribute to Tamil Nadu,” she said of the book whose proceeds will be contributed to charity.

She said it was reconstructed with her diary entries, government documents and notes that carried her impressions she felt at that point of time.

A bureaucrat who worked with dedication for women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and rehabilitation of street children, said if a woman is empowered then the society is empowered.

Dr Gariyali, who took the work of SHG (Self-Help Group) several steps forward, said: “Give women the opportunity and the rest will fall in place.”

She believes her book will serve as an inspiration for IAS aspirants, who will have to draw strength from exemplary officers in order to serve the nation with courage.

It’s important to ignore the feeling of misgivings about the service, if any, and take challenges head one, said the officer, after who a town in Cuddalore is named.

Gariyali Nagar is a tribute to the strong willed officer who believes in moving with the time, and said, “E-readers and online reading will help expand the reach a book can have, which is the very purpose of writing.”

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