Introducing Dani – The Edison Daniels Lecture, 2020

Thank you, George, for that wonderful introduction to the annual Edison Daniels Lecture.

I am Joshua from the class of 2005. My order in the agenda for today is between George who you just heard from, and Dani who will be speaking next. I will come back to why I find this order worth mentioning in a minute. I am here to introduce Dani who will be delivering the Edison Daniels Lecture this year.

Around 2009, my parents moved to a house in Ambattur, Chennai. My house at that time was sandwiched between Dani and his brother Sam Prem’s house on one side, and Jamin, Jelin, Jason, and Justin’s house on the other.

What happened next is quite natural to any boy from our school. We formed a small football team.  Saturday mornings we would wake up at 5 to go and catch a spot in the ground.

After our football, we’d spend some time longer in the ground just talking about this and that. That is how I first got to know Dani. I remember telling him that I had read his article on football in the first issue of the post –easily among the best articles to be published on our alumni newsletter. That conversation on The Dohnavur Post acted as a good segue into our conversation on books and literature. If any of you have been to Dani’s house, you will know that his collection of books is immense. He is a connoisseur of sorts in that department – he even owns a first edition Jeffrey Archer, if I recall.

Dani is a great story teller, as you will find out very soon, often surprising you with a word choice that is unconventional and outside of common parlance.

In one of the earliest alumni meets, the class of ’99 led the evening singing. They introduced each song from childhood along with a related incident from school. I am sure those of you who were around that year will remember that session even after half a decade.

Lesser known facts about the man. The first one is an assumption, but I will say it anyway. Dani is not very religious (I mention that as a compliment, of course!), yet he helped organize what was probably the most memorable “spiritual retreat” for missionary kids in 2011. It was called connect’11, some of us from this group were part of it.

Dani is very fluent in the Tevid Saar language. Jeremy, Steve are some of the people you see him exchanging phrases with. He is also among the most well read members from the alumni community. Enjoys discussing politics. Very knowledgable on the topic, updated on world news, so it is a pleasure to discuss with and debate him on some of these topics. Dani values travel and exploration very much, which I am assuming is an extension of his colossal curiosity.

Now moving on to the more important facts. Dani’s role in several several alumni initiatives is very huge. He is one of the founding fathers of the Dohnavur Post, he is one of the founding fathers of SVAA, and he served as the first treasurer for the alumni association. His contribution to several decisions each year within the alumni community is vast, and continuing even though he lives in Australia for the last 3 years.

Although someone mentioned recently that he is SV’s Sashi Tharoor, I think Dani is our Stephen Fry.  Both of them are over 6 feet tall. Giants, both in physical and mental stature. Both of them lovers of the work of P G Wodehouse. The resemblance is uncanny.

Many years ago, it was at one of those after-football conversations that Dani first introduced me to the works of the English writer Wodehouse. I fell in love with Wodehouse after reading the first two sentences from his work. That brings me to the point I made earlier, about the order of speakers today. George, me, and then Dani – In the 3 of us, you have scored a hat trick of lining up fans of P G Wodehouse one after another. I wonder when we will have a similar hat trick the next time.

To wrap up this introduction, I will make an allusion to a dialogue from Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds:  Just before getting shot at, Lt. Archie Hicox (played by Michael Fassbender) says, “There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch”. I would like to tweak that a bit to say, There must be a special corner in heaven for anyone who introduces the work of Wodehouse to a fellow human being. The sheer pleasure that his books offer to a reader is out of the world.

So see you in heaven, Dani.

On that note, I would like to invite someone I greatly admire  – Daniel Balasingh from the class of ’99 to deliver the Edison Daniels Lecture.

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