OUR DIRECTOR- MR. V. K. VIJ
Imagine Pt. V. G. Jog, Singh Bandhu, Alarmel Valli or Ravi Kiran performing in the Gymkhana Mess in front of Gymkhanites and Jamalpur officers seated on the mess floor! Sounds strange, but actually true. And these were not one-off performances. They took place every six months with unfailing regularity. And the man, but for whom these stars would have never seen the face of Jamalpur – Mr. V. K. Vij ,then Director IRIMEE.
Those were our SCA days (nine years back) and yours truly was holding the post of Gymkhana Cultural Secretary. Through friends at IIT Delhi contact was established with Mr. Kiran Seth, IIT professor and founder President of SPIC-MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music & Culture amongst Youth). Impressed with Jamalpur Gymkhana credentials, an invitation was extended to attend the annual convention of SPIC-MACAY at Pune. Mr. Vij was more than prompt in despatching me. During the convention, Jamalpur Gymkhana was formally inducted into the SPIC-MACAY family and a local Jamalpur chapter established.
The first series of program were called LEC-DEMS (Lecture-demonstrations). Artists were required to lecture briefly on the nuances of their instruments and notes being played before giving a full scale demonstration. However, invitation to artists meant paying for their to and fro travel, arrangement for their local transportation, boarding and lodging (artists performed for free). While boarding and lodging of eminent artists was Gymkhana’s privilege, Mr. Vij pitched all other areas to make the visit of artists a distinct possibility.
Performances were in lecture form and the artists were visiting lecturers for the purpose. All artists were accorded traditional Railway hospitality due to visiting lecturers. Things took a coincidental turn when Singh Bandhu landed at Kiul station one fine morning at 0300 hrs enroute to Jamalpur. They were overwhelmed to find that their further journey to Jamalpur was by a special carriage. It was the first time they had travelled by a special carriage. Jamalpur became a favourite with artists Bihar circuit, so much so that artists from even West Bengal circuit could be enticed. It, therefore, came as no surprise that soon after Pt. VG Jog agreed to recitals at Jamalpur. The institution of Jamalpur Gymkhana fascinated him and hospitality left him speechless.
And Mr. Vij who made everything above possible, is no more! Words fail me in describing the shock at the demise of this father figure of then SCAs. the propensity of the act is numbing. How could nature be so cruel! May be God needed him more.