Nityananda Pai - Student of the first batch of the high school who became a successful businessman

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Report and Pictures by Eugene Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 05 December 2009: Nityananda Pai is a familiar face in the township of Moodubelle as his grocery shop named ‘Pai General Stores’ is right opposite to the small road leading to the weekly market centre (Sante Katte). Nityananda and his brothers as well as a son have four business establishments in Moodubelle. When I came to know that Nityananda was the student of the first batch of St. Lawrence High School, I thought it appropriate to interview him for the series on the past students of St. Lawrence High School on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the institution that has shaped the careers and lives of thousands of students.

Nityananda, born on 5th June 1945was fourth among nine children (six sons and three daughters) of late Gopal Pai and Radhabai. Radhabai, who is 91 years old is quite healthy and could be seen often, sitting on a chair in the general stores. She has a unique distinction, most probably in the entire Udupi district, of being the matriarch at the head of two sets of five generations of females (5 Talemaru) through her two daughters. One set of the five generations comprise of Radhabai, Mohini Nayak, Lakshmi Prabhu, Jayanthi and the youngest Krithika. The second set consists of Radhabai, Jayanthi Nayak, Poornima Pai, Mallika Kini and the youngest Partiksha.

Nityananda said that after his primary and higher primary education in the Church Aided Higher Primary School he would have discontinued his education if the high school was not started in Moodubelle. He was fortunate to enrol himself in the first batch of the high school students. As there were only 32 students in the first year for the 9th standard, the class was a close-knit group and every one had friendly disposition towards each other. However, Nityananda remembers Valerian Noronha of Kuntalnagar, who is presently in Mumbai, was his close friend.

Nityananda was a keen sportsman and was a good volleyball and cricket player. As the high school was newly established there was scarcity of sports items and the students usually played field games which practically required no sporting items or implements. Nityananda was also interested in cultural activities and even acted later as the past student of the high school in some of the plays such as ‘Bayya Mallige’. He has high regard to his Head Masters-Denis D’Silva and Deju Uchil who instilled a sense of discipline among the students.

After completing SSLC in 1963, Nityananda worked as a compounder in a Polyclinic Nursing Home in Mangalore up to 1971. After returning to Moodubelle, though his mother Radhabai was running a hotel serving meals, Nityananda decided to start a business of his own and along with his younger brother Raghavendra launched ‘Pai Brothers Stationary Shop’. In 1985, the hotel was closed and in its place Nityananda opened the ‘Pai General Stores’ leaving the stationary shop under the management of his younger brother, Raghavendra. As Raghavendra shifted to Bangalore to be with his son, the stationary shop is managed by Nityananda’s another younger brother-Ramdas Pai. The elder brother of Nityananda, Ratnakar has a vegetable shop and his other brothers-Premananda has been working in the Syndicate Bank and Baburaya has been in the South Kanara District Cooperative Bank, Udupi.

Nityananda was married in 1975 to Sudha Pai and they have three children-one daughter and two sons. The daughter is married and settled down in Kasargod. Among his two sons, Vivek helps Nityananda in managing the ‘Pai General Stores’ and the other, Vidyadhar is running a hardware shop in Moodubelle itself. Both these sons are married and have a daughter each.

Besides being the past student of St. Lawrence High school and a successful businessman, Nityananda has been a very soft-spoken and fine human being. It is a well-known fact that Nityananda and his family not only gave shelter and food to a young Christian boy named Henry D’Almeida from Nakre, but also encouraged him to pursue his education up to SSLC who later became a Jesuit priest.

According to Nityananda, after studying up to 5th standard, poverty in the family forced Henry to move from Nakre to Moodubelle in search of some kind of work by which he could sustain himself. As Nityananda’s family was running a hotel serving meals, Henry found job, food and shelter with the family. Gradually, Henry won over the hearts of the Pai family and practically became a family member. Nityananda narrated an incident that one day seeing young Henry and Radhabai seated side by side when someone asked who the boy next to her was, Radhabai without any hesitation said that he was her seventh ‘son’.

Realising that Henry was keen to continue his studies, Nityananda and his family took upon themselves the responsibility of educating him and enrolled him to the 6th standard in the higher primary school. Henry was good at studies and continued his education in St. Lawrence High School and passed the SSLC examination all the while staying with the Pai family.

Later, heeding to the divine call, Henry joined the Society of Jesus and became a priest and is presently at Pune, teaching in the seminary as a professor. He has done MA and Ph D degrees in Sanskrit. According to Nityananda, Fr. Henry as a student had keen interest in Yakshagana and would watch the Yakshagana performances at the Santé Katte till early morning. He has also read the Bhagwadgita. Whenever, Fr. Henry comes home at Nakre during vacation, he makes it a point to visit Moodubelle and meet his ‘Amma’ Radhabai and ‘brother’ Nityananda and other members of the Pai family, which had treated him as one of their own. Both Radhabai and Nityananda are very proud of Fr. Henry, who in spite of his scholarship and high position has remained so humble as to visit them whenever he comes to his native place.

On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of St. Lawrence High School, Nityananda feels that the high school was a blessing for Moodubelle which enabled thousands of young boys and girls to continue their education after the higher primary studies. He feels that the past and present students should remain grateful to Fr. Abundius D’Souza, Fr. Theodore Lobo and all those persons who were instrumental in the foundation and management of St. Lawrence High School and later the PU College.


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