THE GRACEFUL ART OF GIVING
Made for Each other –
SUMAN AND RAMESH TULSIANI
By Arun and Sabita Babani
We had first heard the name of Shri Ramesh Tulsiani on the occasion of Sindhiat Day celebrated by Aseen Sindhi, the renowned Sindhi organization. It was on this event, a couple of years back, that Shri Jairam Rupani, in his concluding thanksgiving remarks mentioned Mr. Tulsiani as 'Makhan Manhoo' (a butter-like man). Mr. Rupani uttered the name with deep love and respect for Mr. Tulsiani and it was there that we first felt the desire to meet the man behind such a splendid name! Later, when the esteemed editor and publisher of Sindhishaan, Mr. Ranjit Butani, for whom I have the good fortune to write, suggested a feature on Mr. Ramesh Tulsiani, highlighting his philanthropic activities under the Suman Ramesh Tulsiani Charitable Trust, the occasion actually materialized into an encounter with the graceful Tulsianis.
I and my wife Sabita fixed an appointment with them at their Tulsiani Chambers office at Nariman Point over an evening cup of tea. When we reached their office at the appointed hour we were immediately ushered into the warm splendor of Mr. Ramesh Tulsiani's chambers. The place had the feel of quiet and sober luxury. There was none of that flashy flaunting of wealth; instead there was genuine simplicity oozing out of the man who's seen it all, done it all, and been there all.
In a moment he whispers into the telecom to his wife to join us, telling us simply that it is his wife Suman who takes care of all his social responsibilities. Next moment a very warm and petite Mrs. Suman Tulsiani appears into the room and takes charge of the proceedings. She tells us in brief that Ramesh was born in 1931 in Hyderabad, Sindh, where he did his schooling, but came to Bombay much before the Partition to join his father's textile business which started sometime in 1930. By 1950 he had passed out of National College Bandra while continuing his apprenticeship with the family business at Princess Street, the hub of textiles in Bombay. Here he met Ms. Suman Kuwelkar, a Maharastrian from Goa, who was then a student of Psychology in the prestigious Sophia college. Ramesh and Suman got married in 1959 in Bombay and have a daughter who is now herself a mother of two grown up daughters. This then is the family of the Tulsianis.
It was around 1973 that Ramesh joined the real estate boom of South Mumbai, especially Nariman Point, which was being developed rapidly and he called his project Tulsiani Chambers. Having completed the project successfully, both commercially and financially, he never looked back since, although the thought of helping his poor and struggling brethren never left him. And so in 1989 together with his graceful wife Ramesh set up a charitable trust in their name.
Tea is served in an exquisite silver teaset, and by now we feel totally at ease and relaxed. Mrs. Tulsiani tells us about the wonderful work the Trust has been doing. It is obvious that the gentle lady feels deeply for the suffering of the poor, destitute and lonely. There is a long list of projects she is associated with – from serving cancer patients, the deaf and dumb, and the blind to helping AIDS patients, consoling the aged, caring for toddlers and so on. In all this what strikes you is her total and sincere commitment to the cause of the underprivileged. She is motherly and gentle and he is soft spoken and graceful – together they form a nice homely couple, loving and caring. Another important area of concern to her is educating the underprivileged students. The Trust offers scholarships and cash assistance to bright but needy students. Together, these two significant aspects concerning society namely health and education, according to her are the foundations for a good life - an intelligent mind in a healthy body.
At this point we are invited into Mrs. Tulsiani's chambers. This is a tastefully done cozy space where she is available five days a week from 3 pm onwards. Meditative by nature Suman has a huge OM in gold behind her, and an aesthetic Hussain work on the side wall. We ask her about her life other than social work and she smiles, saying she's a pucca traditional Indian housewife devoted to home and hearth. With only one help in the house it is Suman who takes care of all the household chores, including cooking, washing and so on. Tulsianis are not necessarily very social or outgoing in the sense that they don't attend flashy Page 3 parties and so on, yet they are about sixty family members, including both their families, who meet a traditional celebration.
It is very clear that both Ramesh and Suman Tulsiani have remained lovers even after 42 years of marriage and care a lot for each other. Suman speaks fluent Sindhi which she learnt from her mom-in-law in the very first year of their marriage.
One last question from us – When you look back, has your life been rewarding and fruitful?
“Oh, yes, we are utterly contented with our life, blessed by life.”
Really then, the Makhan Manhoo stands true to his label, and shall we add Sacho Ghee as a label for his sweetheart? Well, might as well!
Suman Ramesh Tulsiani Charitable Trust estd. 1989.
Mrs. Suman Tulsiani looks after all the activities carried out by Suman Ramesh Tulsiani Charitable Trust (SRTCT). She has kept her memories alive at her alma mater i.e. Sophia College by granting scholarships for poor and needy students. Also she has donated towards Sophia's Food and Technology Department.
SRTCT gives loan scholarships to the financially weak but academically brilliant students, who wish to study abroad.
Suman Ramesh Tulsiani Trust has built an annex building for Motiben Dalvi Hospital at Hughes Road in the year 1990.
The Trust has built a hostel for students of Ram Ratna Vidya Mandir at Keshav Srishti in Bhayander, Mumbai in the year 1999.
The Trust has set up an Engineering College for Vivekanand Education Society in the Hashu Advani Memorial Complex known as Suman Ramesh Tulsiani College of Information & Technology.
The Trust is associated with Sneha Mandir, the home for the aged in Goa and has built a cottage of four rooms with all the facilities which can accommodate eight persons.
Children of the tribals are taken care of by adopting a balwadi for their education through “Jag” an education program sponsored by Concern India Foundation. It is situated at Goregaon. The Trust is a member of Friends of Tribal Society. It has adopted one school for one year in the remotest village of Bihar.
Tulsiani Trust is lending a helping hand to the Shanti Avedhna Ashram for terminally ill Cancer patients by donating a full floor at the newly constructed building annex at Mary Road, Bandra. An ambulance is provided to the Cancer Patients through Cancer Aid Society. Monthly contribution from the Trust are given through V Care to cancer patients at Tata Memorial Hospital at Parel. Medical aid is given to various patients at M.T.M.G. Hospital at Sion. This includes Thalessaemic children, patients with total renal failure. Dialysis help is given to such patients at various medical centres like the Muslim Ambulance Hospital and Gokhale Dialysis Center at Nana Palker Smriti Rugnalaya.
Recently the Trust started a super specialty lab for detection of Aids and conducting various other tests at Nana Palkar Smruti Parel. A book bank in the name of Suman Ramesh Tulsiani Trust is in operation at Ulhasnagar. Students from Ulhasnagar take full advantage of the same, and books for engineering & medicine are also donated for circulation.
Always seen together, I remained greatly impressed by this serene and unassuming couple - the stately, erect man with a stern demeanour, deceptively and deliberately worn I presumed to maintain a certain aloofness - exuding strength, aware of his power yet humble and compassionate - the pretty, charming and elegant lady - smiling radiantly with spontaneous warmth emanating concern, affection and love for all. I’d seen them at several community gatherings, always shying away from the limelight yet exuding a dignified presence. Gradually I got to know about them and ultimately when I got to know them my initial assessment about this couple was not only reconfirmed but further strengthened.
I salute Suman and Ramesh Tulsiani and sincerely hope and pray that more of the community emulate the standards and principles set out by this wonderful couple : GOD BLESS THEM.
- Ranjit Butani - Editor