UPPERCRUST PEOPLE: M. T. TIJORIWALA
86 Hale & Hearty
He walks to temples regularly: Dwakadhish, Laxmi Narayan, Ambaji and Babulnath where he shuns the lift and climbs up the 110 stone steps, which are rather steep. He recently went to Tiruvan Malai to the Raman Ashramam and completed the pradeekshina (circumambulation), walking 14 kms. in just over five hours. He came back with blisters on his soles, but with a joyful soul.
Healthy habits die hard. And the disciplinarian that Madhusudan Thakordas Tijoriwala is, he is proof to the entire adage -healthy and a die-hard Iyenger yoga practitioner. In fact, it would be a safe bet to call him yoga Guru B.K.S. Iyengar's best friend.
When at 50, Mr. Tijoriwala was about to give up playing badminton, he decided to take up yoga. With a razor sharp memory, Mr. Tijoriwala recalls accurately, "It was in 1966 that I met Guruji. In those days he used to come from Poona to Mumbai to conduct classes over the weekend. He would stay at Railway Hotel at Grant Road where the owner would reserve the same room for him each week. This went on for almost 40 years. He became my guru, guide, friend, and philosopher. After class we would go with him to C.C.I, W.I.A.A. or the Willingdon club. Now our relationship is as such that when he comes to Mumbai he stays with me. I owe my healthy age to him. One time I could do all the difficult poses, though when I first started yoga I could not even touch my toes, in spite of the fact that I had been playing badminton very actively. Sitting long hours at my desk had made me stiff."
In 1946 (and Mr. Tijoriwala recalls the exact date: June 1), he started his firm, Nanavati Tijoriwala with a relative 25 years his senior ("and so his name must come first"), with no help from his father who was a chief accountant. "I loved law from the beginning. While at St Xaviers, I used to go to the neighbouring Esplanade Court to hear cases. Criminal ones were my passion. After finishing my law degree, I would have actually gone to courts full time to argue. Unfortunately, for the sake of job security, to earn a regular income, I joined as Assistant Solicitor in 1944 with Amarchand Mangaldas and Co. and after eight months I began work with Peiera and Fazalbhoy and Co., both well-known firms." And of course he never looked back. Even going on to teach LLM student of Bombay Univercity for 17 years, starting in 1955.
For 50 years, Nanavati and Tijoriwala operated from their modest office situated at Homi Mody Street and then one day Mr. Tijoriwala was convinced by his clients, Gupta, Shah and Kamat to shift into smart, new, airy premises at Kemps Corner. "These three people had great faith in me. Even the most complicated of their cases would get resolved by my firm. One such case resolved this property and construction dispute and after paying just a nominal amount I was given possession of this office." Since I knew one of the partners of Gupta, Shah and Kamat, the late Venkatesh Kamat (father of hotelier Vithal Kamat), I know that in gratitude and respect, they even named the building 'Madhu Sagar', after this most upright man.
Talking of health, I learnt Mr. Tijoriwala has hardly fallen ill in his entire life. He eats everything, but in moderation. Breakfast is 2 or 3 soaked and peeled almonds and 2 or 3 dates, sometimes dry figs. On some days, it is idli or upma, on others methi or masala khakra, milk with sugar. Lunch is generally dal-bhat, roti-sabji, butter-milk, dahi. Dinner: soup, some sort of vegetable - sometimes doodhi moothia or dal dhokli and khichdi. Needless to add he is a pure vegetarian and a teetotaller. He walks to temples regularly: Dwakadhish, Laxmi Narayan, Ambaji and Babulnath where he shuns the lift and climbs up the 110 stone steps, which are rather steep. He recently went to Tiruvan Malai to the Raman Ashramam and completed the pradeekshina (circumambulation), walking 14 kms. in just over five hours. He came back with blisters on his soles, but with a joyful soul. So what is a day in the life of an 86 year young man like? "I wake up early, between 4.30 and 4.45 a.m. I leave my house at 5.45 to visit two or three temples, then I go to Prem Puri at Babulnath by 7.30. Listen to pravachan (religious lectures) till 8.30 and then return home. Eat a little breakfast, read the newspapers, then sit for half an hour in prayer and meditation. By which time it is 10.30. I start my asanas and do pranayam for one and a half hours. After which I eat lunch. Then I attend office from 12.30 to 4.30 p.m. I am active for the entire 12 waking hours, 4.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. At 4.30 p.m. I rest. I read. At 7.30 I watch some T.V. Dinner is at 8. At 10 pm I go to bed and fall asleep immediately." He has never had a sleeping pill in his life or any other tablets either. He says the day he won't follow his ritual, he will know he is not well. If that sounds so simple, so wonderful, let me assure you, sitting and talking to Mr. Tijoriwala seems even more peaceful. It's the integrity with which men like him conduct their entire lives that gives them their sense of well-being.
It's not as if they deny themselves anything or live a life of great austerity. They live in the thick of modern life, but governed by their conscience. That's what makes Mr. Tijoriwala so special.