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    Keekira A. Thammaiah, who was the first Asian Mayor of the Harrow City, London, passed away on Mar. 29, 2011 in London. He was my contemporary in Bangalore from 1960 to 64 while practising Law, though senior to me. While in Bangalore, we were very close friends and when he left for London, we were in touch with each other through letters, Christmas, New Year greeting cards and whenever he came to India. 

    While I was in London in 1992, he hosted a dinner at his house where he had invited two MPs and some Labour Party friends of his, he himself being a La-bour Party North Harrow Council Member. Later, once again while I was in London, I had an opportunity to spend some time with him and he was the Mayor of Harrow at that time.

    I remember the evening I was having dinner in his house with other friends over drinks when I had a call from Mahaguru Yogi Arka of Mysore, who was camping in London at that time, as anticipated asking me to meet him. Since we were partying, we were already into our third peg of whisky and I was in a dilemma if I should go and meet Yogi Arka, who at that time was on the ascendance on his path to the stature of a Godman. I sought Thammaiah’s advice and with his trademark smile on his visage said, “Well, don’t worry, the place is just five minutes drive from here.”

    He volunteered to drive me to the place, assuring me that visiting the Yogi after consuming alcohol should not be a problem as Rishis of ancient India were known to enjoy Somarasa and Bhang, which are intoxicants.

    Naturally, in his passing away, I have lost a very good friend. Immediately, I wrote a letter of condolence to his wife Naila and son Ponnu.

    Acknowledging my letter, they sent me an e-mail giving me some more information about the last journey of my friend.

    As in life, so also in death, he was well-honoured by the community people, friends and politicians as well. His civic funeral was attended by a large number of people, dignitaries, Mayors, MPs and the media.

    He was elected President for the forthcoming World (Europe) Kannada Conference to be held in London in August 2011. He had hosted a meeting at his place in this connection just the day before he passed away.

    His wife Naila sent me a copy of the tributes paid to Tham-maiah (known among Coorgs as Thammy) by Kodagu Association of UK and also by Kannada Balaga of UK, which is being produced below:

    The tribute

    Born: 10.02.1935 Died: 29.03.2011

    Late Mr. Keekira Thammaiah was born in Birunani, Coorg, India. He did his schooling in Coorg and Pre-University (A levels) at Government College, Bangalore.

    He went on to do his Bachelors in Arts at St. Joseph’s college, Bangalore.

    Whilst at University, he displayed his leadership qualities and political ambition by becoming the ‘President of Students Union.’

    He pursued his education in Bombay at University College, Bombay and obtained M.A & LLB between 1957-60. At the University, he was the Chairman of the Students Union.

    He returned to Bangalore in 1960 and was an Advocate at the Bangalore High Court until 1964 when he moved to United Kingdom to do Bar exam. He married Naila in 1971, who would be for the next 29 years, his pillar of support.

    He went on to be a Lecturer in Business Law at West-minster and other colleges.

    He was elected as the Labour Councilor in 1994, Deputy Mayor of Harrow in 1999 and became the first Asian Mayor in May 2000.

    He was very active in his community and took his civic duties very seriously. He raised considerable amount of money for the Northwick Park Hospital Children’s wing (£20,000) and was the Governor of 3 schools in Harrow.

    He rubbed shoulders with royalty in that he met the Queen three times, had tea with Princess Margaret and spoke at the Parsi community gathering in the presence of Prince Edward & Sophie.

    He retired in May 2010 after 20 years service to the local community. His friends fondly called him ‘Keeki.’

    He is survived by his loving wife Naila of 30 years; Son: Ponnu; Daughter-in-law Sunali and two young grandsons Adit and Alok.

    Funeral service was held on 4th April, 2011 at 12.00 pm at Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London, NW 11 7 NL.

    Mourners joined the family for refreshments afterwards at Members Lounge, 1st Floor, Civic Centre, Harrow, Middle-sex HA1 2XY.

    Memorial donations in memory of K. A. Thammaiah may be made to Diabetes UK, 10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / by K.B. Ganapathy



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    Keeki Thammaiah obituary

    Keeki Thammaiah 

    The trappings of office were relished by Keeki Thammaiah as they echoed his native Karnataka ceremonial attire

    My friend the lawyer, educationist and local politician Keeki Thammaiah, who has died of a heart attack aged 76, became the first Asian mayor of Harrow, north-west London, in 2000.

    He came to politics relatively late when elected as a Labour councillor in 1994. As mayor, he demonstrated his skill in working with people across the divide of politics, race and class. He relished the ceremonials – the robes and chains – not only because of his innate respect for the office but also because he felt comfortable with these trappings. Their lavishness echoed the ceremonial attire of his native Coorg in Karnataka, south India, particularly that of the traditional kupya chaleworn by Coorg men – long black tunics with red and gold brocaded cummerbunds from which intricately worked swords in gold and silver were slung.

    Keeki came from an affluent landowning family, and after qualifying as a lawyer served as an advocate in the courts of justice in Bangalore. He arrived in Britain in 1964, drawn by the vibrancy of its contemporary culture (listening to the Beatles for the first time was clearly a defining experience), as well as its legal traditions. He taught business law at institutions including Westminster College for a number of years.

    Keeki and Naila, his wife of 40 years, kept an open house, and visiting Indians – dignitaries, students and tourists – enjoyed the warmth of their hospitality. A champion of Karnataka culture, with its rich tradition of Kannada literature and performing arts, Keeki supported initiatives that helped younger generations living in Britain to engage with this culture. On the day before his death, he and Naila had hosted a reception to launch an initiative to promote Karnataka and its artistic heritage.

    He is survived by Naila, his son, Ponnu, and two grandchildren, Adit and Alok.

    source: http://www.guardian.co.uk / by Nima Poovaya-Smith / The Guardian / Thursday, May 19th, 2011

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