Love for music and movies

Mr Nathan asked his friend, Mr Ramaswamy Athappan (above), to help a group of women bikers from India (top) who had run into problems at immigration. Mr Nathan trying his hand at playing the dhol at the Institute of South Asian Studies in this 2009 p
Mr Nathan trying his hand at playing the dhol at the Institute of South Asian Studies in this 2009 picture. With him is ISAS chairman Gopinath Pillai.PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF SOUTH ASIAN STUDIES
Mr Nathan asked his friend, Mr Ramaswamy Athappan (above), to help a group of women bikers from India (top) who had run into problems at immigration. Mr Nathan trying his hand at playing the dhol at the Institute of South Asian Studies in this 2009 p
Mr Nathan asked his friend, Mr Ramaswamy Athappan, to help a group of women bikers from India (above) who had run into problems at immigration.PHOTO: BIKING QUEENS
Mr Nathan asked his friend, Mr Ramaswamy Athappan (above), to help a group of women bikers from India (top) who had run into problems at immigration. Mr Nathan trying his hand at playing the dhol at the Institute of South Asian Studies in this 2009 p
Mr Nathan asked his friend, Mr Ramaswamy Athappan (above), to help a group of women bikers from India who had run into problems at immigration.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Eulogists at Mr S R Nathan's state funeral shared personal stories and provided insights into aspects of the former president few people knew about. Here are some of them:

A favourite song of Mr Nathan is Thanjavooru Manneduthu, which was played at the start of the funeral service yesterday.

The popular Tamil song from the hit 1997 Indian movie Porkkaalam translates into Taking The Sands Of Thanjavur.

It describes a dollmaker who goes around the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu collecting materials to make a doll - sand from the city of Thanjavur, water from the famous Thamirabarani river and clay from other places.

The song resonated with Mr Nathan, who heard in it the tale of Singapore, about how people of different races, cultures, religions and traditions come together to become one people, said Ambassador-at-Large Gopinath Pillai.

He added that Mr Nathan loved to watch Tamil and Malayalam movies and also enjoyed listening to both Carnatic music - a genre of Indian classical music from South India - and popular songs from Indian films.


Always helpful

Even from his hospital bed last month, Mr Nathan did not stop helping others.

On the night of July 12, he asked his friend Ramaswamy Athappan to help a group of women bikers from India who had run into problems at the Woodlands Causeway.

Mr Ramaswamy Athappan, chief executive at First Capital Insurance, said the group were on a motorcycle trip around Asia to raise awareness about female foeticide. But they could not enter Singapore as they did not have the proper insurance papers for their motorbikes and an accompanying vehicle.

Though Mr Nathan did not know them personally, and was ill at the time, he agreed to help when one of the group's contacts - who knew Mr Nathan - got in touch with him.

Mr Nathan, in turn, asked Mr Ramaswamy to help, and the women bikers got their insurance papers on the same day and were able to enter Singapore.

Tham Yuen-C

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'Love for music and movies'. Print Edition | Subscribe