Ejji K. Umamahesh is 20 years “young” with an added 45 years of experience. He is proud to have lived every minute of his life on his own terms.
Ejji had his early education in the streets of Madras, with compulsory attendance at The Woodlands Drive-In Restaurant on all working days between 1 and 2 pm (since Stella Maris and other women’s’ colleges had a lunch break at the same time!), and at the Madras Marina on all weekends from 6 to 9pm, (where bird watching was free in an age without discotheques and pubs). He went for higher education to Brigade Road, Bangalore, where he learnt the near impossible art of opening beer bottles with motorbike keys. His poor father, who kept paying fees in The Good Shepherd Convent, Madras Christian College High School and Loyola College, Madras, made all this “education” possible.
Ejji, as he is popularly known, started life as a toilet-cleaning supervisor in Safire Theatre, Madras. Along with this, his part time job was cleaning the roads in the Boat Club Area every day, and pulling a handcart to collect and dispose off the garbage from all the houses. In 1970, he went on to form Ejji Maintenance Contracts, the first building cleaning service company in India. In 1971, he founded Ejji Domestic Services, a company, which employed electricians, plumbers, carpenters, motor, pump, and bore well mechanics offering services on call, again the first of its kind in India. He quit business life at the peak of his career in 1991 because he wanted to earn his living only for 20 working years.
Since 1991 Ejji lives his life doing exactly what he wants and when he wants. After that, his calling listed his occupation as “Rat Race Runner (Retd.)”. Now since 2011, having enjoyed retired life for many years, his calling card lists his occupation as “Congenital Sybarite”.
Ejji is an “omnivore”. He eats and drinks anything under the sun. Exotic food is his specialty.
Ejji is a collector of vintage cars. He loves fast cars and was a speed car racer in his younger days. He has participated in the 1st. INDIA ASEAN CAR RALLY 2004 from India to Indonesia, driving 8000 plus km. through 9 countries. He was the only Indian Team on the BUDAPEST BAMAKO CAR RALLY 2007, a Trans-Europe and Trans-Africa rally from Hungary, through Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mali. He has also traveled to Timbuktu so that if anyone tells him “GET LOST TO TIMBUKTU”, he can safely reply, “I’ve already been there!” In 2011 he did an 8000km drive in just 20 days to rarely visited historical,cultural and anthropological sites in India. He has in March 2012 assisted in conducting the first private car rally into Myanmar from India, THE INDIA MYANMAR FRIENDSHIP CAR RALLY 2012. Read more about these rallies in their individual pages on this site. He visits rare and little known places in India and around the world to eat, drive and experience the place. His drives have included the entire Himalayan Region, countries in the southern part of Africa including off road in the Kalahari Desert, among many other interesting places. He is responsible for introducing “The Indian Autorichshaw Challenge” events in India.
OSince March 2011, Ejji has been invited to work as the DEPUTY SECRETARY FORMULA 1 INDIAN GRAND PRIX. He was trained in the management of Formula One Races at various venues and is proud to have been associated with this historic event.
Ejji participated in the INDIA-ASEAN CAR RALLY 2012 from Indonesia (Yogyakarta) to India (Delhi) through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam. See pictures on blog ejji6t.wordpress.com
Ejji has just finished taking part in the “BANGLADESH CHINA INDIA MYANMAR (BCIM) CAR RALLY” from Kolkata,India, through Bangla Desh and Myanmar to Kunming China. Read more on this epic rally and see the pictures in his blog. Ejji even had the privilege of even driving his car back to India from Kunming, China.
Ejji was one of the privileged few who were on Katchal Islands, (check an atlas to find it out!), at midnight on 31st. December 1999 to witness “THE MILLINIUM SUNRISE”. Ejji has a private library with rare books, films and music of every genre.
Ejji did a 51 day, 18183 km drive through 24 states and 1 union territory in India in April and May 2014 called “THE HIGHWAYTOSWADES DRIVE” with 3 friends. It was to feel, understand and document the “real” India at grass root level. A film and a coffee table book are being made.. Do visit www.highwaytoswades.in .
Ejji married Shyamala in 1975 at a non-religious function at a total expense of Rs60-00! He is an ardent advocate of such unostentatious weddings. Needless to say Ejji has no religion, is an atheist and an agnostic. They have two daughters Rasika (born 1976) and Sarika (born 1978), who call their parents by first name.
(Many people confuse or equate the terms, but there is a definite difference between the two. An atheist, on the one hand, believes that there is no God. Etymologically, the word means “not, or no God.” In the atheist camp you can have a wide variety of reasons for their denial as well as differing levels of certainty.The common denominator is that they do not believe in God. Agnosticism is not a belief system as atheism is; rather, it is a theory of knowledge. Etymologically, it means, “not, or no knowledge.” An agnostic is someone who believes human beings simply cannot know anything metaphysical or beyond the physical realm; therefore, they cannot know whether things like spirit, angels or God exist at all. Atheist and agnostic aren’t interchangeable terms, but they can overlap. Occasionally, people use “agnostic” as a more socially acceptable word for “atheist.” This usage irritates some atheists. They think that agnosticism is just a subset of atheism because agnostics generally do not believe in gods. Some feel that using “agnostic” in this way reinforces the incorrect idea that all atheism is strong atheism.)
Ejji has made a Living Will that he should not be resuscitated or be put on artificial respirators in case of terminal illness. Ejji has donated all parts of his body that can be transplanted to deserving persons on his death, and the remaining parts of the body will be used for dissection and study in the nearest Medical College. Since harvesting of organs could be legally done only from brain dead persons, Ejji fought this case in various courts of law for 7 years before the judgment was given in his favor, making him the first Indian to have bequeathed his body for transplantation of organs even when alive. Details of case and articles on body donation can be found in page titled “Ejji’s Clippings & Cuttings” in this site. Ejji has already written his obituary notice that will be published in newspapers on his death.
Ejji has acted for The Madras Players and other theatre groups, in many English plays. He has done a music video for a European record label, and recently a public service film on “Diabetes”. Ejji did a cameo role in Mani Ratnam’s Tamil movie Aayudha Ezhuthu. He has done a major role in Santosh Sivan’s movie Navarasa (Tamil, sub-titled in English), an off-beat film which won the Indian National Film Award for the “Best Tamil Feature Film – 2005”. Navarasa has been a huge success especially in foreign film festivals. Ejji did a small but important role in a Hollywood English movie directed Santosh Sivan, called “Before the Rains”, premiered in the Toronto Film Festival in September 2007. This movie has become a major hit in all foreign markets. He has acted in a couple of other films, details of which or on this site under “Ejji’s Films”. All these activities were done without any remuneration, but purely for the love of doing it. Ejji has photographed and video graphed very strange incidents, festivals, customs, life and times all over the world. He has also searched for, traced and interviewed the descendants of many erstwhile royal families of the old kingdoms in India, Sri Lanka and Burma. Some of them have become Ejji’s good friends. These were done as a hobby and not for commercial purposes.
Ejji has been a member of Rotary International, Round Table India, 41 Clubs of India, The Free Masons Lodge, Madras Motor Sports Club, and nearly all the elite Social Clubs in Madras and other places. But Ejji has never held an office in any organization, never stood for or voted in elections in any Club, never collected advertisements for souvenirs and donations, never sold tickets for charity or other collection drives.
Most people think Ejji is eccentric. But according to Ejji, he is only different from others, since to him normal is boring. His philosophy in life, “LIVE! DON’T EXIST!”