CHENNAI: Harihara Ramanujam, MD of Hydrich, the one-month-old exclusive manufacturer of alkaline anti-oxidant water, has his heart in the right place. “I think we should help everyone in society and do our bit,” he says. In a tete-a-tete, we find out more about the 40-something entrepreneur.
Was your entry into entrepreneurship unexpected?
My father was a businessman; he dealt with dry fruits. I think that knack for business rubbed off on me. I completed my education in Srirangam, I am a mechanical engineer. I began travelling to Tiruchy, Cochin, South Korea and London for work. But to start my own business was a far-off dream. After gaining experience and equipping myself with the required skills, I decided to take the leap and here I am.
If not an entrepreneur, what would you have become?
An astrophysicist! When I was in class 5, I remember my father bought me several illustrated books related to astrophysics. They were colourful and comprehensive. That stuck with me for a long time and that’s how I became interested in the subject. I also want to relate ancient scriptures with modern science. What we know now was already written in the form of hymns and stories centuries ago. Connecting one with the other could give us endless and intriguing results.
What’s your idea of unwinding?
My children. I have two children — 14- and 17-year-olds. I come home by 8 pm and I spend the rest of the evening teaching and explaining different concepts to them. Be it Chemistry, Physics, Biology or Tamil, they enjoy my style of teaching. I explain by quoting several day-to-day examples and comparing it to other things. We do this on a daily basis…that’s how I unwind. I don’t need music or sleep; all I need are my children.
Hari at home vs Hari at work: How would you compare yourself?
Either way, I am very dedicated. At work, there are meetings and brainstorming sessions. I spend my day making some major decisions, stress doesn’t deter me. At home, it’s relaxed and I spend time talking to my family, socialising with neighbours or cooking.
How well do you cook?
I am a self-taught cook and learned the art after I moved to South Korea for work. The food there is tough to adapt to, especially for the Indian palate. So, I had to learn to make my own food — from biriyani to Korean-Japanese fusion food, I make everything. But when I make certain experimental dishes, only my eldest son eats it. Others don’t want to take a risk.
How long have you been married for?
I’ve been with my wife for 14 years now. Now, don’t wonder how I have a 17-year-old son then. My sister passed away and I adopted her child. He’s now my son. Also, I have to confess that having a long-distance relationship with my wife during the years I was travelling was a sensational journey (quips). We used to fix a time to chat over the phone. Work, commitments and other things didn’t matter when ‘our time’ came, we always made time for each other and that’s what made us strong.
Do you travel for leisure?
I have travelled to places like Japan, Indonesia, China, UK, Sri Lanka and Singapore for work. But when it comes to leisure, I want to explore places in India. I would love to go to places like Varanasi and other historical sites. Places like Kanchipuram and Thanjavur have a lot to offer. I love exploring art, culture and history.
A place you would like to settle after retirement?
Switzerland! I love the place and I would love to spend my days exploring and researching on science and technology.
A skill you would like to learn?
I love languages. I can read, write and speak Korean. I want to learn other languages as well, but unfortunately, I don’t get time. I also want to learn