Melvin Durai is an India-born, North America-based writer and humorist, author of the humorous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge.” His humor columns, acclaimed for being both funny and thought-provoking, have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines in several countries.
Melvin was born in the town of Tisaiyanvillai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, and spent much of his childhood learning how to pronounce “Tisaiyanvillai”. (He still hasn’t quite got the hang of it.)
He grew up in Zambia, Central Africa, where he attended Kansenshi Primary and Secondary Schools in Ndola, and Kamwala Secondary School in Lusaka. Both his parents, Mrs. Hepzy Durai and the late I.V. Durai, were math teachers and, as a result, Melvin grew up hating math.
Melvin moved to the U.S. for college in 1982. He attended Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where he double-majored in Accounting and Natural Science, giving him the unique ability to file tax returns for hamsters. Then he earned an MBA from York College of Pennsylvania, before following his heart and enrolling in the journalism program at Towson State University in Maryland. He loved it and did well enough to land a job at the Chambersburg, Pa., Public Opinion, the best and most widely read newspaper in the entire town of Chambersburg. (Motto: We’re better than that rag in Waynesboro.)
He was a business reporter for three years and a general assignment reporter for another three, writing about everything from the “Best Cow” at the county fair to the “Best Pig” at the state fair. He especially enjoyed writing feature stories and won two first-place feature writing awards in the Best of Gannett contest, as well as an Outstanding Achievement in Writing Award in 1998, earning himself half as much adulation in the county as the “Best Cow.”
In early 1994, on a whim, Melvin wrote a humor column about women wearing men’s underwear as tops. He was amazed by the positive response, not realizing that people outside the newsroom read the editorial page. In 1995, he began writing the column every week and found that he enjoyed it tremendously. He hopes to write humor for the rest of his life, or as long as his wife lets him.
In 2001, Melvin completed his third master’s degree, in English, from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, where he wrote three short stories for his thesis. One of his stories, “Salvation,” was published by The Minnesota Review, a literary magazine, causing much laughter in the literary world.
His lovely wife, Malathi Raghavan, is a doctor of veterinary medicine and research scientist, a very smart woman who somehow agreed to marry him on Oct. 7, 2000, proving to her colleagues that she is committed to animal husbandry. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Lekha and Divya, and a son, Rahul. They currently live in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Melvin’s mother, a longtime teacher in Zambia and Transkei, South Africa, retired in 1997 and lives in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, with his sister, Irene.