Friday, December 21, 2012

A true mechanic

Yesterday my AC mechanic came home to replace my defective stabilizer.

After he had done this, I requested him to buy two aluminium rods and fix
them as curtain rods.

I instructed him to buy longer than required lengths and cut them with hacksaw.

The first rod he took some time and fixed it.

The second one he did it in no time at all.

"How come?" I asked.

He said: "Sir, this time I used my tube-cutter instead of hacksaw".

Ha, ha. A true mechanic indeed!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference

My relative Naags S. Nagarajan posted this in his FB wall today.

On seeing this I was reminded of a New Year Greeting posted by a dealer friend of mine. I am giving
the message below:

Dear All,

Fresh Hopes, Fresh Plans, Fresh Efforts,
Fresh Feelings, Fresh Commitment
Welcome with a fresh Attitude Cheers, Happy New Year !!!!

I wrote back saying that attitude will give altitude and wished him well in business.

Two days back I came to know by chance that this very same person had an item which we
required to be supplied to a Government customer. Since my attitude is to help people I told
him that we will take the item from him and help him liquidate a non-moving stock with him.

He demanded immediate payment which we gladly gave. He could have thanked me for
helping him in this matter. He didn't. I don't care too much for this. I reminded myself of
Mother Teresa's words: The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good any way.

After the unit was delivered the customer complained that there was leak in the system (water- cooler).
We told our friend about this. His attitude was very cold! He was not in the least bit helpful. He spoke
in the manner of his responsibility ceasing once the goods are delivered.

My people were in tenterhooks.

However I told my people not to worry and that the issue could be a minor one. It indeed was and
was sorted out! If we think good, good things will happen I said.

Friends, when you write something, try to follow the good words as much as possible. Else you
can always find better (or should I say worse?) things to do!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


What many companies need to do now is mop up operations.
I mean maintaining the MOP (Market Operating Price).
Do not the car companies and bike companies dealers quote the same
price (to the paisa) these days?

Some dealers who sell goods at less than MOP or for some loss to generate cash
fail to understand that they are spoiling the image of the companies (Principals) that they represent, which is very harmful.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ordinary? No, extra-ordinary!

I would like to appreciate the approach of Light & Rays Optics, an optical show-room recently
opened near my house in Madipakkam.

My wife's spectacles broke in the arm and the screw had broken. I took it to them for repairs.

On their wall just behind the cashier's counter I saw the following words attributed to Gandhiji:

"A Customer is the most important visitor on our premises....."

Rarely do we come across a firm which functions true to the above words.

The customer assistant took the spectacles from me and gave me a receipt and told me that
they would inform me as soon as it is ready.

The next day they promptly rang up and said that my spectacles is ready after repair. I asked them
"What are the charges?".

They say: Our service charges are free. We never charge for service.

I went to the shop and once again asked them how much I should pay to which they said that the
repair is a service done without any charges. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had even
replaced the nose pieces which had broken! They placed the pair of spectacles in a new container
and gave it to me with a smile.

My daughter who was waiting outside in the car saw a girl walking in and asking for a Ray-Ban
spectacles. When I returned to the car my daughter said that she would come back and buy herself
a pair of Ray-Ban.

The sale will happen itself to this company. Need I say more? May their tribe increase.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reality vs Realty

A property consultant says:

"However, the rate of growth in rentals, residential and capital values will highly depend on the implementation and completion of the upcoming and on-going major projects such as the Monorail, the Metrorail, the Outer Ring Road, and the Greenfield airport."


Again, I would agree as well as disagree with the above statement.

I am not a property consultant. But then, these are the very people who give
hypes and increase the values to unbelievable heights.

I am staying in an area known as Madipakkam where the capital values are very high.
No roads, no drainage, no water supply. And garbage all over the area.

But all over our area we see boards saying that it is within the Corporation limits!

There are many "To Let" boards all around which was not the case two/three years back.

Why should we talk of Monorail, ORR, Greenfield airport and so on.? That is going to take ages.

Can't we come to reality instead of realty?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Living in a flat - Luxury vs convenience

I was reading the latest issue of Chennai

One among the leading builders of Chennai says: "Location cannot be identified with luxury".

The question posed to him is: How integral to luxury is location?

Answering this question the builder says: "....Location is not an indicator to luxury. It never was. I went into somebody's building on Khader Nawaz Khan Road. Most expensive piece of real estate today is on that road.  They have acute water shortage. What kind of luxury is that if there is no adequate water? I am saying that the location does not spell luxury. What comes with the building, irrespective of whether it is on Boatclub, OMR or GST road makes it luxurious".

Personally, I would agree as well as disagree with the above reply.

I would chose a location with lots of convenience rather than luxury.  Because there is a cost
associated with luxury. It will always be so.

Let us see what the dictionary says about luxury: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort; Something expensive or hard to obtain. Sumptuous living or surroundings.

Somebody living in Khader Nawaz Khan Road lives in luxury, let us say. That person can
definitely afford to pay two to three hundred rupees a day to get water. It may not be a big deal. So, the argument gets defeated.

Let us take the case of a person living in a multi-storied apartment in OMR or GST of 1200 sft.
Yes, he may have plenty of water, a gym, garden, swimming pool, security and so on. But one
has to remember that all that comes with a cost. Builders and associations charge upto Rs.3 a sq. ft. to maintain and afford these things. So the luxury obtained here comes with a tag of
Rs.3,600 per month (and much more in the future). 

But then one has to think of convenience. Again the dictionary says: The quality of being suitable to one's comfort, purposes, or needs: the convenience of living near shops, schools,
and libraries.

As a school boy, a student in college and for many more years I was staying in the location:
Gopalapuram. It was a place of very great convenience and of course the luxury coming out of
that convenience.

My school was just across the road. It was a very peaceful atmosphere those days and I would proceed to my class after hearing the bell from my house!

My college, Vivekananda College, was just a matter of 10 minutes by cycle. I used to come home for lunch!

Libraries: British Council Library, American Consulate Library, District Central Library were all
within 10 minutes walking distance.

Music Academy: Within 10 minutes walking distance. 

Cinema Halls: Safire complex, Anand, Pilot, Woodlands, Midland(Jayapradha), Odeon(Melody) were all within 15 minutes walking distance.

Central Station: Within 5 Kms.

I could go on and on.

So, when buying a flat or moving into a flat, one should strike a balance between luxury and convenience.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Selling coins - but no Salesmanship!

I wanted to procure a few coins. I came across the name of a coin seller with his phone number and
address in Chennai in a web-site.

I rang up this Gentleman.

"Do you sell coins?"


I am looking for 5 Rs. CAG coin.

"No, not available".

"60 years of Parliament of India"

"No, not available. All these coins were sold long back and exhausted".

Having said that he disconnected the line.

If I were in his shoes, I would have said: Yes, these coins were with me some time back. Unfortunately
I don't have them now. But, I can try to procure them for you. Nice to know your interest in coins. How
long have you been collecting and what coins do you specifically collect.

Then I would probably suggest some coins which were available with me which would interest the buyer.

Being a local buyer, I would even go to the extent of meeting this person and delivering the coins that he
wanted and make him my permanent customer!

Alas! All businessmen are not salesmen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"I was only performing my duty"

Around two months back I finalised a property for my daughter.

A relative of mine who works for a Government Bank was keen that I should avail the housing loan
from his Bank. Since he had recently been transferred to circle office, he referred me to the branch
where he was the Branch Manager erstwhile.

The Manager greeted me and asked me a lot of questions. But he did not give me the loan application forms.
He asked me to meet him after getting the POA adjudicated.

After getting the POA job done, I again went and met him, asking for the application forms. He asked me to
meet him the next day.

Well, I wondered if I will ever get my job done here. I left it at that and again informed my relative who felt
apologetic and asked me to approach another branch, closer to my home.

The Manager greeted me with the forms in his hand. I gave the filled in forms within a week and within a few days the Circle office asked me a few doubts, which I cleared. The loan was sanctioned within two weeks.

My relative told me that he thanked the particular Manager for the prompt service to which it seems he replied: "But, I was only performing my duty."

Oh yes, he was performing his duty. But he is only among a select few who perform their duty mixing it
with love, affection and care. He is of a rare breed and we come across very few like him in our day-to-day lives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What is service mindedness?

I went to the local vegetable bazaar ( a modern one run by a famous chain store) to buy vegetables.

Among other items, my wife had asked me to get mint leaves.

I asked one of the girls working there to give me two bunches of mint leaves, which she promptly
picked up from the box and gave me.

As I was leaving the store, the supervisor saw the mint leaves in my bag and asked me where from I had
picked them.

I pointed out to the box on the floor. He said that I had picked up from the "dump". Meaning that those were
supposed to be thrown away. He further said: Don't take them. Fresh ones are over there. Please take two.

Well, this is what is known as service mindedness. Nobody teaches these things. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Think and Grow Rich

I know that there is a famous book with the title "Think and Grow Rich".

But my friend Mohideen modified this as "Think good things and you will be benefited."

Two days back on his birthday my friend received a call from a Sales Executive of our Principal's that
he is coming to collect orders from us.

My friend said "Good. Come along". In reality we were not in a position to give any orders.

The Sales Executive came, by and by, with a bouquet and greeted my friend on his birthday.

At that very same instance, a customer walks in and after discussions places an order for an
item not in stock with us. We immediately placed an order with the Sales Executive who was present

My friend was happy and explained that one should always think of good things. They are likely to happen.
If we think of bad things or negative thoughts, God forbid, they also occur.

This is a good lesson. Let us always think and talk of good things.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Business - Old order and new order

Last week I wanted to buy two mattresses. I went along with my friend to Triplicane where there are
a number of these shops selling mattresses.

In one shop there was an elderly person who patiently explained the different varieties of mattresses and
also pointed out that they would like to pass on whatever the company intends them to. At present the company gives one pillow free for each mattress that you purchase and that will be given to you he explained.

When I told him that I live in Madipakkam, he was quick in replying that they have a shop in that area too
and that I could order my requirements from there and due to proximity no delivery charges would be incurred by me. He further asked me to wait while he would telephone that branch and find out if they had in stock the particular item that I had selected. I would not like you to waste your time going there if they do not carry stock he said.

The next day I visited the shop in Madipakkam. It was a huge showroom. A youngster in the counter was
fiddling with his smart phone.

He sent his assistant to their godown. But they didn't have the item that I wanted. He took my phone number and said that he would get the stocks and call me in a day or two. That has not happened so far, even after a week.

Did you notice the behavioural pattern between old and new?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mail box and Name board

There is no mail box or name board in the flat complex which I bought from a leading
builder a year back.

It is the name board which gives one the pride of owning an apartment.

Postmen cannot visit individual flats and a mail box kept would facilitate them depositing
the mail safely.

Yesterday when I returned from home I found that my mail was fully soaked in rain water.

I dare not point out this to my builders for fear of being informed that it is not their company policy!

Mail box: We quickly bought one ourselves and fixed it.

Name board: What's in a name?!!

My policy now-a-days: TAKE IT EASY POLICY.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Child teaching the father !

I read in the tamil newspaper today a revered Swamiji telling parents that they should
set an example to their children.

Yes children follow the footsteps of their parents and the parents have to be careful and
watchful in their everyday behaviour to set an example and make their children good citizens.

Let me highlight this with a recent incident in my friend's house.

My friend's son is studying in a leading school and students are supposed to apply for
any leave prior to their availing it unless it was an emergency.

My friend's son did not wish to join the family's visit to their hometown to celebrate Ramzan,
but finally took a day off.

My friend told his son that he would give him a leave letter stating that he was indisposed, to which
the boy said: Dad, no need to lie. State the exact reason. My teacher will understand.

My friend felt ashamed over the incident which he related to me. Need I say more?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Money and business

Business is money.

A businessman is believed to be good in business when he makes money with other people's money.
Not an issue. If one does business with money borrowed from a friend, spouse or bank, etc.

But money is not everything. Yes, one can do a lot of things with money. Everyone needs some money.

The problem lies with the meaning given to the word SOME.

One should have enough money to lead a reasonably good life with honour and respect.

When we start chasing money, making money by any means, craving for more money to lead
a life of luxury, problems will arise.

Let us do business with a commitment to the customer (who is the one who feeds us).

Let us remember that money is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What does the customer need?

Yesterday my service-in-charge came running to me around 10.30 am, gave me a phone
number and said: This customer wants an air-conditioner immediately and wishes to talk to you.

I took my mobile and rang up the customer.

He said: We had booked an air-conditioner with a dealer. But they are not able to deliver the
unit and install it today.We are opening our new office tomorrow at Ashok Nagar.

I got the message. The bottom-line is that we should be able to deliver and fix the unit by evening.

My reply to him was: Please hold the line. Let me check and tell you if I will be able to fix the unit

After ascertaining that my person is available to fix the unit I told him that I would be able to meet
his need.

He came to my office, paid the money. Two of them had come and I asked them whether they
will be able to take the unit with them in an auto. They readily accepted and I followed up and sent
a person and installed the unit.

To bag an order, we should find out the requirement, if met, will clinch the deal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mark of a Gentleman

I recently read an article explaining that Indians are among the most abusive.

Well, that may be so. But there are also many Gentlemen around.

Before I left for the US, I had sold an air-conditioner to a company in Chennai
and the Engineer took a liking towards me.

After I came back from the US, he contacted us and ordered for a 1 ton ac.
We sent the unit to their company, but when it was delivered, my mechanic
found that there was enough space available to fix a 1.5 ton ac which they
wanted in the first place.

They then gave us an old air-conditioner against which I said we will send
them the cheque after evaluating the condition.

I told them that I would send them a certain sum of money which they agreed to.
Somehow the matter was forgotten and the Engineer reminded us about it. We said
we will send the money.....and again forgot to do it!!

Far from being abusive, to which he was anyway entitled to, he sent me an e-mail
with the caption "Gentle reminder".

No words can describe my state of mind. I immediately sent the cheque with profound

I salute the perfect Gentleman.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Humour in Ire

Be humourous. It is humour that keeps us away from stressful situations.

Some years back I used to supply air-conditioners to a retailer who was also a good
friend of mine.

Retailers are notorious for issuing cheques without funds and also delaying the payment.

Our relationship was cordial and remains so even now.

But on one occasion the payment was delayed. The cheque he issued bounced. He asked me
to represent the cheque - and it again bounced.

I went fretting and fuming to his office and confronted him.

What is this cheque that you issued? It bounces like a rubber ball !!

He drew money from his bank (or elsewhere) and gave it to me.
P.S. A rubber ball bounces much more than a cork or cricket ball.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Telephone manners....

Years back there used to be the Sabhari's Institute (later taken over  by Davar's) where they used
to have a Personal Secretary course. Young women after their plus 2 or Degree completion would
join  the six month course where they were  taught typing, filing, office procedures and of course telephone

Alas, today there are no typists. The art of letter writing is lost and with it telephone etiquette too, thanks
to the cell phone mania.

In the good old days telephones were on the table and while speaking to a customer, it was quite easy
to note down the customer's phone number and so on.

These days phone calls are answered from anywhere and no conscious effort is taken to write down the
important numbers and requirement. Many a sale is lost!

Not only that. When I receive a call, I understand that someone is trying to contact me and talk to me
or enquire about something. But when I call up somebody, many among them start talking non-stop without caring to ask me why I called them in the first place!!

When I receive a call I invariably say: How can I help you? (or) if it is a friend or relative: How are you and
what's the news?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to get cheated!

To be frank, I don't want to teach anyone how he or she could get cheated.

Rather, I wish to remind them to be wary and not get cheated.

Again two incidents in the recent past.

I usually buy a few apples now and then stopping on the wayside while driving back home.

A few days back, the seller gave me three apples, which I just put aside in my car.
Lo, when I returned home my wife pointed out that one of the three was a bad apple!

Moral: Inspect your items before taking delivery of them.

Two days back we went to Pondy Bazaar and bought a bundle of plastic rope. The seller
turned away from us put the bundle inside a plastic bag, tied three knots and gave it to us.
My wife who was observant, opened the bag and returned the bundle which was old and brittle.
She insisted in his giving the one which she selected.

Moral: Inspect your items before taking delivery and you are saved!

Have a nice day!

PS: Women are cleverer than men !!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eternally priced stabilizer !

You might have heard of Chiranjeevi.

Chiram means unending and jeevi means living being. Chiranjeevi means one whose life is unending.
Lord Hanuman is believed to be one such.

But the 4 KVA voltage stabilizer I find could earn such a sobriquet, so to say.

In 2002 it was priced at Rs.1,500. After ten years, in 2012 it is still being sold for Rs.1,500.

Of course the quality has come down a few notches. But that is a different thing.

In 2002, a cup of tea was Rs.2. Today it is Rs.6.

Six months back, before I left for the US, a Kilogram of Fuji Apples sold for around Rs.120.
Today it is Rs.190 per Kilogram.

I could go on and on....

It is high time that the price for this item be increased to Rs.1,800 to Rs.2,000.

Also it is better that dealers realise that they are walking on thin ice at such pricing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sale enquiry is an opportunity to render service...

A sale enquiry is an opportunity to render service.

When you have a mind-set to help (read: serve) the people around you, then the
sale will automatically take place.

Let me give you two examples from incidents in the past two/three days.


Late in the evening a customer spoke to me asking for an air-conditioner and which he wanted to
come and see in our showroom and have it fixed the next morning. I spoke to him at length over the
phone and explained him all the features, etc. I told him not to mistake me when I say that it may not
really be necessary for him to travel a long distance, late in the evening, just to see the model. "You are
not selecting a saree". I also told him that we will send the air-conditioner (he could see the picture and
features in the voltas website) to his house, fix it and collect the payment. As promised, the unit was sent
the next day and payment collected at his door-step. Customer was happy.


Yesterday, again late in the evening around 7 p.m. a customer rang me up and said that she wanted
a water dispenser delivered at Pallikaranai ( a distance of about 25 kms from our showroom) within an
hour or two, since there was a function in her house the next day morning. I told her that I would find out
if anyone is around in our place to deliver the unit to her. One of our technicians, Pechimuthu, readily accepted to deliver the unit. I informed the customer that her need will be fulfilled and left her contented.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Office humour - I am also like Ratan Tata

A few weeks back I read an article in the newspaper in which Ratan Tata was reported to have said that he could not really achieve all he hoped, while sharing some thoughts as he prepared to step down from his role as the Chairman of the Tata group.

A few days back I was relating this to my friends in my office.

The owner of our business, Mohideen, immediately lamented: In that sense even I am like Ratan Tata.

"I have not been able to achieve all that I hope for."

Asking my friend Mohideen not to worry, I told him: "Don't worry. You have miles and miles to go before you sleep. And we will put in out bit."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


In business I stay committed.

If I promise to send the material in the evening by 7 p.m., I will see to it that the material
reaches the customer by 7 p.m.

But I wonder how far I will be able to stay committed. On a personal level, yes, not a problem.
But from the company point of view, to honour my commitment, I need persons around me who
also stay committed. Alas! Such persons are fast disappearing.

The Finance Director of a leading construction company recently purchased two air-conditioners
for his daughter's new apartment, around 25 Kms away from my business place. He wanted the
units to be delivered in the evening and machines to be installed the next day from 7 a.m. onwards
since there would be no current between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in that place.

We agreed to his request and send the machines in the evening. Technician was informed to go in
the morning. But that guy just went on French leave and disappeared! He did not inform us in time
to make alternate arrangements. We could arrange our supervisor to go there, which he did, but
only around 9 a.m. could he go.

Meanwhile, the customer got irritated and threatened us that he will stop payment for the cheque and
that we should take back our machines! I recently read an article which stated that Indians are the most
abusive in the world.

The customer being an Indian and in the construction line who I am sure would be well seized of the
labour situation here, could have exercised little more patience.

I am not able to judge as to why he got cheesed off. But then, there was a lapse (small though) from our side. The guy was not there at 7 a.m.

I requested a company to send a person and instal anti-virus software in my computer. He said it will be done in a day or two. The guy was supposed to come on Saturday. He didn't come. Even till Tuesday he
has not appeared. On Tuesday evening when I reminded at about 4.30 p.m. about his appointment with
me at 5 p.m. he said that the person is somewhere in Perungudi and would definitely come. Buy no, he
neither came nor did he have the courtesy to phone me to express his inability. Am I losing my patience?

Well, not yet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Being on time

My neighbour  is the General Manager (Marketing) in a leading construction company and one of
the qualities that I admire in him is his time consciousness.

Rain or shine, he leaves home exactly at 8 AM (sometimes even earlier).

Marketing people are among the rare breed who would always be on time for any appointment.

My father was in the Air-force and was a stickler for punctuality and we followed his footsteps.

The apartment association meeting would be notified to begin at 9 AM. I and my siblings and
another one or two cousins of mine would be present between 8.55 and 9.05 a.m. Others would
trickle in by 9.30, 9.45 a.m.!!

Recently I was travelling by bus (being a retired person I am now not bothered much about time)
and the traffic was choking. One guy was frequently looking at his watch. I asked him what the
matter was and he replied that his office begins at 9.30 a.m. and it was already 9.45 a.m. It would
take him at least another half-an-hour to reach office.

Coming back to my neighbour, today I wanted to start before him but lost the race by a few minutes.
I was under the false impression that by starting early I could reach my destination well in time.

But alas, I was living in a fool's paradise. It took me longer than usual.

The traffic in Chennai gets on your nerves!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Professionalism - easy to recognize....

A friend of mine wanted to sell his Scorpio car, five years old.

He sought my advise as to how to go about it.

I immediately thought of "tsm".  TSM is a brand name and stands for T.S. Mahalingam & Sons
who have been dealing in second hand cars since 1935.

We went to them and I introduced myself and my friend and told them about the car.

They knew about the car. They knew that it came in two colours. They knew the colour of the car.
They knew about the engine. They enquired about the HP and who financed the car. They knew the
financiers and said that they could handle the cancellation of HP.

They immediately wrote down our names and phone numbers in their note-book which was kept open
with a good pen to write with.

They asked us to bring the car and leave it with them and they will arrange to sell it for us at a good price.

Job done.

Did you say that professionalism is difficult to recognize?

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Every human being not only receives, but also gives.

We often hear about the give and take policy. If you note this carefully you will notice that
the act of giving precedes the act of taking.

Also in the famous tamil poem, which is a prayer to Lord Ganesha, "Paalum  Theli Thaenum"
the devotee tells the Lord that he would offer Milk, honey, paagu and pulse (four items) and
asks the Lord to give him (the devotee) Sangathtamizh moondru (Prose, poetry and drama).
So, what do we understand from this? We have to give something more that what we receive.

Giving could be in the form of anything. Love and affection, gifts, alms,  or even something
that is due to be given to someone.

Also when giving, the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving!

When we turn to Matthew 6 in the Bible we come to know about giving:

6 When you do good deeds, don't try to show off. If you do, you won't get a reward from your Father
in heaven.
When you give to the poor, don't blow a loud horn. That's what show-offs do in the meeting places and
on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward.
When you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it.
Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.

My friend Mohan of Crystopal often times when he comes out of some difficulty would say, Bhargav, some  of the good deeds that we do, saves us.

Let us try to do at least one good deed a day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to get frustrated !

Modern day world is full of conveniences - which come in so many different ways.

With the smart phone in your hand it is said that the world is at your finger tips. And so on.

But at times all these will come to naught.

At the time of my leaving the country for six months, I had a particular anti-virus software
with which I was very happy. It was due for renewal, but I thought I will do it after I get back
to India.

A few days back, I went to a popular internet site which gives commercial leads etc. I typed
anti-virus software and many companies in and around my locality were given. I tried three or
four numbers but could not reach any. Mostly the message was: This number is no longer in use.

I rang up a popular company which spends thousands of rupees in advertising. The salesman just
said: The brand mentioned by you is not available. That is all. He never tried to help me.

I found the toll free number of the software company and called them. They said that a person would
call me back and he did. He suggested that I could renew on-line. I told him that I do not have an
on-line account or credit card and that I wanted to pay cash. He seemed to say that it is possible.

When I tried to renew it asked for credit/debit card. My friend gladly gave me his debit card number and
details but the site did not accept the same.

I contacted another person having a computer company and he said that he would send someone to my
house and install a different software which was quite good. Any day, either today or tomorrow my person
will come to your house, he said.

Two days have gone by and no sight of anyone.

The frustration continues.......!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Any regrets?

We should learn to be happy with what we have at hand.

A friend of mine and neighbour has come back to India after having lived in the US for seven years.

I was conversing with her and telling her that my daughter is thinking of coming back to India for good.

She felt that it would be better for my daughter to stay back in the US. She was very unhappy to have come

Further she said that whenever she questioned persons who had come back to India whether they regretted
their move, initially they would say "No regrets".  But after some further talking they would say that they

Every situation has its pluses and minuses. We should learn to look at only the positive side of things.

And finally: If we can't get what we like, we better start liking what we have got !

Friday, July 27, 2012

Packed in like sardines !!

Yes, another idiom, packed in like sardines.

All along I only imagined the meaning but recently I got to experience it.

The other day I got into a bus and got down at Vijayanagar terminus which
is about 2.5 kms from my home in Madipakkam.

I've heard people talking about share-autos and how convenient(sic) they are.

Though there are buses a plenty, I saw an empty auto and the guy shouting, "Madipakkam,

I got into the auto thinking that I would be travelling like a Raja(king). Minutes thereafter
another three people got in. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

I said, "Let's go. Let's go."   But no, it seems a passenger count of four would not be economical
for him. Finally the auto left with a total of eleven people. Two passengers on either side of the driver
and eight in the rear, in two rows.

I understood the meaning of packed in like sardines.

Share auto? I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole!!

Strike ..... while the iron is hot !

Strike while the iron is hot is an idiom which means that one has to do something immediately, repeat
immediately, while he/she has a good chance of achieving success.

This is much more true in a business environment.

Several months back before I left for US, a customer from a marine company was looking to buy
a split air-conditioner and placed an order with us somewhat impressed with our immediate response
to their queries.

This very same customer had sent in an enquiry for  a window air-conditioner a few days back
and we sent in our estimate.

Today the customer rang up and asked about availability of 1.5 ton window unit and the size.
Again customer rued that the unit cannot be fixed since the opening was small and civil work could
not be resorted to for increasing the size. We explained that 1 ton unit would suit the opening and after
some quick exchanges of details over SMS, customer placed the order.

When the customer rang up it was clear that he wanted to finalise the order then and there and we
focused on their requirement and gave them quick replies to their questions.

Yes, one should learn to strike while the iron is hot.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pinakapani and Varadhan

When I was in college, there were these two cadets in the NCC. Pinakapani and Varadhan.

Our NCC officer used to pronounce Pinakapani as Peene-ka-pani (drinking water)
and Varadhan as Varaadhaan since he seldom attended the parades.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Prepare for the worst, but always hope for the best

It is often said that one has to prepare for the worst, at the same time hoping for the best.

I bought an apartment in Madipakkam two years back but was appalled at the civic conditions.
People throw garbage anywhere they like, even right in front of their own houses !

But I had hopes and would often reassure my wife that one day the place will improve.

Some signs of improvement are seen now, since the area has become part of the Chennai Corporation.

The main road has been relaid and improved. Today morning I was pleasantly surprised to see two
conservancy staff workers sweeping the road near the Sadasivam Nagar Bus Stop.

I only hope that people desist from throwing garbage around.

Things should improve.

Things will improve, I hope.....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to get pissed off !

After about a week of our returning to Chennai from our sojourn in USA. my wife and I thought,
"Why not chill out?".

Not having many options for a vegetarian dinner, we decided to drive down to A2B in Velachery

I have heard of B2B and B2C and I was wondering what is A2B. Then I understood that it is 2AB,
 that is to say, AAB, Adyar Anandha Bhavan.

As we were driving down to the hotel, pleasant memories of our stay in US lingered in my mind.
I was driving my wife to the hotel, but the roads of Chennai had decided to take us for a ride it

The traffic was terrible. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere (or the other).
Somehow I managed to reach the gates of paradise??!! Though the gates were open I could
not get in! You might have heard of queues, but this was the first time I experienced a queue of
cars waiting for turns to park!!

A wedding reception had been arranged in the first floor and the crowds attending that function
compounded the problem. I was at my wit's end. My car battery seemed to be running down (since
I had not used it for six months) and there was a fear lurking in my mind that we may have to leave the
car behind.

Saturday night fever!  Yes this was turning out to be a Saturday night fever of a different kind!!
I was reminded of the restaurant TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) near our apartment in Fairfax.
A2B could be renamed as TGIYGAS. (Thank God, if you get a seat).

Finally we managed  (yes, managed ) to park the car and get inside.

There was a sea of humanity. Seats, seats everywhere but no seat to be seated!!
There was a huge queue in the self-service counter to get the coupons. A few others were
standing and eating. (I was reminded of kai-aendhi bhavans)

Some areas were marked for "Self Service" and a few areas where you could sit and order what you want.
It was difficult to figure out which was which.

Finally we reached a table for four, in which a young couple (recently married) were trying to chill out.
When we reached this table, the server decided that we should not sit there until the couple leave!!
I gently asked them whether we could take the seats and they readily obliged.

Seeing us converse in Kannada, they too joined us in the conversation saying that they too speak the
same language. The pleasant conversation was a saving grace for the evening. I invited them to dinner
or lunch at our home on a day of their convenience so that they have at least a day of relaxed outing.
He advised me that one should stay away from the eateries on Saturday and Sunday.

We ordered just the bare minimum and left the place hurriedly.

We decided that in future we will just imagine of some nice restaurant in our mind and eat at home!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Specification of a product while purchasing

Let us take a simple item, a ball point pen.

Suppose the Purchase Officer in a company is asked to indent for ball pens. He has to consider
the usage of the pen, to whom it is being issued, etc. Because there are pens available from 5 Rs.
onwards going upto 50 Rs. and even more.

He may have to compare the price between suppliers. While comparing an item we often hear
the words, compare Apple to Apple.

Yes, but these days we have to remember that there are so many varieties of Apples sourced from
different places. We have to compare a Washington Apple with a Washington Apple!!

Some one wanted an I-Phone. No problem. But, which colour do you want? Black or Silver? 4S?
8 or 16 GB? A few questions have to be answered before the item is bought so that the person gets
exactly what he wants.

Talking of specifications, sometimes it is sufficient if one says, generally conforming to ISS No. xxx.

Coming back to ball-pens, I was surprised to read recently about the Skilcraft ball point pen manufactured to the specifications of the U.S. Government. These pens are manufactured by blind workers in factories
in Wisconsin and North Carolina as part of a 72-year-old legislative mandate. The original 16-page specifications for the pen are still in force: It must be able to write continuously for a mile and in temperatures up to 160 degrees and down to 40 degrees below zero!!

You will find the original article about the Skilcraft pen here:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It is said that Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

If someone were to ask me about the essential difference between India and America
in one word, my answer will always be: Cleanliness.

We talk of a clean house, a clean street or a clean town. But America is clean everywhere
without exception.

And the respect to law is something to be seen. In any parking lot there are a few slots for
the differently able people and no one would park there. No policemen around, but the
traffic signals will be followed.

Americans are well organised. In fact you can search for an item online and will be
given the aisle number in the supermarket where your item is stored!

I could go on and on, but let me come clean. It is cleanliness that matters.

Clean, clean everywhere,
No garbage anywhere!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Hindu Crossword

The Hindu comes out every weekday with a crossword composed by an Indian setter.

And on seeing the word setter meaning of-course the compiler of the crossword, if you could
also immediately think of a breed of dog, then you could look forward to some fun time everyday
with the THC (The Hindu Crossword), if you are not into it already.

What is the difference between a pill and a hill?

The simple answer is that one goes down and the other goes up. If you are posed a series of such questions then after a certain lapse, you will get the hang of it and would start giving your answers.

It is the same process with the crossword. To get the hang of it you should start looking into the
clues and try to figure it out.

These days, it is all about  going to coaching classes and getting trained. Thanks to the internet
you have two very good sites to help you in this regard with no need to go in search of someone.

Everyday, almost exactly at 8.30 AM the day's crossword is solved and also annotated (meaning
explaining how the answer is arrived at) in the blog
So even after knowing the answer to a clue, one need not break his head trying to figure out how
the answer was arrived at.

And to get tutored in solving clues the website is without parallel.

A farewell note: You may occasionally come across a clue like this one, which appeared in
today's (29.6.2012) Hindu:

Br(branch)anch (3,2,3) Answer: Arm-in-arm

This kind of clue gets reviews on either side of the spectrum. One expert calls it a cute clue
while another remarks thus: Not sure how to qualify this. The wordplay was clear enough, but without a definition it feels incomplete.

Let the beginner keep such clues at arm's length. Some may welcome such clues with open arm's while others may take up arms!

For me, it is: Ernest Hemingway!
Ernest Hemingway's autobiographical novel is: A Farewell to Arms.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

Ice Ice Baby is a hip-hop song by American rapper Vanilla Ice when he was sixteen years old.
I just happened to remember this song.

Talking of Ice, we all have certain preferences in our life which we adhere to. My friend PRS (Mani)
had a preference for Ice cologne and whenever someone went to Singapore, he would ask them to
bring Ice for himself:

In my own family, we have been using Colgate toothpaste for decades and will never ever change our brand.
Only thing is we were cut up when they brought in several varieties in it. Today many just ask for Colgate and take whatever variety is handed over to them!!

Medium tending towards fine

What is "Medium tending towards fine"?

My friend Jaisiri who is a fountain pen aficionado will know.

When I went to Gem and Co. years back to buy a fountain pen, the salesman gave
me a few pens which I tried. The flow from one particular nib fascinated me.

After I selected my pen, he said: Fit it with a nib, medium tending towards fine.

The next time I went to that shop, I spoke like an expert (which I am not!)
'I want this pen with a medium nib, medium, tending towards fine!'

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Work and Workmanship

Most workers complete the work given to them. But only a select few can display their skill
and workmanship in performing a particular job.

I took delivery of our Madipakkam flat last year and we occupied it. The doors are fitted with
Godrej knobs with self-locking mechanism.

After about a month or so, one of the doors got locked. Though I had the key with me, it would
not open. I preferred a complaint with the builder but even after three or four days they could not
attend to it.

It is then that I remembered a person who had his workshop in the same street where we had
our workshop in Sripuram. We had purchased an old Godrej safe and he repaired and painted it.
He was a very good workman and was also a franchisee to Godrej, servicing their locks and sometimes
attending to bank lockers to break open the locks and replace them. Yes, at times one forgets where
he or she had kept the locker key. It happened to me too once!

I rang up Godrej and asked them to give me his phone number which they readily did. I rang him
up and he came within hours. He broke open the lock within minutes and also explained why it
had got stuck. There was some foreign material (traces of paint) inside. It was not properly fixed
in the first place. He charged me Rs.300 which I gladly gave. He also advised me that Godrej
would give a free replacement. I informed this to my builder and they took the defective one and
replaced with a new one.

Now that is what I call: WORKMANSHIP.

Monday, June 25, 2012


In Japanese folklore, a nekomata is a cat with a forked tail. Simply said, a cat with two tails.

In reality I once got a two-tailed one paisa copper coin from a shop-keeper. The shop-keeper was
morose that someone had duped him. I was only too glad to have it from him.

I was holding on to the coin for a few years swith the fold belief that one day it would fetch me
maybe, a lakh of rupees!

One day I showed this coin to my friend PRS (Mani) and he told me that he would like to have it.
Our friendship was worth more than a lakh of rupees and hence I had no second thought in parting
that coin and handing it over to him. But this was many years back.

Today I know that that coin having both sides tail (an error coin) could be at the most worth
a few hundred rupees. But the value of our friendship remains the same, invaluable.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stationary shops?

No. Not Stationary. Stationery shops.

As a young person I used to frequent the V. Perumal Chetty Store in the LIC Building. I would buy the Hoe and Co diary.

In later years I sometimes went to George Town area and have a look at the stationery shops in Anderson and Bunder Street areas.

In Mount Road area my favorite haunts were International Traders, Wilfred Stores and the one in
State Bank Street.

The most famous shop in our area is the one known as Camlin shop. Actually the company is
Hindustan Trading Corporation and in later years I supplied an air-conditioner to the owner.
It is one shop where you could get all art materials. Now that shop has shifted to the first floor
of Pratap Plaza (Vitan complex) in Royapettah High Road.

The other shops in our area are the Amar's Traders in the corner of A.S.Salai and R.H. Road.
A nice shop. The most popular in Gopalapuram? Of course it is AA Traders, since it is
situated very near the schools. Aslam is a good friend of mine and he also happens to be
my nephew  Prakash's classmate. Did I supply an air-conditioner to him? Yes, I did.

The A-Premier stores in Mowbray's Road is one very good shop. The owners are related to

As a young boy I went to Indo-Burma Stationers at George Town and was awe struck. Being a whole sale
shop, it was huge.

Few years back the stationery shops used to do good business during March and April, as business
houses were busy buying ledgers, note-books and so on. After the advent of computerised accounting,
Tally and all that, ledgers are just not available. 

I love the Ashwini 80 pages note-book and on once occasion when the particular size was not
available I traced down the manufacturer and sent a boy all the way to Tondiarpet to their factory
to get the note-books for me. I had made a habit of using these note-books as my enquiry register
and would hate to have a note-book of different size as the most recent one.

ITC has made very good inroads into this market with their Classmate series. Talking of classmate,
I am reminded of a joke told by Anand, PRS(Mani)'s friend: We are not only classmates, but
glassmates, too!!

And if you wondered how I could reel out so many stationery shops, it was my dream to own a
nice looking stationery shop, leaving my sales job, stop wandering around and stay stationary
in my stationery shop!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lending Library

A library lends books.

What then is a lending library? A lending library lends books charging a fee to keep the book
with us for a given number of days.

The Easwari Lending Library in its website says that it was started in the year 1955. Actually
it started of as a shop collecting waste paper and the like.

It was my friend Ambi (Sundaram) who was one among the very first customers and who paved
the way for it to become a lending library. His father was a voracious reader of western fiction. So
I used to go along with my pal Ambi and pick up two or three books at a time for his father to read.

How are you sure that your father has not read this book, I would sometimes ask him. Neither am I
sure nor my father would be, he would reply! My friend's father Shri V.S. Mani Iyer, besides
reading a book used to relax in his easy-chair and munch his betel and tobacco.

Easwari thus became one of the pioneers in the lending library. Though Palani himself could not
read a English fiction book, he could pick up any title or show you where books of your favorite
author was.

During my school final, my friend Ravi introduced me to James Hadley Chase and I used to
read one book every day, borrowing it from Easwari. I borrowed the Jeeves series.

Kids borrowed Enid Blyton and the women, Mills and Boon.

Palani's two sons have developed the business well. They have a decent website:

Of late I find a lot of venture capital pumped into this business. Though I wish them well, I am doubtful
of their business model (one even released a full page ad in the newspaper)and whether they will be able to turn out a profit.

What do you want to do when you grow old? As a young lad, I often dreamt of owning a lending library!!
And the other two businesses: Printing Press and Stationery shop.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On losing things

Many among us lose or maybe keep losing a few things.

And of course I can tell you the two most common things that one loses: (1) Pen and (2) Umbrella.

At least in the Fountain Pen days, we could keep the cap and give the body alone. Thanks to Ball
Point Pens, that facility is lost.

Last year when we went to Dubai, I was looking at a Parker ball point pen in the airport.
My friend immediately asked the clerk to bill the item and he gifted the pen to me.

Every now and then, I resolve that henceforth I will always carry a Parker ball pen only.

So when I got this pen, I carried it along with me. But that was only for a few days. This time
I didn't lose it. Someone knocked it off.

I find that a similar pen is available for Rs.200 with flipkart. After returning to India, I have
resolved to buy this pen and.........

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The lover of pens - Panmozhi Pulavar Dr. P.B. Sreenivas

Alas! Woodlands Drive-in restaurant is no more. Having stayed in Gopalapuram for fifty years,
I used to frequent Woodys as it was popularly known. Dr. P.B. Sreenivas loved the place so
much and one could always spot him in his favorite place penning a lyric or other.

He always carries a lot of pens in his pocket which I love. I too wished to carry three or four
pens in my pocket like him, but it has not happened so far.

Other than that, he is a great fan of singer O.S. Arun. I have seen him in most of the concerts
of O.S. Arun. Dr. P.B.S. has penned ghazals in tamil sung by O.S. Arun.

As a fan of Kulasekara Alwar I was glad to have bought the Mukundamala cassette sung by
Dr.P.B.S. I have listened to it scores of times.

On one occasion in a programme, I walked up to him and sang one stanza from Mukundamala.
He looked pleased.
In a pensive mood?

Think before you ink!

When I had not yet reached voting age, I used to see these writings on the wall: Think before you ink.

One was expected to weigh the pros and cons, think over and then cast his or her vote. Alas, those days are gone! Probably nowadays you are not supposed to think before you cast your vote!!

I was actually thinking of ink when I remembered the writing on the wall.

When I entered First Form (VI standard) I graduated from pencil to pen. Oh, that was a great joy
in itself.

When I graduated to First Form it also meant that I could now sit on a bench with table (to seat 3 students).
Some of these benches had a depression to hold the ink bottle and another to hold the pen. I wondered
what these were for. My school was started in the early 40s and I was told that the depression was
made to hold an ink bottle and the other was meant to hold a nib pen. The nib pen was in use
before the advent of the fountain pen.

The inks made by Indian companies that were available at that time were Iris (later known as Bril) and Sulekha (to a lesser extent). Parker (later Chelpark) was expensive.The royal blue was the most popular colour. Sometimes the shopkeeper would give blue-black, but then very few knew the difference. They just asked for ink. And then we used to buy the ink-fillers. At first we used to get one with a glass bottom and a rubber top. Subsequently one got to get the full integrated plastic body fillers. I wonder how many among you remember all these.

It was not even necessary to buy an ink bottle. One could go to the stationery shop and get the pen
filled with ink for a small charge.

As I grew up, I liked to visit the shops selling exclusively pens. I have visited the "Gem and Co" in
George Town and another one in Mount Road near Shanti Theatre, several times. I think this company was known as Plaza Pen Centre or something like that, since it was close to Plaza theatre.

I liked to go all the way to Gem and Co. because one could get his name engraved for a small fee.
Many students liked to buy pens with transparent plastic, so that one could see how much of ink
is left behind.

Alas, by the time I reached S.S.L.C. in the year 1966, pens were already on the way out and
ball-point pens were very much in use.

A fountain pen is more of a personal treasure. Because of the nib, only the user will get
a smooth writing due to the peculiarity in wear and tear. Whereas a ball-point pen could be
used by any one without a hitch.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Schlotzsky and Sheaffer

I was in Austin recently and my niece bought for us sandwiches from Schlotzsky to carry
with us during our return trip to Washington DC.

Schlotzsky - the name brought back to me memories of my German language classes in Chennai.

A few days later I saw the SCH being miss-spelt by a competitor in the spelling bee contest.

Well, the SCH seems to have caught with me and I recently typed Scheaffer instead of

Walter Sheaffer, an Iowa jeweler, founded the Sheaffer Pen Company in 1912.

By the time I realized the mistake it was too late, as my post had been published in
many a blog.

A penchant for pens, but....

I love stationery shops in general and pens in particular.

There is an exclusive pen shop in Chennai and this is what the copy writer has to say:

"....But, we're hoping, Editions, perhaps, will be able to revive a writing revolution that seems to
have gone awry as reliance on computers has steadily increased and the art of handwriting gradually

I beg to differ.

Though this shop says that pens start at Rs.700, they go up to Rs.15,00,000 each.

As for me, I may never be inclined to visit that shop. Just guessing: They may view me as
some kind of a specimen!!

Some years back a guy came rushing into a sweet shop and asked which is their costliest sweet.
When the shop-keeper quoted some amount, he was very sad. Only that much? I wonder whether
the person or the person receiving that sweet will really relish it.

Recently my son-in-law's friend visited our house and he told me how during his marriage his
father-in-law had gifted him a pen costing Rs.2,00,000. I am afraid to even look at it, he said.

Yes, he does not relish it, rather cherishes it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Garage sale and Scheaffer's

Scheaffer is another famous brand for pens.

As a young boy, I used to dream of Parker, Scheaffer, Swan and Waterman pens.

In 2010, when I was in North Carolina, the community arranged a garage sale.

My daughter thought it would be a good idea for us to put up a few things for sale so that
I and my grand-daughter could have some fun and get to know what a garage sale is.

She therefore picked up a few things to be disposed of and finally she gave a
Scheaffer pen, pencil and ball-pen set, unopened.

I asked her why she wanted to give it away. She said nobody was interested in it.

I had no hesitation in telling her that I am taking the set for myself !!

This sale did not materialise and I am having this set in my home in India.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Two heroes

You thought I am going to speak about Kamal and Rajini? No, not today.

My two heroes are my Hero pen and my Hero harmonica.

In 1957 we were staying in Secunderabad in a house owned by Parsis. In those days radios were few and we used to request them to increase the volume to enable us to hear the famous Binaca Geet Mala. One of the sons used to practice playing the mouth-organ every day. I too became interested in the harmonica and
later on in the 70's when the Burma Buzaar used to sell all sorts of genuine imported items, I bought my
first harmonica. The Hero harmonica manufactured in China. I bought it for a princely sum of Rs.15.
I always wanted to own a Hohner mouth-organ and this I was able to buy in Mustafa in 2002 when I visited Singapore along with my friends in Voltas. I wanted one with a button, but they had only one model and only one piece. I never really learnt to play, but even today I occasionally pick up the harmonica and play: Hai apna dil... Just one or two lines!!

The other Hero which I used to buy now and then is the Hero pen. I browsed the internet and found
that the model is known as the Hero 616 Classic. The only colour which was available was the Burgundy.
I like the black colour and rarely one could pick up a black one. I feel I still have one of these pens in my home in India. If not, I feel I could still be able to pick up one in some shop in Chennai, to revive those old memories!


The wonder of internet:  I am interested in solving crosswords. And I am aware that Vinod Raman whom I met sometime back is not only an expert in solving and composing crosswords but also very good in playing the harmonica. Out of curiosity I typed Vinod-harmonica in you tube and yes I heard him playing
the full song, Hai apna dil! That is the reach of the internet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Parker can be connected to pens by almost anyone. The brand is that famous.

In the year 1959 my father gave me a Parker pen and ball-pen set which was gifted to him.

I used to buy the Parker Quink ink for this pen. The famous ad went like this:
"Don't say Ink. Say Quink!". In later years this became Chelpark ink.

I loved the Parker retractable ball-pen. And it had a very smooth flow. With this pen in hand
anyone will love to write. And write. And write.

During my school years in the sixties the other ball pen which I loved was the Wilson ball pen.
In those days there were only two kinds of refills. Either the jotter refill or the ordinary refill.

In later years the Parker pens begun to be manufactured in India by Luxor. But these pens are
in no way comparable to the original one that I had.

Nowadays there are hundreds of ball pen brands and varieties of refills. It has become a use
and throw world. I may buy a pen today but by the time the refill is to be replaced, it will not
be available!

My most recent ball pen model which I prefer to buy is the Reynolds Revo.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Putting yourself in the mood

Many years back I used to listen to a western instrumental music programme aired for half-an-hour
in the morning known as "Music to put you in the mood".

And the instrumental numbers did just that. They put you in the mood for a day's hard work ahead of you.

When we meet people it is customary to ask: "How do you do?"

How many dull and half-hearted replies do we get for this? Many, in fact.

But our mentor in Prabal Electricals Shri Prabhakar (PP) when asked "How do you do" will
invariably in a loud voice and beaming face would say: "Right on top of the world and how about you?"

Well, that would put us really in the mood and which also helped us in being interactive with our
service industry customers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Black & White.

I wanted to put something in black and white.

Black & White is the famous scotch whisky founded by James Buchanan.

But today I want to talk about a song with black and another one which has white in its lyrics.

 The song with black in its lyrics is the famous song featuring Mehmood and sung by Mohammed Rafi in the film Gumnaam. It is Hum Kalen Hain To Kya Hu (What if I am black?).

The song with white in its lyrics is by Deva in his famous gaana song Whittu Lagaan in the movie
Priyamudan.  The tune is almost similar to the above hindi song.

Both these songs may be found in You-tube and you could enjoy listening to both.

I am a fan of Deva and recently I enjoyed listening to his speech (with some humor) which
also shows that he is a very simple and unassuming person. Search in You- tube for: Airtel Super Singer
Sai Charan felicitation.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Credit card?....Never

Some years back cell phones used to be bombarded by tele-callers.

I always believe in living within my means and buy whatever needed with cash.

For a brief period of time I carried a credit card for a specific purpose. When the period
of validity expired, I did not renew it.

So you see I am clear about my not requiring a credit card. This being so, I did not wish
to take the calls from the tele-callers selling credit cards. Nor did I like them to extend the
conversation with me.

And I devised my own conversation to cut such calls:

Caller: Hallo Sir, Do you use a credit card?

Me: Have a nice day! I never use a credit card, only visiting card!!

And I will abruptly cut the call.

A friend of mine had his own way of dealing.

Caller: Hallo Sir, xxx bank has pre-approved a loan to you.
He: Oh, very good. Is that so? How much you will give?
Caller: Upto Rs. 1 lakh.
He: Is that so? My requirement is 10 crores.

Friday, June 8, 2012

You may be intelligent......but

I remembered my friend Baskar Sarma.

One of the things that he often said struck me and I keep repeating it on many
occasions and think of my friend Baskar Sarma and PRS (Mani).

We used to exchange many banters and sometimes he used to say:
You may be intelligent, Bhargav, but the guy standing in front of you is not a fool.

Yes, it is human nature that one thinks that he or she is very intelligent. And there is
absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Only, we have to keep in mind that others are or could be as intelligent or more than us!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


ORU = One
SINGAL = single

In Chennai when you go to a tea shop and ask for tea you might sometimes be asked: Single or cup?

The quantity of tea in a cup will be more and hence costs more than a single.

Let us explore inflation with reference to the single tea.

When I was in college, we used to go to Sukumar Tea Stall in Oliver Road beside our college, Vivekananda
College for a quick tea. The year 1967. A single tea we got for 15 paise.

In 2002, I used to frequent the tea stall in Mount Road and the single (which I always refer as hot water - becuase it is often nothing more than that) was priced Rs.2.

A few years later it went up to 2.50 but due to the coins problem they jacked it up to 3.00.

Within a year or so due to the increase in price of milk, 3 became 4.

And, within a very sort time span 4 has become Rs.5.

A cup of coffee in Chennai airport costs Rs.80.

That is inflation for you from the point of view of cost of tea. Yesterday I read somewhere that drinking
four cups of tea a day reduces diabetes. Any takers?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

After wearing a dog's garb...

In the late eighties we took up dealership for Carrier Aircon Limited in Chennai.

Being a start-up we had more of sales people. Sales involves hard work and working even
on holidays and Sundays at times, if one were to be serious in his own progress and the
progress of the company.

But some of the new recruits were taking things easy.

In such instances my friend Mohan used to say: After wearing the garb of a dog, you can't say
that you won't bark! (Naai vesham pottu, koraikkamattaen endru solla mudiyathu)

Yes, one has to act as per the demands of the situation.

If one doen't get what he likes, he better start liking what he gets!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lesson learnt from Movie (AC Dealers enjoy!!)

I was told that the heat in Chennai has not abated. That could mean extended sales of Air-conditioners
for dealers. Make hay while the sun shines!!

I have been watching any number of western movies and I again saw (who has not seen!) the brilliant movie,
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This movie I saw in Texas in my niece's house in a huge TV and with home theatre systems and blaring sound.

When the following dialogue was about to come, my niece's husband said: Watch out, Uncle!!
(He had brought me several varieties of beer which we were drinking together)

{Tuco is in a bubble bath. The One Armed Man enters the room}
One Armed Man: I've been looking for you for 8 months. Whenever I should have had a gun in my right
hand, I thought of you. Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me. I had lots of time to learn to shoot with my left.
{Tuco kills him with the gun he has hidden in the foam}
Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

This made me think. Yes, we sometimes give materials to our relatives, friends, business associates, etc.
but forget to ask them as to who will make the payment. Sometimes we feel delicate to ask for the payment
in straightforward manner. What is wrong in that. When someone owes us money, we have to just ask for it.

I am reminded of my friend PRS (Mani) who used to say: Bhargav, if we have to oblige someone. Fine.
Let's just do the job and be happy. But whenever a bill is raised by the company, even if it is for Rs.200,
that money has to be collected.

Yes, that is very good business advise and sense.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Water, water, every where

In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge one comes across these
famous words:

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Well, all that water was sea water and so unfit to drink.

The first time I went to Singapore, my hotel room-mate, an Engineer from IIT asked
for some drinking water and we were advised to take it from the toilet sink. Yes, the
water being received anywhere in the pipes is potable water. However in this instance
we said that we were not inclined to take the water from the toilet sink and the waiter
readily brought us a bottle of water.

In the early sixties as a school student, I remember that while returning from the
playground we just used to pump the water from the metrowater mains and drink
it directly.

Alas! Today because of population explosion and so many other issues, the water
table has reduced in many areas. Many areas are not covered by metro water connections.
Water is not fit for drinking. Every where there is water, but not a drop to drink! We have
to buy mineral water cans for Rs.30 and more each. An average household spends
upwards of 500 Rupees for water alone.

Someone said: This is a sure sign that we are in Kali Yuga. Because we are forced to
buy water!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Knock, knock, knock - jokes apart

Knock, knock, knock.

Who's this?

Opportunity. Open the door.

No, can't.


Opportunity knocks only once!!

Jokes apart, opportunity does not come quite often in one's life. If we happen to see it, better
get hold of it.

I am giving you the price of silver (in dollars per troy ounce (31.1 grams)) as on 1st of June
for the last few years:

1.6.2003: 4.5 dollars
1.6.2004: 6.2 dollars
1.6.2005: 7.4 dollars
1.6.2006: 12.0 dollars
1.6.2007: 13.5 dollars
1.6.2008: 17.0 dollars
1.6.2009: 16.0 dollars
1.6.2010: 18.0 dollars
1.6.2011: 38.0 dollars (Yes, thirty-eight, that's right!!)
1.6.2012: 28.5 dollars
1.6.2013: ?
1.6.2014: ?

Do you see a missed opportunity and an opportunity knocking your doors right now?

I have no comments - leaving it to your judgement.

For more info mail me at:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Arre Huzoor Wah Taj Boliye

Most of you might remember the famous and popular advertisement in  yesteryear TV.

It was for the Taj Mahal Tea featuring Ustad Zakir Hussain. A short ad: "Wah, Ustad, Wah"
and Zakir saying "Arre Huzoor Wah Taj Boliye".

This time round the Wah Taj goes to Tajin Rogers who won the first National History Bee
quiz in the History channel yesterday and won a scholarship  of $50,000.

He was able to answer almost any question and raced to win the quiz in the final round.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nicholas - "Naan oru Raasi illa Rajaa"

Spelling Bee - 2012.

Casting a spell on the audience and making them watch spell-bound.

While watching the finals my favorite was Nicholas, the boy with his lucky yellow T-shirt.

Alas, he was given a word with a Tamil origin - Vetiver. One of the very few which I could have
spelled right.

"What word", he asked and then said "Oh, Tamil". His spelling was incorrect. But you will
notice that he is a real cool guy.

The final three were Indian-American kids.

Snigdha Nandipati became the fifth consecutive Indian-American winner and tenth in the last
fourteen years.

And you know something? In the run-up to the bee, she studied 6 to 10 hours a day on weekdays
and 10-12 hours on weekends.

Single minded purpose? Oh yes commendable indeed.

Other than that? A-tro-cious!!

I would place the top hundred on par and the winner is lucky to get the prize.

How will you spell Sridhar?  Sridhar, Sridar, Sreedar, Sreedhar.......or go to a nameologist?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


JIT stands for Just In Time.

A ship is safe in the harbour, but it is built to move goods from one place to another. Likewise, a lorry
which moves goods from one place to another has to be constantly on the move.

When I was studying Materials Management, a friend from Lucas TVS stated that the lorries which
came to their factory to unload raw materials sometimes used to be parked for two or three days waiting
to get their turn in unloading.

The science of Logistics management was born.

Inventory build up should be minimal in a factory and after the advent of computers companies
were able to forecast the quantity and time at which such inventories were needed.

JIT was born. If we needed to make 50 cars today, then we need 200 wheels out of which
100 could be delivered the previous day evening and 100 by 12 noon today. Something like
that. So the delivery schedules were made out is such fashion and the lorries were expected
to arrive at such-and-such time at such-and-such gate number.

I do not know how far these exercises have been successful in our country.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gold and silver - China and India


Population: 135 crores    GDP: 5.93 trillion dollars

* CHINA is now believed to have exceeded Peru and Mexico to become the number one
    in production of silver.
*  CHINA is the largest producer of Gold.
*  CHINA imports more and more of gold and silver.
*  Shanghai Futures (SHFE) has started trading in silver futures.


Population: 126 crores   GDP: 1.73 trillion dollars

* INDIA does not produce any gold or silver worth mentioning.
* Gold imports might plunge by 50% since demand remains lack lustre because of high
    domestic prices.

The population of India will surpass China some years down the line. What about other

Monday, May 28, 2012

What you may not know about GOLD

Everyone knows about gold and many have at-least a small quantity of it.

Governments hold a portion of their reserves in Gold and top ten nations according to the
quantity of gold that they have in their possession:
USA (8,133 tons), Germany, Italy, France, CHINA(1,054 tons), Switzerland,
Russia, Japan, Netherlands and INDIA(558 tons).

Now let us see the top ten Gold producing nations:
CHINA(355 tons), Australia, USA(237 tons), Russia, South Africa,
Peru, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.

India till recently was the largest importer of gold. But during the course of this year (2012) China
is going to surpass India in this aspect.

China produces the maximum amount of Gold per year. It is going to become the largest importer
of Gold per year. And it has 1,054 tons of Gold as reserves which represents only 1.6% of its
total reserves. It also has 3 trillion dollars as reserves.

India has begun purchasing oil from Iran by effecting payments in Gold.
Because of the rising price of Gold the off-take is dampening.

Investors in India will be better of by investing in silver bullion.

Comments are welcome.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Old is Gold

It is said that old is gold. Old silver coins (why call them junk) are gold. Yes, these silver coins have increased in value many times above the face value.

Back in India, when I was a young boy, there used to be a regular news item in the local papers. It was the quote for New York cotton (or some such item). I believe people used to bet on the next day prices or something like that. 

Even today the papers carry the daily prices of eggs, bullion, whole-sale vegetable prices and the exchange values of the currencies of various countries.

In most stores we see the pictures of vegetables and the corresponding prices. So, in this internet age it is not difficult to put up the value of the old silver coins on a day-to-day basis (maybe along with the pictures).

One can surely save and put aside some of these coins every month. One hobby could be to open an XL sheet in our computer and work out the day to day value of our coins and get some kick out of it!!


My above post has been published in the Mini blog at
of Dr. Jeffrey Lewis