Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mega Millions Lottery - anyone?

Mega Millions - anyone?

Mega Millions is the lottery in America (banned in a few states only). Yesterday the lottery amount of 640 Million US Dollars was the world's largest amount available to the winner, provided only one ticket holder were to claim it.

Well, it so happened that there were 3 winning ticket holders with the magic numbers.

Years back the Tamil Nadu Lottery was popular and the first prize amount was Rs.1,00,000 and the ticket amount was 1 Re. My father used to buy a few tickets every month and try his luck.

Some of the things he used to say: (a) Remember that even if you were to win a prize of Rupees one lakh you can't consider yourself to be a lakhpathi. If you have 70 or 80 lakhs, maybe you are one. (b) You have no right to dream of winning a lottery unless you have atleast one ticket in your hand.

Being in America we too were thrilled, more so my wife and we bought a few tickets at a dollar each. Two days back she was working out in her mind to whom all she should distribute the prize money!!

Much later I realised that she was keen on giving away the money but never once did she say anything about spending something for herself!! Wish we all could be like that.

We sat in front of the TV when the winning numbers were picked. The winning numbers were in Greek and the numbers we had in our hands were Latin!!!

Yes, we can only give what we have. What we have to get - Ooparwallah will take care of.

Friday, March 30, 2012

British India and Republic India

Some numismatists collect all coins. Some collect British India coins while a few others collect Republic India coins. Let it be.

I want to tell you something about British Madras. The Fort St. George (Kottai) was established
in AD 1639. India got its Independence in the year 1947. We can see that the Englishmen were around for more than 300 years in Madras.

We can see this everywhere even these days.

In the late sixties when I studied in Vivekananda College, I used to leave my house in Conran
Smith Road on my Hercules cycle (of course Indian bike, but this company was bought by TI Cycles in the year 1958 from the Britishers), get into Cathedral Road, go past Mowbrays Road into Edward Elliots Road and get into Sullivan's Garden Road to reach my college. In between classes we used to have a glass of tea in Sukumar Tea Stall in Oliver Road. At times we used to go to Samco in the junction of Eldams Road.

Movie? It was either Odeon, Midland, Minerva or New Elphinstone.

Books? Higginbothams.

I could go on and on...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Egilichi and Hamilton Bridge

Have you heard of Madame Egilichi? You might not have. She is a character in the famous Marx Brothers movie Love Happy. And if you haven't seen any of the Marx Brothers movies, it is time you do. You will be left wondering why you missed watching all these days or years!

In this movie Love Happy, one of the Marx brothers, Harpo, a dumb character (dumb in all the movies) acts in sign language and somehow conveys that Madame Egilichi is about to be murdered. He first shows something like flying and the other guy says bird? and then eagle? Yes, yes. And then Harpo starts scratching himself. Scratch? Itch? Itchy? Eagle itchy, Eagle itchy, Eagleitchy, Egilichi.
But then to enjoy the whole sequence you MUST watch Love Happy.

Hamilton's bridge is in Chennai. And it became Barber's bridge. How? Hamilton, Hamilton, amilton, ambaton, ambattan. Tamil being the language in Chennai, Ambattan in tamil is Barber. So, like in the movie above, Hamilton's bridge became Barber's bridge!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Indian and India

Indian, the movie?


Be Indian, Buy Indian?

No, No.

I am talking of grammar. We may not know the grammar, but we do know grammatically correct usage. Most of the time. What if there be a small mistake or error, so long as the communication is smooth.

Sachin plays for the Indian team. The dhoti is an Indian dress.

But what about IBH? or IHC? IBH is India Book House and not Indian Book House. So also, IHC is the India Hobby Centre, the famous hobby shop near Arts College (Now Quaid-e-Millath college) in Anna Salai. I am not sure if it is still there. India Book House I have visited a couple of times, in C-in-C Road, now Ethiraj Salai.

In the late seventies, I was helping my friends in administrative area and a new company was floated, initially as a partnership company. I was asked to buy the deed papers and I sent someone with a chit. Somebody didn't notice properly and India Data Processors became Indian Data Processors just because in the deed paper it was written as Indian Data Processors. My mentor Rahu Ram pointed out the mistake in a trice but said, "What's in a name? Let it be Indian".

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Give me red...


You will recognize these words as the byline of Eveready batteries.

But I want to tell you something about being eveready. Live wire. Go getter. All that
is possible only if you love your job.

Some years back we had arranged a mela to sell air-conditioners in the Kasi Arcade Mall in Chennai. We had advertised that we will be open from 9 am till 9 pm.

The guy from the advertising company who had helped us arrange the show, a seasoned professional was friendly with me and on the last day he was sitting and chatting with me.
It was around 9.15 pm and everyone had left save the two of us.

We closed the shutters and were about to leave. Just then a young yuppie came and said
he wanted to have a look at the air-conditioners on display.

Both of us spontaneously said, "Yes" and we opened the shutters and switched on the lights.
In about ten minutes he had seen the models and selected one but wanted me to come and
have a look at his room to see the location. And he said he leaves home everyday at 7.30 am.

Since I knew that his house is only about 3 kms from mine, I promised to meet him at 7 am the next day. Which I did. And I bagged his order.

Live wire? Maybe.

My motto: Air-conditioning is my business. Selling air-conditioners is my hobby.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Howling customer

A very good friend of mine came howling into my office one day.

He is a very good friend of mine today, but on the day that he came howling into my office
he was a customer and I was the manager of the company and I had taken the reigns only
a few days earlier.

He had bought two air-conditioners from us three years earlier and there was some problem
with the units.

I listened patiently to him, kept silent and when he had completed his howling, I told him
that I will meet him in his house the next day and inspect his units.

The next day, I took a small gift and went along with my technician to his house. I handed the gift to his wife.

I asked my technician to inspect the units and clean them thoroughly. They were working well.

He was happy. I way happy. And we became very thick friends thereafter.

(It turned out that he wanted to get free service for his machines. Once in a way we don't mind such things. He was in the vigilance department of a government department and so the howling part was something he used to do day in and day out. One year after this we had some work in the particular department and he helped us in getting our job done.)

Moral: What we sow today, we can reap tomorrow.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sapphire and Safire

Sapphire is a gemstone.

Safire was the theatre started by a family dealing in gemstones. Veecumsees the jewellery people were the ones who owned and operated these theatres. The other theatres in this complex ( it was one of the very first multiplex theatres in India) were Blue Diamond and Emerald.

1964: Safire (a 70mm theatre, again one of the first among 70mm theatres) was opened and the first movie was Cleopatra, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. It was certified as an Adult movie. I was studying in school. The theatre was just a 5 minute walk from my house.
I bought myself a pair of full pants (!) and a pair of shoes. I went and saw the movie along with a few of my school friends. I have even preserved the tickets till this day!! Among the other movies that I remember seeing: It's a mad, mad, mad,mad world, Sound of Music, Lawrence
of Arabia and My Fair Lady. It was a wonderful theatre, was fully air-conditioned (in those days we used to have theatres which had some portions air-conditioned, hence the modern theatres labelled themselves as fully air-conditioned) and each seat had a cloth cover, always clean.
It also had some cubicles with three seats each and many couples used to buy three tickets and occupy the cubicles!

The other theatres which came up were Blue Diamond and Emerald. Blue Diamond was dubbed as a walk-in, walk-out theatre. A movie was screened continuously from 1 pm in the afternoon till late in the night. Patrons could walk in any time and stay on as long as they pleased. Emerald was a small theatre which screened Hindi movies and such.

This theatre complex which was like an oasis in Mount Road is alas, no longer there. Some people bought the theatre, wanted to construct a big office complex and after bringing down the buildings gave up the project. The place looks so desolate now. What a fall.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New and latest.

Some people buy pre-owned (a recent jargon, we always used to say second-hand) cars, some others buy new cars, whereas a few want only the latest.

In India the value of second hand cars is based on the year in which it was registered. So the sales in December will be sluggish. You see there is a difference in buying a new car in the third week of December and buying the same in the second week of January. The registration year will change.

Durables like automobiles, air-conditioners etc. do not have a sell-by date. A car lying in the dealer's garage for three months is a new car, till it is sold and registered. So also an air-conditioner. In a packed condition, if it were to be stored for three or four months, there is no issue. Any way the guarantee/warranty is reckoned from the date of sale.

But with mass production and computerised robots manufacturing, the models are changed very often these days.

Air-conditioners are sourced from China and elsewhere and the models are changed once or twice in a year. When the new models arrive, dealers advertise them as the latest models.

Are the earlier models which arrived a few weeks earlier, old?? Are they to be shunned?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The importance of Feedback

Feedback is so important but many of us do not care to give any sort of feedback.

We talk of "give and take" relationship. If we notice this carefully we will observe that
to take something we have to first give.

How many programmes have we not seen in the TV where the compere keeps asking
the audience to clap and show their appreciation. We appreciate, yes we do, but we do
not show our appreciation.

Do not the parents crave for the feedback from the prospective bridegroom's side after
their visit?

If we start giving our feedback, both positive and negative in a pleasant way, then other persons would also start doing just that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Collect it - forget it

All of us resort to collecting something or the other in our lives.

Only for a very few persons does collecting something as a hobby latches on and becomes a
life-time passion.

Over the years, I have collected a lot of things for a particular period of time and then given up.

(1) Probably the very first hobby of collecting, as for any school going lad, I started collecting postage stamps. Stamp collecting or Philately as it is known, is called the King of Hobbies.
I collected a few hundred stamps, someone gave me an album in which I pasted many stamps.
One day I took my album to school and someone took away a set of error stamps. I didn't make an issue of it. Then I used to go to Mount Road Post Office (now Anna Road Post Office) and buy the first day covers and stamps with cancellation. Later the album itself was lost and also my interest in collecting stamps.

(2) Numismatics (coin collecting). I always look at the coins that I receive. The odd one I would keep away in a safe place. Some friends and relatives returning from foreign countries used to give me a coin or two. This was a passive hobby. After my retirement two years ago my interest in collecting coins has gained much strength. I now collect Republic of India coins. I learn a lot from sites in the internet.

(3) Pocket watches: I love pocket watches. And I like the dials to be inscribed in Roman numerals. In watches the Roman numeral 4 will appear as IIII. The only Indian manufacturer to bring our a pocket watch was HMT and I bought one on 1.1.1984. I think they used to call it a pendant watch. Though I have seen some old pocket watches in Moore Market, I didn't buy any due to want of enough money. Recently both my daughters who knew my interest in pocket watches gifted me, one each. These are nice quartz pocket watches. I still would love to have a nice pocket watch with a lid and with bold Roman numerals!!

(4) First issue of magazines: I have a few magazines in this category!

(5) Match box labels: Phillumeny is the collecting of match box labels. I used to buy a lot of these from the shop opposite my house while I was in school. Cheeta Fight was a popular brand made by Wimco and I had any number of match box labels looking just like Cheeta Fight. I understand that the famous Wimco factory in Thiruvottiyur has been purchased by ITC. That note-book is no longer with me. I might have given it away to someone.

Finally, I give below a list of a few things that I always wanted to have:
(1) Victorinox knife: I have one original and one duplicate, both gifted to me.
(2) Swan pen: I have Parker, Cross, Sheaffers. Would love to have a swan pen.

Of late, I have been watching the Pawn Stars serials in History channel and my latest fad is to open one such shop in Chennai!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The story of Anna and other such

Before the decimal system of 100 paise to a rupee was introduced, Anna was the coin and
there were sixteen of them in a rupee. 4 annas was a quarter and 8 annas was half-a-rupee.

People spoke about Rupees, annas and paise (one anna = 4 paise and one paisa=3 pies). I do not know how many of you have handled these coins. To avoid confusion the new paisa was for quite some time known as naya paisa.

Around the same time we started using the metric system in measurement 100mm= 1 metre.
Nowadays everybody speaks in mm. Almost...

Old timers (like me and many others) can still understand quickly only in feet and inches.
What's your weight? 112 lbs. is what I prefer. In today's weight machine you will get
50 kgs.

In my own line of business the dimensions of deep freezers and bottle coolers are given in mm in the leaflets. Most of the customers would like the dimensions in feet and inches. So, we made out a chart giving the details in feet and inches and pasted it in a prominent place, so that it will be easy for us to interact with the customers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Enjoy music with Saint Thyagaraja in three easy steps

I enjoyed music with Saint Thyagaraja. You too can.

First step, let us take a drop of nectar from the great Saint:

Nagumomu Ganaleni of Saint Thyagaraja


Nagumomu Ganaleni Naajaali Delisi
Nannu Brova Raa Raadaa Sri Raghuvara! Ni

(O Rama! Supreme among Raghus! Missing your charming smile-lit face I languish here.
Knowing my mental plight, can't you come and protect me?)


Nagaraajadhara! Nidu Parivaarulella
Ogi Bodhana Jesevaaralu Gare Yatulundadura Ni

(O One who holds Govardhana hill! Members of your retinue who have the duty of reminding you of your daily engagements cannot fail in their duty)


Khaga raaju Niyaanativini Vega Chanaledo
Gaganaanikilagu Bahu Durambini Naado
Jagamele Paramaatma! Evarito Moralidudu
Vagajupuga Taalanu Nannelukora Tyagarajanutani

(Does not Garuda execute your commands expeditiously? Could he have excused himself saying that he was far from the earth in Vaikunta, your heavenly abode? Exalted Lord! Ruler of the Universe! Whom else can I appeal to? Please shun disregard. I can't bear it. Take me in your fold)

Second step: Listen (over you tube) the above kriti from various artistes in various styles:

(1) Fusion: Nagumomu by Cheb Mami and Susheela Raman
(2) Rock: Rock to Rags Nagumomu by Naveen
(3) Film music: Nagumomu by Yesudas and Poorna Chandra
(4) Nagumomu by Dr. Bhanumathi Ramakrishna
(5) Nagumomu by M.S. Subbulakshmi and Radha Viswanathan
and then Instrumental
(6) Nagumomu by Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan (Violin)
(7) Nagumomu by Kadri Gopalnath (Saxophone)
(8) Nagumomu by S.Shashank (Flute)
(9) Nagumomu by Rajesh Vaidya (Veena)
(10) Nagumomu by Sivarama Kodukala (Keyboard)

Step three: Listen to - again and again - that which suits your taste!

Great, Greater and Greatest Shivajis.

It is my pleasure to talk about three Shivajis. One great, the other greater and finally the third and undoubtedly the greatest Shivaji.

Shivaji Rao was a great Shivaji to me. He was the proprietor of Shivaji Rao and Sons Tailors.
I came in contact with them in the late sixties and continues till this day, the shop being managed by one of his sons. For those of you who do not know Madras (a.k.a. Chennai) of the sixties, it was just a big village. Shivaji Rao and Sons had a small tailoring shop in Pycrofts Road (a.k.a. Bharthi Salai) and even in those days his shop was older than the other old shops, some of which were modernising. Shivaji Rao was old and used to only sit and do the button hole stitching. His two sons were the tailors. Shivaji was always pleasant and when the customers came in, he used to greet them and take the measurements himself. A pencil tucked above his ear, he would remove it and begin writing only after all the measurements were taken. They did (and still do) a great job and I have never ever thought of changing them. But with the advent of readymade shirts and pants, these days I go to them only with the shirt and pant bits so enthusiastically doled out to me in marriages, upanayanams, et al!!

Next comes the greater Shivaji, Shivaji Rao Gaikwad a.k.a. Rajinikanth. From humble beginnings he has risen to very great heights and is now a Super Star. He has kept himself away from politics. I doubt if there be any one among you who have not seen atleast one or two movies of his.

The greatest Shivaji is undoubtedly Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He was to India what Napolean was to Europe. Please browse the web and try to fathom his greatness.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


We all know POP - Point of Purchase display. The display is made in a mall or near the cash counter and so on.

AD 2002. Those were the days when melas were a popular way of display and sale. We used
to hire exhibition halls and marriage halls for a few days and display our air-conditioners, advertise in the local papers, distribute leaflets and tried to increase our presence and sales.

But all this entailed a considerable expenditure. We could not continue doing this kind of an exercise, since the returns were not commensurate with the expenditures.

Narayanan, the sales executive in Voltas suggested that we do something fresh. So we went
away from the point of purchase. We went to the Elliot Beach! Out of point of purchase (OO-POP)!!

We had an open tempo. We decorated it and kept the air-conditioner in it.

Every day in the morning we would take our vehicle by 7 a.m. to the beach and park it there.
The morning joggers would stop by for a while to have a look at our air-conditioner/s. Quite a few purchased...

Today, with increasing time and expenses in travelling, people have taken to the internet in a very big way. They browse the web, compare the models and pricing and place their orders over phone/ or after choosing they visit the shop and buy. Going around from shop to shop is no longer the order of the day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Standardisation - to hell with it!

First came the industrial revolution and a plethora of products.

Then came standardisation.

Let me give you two examples:

(1) Years back there were only the Voltas window air-conditioners. In three capacities: 1, 1.25 and 1.5 tons. All the three capacities of air-conditioners were of the same size. That is standardisation for you. If you had a 1 ton unit and it were to be take away for repairs, I could loan you a 1.5 ton unit till such time your unit is repaired. No hassles. But today the story is different.

(2) Decades back when I was a school-boy using ball-point pens, there were only two types of refills: Ordinary and jotter. Any refill could be used in any pen, most of the times. You know the story today.

Manufacturers have started making the products unique, so that they can keep the business with themselves.

Manufacturers say: Standardisation? Hell with it.

Oh yes, we seem to be heading there!!

But who will face the music?

I always used to like instrumental music.

In the early seventies stereo music was catching up. Our business establishment was very close
to my house and I used to cycle down to my house to have lunch in the afternoons.

On the way back I used to stop for a while near a house from where I could hear some wonderful stereophonic instrumental music. I was crazy. I used to tell myself that my first major purchase would be a Philips stereo record player.

We used to do sub-contract work for Blue Star. One day the manager of Blue Star
Mr. Arunachallam told me that he was going away to Dubai and that he wanted to sell his
Philips Hi-Q International record player. When I told him of my interest in buying it he offered me to give it for Rs.1,000. He also told me that if I were to take the player from him, he would give free all his records. It was a god send, because he was a piano-accordian player and all of his records were instrumental hits by James Last, Ventures, Bert Kaempfert, Shadows and so on. Just type any one of these names in You Tube and listen. (Caution: You may get addicted.)

In our business we had a tacit understanding that partners will draw money only for bare essentials and all profits would be ploughed back into the business. Extra drawings were only for emergencies.

I told my senior partner and mentor Mr. Raghu Ram of my desire to purchase the record-player. A kind-hearted person, he however liked to play with words.

In this instance I was keen to play the music, whereas he played with words....

He said: You will get yourself the player, BUT WHO WILL FACE THE MUSIC?

For a moment I was dumb-struck.

After a while I managed to say, "We all will, Sir. We all will." I bought the music system and I along with my retinue of nephews used to listen endlessly to wonderful stereo music.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ton Tonna Ton Sachin - you showed us the way!

A ton of tons!

Super! Sachin Tendular has done it. What an achievement!

His mind was set and he had the mind-set to do it!

And mind you, if you are set on doing something, and go about doing it with
single-minded purpose just as Sachin, you too can do it!

He proved to you and me that age is not a barrier!

He showed us that concentration and approach is the secret of his success!

So come along brothers and sisters, let us all congratulate Sachin and pledge to
follow him, whatever our goal may be!

Long live Sachin!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


When I was young I used to hear this quite often. Brand new. Meaning absolutely new.

I am wearing a brand new shirt. I played cricket today with my brand new bat. And so on.

And we got to also know about brands. Vanaspathi got branded as Dalda. It became a household name so much so that people wanted Dalda. The brand name itself became a product! Even today people go to the shops and ask for a Thermos flask. They do not seem to know that Thermos is a brand name.

At times very famous brands die. Hear Kodak and you think of the camera. Recently Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

Today there are hundreds of brands. Everything is branded. Even your day-to-day Idly batter is branded! My coconut hair oil? Branded.

We stick to certain brands and become loyal to them. Hamam soap? Colgate toothpaste? Topaz blade? Voltas air-conditioner? I have been using these for years and can never imagine changing them.

Oh, coming to think of it, our superstar Rajini is a brand in himself. Time I branded (pun not intended) myself. What about you, you and you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Silver - the sound and light show.

Ah Silver! That fantastic precious metal!!

My first glimpse of this metal was when I was a young lad of 8 or 9. My maternal grand-father had saved some one rupee coins. One rupee coins? Oh yes, around 100 to 120 coins in all. But these were all silver coins. They were big. They were shining. And on top of that someone threw a coin on the floor to demonstrate that peculiar sound of silver. How many of you have enjoyed the sight and sound of this metal?

We all know that gold and silver are precious metals and we have them in our houses in the form of jewellery, vessels and coins. Why, most of you can see that gold ring in their finger right now while reading this post.

But you know something? Silver, unlike gold is consumable. Yes, silver is used in a variety of industries. Our smart phones have them. The silver used in them cannot be recovered.

The price of silver has been steadily increasing over the years, but the prices are very volatile.
Many experts are of the opinion that silver is grossly under-priced and that it could double or more in the next year or so.

What does this augur? Silver could prove to be a good hedge against inflation. So let us start putting away our savings in the form of silver.

Silver can be purchased in the form of bars and coins. Jewellery, collectables and so on.

One word of caution. Coins come in the form of rounds as well as in the form of numismatic coins.
The price of a numismatic coin depends upon two factors: (a) metal content and (b) condition of the coin. If you are not interested in numismatics don't venture into them. Do your homework first.

Instead of going to a gift shop and breaking our head as to which is an appropriate gift, why
can't we buy some silver coins and have them ready in our homes?

The Fine Print

The fine print.

It is always there. We know it. But we don't care.

At times, we are even told what is in fine print.....

And still we didn't care!

Yes. Years back we wanted to do something new and we were told that English Electric (EE)
is looking for contractors to supply hylam boards to their size and requirements.

We wanted to take up the work and we knew that EE took 90 to 100 days to make the payment.

When we had amost finalised the contract, a friend of ours pointed out the fine print. EE will make the payment after 90 days. But, repeat but, the bill has to be submitted 90 days after the supply of goods.

That would be 90+90= 180 days!

We decided that we will keep supplying and wait patiently for the first six months, after which we could expect monthly payments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

P Silent

We live in an apartment complex and we call our association a Residents' Association.

There is an AGM held every year to elect new office bearers, but after the initial years nobody would come forward. The same office bearers had to continue.

We resorted to selecting instead of electing.

A resident was requested to be the President. But he said: P silent. I would like to be a resident!

A cousin of mine was the representative of one of the four blocks. He was forced to continue.
He said - "I am the blockhead".

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nurturing of talent

Let us understand these words in simple language.

Nurture: to educate, to train
Talent: capacity for achievement.

Now let us come back to the topic: Nurturing of talent

Can talent be nurtured? Of course, it can be! The super singer junior competition
which is being aired is standing testimony.

One child who was on the verge of being eliminated last week, came out with flying colours
and got spot selected. She remarked that she had a fire in her and wanted to compete with
her other friends and come out in flying colours.

And remember, they have a guru. The voice expert.

Do some introspection and find out what your talent is which you want to nurture. Find a suitable guru and practice!

Can be anything: Selling air-conditioners, cooking, playing football, completing your post graduation after retirement, drawing, anything. As for training you have that wonderful reservoir of knowledge: The computer and internet.

As they say: JUST DO IT.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The X-Factor

A doctor ordered an air-conditioner.

His was a small consulting room and the size was a little less than 10 feet by 10 feet.

Yes, a one ton air-conditioner was sufficient, was ordered and supplied by us.

The doctor complained that there was no cooling. Our representative visited the place
and he too was of the same opinion. We sent another air-conditioner. Still the same complaint!

My friend visited the place and when he carefully studied the whole place, he found out
the cause.

One of the walls was a common wall and on the other side was a kitchen of a restaurant.
The stoves there were emanating a lot of heat and so the wall was becoming very hot.
The heat load required a 1.5 ton air-conditioner.

My friend explained this to the doctor who agreed to have a 1.5 ton air-conditioner installed.
The problem was solved.

When there is a problem, view it from all angles and look for the unusual.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Window dressing and creative accounting

These days we hear of window dressing, creative accounting and so on.

In today's world which is full of scams, these words have a negative connotation.

But in the good old days, there was creativity. But it did not affect anyone.

When we began our air-conditioning business, we used to meticulously prepare quotes.

Here is an example:

(1) To cut open the compressor of your Air-temp 1.5 ton window
air-conditioner, rewinding the stator coils with freon resistant
S.E. copper wire, cleaning, assembling, welding and testing ... ... ... ... Rs. 500

(2) To dehydration evacuation and charging the system
with fresh gas ... ... ... Rs.450

(3) To replacing the electrical parts ... ... ... Rs. 300

(4) To collection and delivery charges ... ... ... Rs. 100
Total: Rs.1,350

After a few weeks, we became creative and charged Rs.50 for transportation instead of

You see, the collection and delivery charges is something with which the customer can relate to, easily compare and come to some conclusion whether our quote is reasonable. When we charge Rs.50 instead of Rs.100, when the going rate is Rs.50 to Rs.80, then half the battle of haggling is won!

We used to get our quotes approved with minimum alterations in the figures!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

B, B and B

The other day I went to this wonderful shop in a mall which is in walking distance from my apartment. It is called Bed Bath & Beyond.

I was told that they have another company, Buy Buy Baby.

Oh, to be in business, they need 3 B's is it, I said.

Talking of 3 B's my favourite 3 B's is the B B Bath.

Many among you can recognise what it is. Yes it is the Bisi Bela Bath served with chips.
The signature dish of Woodys. That is the Drive-in Woodlands restuarant which is no longer there. The other nice dishes were Semia Bakala Bath and the apple bajji marketed by the
well endowed man!

Good old days, guys used to go there on Sunday mornings to ogle at the girls from nearby Stella Maris college. That was the in-thing. Breakfast with nice dishes*. Alas! Everthing is on-line now. You may probably order BBBath on line while browsing a site maybe named minglewithsingle!

There is this cycle shop in Velachery. It is known as Jus Buy Cycles.

I was wondering if BBB opened an Indian restaurant what will they name it?
Bisi Bela, Biriyani and more? After biriyani if you asked for butter milk they
may probably say: Sure, you can have some more*.

*more=butter-milk in tamil.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


My friend Bhamini wrote: "Everything is so glorified these days and given Corporate Social Responsibility etc. which has further morphed into something else. During our good old days, the left hand did not know what the right hand gave...and the right hand used to give so much without much fanfare.

Yes, people were (and many still are) catholic in their outlook. Long, long ago it was said:
"When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."

"Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission."

When I was a young lad, my father, Flt. Lt.C.M.Gopal told me about a person with shoe-laces
in front of a Church in England.

I told him, "But why should I buy shoe-laces, when I don't even have pair of shoes?"

My father explained to me that the guy was seeking alms. He wanted to give something in exchange without merely begging. One is supposed to take one or two pairs of laces and pay as much as one desired and leave. Forget about the laces.

That day he wanted to teach me a lesson and I did learn it.

But today I know that we all seek alms.

"There is not a soul who does not have to beg alms of another, either a smile, a hand shake
or a fond eye".

Puns - how it all started...

Puns - how it all started....

This incidence happened years ago when I went to Tirumala with a couple of my friends.

Our friend Sekhar (SPR) had gone to the counter to fetch some tickets for all of us.
It was quite some time since he had left and Mr. Krishnaswamy (MK) asked what
is happening?

I said: "Sekar has reached the counter but he has to counter the other man's reach".

Mr. Raghu Ram (SRR) who was with us asked me to repeat what I had said.

MK was amazed and me too when I realised that there was a double pun.

I strongly believe that this incidence triggered my interest in puns.

Here are some other puns which I have enjoyed:

A man went to the train station and asked the station master - "Which was do I go to catch
the train to Bangalore?" The station master replied - "If you go left you will be right..but if you go right you will be left".

Disciple to monk: " Oh Master, is it right for monks to use e-mail?
Master: "Sure, as long as there are no attachments."

Monday, March 5, 2012

MSS 1054

MSS 1054 / MSS 1054 / MSS 1054

I don't know how many of you have seen "The Love Bug". If not you can still see it. These days with a computer you could just about see any movie of your liking.

Landmaster And Ambassador Picture Gallery-280720081372.jpg

But I am going to talk to you about our (yes, I can call it our / and many of you out there
can easily connect )car. MSS 1054 is the Landmaster car which we bought second hand (pre-owned in today's jargon). Landmaster was the model manufactured by Hindustan Motors before they started making the Ambassador.

You see even now I have my Maruti 800 car in my shed in Chennai (right now I am out of country) which I bought five years back and I don't remember the number!!! In between I have had one more Maruti and two fiats. Registration number? No, Sir. Can't remember.

But not MSS 1054 (There is another one, Fiat MSX 2536 about which I will narrate on another occasion).

This is the car in which many among us learnt car driving. It is the car in which many of us went to late night shows in cinema theatres in Chennai. You know in those days if you go in a car you will be given tickets. Even phones were rare. If you ring up the theatre and talk to them they would keep the tickets ready for you!

It has picked up any number of motors for repairs to our company Prabals. Very heavy motors it could take with ease.

My father, when he became aged and could not move about, he would once in a while ask my pal Mani (PRS) to take him round the city. Mani will oblige him and he would be taken round for about half-an-hour to Mount Road, Radhakrishnan Salai etc. In those days of thin traffic you could go the Marina beach (distance of about 5 Kms) stay there for about 15 mins. and come back - all within 45 minutes!

It would have made any number of trips to the Railway station. Family members going to Bellary by Bombay Mail? No problem!! We would drop them off in the station and go to the movies!! Oh boy!

If it broke down and required repairs - the repair work would be done round the clock!

If any among you would like to fondly recall some incident involving this car, please do so!

What's 811309?

Eight double one three nought nine.

This number will ring a bell to hundreds of people.

This is the telephone number of Prabal Electricals and my friend Mani (PRS).

We got this number in the late sixties. There were no private players then. Only BSNL.
No pagers. No cell phones.

To get a telephone connection was like hitting a lottery. It would take years and years.
In fact, I applied for one in the year 1975 and got my allotment in 1984 (just when I very
badly needed one).

There was no time limit of 180 seconds to a call. One call could be extended to any length of time.

Friends, neighbours, passersby, customers would use the phone. We allowed one and all to use the phone. Sometimes we would receive messages and pass them on.

As a measure of abundant precaution we kept a coin box and would ask the user to put a rupee
(This was more to prevent nuisance). Also we would request people to be quick in making or receiving a call, because our business depended on that phone: 811309.

Many people (now very famous) used to come to our place and make use of the phone.

I will restrict myself to naming two of them: (1) Actress Lakshmi (2) Educationist Jeppiar.

People talk of businesses giving back to society. 811309 is testimony to the service to society
of Prabal Electricals and the people behind it, long, long ago.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

(MMR) Measles, Mumps, Rubella

Vaccine for MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) was developed in the late 60's.

1966 - After writing two of my school final (SSLC) examinations, I developed severe mumps.
I had fever and could not even get up.

My school headmaster Sri V. Srinivasan did not want me to waste one academic year and
he suggested that I bring my bed along and lie down in the exam hall. He had arranged a bench near me, so that I could get up and write now and then.

I wrote all my exams and got good marks too.

This gesture of my headmaster is unforgettable.

A few days back my son-in-law's friend Karthik came home for dinner and I learnt that
he is the grand-son of my headmaster Sri V. Srinivasan.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Two bags full!

I am interested in coins and am always on the look out for an odd coin to come into my

If I am given a handful or bagful of coins to view, I will be very happy indeed.

But the incident which I am going to narrate happened a few years back and I was not
aware of it until told to me months later.

My friend sold an air-conditioner for Rs.19,000 to a trader in George Town. The payment
was not forthcoming despite several weeks and reminders.

So one day he went and met the customer and told him that the payment has to be given.

The trader after some hesitation showed him two large gunny bags and said: There, take your payment.

My friend didn't quite understand. Upon inspection the bags were full of small coins of Re.1
and Rs. 2 denominations etc.

My friend had to carry those two bags in an auto and also had considerable difficulty in encashing the coins as the banks would not accept the same!

How I wish I were give a chance to inspect the bags!

P.S. If any of you have some old coins, pass them over to me!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


"Punctuality is the soul of business".

A friend of ours Subramanian, a top salesman working in Macneil and Magor Limited in the early seventies went into business under the name and style of Servals. Once when we casually met him in a friend's place he said that he would come to our firm and meet us at 3.30 pm the next day. We said okay.

The next day he enters our company exactly at 3.30 p.m. He was called for a casual chit-chat and we were curious to know why he chose to come exactly at 3.30 p.m.

Whatever success in my business, I owe to my punctuality was his reply. Punctuality is a habit and habits die hard,

I know of only one occasion in many of our lives when we are punctual. The prospective bridegroom with his family is expected at 4 pm to meet his prospective bride in an arranged
marriage. The bride's father comes to the door by 3.30 pm and keeps looking left and right!

These days, even this is not happening too often!!

"Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an act of clear dishonesty.
You may as well borrow a person's money as his time."

Lines written in March

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon:
There's joy in the mountains;
There's life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

I studied for one year in St. Patrick's School, Asansol. The above poem by William Wordsworth
is from my second standard reader.

What simple language. What a lovely poem! I am sure it would bring fond memories to many
of you.

Have a nice day! And if you need an air-conditioner, you may mail me!!