Monday, March 5, 2012

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.

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