Friday, November 17, 2017

In the wonderland of washing powders


India is on a mission to clean up its dirt under the Swatchh Bharat scheme and political leaders take up the broom once in a while to sweep the dirt – not from under the carpet to clean the mess but to hide the mess.
Anyway, this is not about such cleaning. My story is about the cleaning of dirty clothes. Gone are the days of bar soaps and the women who struggled to bring the shine back to the clothes. They would use wooden mallet-like stuff to literally beat the dirt out. Those who lived in villages would thrash the dirt on stones positioned on the banks of the ponds.
But, the innovative nature of man relieved the stress from the mothers and a product called the washing powder entered the scene. Initially, there were a couple of brands and the market today is flooded with innumerable brands. The good old days of Lalitaji and her ad with the catch line of ‘Surf ki khariddari mein samajhdari hai …’ have made way for umpteen plus one variants. Some are meant for clothes, some others are exclusive for woolens. And, they contain varieties of blasters like dust blasters, stain blasters, mud blasters.
The advent of washing machines have made the washing powder a mandatory product in every home. And – apart from women, kids have been roped in to promote the products. Obviously, cleanliness has its advantages. If only people would stop spitting pan juice and tobacco juice, our surroundings would be as clean as our homes.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Thursday, November 16, 2017

In the wonderland of agarbattis


The agarbatti or joss stick or incense stick is an item that is found in every home. It is believed that the Gods love the scent, and the smoke that billows out from the burning agarbatti act like magic on those who are within its range. It is a product that used to fall into the category of a cottage industry, but has now been relegated to something much more. It is a product that must be sold, and an aggressive marketing technique is essential to exploit its export potentials.
In order to achieve this objective, the industry has roped in celebrities from the movie world to cricketers. There is an aging heroine who, with her daughters, beams at the priest and offers packets of agarbatti instead of flowers. The reason is simple – her daughter forgot to bring flowers and the mother offers the agaratties as an alternative. Wonder how agarbatties can substitute flowers during the anjali (floral offerings)!
Then there is an actor in his 70s who also is a fan of agarbatties. In fact, of late, he is seen to be endorsing any and every product that comes his way. His appearance in movies have reduced because the younger crowd has edged him out, but he probably wants to remain in focus to ensure that people do not forget him. As the saying goes – out of sight is out of mind.
And then there are the cricketers. They are also seen to endorse agarbatties. They have a reason – before the start of any major game, they invariably make a beeline to the temple for a meeting with the Gods to seek their blessings. All of them extoll the virtues of the incense stick. Wonder when the yoga guru will enter the field and who he will select to endorse his brand.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Monday, September 25, 2017

He helped me to bring home my scooter


Here is the thirty second unforgettable character in my life …

It was in 1978 that I bought my scooter. It was a Vijay Super and grey in color. I had just learned how to ride a two wheeler and went to the outlet in the city at Shalimar point to buy one. The dealer asked me to come the next day to collect the vehicle. I was still with an ‘L’ license and would need someone to ride the scooter back to township, a distance of nearly 15-Km. The next day was Maha Ashtami and my friend and I left for our mission by an ST bus.
However, things were not as simple as I had expected. There were plenty of formalities involved in getting the two-wheeler on the road like installing the accessories, testing the engine, going for a test drive etcetera.
We had thought we could be back by late afternoon but by the time we were ready to take off, it was evening and the roads were crowded. I was pillion riding and my friend was negotiating though the traffic. When we reached the Adgaon naka near Tapovan, he stopped the scooter and got down.
‘Ghose,’ he said, ‘you must now drive.’
I was shocked. I was still a learner holding an ‘L’ license and township was nearly 10-Km away! I lacked the confidence to ride the scooter on the Mumbai-Delhi highway.
‘I am having trouble with insects getting into my eyes,’ my friend explained. ‘I have not brought my goggles. Don’t worry. I will guide you. Just go slowly.’
Well, that is what I did. And – it boosted my confidence to a new level. I remembered the management policy – nothing is impossible. Throw someone into the water and he will trash his hands and feet and learn to swim because of the survival instinct.
I meet him on and off even now on special occasions like the Durga puja and will always remain thankful to him.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Saturday, September 23, 2017

His contribution to Durga Puja will never be forgotten


Here is the thirty first unforgettable character in my life …

Durga Puja is the largest festival of Bengalis wherever they may be and our township was no exception. When it started, those who were involved in it devoted their energies to make it a success from the very first day and managed to create a festive mood for not just the four days but the taste lingered on long after the immersion of the idols in the River Godavari.
The period was in the late seventies and the man responsible was an ex-Navy officer. He possessed a never-say-die attitude that is unique to anyone who has seen service in the armed forces. When the Bengalis decided to hold the first ever Durga Puja in the township, he led from the front and ensured that the festivities left a lasting impression on not only on the Bengali community but also the locals.
The biggest challenge was to organize entertainment packages for the four days. Since necessary funds were raised from donations and subscriptions, the donors expected to get their money’s worth. And - he took a decision to arrange programs of artistes from Mumbai and Pune. The tentative program for the four days were – inauguration, entertainment package by artistes of Mumbai or Pune, a program to the Marathi population, and an evening meant exclusively for local talents.
It was that stage in our lives when television was in its infancy and cable TV was unheard of and people would crowd to venues of entertainment to spend an evening and watch celebrities and renowned singers.
He had managed to bring famous artistes from Mumbai like Hema Malini, Manna Dey, Babla’s orchestra, Tun Tun, Sachin Shankar’s ballet and others to entrain the gatherings.
The idol of Goddess Durga and her retinue would be brought directly from Kolkata by train as would be the dhaki and there would be community lunch consisting of khichudi on all the four days that would be open to everybody, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
However, all of a sudden, he passed away and others took off from where he left. Even today, he is remembered as the man who made things happen. The word ‘impossible’ was not in his dictionary.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Saturday, September 16, 2017

He was a boss who knew how to instill confidence in his subordinates


Here is the thirtieth unforgettable character in my life

He was one of my bosses who made me realize the potential that I had in me. He was instrumental to get me transferred from a department where I had got bored stiff with routine work – I wanted a change and he allowed that to happen. He wanted me to set up a section and I was given a separate room and a team of four persons drawn from other departments. The day I took over charge, the first person to enter my section was the one who had been handling the work in the project group. He was beaming as he informed me that his transfer had materialized and he would be leaving for Bangalore in a couple of days. He also added that he was sending to me all the documents that he was holding. They came in a jeep followed by two steel Godrej almirahs and other furniture that he felt I would require.
I had never handled the procurement of engineering material, neither did I know the norms of provisioning, or the methods of following up with suppliers, and liaising with user departments to keep track of critical items. These were new areas to me and I was appalled at the volume of files and correspondences that he transferred gleefully to my section.
After I had settled down and was engrossed in trying to make sense out of the papers that I was in possession of, my boss phoned me and asked me to come over to his office. He offered me a cup of tea and, as we sipped the tea, he asked probing questions. Finally, he handed me a report and said that the report has to go to the Corporate office every month and would I check the correctness of the data?
I was shocked – as it is I was floundering and it would take me time to even think of vetting important information. My boss understood and asked bluntly – when can you vet this?
And I replied frankly – please give me at least six months.
Anything else? he asked.
I would like a personal computer, I replied.
Accordingly, he gave me a PC – it was one of the primitive models with two drives – you had to insert a floppy in one drive for booting and use the second drive for the floppy to store data and to generate reports.
True to his word, he gave me the six months – once I was confident, he gave the fresh report to me and I sat late into the night for vetting. It took me a couple of days since I had to get his clarifications on some discrepancies.
Finally, my version was ready. He signed it and sent it to Corporate office and told me – henceforth you will be responsible for this activity every month.
He was my Boss for the final period of my service and he taught me to be self-reliant. He would assign apparently impossible tasks to me and I would innovate to come up with solutions. It was a part of the growing up experience for me.
He has now retired as a Director at the Corporate level and, is an example of how delegation of work can build confidence in the subordinate as well as ease one’s own headaches.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Monday, September 4, 2017

He was an out and out Bohemian


Here is the twenty ninth unforgettable character in my life …

There is hardly anyone who has not met at least one Bohemian in his lifetime. This Bohemian friend of mine was a freelancer – he had a small screen printing outfit and would go around collecting orders for visiting cards or marriage cards or labels. He was sincere to his profession but he had a drawback. He had never learnt cycling, therefore he could not ride any scooter and had to use his feet. When the distances were large, he would hire an auto rickshaw.
Since our city had an abundance of small scale industries, he was never short of orders. He faced problems when he bagged large orders – at that time he would recruit temporary hands, mostly girls. Their relationships were always master-servant types, nothing closer than that.
Our paths crossed when we decided to print Bengali books and magazines from Nashik through computers. He arranged for the Bengali fonts through his contact and also the facilities of data entry. We used to meet in his room – it was always in a mess. We would suggest that he get married and settle down to a regular life but he would laugh it all off.
He did have a try tried at writing stories but the results were not that great – he wanted to be a rebel and would insist on his special style of spelling. It was a style that no one accepted in those days but is gradually coming into vogue today!
Anyway, when circumstances forced our magazine, our paths parted – our meetings became less frequent and, one day, we came to know that he had finally got married. Only – she was a divorcee with a kid. She used to help him in his freelancing business and had trouble with her husband. They would fight and, finally, she took the extreme step of separation. My friend gladly accepted her.
We met after a long time during one of the Durga pujas – both he and his wife had come to the puja pandal. He had purchased a brand new car and had a driver – he has not yet learnt driving the car.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul

Sunday, August 13, 2017

He is a Bengali and translates Marathi literature


Here is the twenty eighth unforgettable character in my life …

There is hardly any Bengali who does not fancy himself as another poet worthy of recognition, he is no exception. A writer in his own right – he writes poetry as well as short stories and essays but has made a name for himself in translating works of Marathi authors. He has recently completed a work for the Sahitya Academy and, in his spare time, both in office and home, he writes and writes – it is a hobby for him. He subscribes to umpteen small magazines and has seen his name in print several hundred times. This passion of his brought us together – he was the architect of printing Bengali magazines from Nashik, first it was cyclostyled and later printed.
When we decided to print the magazine, we had to generate funds – getting ads was the best way because, once you were able to convince the opposite side, you got more than your money’s worth. I have written elsewhere about the way we would get the matter into computer language and get the magazines printed- I will not dwell on that again, but the struggle to get ads was something that took its toll – we forgot all about our domestic lives.
Throughout the whole week we would take it in turns to do the data entry and setting of the pages, and the Sundays were reserved for ad drives. The industrial area was a good twenty five kilometers away and, on Sunday mornings, we would leave the house after breakfast – his scooter was the means of propulsion. He would drive and together we would go from one company to another – we would meet with success but failures were more.
Still, thanks to his determination, we did manage to generate adequate funds for as many as eight quarterly issues. We would have tea and snacks on roadside eateries and never faced any ill effects. However, when he was detected as being a patient of diabetes, we had to control our outdoor activities. Gradually, we had to close the project.
He is now a retired man and lives with his writings, his racks are overcrowded with complimentary copies – he gets these in abundance rather than honorariums. He travels to various destinations to participate in annual get together of writers and of literary associations and societies. He has not received any great recognition but is happy to contribute his bit towards Bengali literature with his translations of Marathi literature.


Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org

Jharkhand to become plastic free, ban on polybags less than 50 micron thick

Conflict between man and elephants on the rise in Odisha

Gurgaon to get environment friendly electric buses


He was a Chinese and his assistant was a Muslim

He was framed for a crime he did not commit

He was my first boss and be taught me the basics


Clint Eastwood's upcoming film "The 15:17 to Paris"

Work on superhero film "Deadpool 2" begins

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' brings back the teenage crime fighter


Two Americans gored by bulls in the San Fermin bull running festival

At least 15 killed in shootout in Mexico between police and drug gangs

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Mosul