Payback Time 2.

“Apologies are always necessary and never sufficient.”
~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I was proved wrong. Prabhakar did read my post but contrary to my expectation that if he did, he would simply not call me, called me last Sunday.

He apologised for whatever he had done when he was young. He added that he had not realised that his behaviour was perceived by me and others as condescending and snobbish, but in retrospect felt that we were justified. He also thanked me for not having used his real name.

He suggested that rather than revive such bad old memories, we do not proceed further with a new relationship and I readily agreed.

He further added, that I had paid back in public by writing about it in my blog and that we are now quits. I readily agreed to that too.

I did not apologise for writing that post.

Story 14. Doing Business With Friends.

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I met S for the first time in 1974. I was a visiting customers and he too was as an agent for a big textile company. We kept meeting each other in the market for many years till 1990 I joined the company for which he was the agent. By that time, we had known each other fairly well and both of us had visited each other’s homes many times.

S is a deeply religious person forever going off on pilgrimages and visiting temples. An activity in which his wife actively participated and they were well known for their fervour including their significant contributions to the establishment of a local high school based on Hindu traditions.

S has been blessed with two children the elder a daughter now a grandmother who lives in the same town that S lives in. Her daughter, son in law and grand daughter live in the USA and the proud grandparents often go to the USA to baby sit and shop.

The younger child M, our hero, is a son and also a grand father now. He too lives in the same town and shares the same residence with his father. His two young sons were the first ever in my life to call me grand father. The grandparents doted on the two boys and in many ways, at least in my opinion, spoiled them silly.

When S was our agent for a few years before I retired, M used to work along with his father in the agency. He however decided to branch off on his own as S was quite a control freak and would not let the young man have much freedom. He set up a manufacturing unit rather than start an agency and by all accounts, he flourished. He also became a sourcing agent for a European company and did well on that business as well.

This was however galling for S and when M decided to move his residence to a near by city where his establishment was, relations between father and son broke and they stopped talking to each other. They however needed to communicate with each other on various family matters, and I was elected by both of them to be one of the links. I was and continue to be registered in M’s mobile phone as God Father!

In due course, the grandchildren grew up and the elder boy unfortunately became an alcoholic. He caused havoc in the small town where the family’s reputation and businesses suffered and the family spiraled their way into near penury in a short time with neither the grand father nor the father able to spare enough time and funds to mend damages constantly caused by the errant son.

I had to step in and arrange for the young lad to be admitted into a rehabilitation center and what happened to him subsequently is an entire story by itself. Suffice it to say that for the past one year he has been sober. In the meanwhile, the younger lad was sent to the UK for advanced education at considerable expenditure and on his return he joined M in his business but relations quickly soured between the two as the youngster did not like the way the father was conducting the business.

By now, you would have gathered that the family had become totally dysfunctional and it took a toll on S and his wife’ health with both suffering heart attacks with the latter succumbing to one of them three years ago. M too had an attack and recovered to find everything in shambles and started to rebuild his life with some vigor but had to simultaneously play a number of care giving roles which started to affect his life in multiple directions.

I had linked some of my business associates with M to supply raw materials for his business and when M started to default on payments, I was dragged into the mess with increasing frequency. It was during this period that M stopped taking my telephone calls, which he was doing with his suppliers too. I went through some tough times resolving these issues, which I was able to with some dexterity by linking up with M’s customers and forming a syndicate to sort out the cash flow problems.

As I write this, the problems where I was involved have been solved and M came to meet me last week to apologise and to make amends as it were. He requested me to intercede on his behalf to restore supplies of raw materials on credit, so that he can get back on his feet. I flatly refused and informed him that what made me withdraw my support to him was his refusal to take my phone calls. He pleaded with me that he was going through so many difficulties and was not in a position to answer me with any assurances, but I held firm and said that I had had enough and despite our long lasting and special relationship, I would no longer get involved in business matters but would be available as a family friend. He went away sulking and it broke my heart to see him in that condition but I decided that at my age and stage of life, I can do without such melodrama. I still do not know if that was the right decision but, I have decided to be firm on my resolve.

One of the maxims that is very popular in Indian business circles, observed more in the breach, is not to do business with friends but to make friends with business associates. I give this advise to all my mentees. In this case, I followed the maxim but a friend made via business turned out to be my Waterloo.

Wait One Minute…! (Tell Us Why)


I hope that you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where ten of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar. The nine other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!


Dance-with-drums-during-Ganesha-FestivalYesterday was the last day of our annual Ganesh festival. Traffic jams everywhere and sensible people just stayed at home. In Pune, the dhol tasha effect could be heard from morning and as I write this, at 8.45 am on the day following the immersion, I can still hear the last of the processions reaching the immersion sites on the river bank.

My problem is that I am lost without my daily morning dose of four newspapers to read and four crossword puzzles to solve. Yes, Pune’s newspapers shut down yesterday and no printing took place.

So, after waiting for long and having discovered that I will not get my morning fix, I am ranting here and will now go off to read something or the other.

Payback Time.

“Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Just as I was about to doze off on my siesta, I received a phone call on my land line. A man I had not heard from over half a century ago was on the line. He had found this blog while searching for something on Nashik and my last post on The Refugee Part 2 had a tag on Nashik.

I knew Prabhakar in Madras in the early sixties of the last century before I quit my job and went to Business School. Prabhakar was then working for a multinational oil company and was full of himself because of that and was very condescending towards me for not having graduated from a university and slogging away in the Madras heat. My friends and I thought that he was insufferable.

Naturally I did not like him much and would avoid him if we were accidentally in the same venue which often used to happen.

Prabhakar was all sweetness today and told me how he found me on the telephone book after finding our from the blog that I lived in Pune. He wished to renew our acquaintance and I almost could not resist the temptation to tell him to you know what! My curiosity prevailed over my dislike for him and I agreed to meet up with him. He now lives with his son in a newly developing suburb of Pune about 20 kilometers away from where I live. I suggested that we meet at a central place so that neither of us has to drive that distance and when I suggested that we meet at my club, I could sense that he was quite surprised that I was a member there.

Age has perhaps made him less condescending but I relished turning the screw a bit and said that I was lucky to have got the membership many years ago as now membership is closed though it is much sought after. And he took the bait and asked me how I managed to do that and I said that I applied, went through the normal high brow selection process and got selected because the selection committee felt that I would be a good addition to their membership.

We have agreed to meet up next week and I intend laying it on thick. It is a nice feeling after all these years to be able to be condescending in return.