Nostalgia 3.

The last post on Nostalgia that I wrote was in September last year. I find it strange that there have not been other triggers that could have led me to write other posts since then.

Be that as it may, there is another trigger which brings back so many memories that I have been revisiting many incidents that I had experienced those days.

A Facebook post showed this image with the question “Do you remember?”

I had responded with “As a travelling salesman in the sixties of the last century, the holdall was an absolute necessity. I slept in trains, waiting rooms and once even in a police station with the permission of the inspector because I missed the last bus. The suitcase with the khaki cover shown below too was part of all regular travellers as the cover protected the expensive suitcase.”

The holdall shown above was a long canvass bag with a pouch at each end. One first placed a covered in cotton cover mattress like this in it.
This mattress was tucked into the pouches at both end and then, one end was filled with a pillow while the other was with a bed sheet and/or a blanket. It was then folded over from each end and then folded over once again in the middle, and fastened with buckles and straps on the top.

The holdall contained other pockets to keep other things like clothing or books or whatever and had a handle to carry it with ease.  The pouches on both ends inside were also used to store clothes and other materials below the pillow and the sheet/blanket.

The khaki cloth covered suitcase at the bottom was another familiar sight among regular travellers as, the suitcases were either made with pure or imitation leather and were very expensive. All luggage stores those days had either an in-house tailor or one close by who made the covers on the spot after one bought a suitcase. Believe me, these suitcases were covered because they were expensive and had to be protected to last long.

A tour normally would be of three weeks duration, sometimes taking a few days more on emergency calls.  We depended on the Indian Postal Service for Care-Of-Post Master mails and to receive and send money and mail.  We carried Postal Identity Cards without which we could not use those facilities.  We also had to strictly adhere to the pre-drawn itinerary so that mail could be collected.  One did not use the telephone those days unless in emergencies as calls were expensive.

Almost all the travellers of those days that I knew had the habit of reading and all major Railway Stations had book stalls that sold books and magazines besides daily newspapers.  That and where one could, seeing movies in the local theatres were the only ways to fight loneliness.

In retrospect, when I now compare today’s travellers to those of then, I can’t but wonder how we and I particularly survived those adventures sleeping where we could, using laundry facilities where we could and eating food in all kinds of outlets.

Have you ever used or come across such holdalls and covered suitcases?

An unusual Family Tale.

I have known KS and his younger brother DS since my school days.

KS is a year older than I am. He worked in many jobs after schooling and brought up two sons to the best of his ability. The elder son Surya, did extremely well in his studies got scholarships and graduated from one of India’s top IITs with a B.Tech degree and like many of his contemporaries emigrated to the USA where he has flourished. The younger son Chander was able to graduate in humanities and got into the Civil Service with a Chennai posting where he has provided a home and care for his father since the death of his mother ten years ago.

DS on the other hand, failed to get through his matriculations examinations despite three attempts and became a seaman in the Merchant Marine and disappeared from India after a big showdown with his father who had scolded him for not studying enough. His parents and KS gave up all hopes of ever seeing him again some fifty years ago.

I received a phone call from KS yesterday to relate to me the following story.

DS landed up in Chennai some days ago and after much searching using all possible resources was able to locate KS and called on him two days ago. It was a grand reunion with much emotional scenes and reminiscences which went on for a few hours. It turned out that DS had settled down in Europe after getting married to a European and is now a citizen there. He has apparently established himself well with his in-laws and now manages their family business.

Chander hurried home from his office after a phone call from his father about the visit of DS and met his uncle for the first time. It was soon time enough for DS to depart and before he did, he told KS “You are very lucky. I wish that my son was like yours.”

Chander overheard this and became very emotional and at the door as DS was leaving hugged DS and was in tears. DS consoled him and asked him why he was crying. On Chander telling him that he was crying because he was overwhelmed by the praise he received from DS about wanting his son to be like him, DS without thinking said, “I was talking about Surya who has done so well in the USA” and left.

Naturally, Chander was inconsolable with the snub. It took many hours of comforting from KS and Chander’s wife before he could be pacified.

KS wanted to share his own angst and called me to vent on.

I too was and continue to be amazed at the thoughtless comment made by DS. Had I been in his shoes, even if I had originally meant the comment about Surya, I would have used the opportunity to praise Chander for looking after his father in the latter’s old age etc. I suppose that such thoughtfulness does not come easily to people who have been away from the family for decades.

What would have been your response had you been in DS’s shoes?

No, I Am Very Much Alive!

The day before yesterday was Makar Shankaranthi. It was also the birthday of a now 72 year old ex colleague of mine KPS,  from Ahmedabad.  A very dynamic young man when I had first met in 1972.

I sent a birthday greetings to him on WhatsApp and expected a thank you response from him which did not come the whole day, nor was WhatsApp showing the blue ticks showing that the message had been seen by the recipient.

It had still not been seen yesterday morning. I was beginning to get worried as people of my age do when messages do not get responded to.

I rang up again at 1.00 PM when to my great relief he answered but when he found out who it was calling went almost into a shock as he had received an Obit Notice about my demise just last week from some other ex-colleagues still around. I told him that I was most decidedly not calling from Vaikuntha and that I was very much alive and kicking. I also chided him for not responding to my message and two earlier phone calls when he answered that he was busy with Makara Shankaranthi matters. This little clip being the most significant part of the festival and which had kept him occupied.

He was flying kites!

Later in the evening he sent me a message as to how the confusion took place. Another ex colleague with a name very similar to my surname but of two first and surname had died last week and all of us got the obit notice about his demise. Since KPS read the notice without his reading glasses and rather absentmindedly, he had mistaken the notice to be for me demise.

 

Has anything like this happened to you?

Food Again! Moong Dal Pakode.

This image is doing the WhatsApp rounds over here with the caption “Mumbai variant called Pakodacron has arrived.”
This is a spoof on the Covid Epsilon Variant as shown below.

I thought that the pakodacron was quite creative and funny. I also went down memory lane to my Mumbai days when near the shops of my main dealers, a snack bar on the platform of a suburban railway station called Masjid specialised in freshly made hot Moong Dal Pakode. This used to be sent for to accompany cups of hot chai during discussions.
The treat was not served like the image above in nice  dishes but came wrapped in old newspapers and were accompanied by green chillies dipped in lime juice and coated with salt.

Remembering this old treat I have decided to get them made at home tomorrow just to go on a nostalgia trip.

Does the pandemic situation give raise to such developments for you too?

Memory And Food.

A facebook post showed this image and asked if the reader had ever had it.
I responded that I had indeed had and would like to have it again if I could lay my hands on some.

Having posted that, I just could not recall the name for the sweet to send for and so posted the image on some WhatsApp pages of local friends and asked for its name and where I could get it.

I got two responses and typically for Pune, one gave me a name popular in the Old City and the other, the name popular among a particular type of vendors. I discovered that the latter is more popular and that it is Goad Kandi Shev.

While I was going through all the above adventure, I also remembered a similar sweet being made at home and again, no matter how hard I tried and googled for it, could not get the name. So, I took the help of WhatsApp again and sent to my sister and a childhood friend who too promptly sent me the name Manogaram. There is a family in Chennai who make many South Indian preparations at home and offer them online and I ordered for two packets of the same which came earlier today.
It is made of different material but my readers should be able to see why I was reminded of it because of its shape.

The Online shop offering this is named Sweet Karam Coffee.  Karam is pronounced Kaaram, and means savoury. Whenever the mood takes me, I get some snacks from them and I recommend them to all my friends too.

Do you have such memory failures on names of food?

Communication.

A recent corporate fiasco highlights the importance of proper communication in Management. Here is an article in the BBC that explains what happened. This matter received a lot of attention in India as the new CEO is a person of Indian origin and that alone raised many eyebrows.

In my working life, I have had to dismiss employees or take other unpleasant actions and I have faced many agonising moments on deciding quite how to communicate my decision. It never was easy and I have always felt in retrospect, that I could have handled it differently.

I am glad that I don’t have to any more but, I can sympathise with others who have to.

On a lighter note, here is a cartoon that resonates with me. Apart from the humour, the language is quite impressive. Don’t you think so?