Memory Trigger 10. Stenography.


Since I was without the use of my computer over the weekend, quite a bit of my exchange of views took place on my hand held mobile phone. One of my friends, exchanging messages on WhatsApp asked me how I could type so fast in responding to his messages. And that triggered the memory of my training to be a stenographer. You can read all about how I got trained to be a stenographer below. I have copy pasted from a post that I wrote nine years ago in a community blog.

When I had matriculated, not with such great scores that I could walk into either an engineering or medical stream for further education, I was advised by well wishers to study to become a stenographer! I was advised that apart from a nice secure comfortable job, if that is what I wanted, I could also aspire to become a journalist, a very noble profession. Since I did not know any better, and I had to study something which would give me some income, I joined up with what was then a leading institution in Hyderabad. The Frank Anthony Institute of Stenography or some such name.

Frank Anthony was a leader of the Anglo Indians and a member of the Rajya Sabha. Anglo Indians, particularly their women, were being employed in hundreds as Secretaries and I quite enjoyed studying in this institute where I was the only male! I duly learned Pitman’s short hand and the touch typing method under the guidance of a venerable Anglo Indian gentleman, who thought that I should rather study to be a soldier.

I was able to secure employment almost immediately with a civil contractor to handle all his correspondence, tender filling etc. Though I did not have much use for the short hand skills, I did quite a bit of typing on nice Remington typewriters, using reams of foolscap paper and carbon sheets. All good things come to an end, and since my talents were being underutilized, I was persuaded to undertake some selling of the then new electrical item starters.

I never looked back and till I eventually became a manager and had to dictate or type messages for the telex machine, I never had to use my typing skills or ever take dictation. I used to refresh my secretary’s own taken down notes when she could not decipher her own short hand! When computerization came around, the employees who were selected and sent for training were inevitably those who could type! Logical as, most of the work then used to be data entry only.

Fast forward to Senior Management and I had to attend a number of useless meetings and submit my portion of the minutes at the end of each meeting, and Pittman’s came to my help. Electronic typing machines were then the in things and I used to quite enjoy showing off my skills.


A few more years, and bingo, I was at the top most position sans a secretary but with a lap top. What a joke! Laps were the tops used by secretaries made famous by cartoonists! We were now using lap top computers as secretaries, communicators, filing cabinets, and just about any thing else one could think of.

Now, I am blogging and sending emails and using my typing skills which enables speed and accuracy but for other than these uses, I would not be able to get a job any where as a Secretary or a Stenographer as, these positions have simply disappeared! I believe that it is now next to impossible to find some institute where one can learn Pitman’s short hand!